The astrology of marriage

The King and Queen of Cups or worse?

The King and Queen of Cups or worse?

Today, I want to discuss, broadly and without being too definitive about it, the astrology of marriage. Almost immediately, there is a slight difficulty because semantics are involved, but in this instance I determine marriage to be any significant partnership with another human being in which you share affection, a duty of care and – no doubt – a bed, it really does not matter much beyond that what other criteria you want to bring in to play; I will hopefully be able to demonstrate that your astrology can pinpoint almost exactly the conditions, ambience and prospects of the marriage and the marriage partner both.

It is almost an unquestioned premise in the astrology to say that Venus and Mars are going to be profoundly insightful in this study, but actually, when we discuss marriage, we are not really talking about principles of attraction or sexual fulfilment, plenty of people after all manage to sustain perfectly viable marriages without an excess of primal or venal feeling; indeed, in this regard, it might be equally insightful to look at Saturn which is a formalising influence and is thus the avenue to contractualising relationships as much as anything else. It is then for this reason that I would look primarily at planets within the 7th house to describe the conditions and considerations of the marriage and very specifically at the condition of the 7th house ruler – the Lord of the Descendant – to describe the marriage partner. This view is perfectly sympathetic to the Jungian ideal of ‘Other’ and it describes most wonderfully the outsourced self-image; that which we are not and thus that which we seek to incorporate via relationship in order to make ourselves whole.

Immediately, you begin to understand through this insight, that it is rather straightforward to determine the conditions of the marriage, and to gain a fairly clear thumbnail portrait of the marriage partner. I have yet to find a case where this has not proven out, often spectacularly.

A couple of examples should help clarify the extant principles.

00) London

Charles, Prince of Wales: 14 Nov 1948 21:14 (+0:00) London

Looking at the nativity of Prince Charles we can see immediately that the ruler of his Descendant is Uranus (via Aquarius) itself in the anaretic degree of Gemini, riding the cusp of the 12th house, sextiled by Moon, opposed by Jupiter, with that opposition feeding considerable tension to Juno at the Aries Point in the 9th. Uranus (as the marriage partner) is also accidentally dignified, retrograde, and out of bounds, making, for erratic Uranus, an especial level of abruptness and instability. There is a fair amount of information therefore about the marriage partner. First of all, with Gemini placings for the ruler of the descendant, two marriages are entirely possible, and actually most definitely probable. Uranus too suggests a very sudden quality and with it going over to the sign of Cancer there is a suggestion of tipping over from one quality (or marriage) that is socially charming and delightful (Gemini) to another that is emotionally satisfying and nurturing (Cancer). The fact that Uranus sits on the cusp of the 12th suggests on the one hand the potential for sorrow in the marriage situation and an element of solitude even within the marriage. The Jupiter opposition to Uranus further posits the sense that there is tension within the marriage, that there is an innate love of freedom and independence that is directly opposed to the ideal of marriage and which plays out through the marriage partner in particular. The tee-square to Juno is also very intriguing because it creates a subjective template for Charles of a bold, courageous, solitary and combative figure, Aries is the eternal bachelor, so in some sense that self-promulgated image of his ideal marriageable self is most definitely at odds with the theme of marriage and with the eventual wife he chooses as well, he really needs an assertive, forthright and aggressive female to share his life with. The one good aspect to Uranus, a sextile to the Moon really suggests that the mother will provide an opportunity for him to realise a very high-status and favoured union, and the wedding to Diana certainly evinced that quality.

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1 Jul 1961, 19:45 (-01:00) Sandringham

Diana has Gemini ruling the descendant and Sun and Mercury in Cancer well-aspected in the 7th as well. The conditions of marriage then are tied up with the homeland, with tradition and a strong family ethic (that all seems perfectly clear right?) and the ruler of the descendant is also in the 7th; Mercury in Cancer, thus he is someone who is emotionally affective, his thinking is not necessarily entirely logical and the grand trine from both Chiron and Neptune suggests an astonishing interplay of sensitivities, a definite tendency to self-sufficiency and in water, an emotional self-sufficiency too. Charles then is most certainly a King of Cups! The fact that Gemini rules the Descendant also suggests an element of duality in the marriage partner, thus two marriages or an infidelity might well be characteristic of this union. On the whole the marriage does not appear to be doomed; but the grand trine is most intriguing because configured with Chiron and Neptune in water signs it creates an emotional roller-coaster with a real tendency to get swept away as a result. The square to Juno is intriguingly reflected in Charles’ astrology and here Diana sees herself as needing to be very gentle, compassionate, sensitive and a little bit of the victim within the marriage situation, almost the very opposite of what Charles’ Juno demands, even if they are loosely conjunct in the synastry.

In my experience then, take the Lord of the Descendant as your primary indicator and consider first of all his sign and house and essential quality. Saturn as ruler of the 7th house cusp demands a very different style of marriage partner than that of Venus. The sign indicates something of the marriage partner’s outright ambience too. Scorpio is markedly more sexy than say Virgo, but Virgo will be sweeter, gentler and much more unassuming. Finally the house creates a sense of how the marriage will manifest out into the world. In the 5th, there will be an impression of fun and romance, in the 10th or configured to the midheaven matters of status will come into play. Then aspects will moderate all of these tendencies too, a benefic planet ruling the descendant which is well placed by sign and has good aspects too will augur well for the marriage. Here then are a few observations based upon this logic.

If the sign on the 7th house cusp is:

Aries: The partner will be bold, independent, somewhat selfish and will have a need to indulge some ‘alone time’ on occasion. Look to Mars and expect fireworks.
Taurus: Dependable, steady, stubborn and materialistic, also extremely possessive, but fundamentally loving with it, look to Venus.
Gemini: Two (or more) marriages are possible, one might say probable in fact, a sociable and charming partner too.
Cancer: Marriage for security primarily, men may marry the image of mother, women may try to mother their husbands as well.
Leo: A showbusiness union, lots of drama, warmth and looking good required! This is a good placing for the 7th on the whole, but the partner could be a show-off.
Virgo: A quiet, efficient and methodical partner is sought, cooking and hygiene will be factors, this makes a partner who will probably do the chores too.
Libra: Venus again, but here the emphasis is on competition and sociability rather than sensuality. This is the natural sign of the 7th house, so it makes unions with blessed potentials.
Scorpio: The partner may be somewhat controlling, but sexy and commanding too no doubt. Jealousy could become an issue and if there are problems in the bedroom, then problems in the marriage will quickly follow.
Sagittarius: Here fun makes an impact, but importantly the partner will value his or her freedoms and will not be tied down too closely, probable marriage to a foreigner.
Capricorn: A somewhat difficult if formal arrangement is the norm, marriage may be constricting, but there is a real possibility of improvement in the 2nd half of life.
Aquarius: Unusual conditions, erratic and odd partners are sought, sparks fly! Independence must be respected in this marriage, too much control will kill the union almost instantly.
Pisces: A very dreamy, artistic union, stay off the drink, feed the compassion! Neptune is particularly important, the partner may have to make sacrifices, or expect them out of a natural tendency to dissolution, so this reality should not be given short shrift, otherwise the marriage might just fade away.

Perhaps just as importantly, the 7th house cusp describes the nature  of outsourced needs. Your ideal marriage partner will be described thus because they are manifesting those qualities on your behalf. Look to the ruler of the 5th to find the qualities of that person which you find romantically intriguing, and the 5th house ruler to describe something about them in this exact same way.

