The Dream Dealer

It’s a time of reflection, do you feel that?

Saturn in Scorpio is really starting to work his magic. Except it doesn’t really feel like magic. Or if it is magic then it’s some old-school thaumaturgy, or one of those terrifyingly savage shamanic rituals that unfortunate sailors would get caught up in, far from home, in the South Seas in the 1700s. It isn’t fun at all.

When the Moon hit Saturn in Scorpio, the energetic landscape changed. What I really became aware of was the way in which Jupiter in Gemini was suddenly, through an act of contrast, laid bare, and he looked kind of ridiculous. Suddenly that boundless frivolity started to seem dumb. It was, in true Saturn style, a reality check. The fact is that Jupiter is appalling in Gemini. Arguably not as appalling as in Virgo, but appalling nonetheless. Jupiter, who likes depth and substance has nowhere to go except to spread himself further on the surface, because Gemini gives no natural depth. Saturn in Scorpio gets seriously deep and suddenly Jupiter looks like a second hand car salesman arguing life perspectives with Alan Watts. In many ways I am far more comfortable with Saturn in Scorpio – as ridiculous as that sounds – than I am with Jupiter in Gemini.

In part that’s a generational problem. Having pondered the conundrum for some time I believe that Neptune is partly to blame (blame? Neptune?) for this. Allow me to explain.

Neptune always gets cast as the good guy; if I may quote myself (from “Orcus” p. 202):

“I believe that Neptune is given a fabulously good press by contemporary astrology, and one that is scarcely deserved. Certainly, Neptune’s reputation is enormously positive compared to his brother Pluto’s, and yet I am endlessly sceptical about how deserving of his many generous epithets Neptune truly is. Like the ocean, Neptune seems beautiful, yearning and restive, a vastness of potential and a personification of a gentle eternity, but it seems that way from the perspective of the safe shore. Anyone who has been beyond sight of land in a black and angry sea understands that Neptune’s power is just as dread as his brother’s; equally as alien and inhumane. Pluto’s realm is buried, however; unknown to the living, whereas Neptune’s treacherous tides and currents are glamorised by his glittering waves and gentle breezes. Neptune’s dreams, poetries and symphonies are spin-doctors par excellence.”

Neptune’s wonderful trick is that he flatters to deceive by presenting us with an image of the ideal that we cannot possibly hope to realise. Then, unattained, the dream becomes a goad to our discontent.

And, when you get to grips with it, Neptune describes your dream. With Neptune in Scorpio, the basic premise is a kind of unencumbered Spartanism. You dream of a life of purity, of minimalism, of spiritual depth. If that Neptune is in the 6th house then you will have a dream about starting your day by donning your robe, walking into the clean air as the day breaks, up to the dojo under the mountain and beginning your meditation. If the 7th house, then instead, you awake in your remote cabin to find sunlight streaming through the trees. Your beautiful, funny, successful wife has made a pot of rich Columbian coffee and you join her on the porch to listen to the birdsong. In the 8th, you wake up in the presidential suite of the Waldorf Astoria. The Swedish women’s volleyball team are staying on the same floor…

Okay, I’m joking, mostly.

But you get the idea. Neptune has a dream. It is highly personal and always alluring because it is purpose-made for you. With a Scorpio placement, the quality of that dream is always going to be characterised by depth and richness. It is not a case of bigger and better; rather it is a case of finding something pure and valuable, like a rich seam of gold deep in the black earth. Imagine that for a moment, it shines in the darkness and promises so much.

The placement of Pluto and aspects to Neptune are going to have a profound influence on the themes of your dream. If you have Scorpio Neptune in the 7th and Pluto in the 10th, then after you have drunk coffee with your wife, you climb into your Porsche and drive into the city to make big-money deals.  If Neptune trines Mars then of course, all the girls flirt with you, you’re so charming after all, but they all know that you’re happily married and can’t wait to get home to see your wife.

With Sagittarius, the dream changes, fundamentally. Now Jupiter is running the show, so it’s not a seam of gold buried deep in the earth any more, rather it’s a bright, hot-air balloon drifting gently in the balmy summer sky. You’re up there in the clouds looking down on the glittering panoply under your feet.

With that Neptune in the 6th house, you want a daily routine that’s filled with fun and laughter and good times. Yes, you can feel that can’t you? You get up and the kids are laughing, the sun is shining, your handsome, jovial husband is cooking breakfast and telling goofy jokes. You sit down to eat and your best friend calls and you arrange to go out for lunch after your yoga class. You see? That is the “more is more and it will all be great fun” style of Neptune in Sagittarius’ dream.

Inevitably though, the dream can become something of a curse. Actually, it invariably does, and when we experience hard transits to that Neptune, we begin to feel just how painfully short of that dream our reality actually is. The Neptune squares are the time in our life when we get the best opportunity to feel how far from that dream we are, and to make necessary adjustments, which invariably require coming to terms with the fact that we are going to have to let go of some things that don’t serve that dream. But that isn’t the only time we can improve the situation.