Of course, you will see that there are always two key signs at play when describing the marriage partner. The first is the ruler of the descendant, and then too there is the sign that the ruler of the descendant is itself placed within to consider. For Princess Diana then it is a Gemini Cancer blend: easy but somewhat superficial sociability masking a deep need for emotional security and nurturance. For Charles conversely, an unusual, offbeat and erratic relationship underpinned by a flighty, witty and somewhat inconsistent sense of things.

Planets within the 7th will describe more pertinently the conditions of the marriage itself. Thus Neptune in Scorpio will describe a marriage situation that is Spartan, erotic and prone to difficulty through dissolution, possibly through drugs, alcohol or emotional decline. Pluto in the 7th promises a rigidly controlling marriage situation that requires considerable transformation. Moon in Aries creates a possibility of emotional isolation while Moon in Scorpio creates emotional controls and obsessive needs. These themes play out, moderated by aspect, in the conditions of the marriage and thus they describe something of the nature of the marriage partner, but more specifically the staging point between the native and that significant other, thus a distinction is made possible for the purposes of astrological counselling.

In any case, considerable insight can be gleaned from these few simple principles; it should therefore be quite clear that transits, arcs and progressions to the ruler of the descendant will have tangible effects on the marriage partner too, while transits of the 7th house and 7th house planets will affect the conditions of the marriage accordingly.

The Astrology of Byronic Unhappiness

almost extinct...

The Byronic Man: almost extinct...

There is a consistent thread running through much of the new age spiritualism of our times, it is most easily rendered apparent through the understanding of the dichotomy between the head and the heart, the measurable of rational science and the immeasurable of non-rational wisdom; I have more than a passing familiarity with both; and I know in which direction I find the greater value. The debate polarises even the lowliest and most benighted thinkers, so of course it became especially interesting to me after reading Bertrand Russell’s classic of philosophical thinking: “The Conquest of Happiness”, because he makes a direct reference – albeit unintentionally – when he deconstructs the concept of Byronic Unhappiness. Ironically, Russell argues entirely from the head against the Byronic heart. When I first read the discussion – which I will summarise forthwith – I was initially sympathetic to Russell’s argument; but then, after walking ten miles by the sea and thinking it through, I am far less enamoured and I feel quite comfortable with declaring for Byron at this point.

Here is the argument. Russell claims that Byronic Unhappiness is propounded in the great man’s poetry, in the underlying angst of it which seems to suggest that “all is futility”, in the sense that people toil throughout the long days of their lives and in the end, it all comes to nought; thus – according to Byron, implicitly at least – the enlightened man understands this futility innately and is thus filled with a great yearning discontent, a void that cannot be filled – and here I am adding, because I feel that Byron would have understood this – by normal means. Russell argues though that this in itself does not make life an exercise in futility (and again, I don’t believe that even Byron would have drawn this conclusion, I actually think that Russell’s argument was based upon a false, or at least somewhat shaky premise) because there is still a practical point to things, yes, you may toil your whole life to procure material gain and then you can pass those results of your toil onto your children; the world goes on, all is as it should be and (crucially) there is no requirement to feel this existential angst as a result.

I think though that Russell has missed the point. Byron, surpassing the limiting strictures of the logical mind has entered into the numinous state; his angst is an end in itself, it is a feeling-toned experience of life that is its own justification; Byron lived (and died) in a near ongoing state of reverential ecstasy; he was the world’s first, and the archetypal birthing point of the rock star.

There is a story that tells of how Byron with the poet Shelley (and Shelley’s future wife Mary), spent a “wet, ungenial summer” at the home of his personal physician, John William Polidori in Switzerland, at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva. In that short, difficult time, Polidori wrote The Vampyre after being inspired by a tale of Byron’s making, the first example of the entire vampire genre; while Mary Shelley began the story that was eventually to become Frankenstein, while Byron himself composed the first fleeting thoughts which were to become his never fully-realised magnum opus: Don Juan.

Quite frankly, when one reads of such moments in time, Russell, and his theories, can get stuffed. Bertrand Russell for his own part is probably best known for his collaboration with Alfred Whitehead on Principia Mathematica (which has an alarmingly Newtonian ring to it), an attempt to prove that rational logic could answer the profound; I have not read it (nor shall I, I am no great mathematician), but detractors will tell you that it presupposes a prosaic universe, one that is intrinsically passionless and therefore by definition, does not require any grand Byronic tradition. Put simply, it appears that Russell, through a trick of fate that divested him of subjectively experiencing any great and raging emotional force, did not need to answer to such a condition. Russell went on to achieve another form of immortality, and it seems that each of these men became figureheads for their respective movements, Byron for the feeling man, and Russell for the thinking one, Russell, very much a man of his time has won out, and we live in a singularly rational age, and are undoubtedly the poorer for it. A pox on his philosophy (I say with only the gentlest malice), because neither he nor Byron for that matter, can escape the damning indictment of their individual astrologies. This (of course) is why there is an inevitable and inescapable realisation awaiting any person who has a view to discover meaning in this life; it is the blind watchmaker in reverse…


Lord Byron, poet: January 22 1788, 14:00 London (+00:40)

Byron, mad, bad and dangerous to know (but quite cool with it probably)

Byron, mad, bad and dangerous to know (but quite cool with it probably)

Byron then evinces an astrology with one very clear defining feature; a Neptune that is the focal planet of a tee-square and tightly configured into a grand trine with Jupiter and Pluto; a true leader then, driven to express his dominance through Neptunian ideals, poetry, music, sensitivity. The Byronic hero of course does evince more than a dash of Pluto and some Jupiter as well, he is dashing, brave, tortured by God and his fellow man alike, and through it all he is unrepentant, and unbowed. This latter is contained in the tee-square, wilful and emotionally driven (Mo/Ur) and he communicates his indomitable discontent (me/Cap/8th by square). Neptune in Libra in the 5th, is dreamily romantic of course, but that is too the attracting principle; his 7th is ruled by Saturn which itself applies hard to the midheaven; thus a career marriage, and Byron certainly evinced that quality, marrying women until their money ran out and finding a new ‘sponsor’ accordingly. Mars rising in Cancer seems to suggest someone who is willing to fight for his homeland, and he was adopted by the Greeks in his latter days and actually died, if not in battle, at least due to the peculiar fatigue and tension that derived from a battle fought far from the usual domain of poets and dreamers: some say that had he lived, he might even have been made king of Greece, so esteemed was Lord Byron by that people.


Bertrand Russell: mathematician, philosopher: 18 May 1872, 17:45 Trellech, Wales (+00:10:56)

How ironic then that the major feature of Russell’s own chart is a tee square to Neptune! Here though there is no grand trine to create an intrinsic sense of ease and enjoyment, it is just grating, hard and uncomfortable, and he is forced to address it; here in the 6th, it is almost trivial, and he makes it his life’s work of course. Feeding tension into that focal point however, is Saturn, in its domicile, in the 3rd of communication and writing, so he feels a need to structure Neptune; to rein it in and systematise it, he places a yoke about it, and decries the soft abandon of Neptune’s gently lapping tides that Byron felt so keenly in his soul. Russell’s rationality, and his denouncement of Byronic Unhappiness, is just a function of an overly comfortable Saturn in a not easily impressed Capricorn; and in the third, there is something of a ‘pull your socks up, stop pansying about and let me tell it like it is’ quality that is rather hard to deny.

Thus Russell, brilliant but dull. Byron, brilliant but mad. Both having lived their astrology like there was no tomorrow.

Feminist Astrology and Germaine Greer

As a work that is traditionally hailed as being antithetic to male comfort, I find that Germaine Greer’s “Female Eunuch” probably says more about the negative stereotyping of women by women than it does about men. Of course, she argues (throughout her writing) that this is merely the extension of a patriarchal tyranny, that culturally we accept some pretty astonishing subtexts as normal – when they are anything but – and our ingrained themes of sexual interaction, both inter and intra-sexually are pretty weird. That is as much as I can say easily because I am not a scholar of feminism, I have not read her works exhaustively and I am a man (I guess) and I have been told (by more than one radical feminist I have known) that I lack the insight of subjectivity, so I can comment, but I cannot truly experience.

00), Melbourne, Australia

Germaine Greer, feminist author. 29 Jan 1939 06:00 (-10:00), Melbourne, Australia

Fair enough. I have no issue, but neither am I apologising; I do the best that I can, I treat women as absolute equals (insofar as I am able with a lifetime of cultural programming in tow) and in fact I much prefer the company of women as a generalisation than I do of men. I also found that in circa 1987 when I first read large swathes of The Female Eunuch that it seemed fundamentally out of date in parts even then. The book belonged to my dear friend Vicki who is a (somewhat) radical feminist; at least she never shaves any part of her anatomy and neither does she wear a bra although I cannot attest to whether or not she has physically burned it. I also spent one summer acting as an observer for CND in the late 1980s, a job which required me to sit outside of RAF Greenham Common from 4am until midday in a car and watch for any missile transports. I eventually got to know several of the women on that camp and they of course had built a community which more or less excluded men completely. One of those women, Pippa, a slightly loony ex-midwife at least twice my age became a good friend and although I lost touch with her a few years hence. I talked to her once about psychology, which I studied at University and beyond, and she quoted Germaine Greer to me during that discussion, she said: “Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It has no mother.”

Eris forms part of a grand trine with Mars and Pluto, no surprise there then...

Germaine Greer: Eris forms part of a grand trine with Mars and Pluto, no surprise there then...

It has since occurred to me that the same sentiments are found in the study of astrology, with Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto all being essentially male energies; Mercury is possibly male but at best androgynous, leaving (traditionally) only Moon and Venus to speak for the feminine. How patently ridiculous that is, but also, and thankfully, it is a situation that is gradually being addressed with the inclusion of Pallas, Ceres, Vesta and Juno into the mainstream of astrological thinking. In terms of psychoanalysis I often think of Freud as Saturn, Jung as Uranus, but there are no essential feminine powers because (as Pippa told me) even psychology is fundamentally masculine. In my view, psychology falls down in all sorts of places, but astrology does not have to fall into the same trap. Traditionalists will disagree of course, but that to me is resonant of the self-same dichotomy between psychoanalysis and behaviourism in psychology; they are utterly incompatible systems that are mixed through long habit, not through best practise.

It is for this reason that I believe a whole new avenue of astrological research is opening up. It will evolve into something meaningful in step with the onward march toward acceptance of the divine feminine in human society, and even at a personal level as someone with a peregrine Moon I am doubly compressed, by my innate astrological dissociation complex, and by a society that can only accept my male sexuality as a narrow spectrum of aggression that identifies with cars, jobs, bunny girls and team sports.

Back to the (very brief) astrology of Germaine Greer then. I have not included Eris, but of course she sits at the trined midpoint of Ma/Pl. A near fanatic mischief-maker? Undoubtedly! With Scorpio Midheaven, there is a calling to deal with sexuality, and with Mars in the anaretic degree of Scorpio the impetus to tip over from sex and control to freedom and equality is self-evident. Mercury opposes Pluto, which explains her need to tell it unadorned (just like good old blood and guts Patton remember?) but here a trine to Neptune softens, refines and takes all the edges off. Moon is conjunct Uranus too: and that alone says “radical feminism” right?

So, Germaine Greer: with a grand trine to the Midheaven and peregrine Saturn in Aries in the 3rd, may you keep going it alone and telling it like it is until your last breath, because whilst you’re quite clearly a nutjob, you’re also brilliant, beautiful and absolutely, undeniably genuine.

The Grand Trine explored…

physical power

Ali: physical power

The Grand Trine: even the moniker creates a regal ambience; if you could buy and sell aspect patterns on Ebay then there’s little doubt that the beautifully equilateral one would conjure as much interest as any possible configuration, excepting possibly the Golden Yod (which everyone in the know would want but would have no clue how to use). Even astrologers get drawn in to this self-same conclusion, but my experience (which is very often at odds with the received wisdom of astrology) continually hit a bum note wherever the Grand Trine was in evidence; I do not doubt for a moment that the Grand Trine is subjectively fantastic; but for everyone else, it’s probably only just short of infuriating, although not necessarily for entirely negative reasons. The grand trine can give enormous benefit which everyone but the owner of the pattern can see clearly.

My own suspicion was distilled by the thinking of Noel Tyl who uttered the immortal wisdom that “all aspects are squares” (or somesuch) and that includes trines of course; because a trine that is taken for granted and remains untapped by any driving factor soon breaks down, indulgence follows on, then laziness sets in, and before much longer the aspect has degenerated into something positively hedonistic. In my experience, the Grand Trine configured without some sense of urgency in the form of squares, or outright adversarial impetuses from others in the form of oppositions to any of those self-same loci, can easily devolve into a peculiar form of myopic self-obsession, characterised by the onlooker as aloofness, an unwillingness to participate or just outright arrogance. Without squares there is no self-doubt, without opposition there is no requirement for relating; the native with the Grand Trine can experience these planets exactly however they want and they require no external validation. Thus the native with a grand water trine can be quite comfortable with the notion that their feelings are quite simply the only feelings that matter in the world, and anyone looking in simply could not grasp the subjective sense of it. The grand trine though is innate, asking the native to describe the experience of their grand trine is like asking them to bite their own teeth, it is utterly subjective, especially where personal planets are involved. Of course none of this is to say that they might not be justified in their view that in the affairs of these planets they are beyond reproach, often, the grand trine does give exceptional power in a particular domain, but most especially where there are squares to add drive and oppositions to add perspective. A grand trine that is not treated as though it were a challenge will very quickly deteriorate into a vortex of dissolution.

Let us consider examples from each of the elements.

00) Torquay, England.

Agatha Christie, writer, 15 Sep 1890, 04:00 (+0:00) Torquay, England.

Agatha Christie, the prolific writer of crime novels has reputedly sold upwards of a billion books to date and her astrology evinces a grand air trine between Moon in Libra in the 2nd (instinctively financially fair but competitive), Jupiter in Aquarius on the 5th/6th cusp, (increasingly creative and independent: this placement almost defines the character of Poirot incidentally, having quirky offbeat, but highly intellectual habits that reflect a unique and expansive intelligence) and Neptune – combined with Pluto – in the 10th which certainly speaks to matters of vocation (Gemini thus writing) and being a leader (Jupiter trine Pluto) in her field of work (6th) and career (10th). Note too that the grand air trine falls across the houses of the earth triplicity, which gives the mind a practical outlet and expression. Thus an easy, but near-tangible, exchange of ideas is created, a flow of thought and mental energy that can manifest into matter. The important point though is that this is an untapped potential, it might never actually manifest. Agatha Christie though with Virgo rising has peregrine Mercury in Libra ruling her nativity; which actualises the grand trine, the imperative of a peregrine Mercury then creates an enormous drive to communicate, one that fires up the enormous and sweet potential of the grand air trine to express itself in practical ways (air signs on earth houses), 93 books and several plays later and the rest is history.