We are gifted another opportunity when Saturn moves into Neptune’s sign. It rarely feels like an opportunity, because the nature of these two energies are fundamentally dissonant, but for those born with Neptune in Scorpio, now is the time to make the hard and often onerous changes in your life which will help you to make the dream a reality. This is because the planet of reality is bearing down on the planet of fantasy, and when they finally meet, they are going to find a middle ground. It might be that Saturn gives way and you work hard to realise the dream, or it might be that Neptune gives ground and you start to get real about what is possible, and adjust the dream accordingly. Whichever way it goes, and usually there is a combination of both, after this transit, your ideal life, and your actual life will be closer than ever before. The process will not have been easy, or enjoyable, but you’ll be glad of it when it’s done.

With Neptune in Sagittarius, the situation is unique and considerably more compelling. Neptune in Sagittarius’ dreams and aspirations are in many ways bigger than Scorpio’s, and easier to deflate for that reason. But the great cosmic mechanism has ensured that Neptune in Sagittarius gets a double dose of adjustment as Saturn moves into Sagittarius between December 2014, and December 2017. People born in about 1971 are already being given a taste of this problem because – born between 1971 and 1972 they have Neptune in Sagittarius and Saturn in the early degrees of Gemini. They’ve lived with the dissonance of Saturn opposing Neptune their entire lives and as Neptune squares the opposition around now, the reality check can be especially sobering. Neptune is so very idealistic in Sagittarius after all, and the opposition to Saturn really polarises the fantasy with the reality. The dream is extremely positive and the dawning truth at the time of the Neptune squares can feel like a wet blanket the size of the old Soviet Union when it descends.

For those born somewhat after, they will experience Saturn moving into Sagittarius at the same time as their Neptune squares. It’s a double ‘turning of the screw’ on the dream of the perfect life, and for that reason it will feel very tough.

But in both these cases, all is not lost. The adjustment is painful and dissonant, but it also offers a powerful opportunity to make a shift of consciousness, which is always Neptune’s exalting pressure, into a truly spiritual mode of life. Once made, that shift is a panacea for the harshness of Saturnine reality, because it recontextualises material reality, success, status and toil into immaterial terms. Status is no longer being seen as a success, but rather in knowing that one is a good person. The small chores of life are no longer drudgeries, rather they are become meditations. What we call “work” is now “the Work”. Fundamentally, this shift is found in the realisation that the life of contentment and ease that we yearned for is not ‘out there’ but it is inside us, bound up in the distortion of perspective that we are somehow hard done-by, a victim of somebody else, or of God, or that, in fact, because we are good, we deserved better. Saturn teaches our Neptune that nobody gets what they deserve, they get only what they need to let go of the illusion that they deserved better.

How big is your Pluto?

This is an interesting diagram which delineates the ‘strength’ of Pluto through the signs. With Pluto, stronger does not mean better, it means, well, stronger. To have sympathy with an energy does not always mean to have more of it, indeed, Pluto is subtle, deep and most of all hidden, so to have Pluto in positive, outgoing and extrovert signs, like Leo, Libra and Sagittarius is uncomfortable for Pluto, who enjoys Scorpio for precisely the reason that he can remain subtle, deep and hidden.

But there is a way in which stronger does mean better, provided you can utilise the lessons of Orcus and find true spiritual integrity. In this way you will not be ‘broken’ by Pluto. So if you have Pluto strong then you are facing a major test in this incarnation, and one which you will learn at a much greater personal cost (but also a cost to those in your life) than the majority whose Pluto’s are less ‘out there’.

If you have Pluto close to an angle, then he becomes even stronger, and he is also strong in the 5th, 7th and 9th houses. So if you have Pluto rising in Libra or Sagittarius, and to a slightly lesser extent Leo, then know that you have quite a trip ahead of you and you need, for the sake of your eternal soul, to get down to some serious spiritual work if you want to avoid the burden of a lot of karmic payback as well as realise the not inconsiderable benefit of having transformed a great deal of Hadean force. That will make you quite formidable, but in a loving and meaningful way.

Plus, what choice do you have? Any other road leads only to unhappiness.

Future Imperfect

I think one of the great uncharted territories of astrology lies in the arena of prediction. It’s probably foolhardy, as an astrologer to even try, but we all fall for it from time to time, on any map of useful astrological employments, prediction ought to be accompanied by appropriate warning: “here be dragons” or somesuch. As it happens I have discovered a very powerful means of predicting the future, but even though it is astounding, it is also, without question a little like looking at the future as though it were a narrowly possible present. It resembles a distorted image, as though the lens of viewing were dark, uncertain and dim. Very often, the image we arrive at is rather like a jigsaw puzzle before assembly; once the future falls into the present we understand what we are looking at and how all those pieces fit together, and it makes complete sense; every piece is utilised and adds to the overall picture. Where then is the use? Well, I believe that even knowing the pieces is enough to give us clues about the general tone or theme of the big picture. When I look at those jigsaw pieces and discern a bright spray of hydrangeas, patches of thatch and blue sky, and dark glints of leaded glass, I can guess that the overall picture is of an ancient English country cottage, and the same is true enough for astrology. I can predict that somebody I know will become very sick this year, that somebody I love will die next year, and that too, for many people I know, the more things change, the more they will stay the same, and I can know all of this regardless of how the reality transpires once the future is realised.