00) Philadelphia PA, USA

Grace Kelly, actress, 12 Nov 1929, 05:31 (+5:00) Philadelphia PA, USA

Grace Kelly by contrast evinces a grand water trine, here with intense, controlled Scorpio Sun on the 1st, Moon configured with competent Pallas in dreamy Pisces in the 5th of acting and each of these fuelled with astonishing power and control by Pluto in tenacious, receptive Cancer. This is why she appears to be so poised and graciously cool but there is with it a hint of compassionate depth and a truly dreamy quality that refines the entire self-expression (and if you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of Grace Kelly), and here the water signs are found in the fire houses, thus energising the emotions and giving rise to a need to express the emotions, although with Scorpio rising, it must always be carried out in a controlled and poised manner, no unseemly outbursts thank you very much! But it is the hint at unfathomed passion beneath the surface that lends this power. And the drive? Again, peregrine Mercury in Scorpio, rising creates an overwhelming impetus to express water through fire, thus the feelings through acting.

00) Louisville KY, USA

Muhammad Ali, pugilist. 17 Jan 1942, 18:35 (+6:00) Louisville KY, USA

Ali, undoubtedly the most complete gladiator of modern times is the proud owner of a grand earth trine, which gives a near-perfect interchange of physiological energies; Sun in Capricorn on the 6th creates a methodical, indomitable attainment energy, here is an impetus to get to the peak of physical endurance, power and stamina; think of Leo (Sun) on Capricorn on Virgo (6th house), an enormous push to be a dominant force (Sun), to endure and stay standing (Capricorn) and to be physically as perfect as humanly possible (6th House); and this the chart ruler too!. Configure this with Uranus in Taurus (individuation through being non-negotiable) in the career (10th) and Neptune in Virgo in the 2nd (a dream of financial perfection, no doubt fuelled by considerable financial disappointment in childhood) and you have the perfect conditions for a true fighter to emerge. It lacks only an impetus and I believe that in Ali’s case the drive is provided by Mars square Pluto across the fixed Taurus-Leo axis, slowly building power, the strength of a bull configured with an obsessive need to dominate and demonstrate his power and this expressed through brute force (Martian strength is always supercharged by Pluto, it creates a transcendent physical force where the energy is greater than that provided by the body alone). There is too an element of ruthlessness in Mars – Pluto squares, one that in the fixed element especially will brook no opposition and the grand earth trine creates a physical power to back up that psychic imperative.

00) Omaha NE, USA

Marlon Brando, actor. 3 Apr 1924, 23:00 (+6:00) Omaha NE, USA

Finally then, the grand fire trine, which is shown here in the case of (arguably) the finest actor to have ever lived: Marlon Brando, and it is only required to see his performance in Apocalypse Now to get a feeling for this pattern being played out. The Sun and Moon in Aries and the 4th create a very personal and quite self-centred energy. Immediately we get an impression of somebody who even when expressing some very private sense of self suffers almost no doubt or embarrassment; there is no question of stage-fright here, Brando could make a display of even his most intimate self and be quite perfectly brazen with it! Neptune in Leo in the 9th creates a philosophic and spiritual undertone of acting and with Jupiter rising in its domicile you have astonishing and fortunate power, overwhelming presence and an ability to see further than most. Chiron in the 4th/5th is interesting too, on the cusp it sensitises the private (4th) need for admiration (5th) and creates an outlet into acting. The drive though? I would say that peregrine Venus in Taurus in the 6th tells a story: it creates a true power of being physically compelling, of being habitually resolute and seeking to perfect, almost stubbornly, the habits of his trade (thus acting) and Brando was famed as the quintessential method actor of course; indeed, he probably invented it! In this way he really changed the craft (6th) of acting forever, by simply making every other actor appear shallow and mediocre by comparison.

The Astrology of Locked in Syndrome.

"Locked in Syndrome"

"Locked in Syndrome"

Since I am on the subject of films – and often the reason a film is made is because the story behind it is remarkable, and of course the story is remarkable because the person that inspired it is too and of course the person is remarkable because… you can see where this is going can’t you? – well, to cut to the chase then, I recently watched “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, a compelling vision rendered into film – quite beautifully – concerning the experience of Jean-Dominique Bauby, or ‘Jean-Do’, a successful Parisian magazine editor who suffered a massive stroke while driving his car and woke twenty days later to discover that he was completely paralysed and was in fact only capable of blinking his left eyelid. This extremely rare condition is called “Locked in Syndrome”, the film is nothing short of incredible, beautifully realised and quite emotive, more than worth the rental fee.

Even more interesting though is the astrology of locked in syndrome. Jean-Do’s astrology is not beginner’s grade however, so be warned, but it will be easy to demonstrate the key pressures and configurations:

00) Paris, France

Jean-Do, 23 Apr 1952, 05:25 (CET -1:00) Paris, France

The chart evinces a great deal of difficult to channel distress, it is a classic grand-cross with very few easy outlets (and even a trine to Pluto is definitely not an easy outlet). Two elements are key, the Chiron in Capricorn as the ‘most visible’ corner of his inner angst and the peregrine island of Sun/Jupiter across the cusp of Taurus in the 1st.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the story of Jean-Do's life

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the story of Jean-Do's life

Chiron in Capricorn is all about not being heard, and here is a man who came to the attention of the world (conj. MC) by dint of not being able to speak, write or communicate except through the astonishingly laborious process of blinking his eye at the required letter as the entire alphabet was read through one letter at a time to his nurse. No surprise then that Saturn (slow, methodical, painstaking) in the 6th (health) and in Libra (persons closely related) supplies the offside tension to this aspect pattern. On the other side, Mercury in the 12th opposing Saturn (sorrow through being unable to speak for ourselves) also squares Chiron, which underpins the pain of being unable to physically communicate because of our wound or tragedy. All this opposed to Uranus on the IC no doubt creates individuation through our most private self, and the film and the novel which inspired it, are nothing if not a quite profound study of the most personal, familial (Cancer on the 4th) being. All that psychic tension though had to get out, and it did so through Chiron on the MC, one who becomes known to the world through pain and suffering.

Just as relevant to the initial wound itself though is Sun Jupiter peregrine in the first (body), across the Aries/Taurus cusp, – thus the juncture of neck and brain and therefore the brain stem, Jupiter creates excess and the Sun quickens and vitalises, so here there is almost a surfeit of blood and energy flowing into the brain stem. Extremely interesting too is the fact that Mercury (communication) is on the zodiacal degree for the eyeball. No, it really is. Further health indicators are the Moon Neptune opposition (a paralysis of the blood), Neptune descending – a literal inability to relate to others except in unusual, strange or downright weird ways and the Saturn Uranus square, inhibitions of rhythm, all overexpressed by the trigger of the peregrine Sun/Jupiter on the brain-stem and the need to achieve public recognition through the wound and sense of isolation and being unable to be heard (Chiron in Cap. conjunct MC).

This is certainly one of the most extreme expressions of the grand-cross I have yet seen but it certainly is quite typical in quality if not in quantity, it can be – almost quite literally – a cross to bear, but I usually find that if all that tension cannot get out, it will find a way and very often through the most elevated point. in Jean-Do’s case it was to his detriment, but ultimately to his eternal exaltation that Chiron found itself so high in the sky when he was born; a few hours hence and he might be living today in relative obscurity, but the world would be the poorer for it too.

Denzel Washington: Gravitas personified

his stars outshine even Crowe...

Denzel: his stars outshine even Crowe...

One of my favourite pastimes as an astrologer is to take a look at the astrology of celebrities and notables that I like and try to discover whether or not my impression of them is at all justified. I used this method to determine which of Federer or Nadal I would support in the Wimbledon final (I wasn’t particularly bothered, but any game is improved with a sprinkling of zeal – and I went for Federer by the way) and I would quite happily use the same approach to determine the probable sincerity of a politician. As any good astrologer knows though, a study of any human being’s astrology makes them much more interesting to observe; I liken meeting a client post-interpretation to watching the film of a book you may have particularly enjoyed, and usually the big-screen version is rewarding. Studying the astrology of actors, performers and other public notables has led me to take in a great deal of culture that would not normally have intrigued me overmuch. I became distinctly enamoured of Annie Lennox’s music after looking at her astrology, so too with Edith Piaf and Nina Simone, my respect for Liz Greene actually increased post-study, so too with Germaine Greer (who is undoubtedly brilliant), not to mention Sylvia Plath, and then there are those empathic moments too, as with the astrology of Lady Jane Grey, which left me – quite frankly – anguished for several hours.

On a lighter note then, I intend today to make a brief foray into the astrology of Denzel Washington, whom for me can almost do no wrong and I fully expect him to improve as an actor considerably with age: and not just because he is a Capricorn either. He is, astrologically, the genuine article.

I will personalise this just a little by saying that I have always felt a natural liking for the sign Capricorn, I love the dry humour, the deadpan observational style, the sheer toughness and resilience of it and wherever it is found it creates a wonderful wry, self-deprecating and pleasantly implacable ambience in the character. When I was a young man, my sidekick Tich, an accomplished Jazz musician and troubadour, was almost 100% Capricorn and we travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles together with guitars, ephemerides and wacky haircuts and it was entirely down to his uncomplaining determination that we ended up belting out Dylan numbers to a crowd of enraptured fishermen on a beach at dusk in Lindisfarne, or getting through three festivals in a week as far apart as Stonehenge and Wales with no car.

00) Mount Vernon, NY

Denzel Washington, actor. 28 Dec 1954, 00:09 (+5:00) Mount Vernon, NY

Denzel has this same quietly implacable quality and how much?! His astrology is a textbook case and almost impossible to misinterpret in its single pointed foci. Note all the indicators of drive, brilliance, outstanding talent and in particular determination in the astrology, here are my delineations, in a vague order of precedence:

  1. Sun is near Cazimi with North Node, conjunct Mercury and all three elements together are Peregrine. This then is Capricorn unalloyed, the purest distillation of Capricorn in self-awareness, in a sense of destiny and in manner of speech. This would give phenomenal gravitas even if ptolemaically aspected, but here that sense of weight is off the charts.
  2. But look! Peregrine Moon in Aquarius as well! So whilst he may have a serious demeanour, he gets to be cool with it too. Moon in Aquarius is sometimes just too detached though, and where the Sun is in Air, it can make the native almost unengagable, but this dissociative note (peregrine Moon is always dissociative) is probably countered by the Capricorn impetus to mean something. The only fly in the ointment here is the concern that for all his presence and detachment, he might be unable to convey much humanity, but then…
  3. Mars trine Saturn not only gives enormous self-control, it gives incredible emotional power as well; especially with the Scorpio influence and a mutual reception between Moon and Uranus gives a near-genius for expressing the personal needs and inner life.
  4. The tee-square to Neptune provides the drive to be seen as “the actor” and creates a rather tense need to be perceived as sensitive; this, combined with Saturn would in my view, provide the undercurrent of slightly stressed sympathy that adds the essential dash of humanity to his controlled exterior. The tee square is especially intriguing, a close conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus for a start creates a likely ongoing increase in individuation, trine to Venus provides his film-star mannerisms, opposite Chiron in Capricorn – thus a feeling of not being taken seriously enough, in the 4th, probably stemming from childhood. Denzel was sent away to boarding school while his parents divorced, and Chiron in Capricorn creates a real need to be heard, one that is often thwarted, setting up a life that attempts to redeem itself through being given respect; of course that too is unbalanced with Jupiter/Uranus, so his deep sensitivity is difficult to reconcile with his outgoing, powerful individuality and all of that tension gets fed into his acting (Neptune), and this configuration really adds the drive so typical of the tee-square to the whole mix. Interesting to note that Denzel’s first movie was released within a month of Chiron’s discovery in 1977.
  5. The only dark note is suggested by Venus square Pluto which would have been applying genuine formative pressure by Solar Arc at age 3. It is in that light no surprise then that Moon is peregrine and that his parents divorced fairly early in his life. There is a rift here with the mother and that sense of emotional isolation that accompanies peregrination of the Moon is here underpinned. Saturn too applies to square Pluto by SA at age 9, and I would bet good money that this was when the divorce was decided, even though the disintegration of the relationship started some 6 years beforehand. Wherever Saturn is configured with Pluto the outcome is usually hard-work, and across the Leo – Scorpio quarter it is especially rigid, inflexible and uncompromising.

Put it all together and you begin to perceive the underlying quality of the entire persona; the key experiential statement then for me is one of great power, gravitas and expressive potency, fuelled by intensely controlled emotions, a need to be heard and taken seriously and a drive to let go of a difficult and uncomfortable sensitivity, itself the legacy of an unhappy and isolated childhood, but with an overall impetus to gradual self-exaltation. Denzel will only get better.

Tales from the Peregrine Moon: The Isolation of Nick Drake

Nick DrakeThose persons who tell you that the study of astrology requires an exhaustive understanding of every imaginable facet of cosmic knowledge are really telling only half the story. My own approach was once similarly flavoured, but then I noticed a peculiar phenomenon; I just felt the astrology. I began to get a strange sensation of empathic quality from looking at a nativity; often the sensation is faint, sometimes there is no sensation at all, but on occasion I can open up a chart and I am nearly moved to tears at some apprehension of the most delicate anxiety and angst before my brain has even had the remotest possibility of processing the actual astrology; I have come to the point whereby then, I do not read the astrology as a series of factors, like lines of computer code, but in fact I read the astrology as a glyph. Of course, as an afterthought, I can break it down to understand how that sense came about, but it is uncanny that even after reverse-engineering the delineations in this way, the conclusion is just the same. I am equally sensitive to the charts of murderers in this manner, Myra Hindley’s chart filled me with a sense of abysmal blackness so that I could not even look at it for more than a few moments.

I find those cases where the astrology is urgent in this way far more compelling, in fact, I understand how much a client requires help from exactly this phenomenon. It goes without saying then, that I am intrigued in my own astrology by whatever quality therein might offer a clue to the nature of this faculty. Now technically I consider the fact of my peregrine Mercury in mutual reception with Pluto below rising to be a possibility, but even more than this, I consider my Moon, also peregrine at the Eagle Point of Scorpio to be a good candidate.

Peregrine Moon in Scorpio is extremely uncommon in the literature, the actor Will Smith is one of the very rare individuals who has managed to express it at all. This rather cuts to the chase with the theme of peregrination, because actually there is an isolation, and with the Moon that can be very tricky, because you are emotionally cut off; you do not feel part of the world, you feel disconnected, separate and depending on the nature of the Moon sign, that might have some very difficult repercussions. Peregrine Moon in Scorpio is so rare in the charts of celebrities because their emotional security has no connection with anything else, they are thus forced to be emotionally self-sufficient, and in the sign of Scorpio: the most self-reliant and Spartan of all the zodiac, it becomes a life-and-death struggle against a sense of profound abandonment. If the Moon is peregrine in the sign of Cancer or Taurus, there may be clinginess or a tendency to eat for comfort and oscillate between that (and via the polarity) to be emotionally distant and to go off your food at times as well, but at least in these lunar-compatible signs, there is a real possibility of finding a sense of inner security. You may dissociate, but at least you can feel secure in your separateness. The native then with peregrine Moon in Taurus or in Cancer will give lie to the homily “no man is an island” because they are probably capable of being so.

Moon in Scorpio and peregrine then creates profound isolation too, but one that is deeply uncomfortable to the one experiencing it. This is key, because where Moon in the opposite sign of Taurus dissociates because he just feels so good about being “in his own world” because it is so comfortable a place to reside, in the Eagle sign it is akin to the eagle’s domain, lofty, distant and very, very lonely. The key to this position then is that the native can feel very different, very alone and very un-nurtured.

The text-book case is – in my view – that of the musician Nick Drake. His profound sensitivity of expression tells the story of the deeply private compassion of Moon in Scorpio, and his voice is the perfect delineation of the fragile, difficult quality of Neptune squared to Mercury conjunct Venus in the sad, hurting 12th. I looked at Drake’s chart this morning and felt a profound wave of sorrow wash through me, and I do not need to tell you that I listen to Nick Drake’s music all the time and it always has this effect on me. Of course, esoterically, his music is an expression of his astrology, which is itself an emanation of his soul, what Alan Watts so aptly described as an aperture through which the Universe shines.

There is no question though that the peregrine Moon in Scorpio aperture is profoundly difficult. Let us place that into the context of the whole of Drake’s chart:

Nick Drake Nativity

Even the minor aspects that Drake’s moon makes are not the easiest, the quincunxes to Sun/Uranus speak to an ever present dissatisfaction about expressing his feelings, and the quindecile to North Node implies an obsession with finding his destined vocation. The tee-square to “old hard-labour” Saturn – Pluto in Leo tells us that he was born to serve his sentence in this life in the creative sphere. In the second that creates a real need for warmth and prosperity, but Moon in Scorpio overrides everything, creating an intense sense of isolation.

Let us consider a few of the astonishing facets of this over-expressed Scorpio Moon in his life:

  • He lived a frugal existence, his only source of income being a £20 a week retainer he received from Island Records. At one point he was so poor he was unable to afford to buy a new pair of shoes.
  • He would often disappear for days, sometimes turning up unannounced at friends’ houses, uncommunicative and withdrawn. Robert Kirby described a typical visit: “He would arrive and not talk, sit down, listen to music, have a smoke, have a drink, sleep there the night, and two or three days later he wasn’t there, he’d gone. And three months later he’d be back.”
  • Drake ended his studies at Cambridge just nine months before graduation, and in autumn 1969 moved to London to concentrate on a career in music. His father remembered “writing him long letters, pointing out the disadvantages of going away from Cambridge…a degree was a safety net, if you manage to get a degree, at least you have something to fall back on; his reply to that was that a safety net was the one thing he did not want.”
  • By the winter of 1970, he had isolated himself in London. Disappointed by the reaction to Bryter Layter, he turned his thoughts inwards, and withdrew from family and friends. He rarely left his flat, and then only to play an occasional concert or to buy drugs.
  • Upon completion of his third album (Pink Moon), Drake delivered the master tapes to the front desk of Island Records’ office building. He placed them on a receptionist’s desk, and left without speaking to anyone.
  • In the only Drake interview ever published, the “shy and introverted folk singer” spoke of his dislike of live appearances, and very little else. “There wasn’t any connection whatsoever“, the interviewer said. “I don’t think he made eye contact with me once.”
  • In his 2006 autobiography, Drake’s producer recalled being taken aback at Drake’s anger and bitterness: ” I had told him he was a genius, and others had concurred. Why wasn’t he famous and rich. This rage must have festered beneath that inexpressive exterior for years.”
  • Throughout his body of work, Drake writes with detachment, more as an observer than participant, a point of view described by Rolling Stone “as if he were viewing his life from a great, unbridgeable distance.”

This perceived inability to connect has led to much speculation about Drake’s sexuality. Joe Boyd (Drakes’ and Fairport Convention’s producer) has said he detects a virginal quality in his lyrics and music, and notes that he never observed or heard of the singer behaving in a sexual way with anyone, male or female. Shall we point out then Drake’s peregrine (disconnected) Mars (sexuality) in the sign of Virgo (the virgin)?

I really fail to understand just why astrology isn’t taken so much more seriously than it is!

Nick Drake died aged just 26 of an overdose after having failed to connect with his life.

The Lion and the Cobra and the Leo-Scorpio Square

Lion and Cobra

There are often profound insights to be found in scripture. This has nothing to do with religious belief either, it merely states a clear fact, because it states in the bible that you really don’t want to be stepping on the Lion and the Cobra if you can possibly avoid it. (Actually it says that you can tread on the Lion and the Cobra, providing you trust in the Lord thus: “No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.” From Psalm 91). Clearly though the wisdom contained therein suggests that unless you have the Lord’s protection, then the last things you should step upon in all creation are the Lion or the Cobra. They’ll mess you up. The aphorism derived from this is astrologically apt, the Cobra will leave you alone providing you don’t provoke it, and a happy well-fed lion will happily ignore you too, providing you show it proper respect and this is no more or no less than we understand about the nature of Leo and Scorpio.

In my experience Leo speaks to two key principles; leadership and creativity and all Leos and Leo placements will have at their essence one of these Manuscript Headerconcerns (and often both). The reason that Leo speaks to leadership concerns is because of its innate expectation of respect, because like any lion, Leo wants to be admired. Thus Saturn in Leo creates a test of leadership, the pull of the Leonine fire is toward exaltation, like the fixed flame of his genesis, it is a wondrous sight to behold (think “the eternal flame!”) but with Saturn the desire for that divine state is turned into a life-challenge; people will not admire the Leo configured with Saturn even though the native will demand it, this creates (often) arrogance and pomposity – which is merely a state of demanding respect which has not been earned. That is Saturn in Leo. Similarly, Leo is the creative principle; ruled by the Sun, creator of all life, which is exactly why Jupiter in Leo so loves children and Saturn in Leo struggles to love them. Moon in Leo is instinctively commanding, when put under pressure the Moon in Leo native will try to take charge. All of these insights are underpinned though by the fixed nature of the sign. Yes fire is warm, fire draws people to itself, but the fixity of Leo proclaims itself as a fire that cannot be put out, thus it cannot be extinguished, managed, controlled or argued with, Leo is an ‘always on’ type of energy that like the Lion will not stand down.

And then there is the cobra. Here is an entirely different animal. Cold-blooded, deadly, hard to properly see and generally feared, but not feared out of respect for its magnificence like the lion, feared because it will leave you for dead as soon as look at you. The cobra is not mighty in that divine and kingly way that the lion conjures, but just as deadly, just as implacable. Now if you think about the cobra (or the Scorpion: another facsimile for the Scorpio energy) you will understand right away that they are small, almost insignificant, but they can kill an animal many times their own size and what this really underlines is the key power of the sign of Scorpio: survival.

There are sub-plots with Scorpio of course, but they all boil down to the essential foundation of the sign’s nature, which is the survival instinct. The major sub-plot is the idea of penetration; that is a sexual imperative (via the penetration involved in coitus) as well as a mortal one (since penetration of the flesh by sword, sting or venomous fang will destroy the life), but essentially, this penetration is always at its core a survival issue; sexual penetration ensures genetic survival while combative penetration ensures physical survival; thus the essence of Scorpio is always survival. I have written about this in the past in context of Moon in Scorpio, but consider Mars in Scorpio; here is a placement that is ideal for the warrior type. It is not the chivalric, noble warrior code of Mars in Leo for whom honour and glory on the field of battle are possibly held in higher regard even than survival, but it is instead the kill-or-be-killed mentality of the pit-fighter, it is the secret, stealthy mentality of the assassin, it is the merciless and ruthless killer who, without hesitation strikes down his foe and doesn’t look back. There is no consideration of honour, but neither is there any attempt to bathe in the glory of an act of violence, it is merely expeditious; it is a doing what must be done, without a great fuss, in order that life can go on.

This understanding gives a powerful insight into the Leo-Scorpio square. Both signs are in their way implacable, both are fixed, both will not give way and a head-to-head between the lion and the cobra is going to make an uncomfortable contest. The lion cannot give way because he would be dishonoured to do so and his dream of respect and leadership would lie in tatters if he were seen to ignobly baulk at the offer of battle. By the same token, the cobra will not turn his back on the fight because his survival instinct is too strong, turning his back would leave it open to attack and so a stand-off ensues.

There is therefore an inability to compromise in any square between the signs of Leo and Scorpio, both want to go their own way and neither is prepared to back down. The result of any square is tension and ultimately inertia, but with these signs the tension is multiplied and magnified both; neither sign too understands the other, inextinguishable flame and stagnant water have little enough common quality, it is an irresistible force and an immovable object combination that simply creates a peculiar form of paralysis. Actually, as we are beginning to understand it is actually very much a stand-off; neither can feel it is able to win the fight, but neither – for entirely different reasons – feels comfortable with the idea of backing down.

Let us consider a few informative examples.

How about Ted Bundy, the American serial killer, estimated to have murdered between 29 and 100 young women between 1974 and 1978?

Ted Bundy Nativity

Here the square aspect connects a conjunction of Saturn with Pluto in Leo on the 12th with Jupiter in Scorpio riding the Imum Coeli; this is significant especially. Saturn combined with Pluto is known for its brutality; it was known bt Ebertin as “hard labour” and indeed wherever it is found it makes life very, very difficult; it is for this reason that esoteric astrologers consider it to be a deeply karmic aspect, and whether or not you choose to believe that, the reality is, it makes something of a prison sentence of the life. With the ruler of the 8th – Neptune – itself being the ruler of the 12th, then it is little surprise that Bundy’s life ended in prison at the hands of the legal system (Neptune in Libra!). This aside though, consider the ruler of Leo, the Sun and place that brutality in context; the Sun is in the fourth, so the brutality implied by the Saturn Pluto conjunction is enacted through increasingly sadistic sexual tendencies (Jupiter in Scorpio negated) in private (the 4th). The majority of his attacks were carried out in his car or in the homes of his victims, (3rd/4th houses). Jupiter configured with Saturn creates an enormous oscillation; it is a stop-start, hot-cold aspect that generates debilitating tension; Jupiter and Pluto bring leadership and dominance issues to the fore; especially across these signs; here there is tremendous potential for abuse. Consider the near-peregrine island of Mercury and Venus in Scorpio; here is somebody who thinks about sexual or power issues, who possibly confuses love and sex and who is sexually dissatisfied (implied by the Venus quincunx deviant Uranian thinking in Gemini). The mix is difficult and dangerous.

The key however is Jupiter in almost partile square to Pluto; which itself combined with Saturn in the suppressed 12th gives near-fanatic sexual dominance issues that conjunct the IC, are carried on in secret. Anyone born in the years 1946 and 1947 with this particular square (and more generally the Sa/Pl conjunction) will probably display some measure of fanaticism in their outlook; I have seen it time and again in this subset of the Pluto in Leo generation and it nearly always combines power and money issues in some way (and how else explain how that generation ushered in the most debilitating era of pointless and soulless capitalism since the days of European feudalism?) Here is a further example:

Arnold Schwarzenegger Nativity

Consider this identical aspect in the chart of the well-known actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here the fanatic impulse is found in the Sa/Pl conjunct in Leo too, but now in the earthy 2nd, there is therefore a financial connotation, and Arnold is truly wealthy, but the house (and the sign of Leo too) is now dominated by the Sun, partile to the cusp in its domicile; creating an enormous ego and huge personal and physical power. The square to Jupiter in Scorpio creates a leadership issue too, but the Ascendant is trine Jupiter giving an easy outlet for the tension into the body itself. Arnold’s physique becomes a channel for all that power, leadership and dominance; he can quite literally manifest the tension into his muscles. In the 5th as well, Jupiter introduces an element of joy into proceedings, Arnold enjoys flexing his biceps and showing off his great power. But let us not forget too that Arnold has a peregrine Venus, he really wants to be beautiful and admired for his physical perfection (Venus rising) and in the sign of Cancer and with Moon quindecile to Mars in the 12th, he probably feels compelled to do that because his mother didn’t nurture him very well.

But despite all of this, there is a combination of Leo and Scorpio that is respectful to both. It is the Spartan. Here is a warrior that retains honour and respect, but fights for survival. The key to transforming the Leo-Pluto square then is to fight, not like Richard, Coerr de Lion, but to stand your ground, like Leonidas at Thermopylae. That is the archetypal compromise for these two difficult energies. It is not so much a winner and loser scenario, but instead it speaks of finding the very narrow common-ground, the perfect balance between the two, where their energies can be combined in the person of the Scorpion-King (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Conan the Barbarian, the role which first catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger to the A list. Another example of just how succinctly life imitates art!)

Pluto on the 10th, Thomas Hardy, Tragedian

Thomas HardyThere is, in this astrologer’s humble opinion, no finer novel written in the English language, than Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native. It surpasses in its sublime blend of Neptunian sensitivity, Plutonic tragedy and Uranian brilliance his better known later works, such as Jude the Obscure (or Jude the Obscene as it was known contemporarily for its frank sexual themes: some book dealers would sell copies in a brown paper bag) and it (again in my own opinion only) dwarfs the comparatively staid literary proficiencies of Dickens and the like. Hardy wrote Victorian England’s Iliads, Dickens its Daily Mail editorial, there is simply no reasonable common-ground.

Jude was so badly received for its lascivious undercurrents, its flippant treatment of lax virtue and its brutal commentary on social deprivation (which is shocking still to this day), that Hardy gave up novel writing for good; but he had a peculiar penchant for testing the boundaries of acceptable content in his work, and then seemed to become especially offended at the reaction he provoked when he successfully crossed it! His greatest works were always accompanied by themes of such Hadean darkness and despair that they make poignant and harrowing reading to this day, and the vivacity and power of the Arcadian landscapes he painted with his words are quite haunting in their potency; certainly when compared with the infernal, hellish visions of the slums and tenements of the city that he conjured; here is a writer who I believe was using his gift as a form of advocacy; Thomas Hardy was not only a master storyteller, a keen psychologist and a passionate celebrant of human love who rebelled against the cloying strictures of a repressed societal tradition; he was also our country’s first ecological activist.

Thomas Hardy Nativity

His astrology is a treasure trove of delights, a mine of insights, that when viewed in context with his writing style, gives an excellent insight into the practical application of astrologic craft. Here are my main delineations:

  1. For a writer there is not a great deal of 3rd house emphasis, but the chart ruler – the Sun – is in Mercury ruled Gemini and the 3rd house ruler is Venus in nature-loving Taurus. This explains then his ability to write about natural, earthy themes with such charming eloquence.
  2. Moon, Mercury and Venus are all placed in their domiciles, giving power to the emotions and memory, the intellect and writing ability and the aesthetic sense and the love nature.
  3. Similarly there is a delightful mutual reception between Uranus and Neptune, giving a genius for appreciating the divine.
  4. Look to the Quindecile from Venus to Jupiter, which always concerns the joy of love; here then is an obsession about the joy of love.
  5. Then note that Jupiter in Scorpio in the 5th house is at the focal point of a Yod from the Sun and Midheaven. Thus the products of his creativity (thus his novels) were never truly satisfactory to him in his career aspirations, or in his self-assessment of his true ability. Here is a ‘could do better’ aspect pattern that with Scorpio involved seeks to be more penetrating, more insightful, more piercing. Note just how stressed Jupiter is here in the 5th house of creativity; he needed to express his power (Scorpio) with words (5th).
  6. Then see the Quindeciles from Saturn to Mercury and Mars. Here there is a conjunction of Mars with Mercury, which creates a rather devilish mindset, a quarrelsome tendency that in the 11th rather speaks of a wish to pick a fight with society at large. Then consider the quindecile in that context: Saturn speaks to the mores and formalities of novels (in the 5th), thus he rebels against the conventions of novel-writing and uses his words to pick a fight with the world.
  7. Chiron conjunct Moon in the 12th speaks of some secret sensitivity to situations concerning the women in his own life; it suggests that the tragedy he wrote of so skilfully was more than a professional affectation.
  8. Now consider the Midheaven and the career: ruled by Mars, which conjunct Mercury in its own sign will be somewhat overshadowed by the Mercurial; Mars in Gemini too gives an energy of ideas and a passion for communication, and in the 11th a dream or aspiration of writing.
  9. The closest aspect is always telling; in this case Sun sextile Midheaven at a mere minute from true partile. This blends the self-image of a writer (Sun in Gemini) with the Career path, Sun too rules the chart, so it is doubly powerful.
  10. And finally, consider Pluto, menacingly ensconced firmly in the heart of the 10th. This speaks to the ability to involve tragedy in the career and too it rather underlines some of the highly Plutonic and charged transformations that Hardy himself was required to undergo as a writer. His first wife died suddenly and he stopped writing novels altogether; both Jude and Tess were greeted with public outrage and denigration and the themes of death and inevitability were so fundamentally woven into his works that his style became synonymous with Pluto; Hardy was the master of tragedy.

Black Moon Rising

The execution of Lady Jane Grey

Of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, it is told
(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)
That, ere the snake’s, her sweet tongue could deceive,
And her enchanted hair was the first gold.

And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
And, subtly of herself contemplative,
Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,
Till heart and body and life are in its hold.

The rose and poppy are her flower; for where
Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent
And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?
Lo! as that youth’s eyes burned at thine, so went
Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent
And round his heart one strangling golden hair.

The Black Moon, as Lilith is called is little used and little known in astrology, and even where she is known she is little understood. This poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, more famed for his collaboration with Holman-Hunt and the pre-Raphaelite movement than his poetry, but undoubtedly a true Renaissance Man, hints at Lilith’s narcotic power. Evidently, according to Rosetti, Lilith has a primal allure, an ability to mesmerise, to enthral and ultimately to enslave. There is more than a hint of self-deception in the dark wiles of Lilith, a beckoning to deluded oblivion. She appears to take away men’s mind’s, their rational, objective selves, and lead them upon a journey to self-destruction and despair. A true black sorceress then, Lilith, we infer, has echoes of narcissism and compulsion in her drowsy refrain, and she might be safely discarded as a colourful – if bewitching – footnote in the astrology, if it were not for the very frightening frequency with which Lilith is found to be significant in the configurations of murderers, psychopaths and those who commit heinous acts quite beyond the ken of humanity at large.

Lilith, painting by John Collier (1892)Take the cases of Lyle and Eric Menendez, brothers who gunned down their parents and proceeded to spend $1 million of their inheritance within weeks of the killings; both brothers, despite having very few similarities in their charts, one with Taurus and the other Virgo rising, have the Black Moon rising within 4 degrees of the Ascendant. Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper who killed 13 prostitutes in the late 1970s; or Jimmy Hoffa; all had Black Moon rising conjunct the Ascendant. Mark Chapman Jones, the man who gunned down John Lennon in the autumn of 1980 also had Lilith rising.

In women’s nativities, it provokes an entirely different sense. Heidi Fleiss, the Hollywood madam, undone by sex-scandals and imprisoned has Lilith rising; as did Christine Keeler, the spy and prostitute who brought down the British government in 1963 after the “Profumo affair” was exposed. Women who switch on, or give way to the bewitching powers of Lilith are certainly playing with fire, whilst those who remain resistant to her call to deviltry are arguably less well-treated; as in the case of the tragic, short life of Jane Grey, Protestant queen of England for 9 days who was beheaded in the Tower of London as a result of political intrigue and power-mongering by those entrusted with her care. Her death, one of the most despicable and horrific acts of regicide ever to have occurred in human history, is by and large a footnote in our history books, but such is Lilith’s power, she obscures, creates confusion and tragedy and bewitches men’s minds with deluded dreams of lust and power. There is not much of good to report on poor Jane’s life, even her mother sought to “harden the child with regular beatings”. Jane said of her childhood: “For when I am in the presence of either Father or Mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it as it were in such weight, measure and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips and bobs and other ways … that I think myself in hell.” At her death, aged just 16, the executioner asked her forgiveness, and she gave it.

This does not mean that Lilith cannot be profitably employed. Consider the master of horror, Vincent Price, with Lilith tightly conjunct his Sagittarius Midheaven and peregrine! Any unaspected energy point in the astrology can be given enormous power, it may run away with the whole chart under certain conditions; perhaps by transit or progression, and the conjunction for price, in an otherwise untenanted 10th, was too good an opportunity to miss. He built a formidable career playing sorcerers warlocks, murderers and monsters of various dimensions and motivations and he demonstrated perhaps the only manner in which it might be considered safe to listen to Lilith’s entreaties: for the improvement of the dramatis personæ.