It might seem strange, but this is not illogical. The art of prediction can never be an exact science, and while to a very great extent the exactitude of the future sketch – it cannot be more than impressionistic – is dependent upon the skill of the practitioner, even the most skilled cannot ever create a precise image of days to come.

One of the reasons for this is precisely because we do not have fate. Very few aspects of human life are set in stone. It appears to be true that our lifespan is fixed, the day we are born we are fixed into a specific timescale, which can be likened to a movie before we have watched it. We can read the back cover and discern the movie’s genre and broad themes, we can take note of its running time, and perhaps we can understand some of the characters that will be involved in driving the plot, but we cannot know the plot, nor can we understand how the movie will end.

We can make some generalisations. Generally, the purpose of a human life is to raise consciousness, but unless you are committed to that goal you will not manage anything but the most meagre of gains. The great trick of the world is to make that objective antithetic to reason. The obvious statements of human society are at odds with spiritual perspectives. But that is as it should be, because spiritual progress is synonymous with struggle. Spiritual collapse is too, but that’s a story for another day, the quality of character is everything in this world. For me these are undeniable truths that make me foolish and misguided in the eyes of the many, but which leave me no alternative but to pursue this difficult path to self-realisation. Anything else is just – at best – treading water, and how better can one define time-wasting, energy-wasting? What is astrology? Is it a map of your potential or is it the blueprint of your prison? Until we understand our true nature, we are all in solitary confinement. A little like the Buddhist who understands that to reach Nirvana we have to let go of pleasure as well as pain, we can see that we have to transcend our trines as well as our oppositions and squares, and that, of course, is very much harder to do.

I love the phrase “at odds with yourself.” I find that it describes so well the great conundrum of human life, and the gift of astrology. Society creates enormous pressure to subscribe to linear reality because:

  1. It’s all there is.
  2. Anything else is therefore madness and,
  3. This is proven by the fact that there is no evidence that anything else works, therefore it’s all there is.

It’s a neat and circular system that leaves us devoid of options. You have to believe against all common-sense that a non-linear perspective is viable and make a leap of faith. Incidentally, nobody who ever made a genuine leap of faith regretted it, not once. So there is subjective evidence that it works, but that evidence is by design, immaterial. That’s the trap of course, moving beyond the material creates a dearth of (material) evidence.

So, while your future is within your astrology, with stunning precision, every detail mapped, we cannot without hindsight put it together in perfection. The evidence for the future is immaterial. It’s easy to understand why.

Most astrologers know that Pluto is often indicative of grandmothers. Nobody really understands why unless we put together the rulers of the 4th and 5th houses. Here then we have a concepts of generations, where we put together mothers and their children. If the 4th is your mother (in the lunar correspondence) then the 5th of the 4th is your mother as somebody’s child. The 4th of the 5th is the 8th, ruled by Pluto.

If you have Mars on the descendant, squaring Saturn in the 10th then you might deduce that since the 10th is the 4th of the 7th, the placement will likely manifest through the partner’s family. Alone, the 10th is the house that concerns itself with status, the 7th house alone is the partner, so with these two planets here there will be destructive and oppressive (Ma vs Sa) in-laws who are strongly status-driven; the native will find themselves drawn toward romantic relationships with people who have ‘difficult’ families. By the same token, the 7th is the 2nd of the 6th, which suggests that one would have to work quite hard for money. Now, you might think it’s the same for everyone, after all, who doesn’t have to work hard for money, but it’s not: a well aspected and strong Jupiter in the 7th is often indicative of somebody who comes into money easily, especially through marriage (see how it all adds up?) Both realities are honoured. The 10th is the 2nd of the 9th too, so here are philosophical, religious and civic values, and money earned from them. The 10th is also the 12th of the 11th, so it represents sorrow from friends, friends that are in truth enemies (the 12th is the house of secret enemies, the 7th of open enemies), or perhaps your alcoholic or addicted friends too, as well as those friends you make ‘down the pub.’ By the same token, the 10th is the 11th of the 12th too, so it represents your spiritual aspirations, charitable groups you might belong to and medical technology. As you can see, the range of possibility is vast, and while astrology tends toward clarity, as you become more and more self-aware, you begin to close off the channels of compulsive manifestation and the Universe has to get quite creative to find new combinations of derivative houses through which to manifest unowned energy blocks into your external reality. If you work with houses in this way, you can account for everything in creation. What is your car? Is it a pure 3rd house energy: something which gets you around within your local environment, or is it a 12th house manifestation: 10th of the 3rd, a status symbol encapsulated in a vehicle: no wonder that falls in the 12th house! You’re never going to be satisfied by that are you? Not for long anyway, no surprise that’s a Neptunian energy signature, and Pisces and Neptune often seem to give a great craving for ‘dream cars’.

This myriad array of potentials of course is what makes astrology ‘theoretically’ impossible, or at best, unwieldy. Fortunately we can see how astrology gets applied using various techniques – many of which have nothing much to do with astrology – and create a retrospective form of real-world astrology that is tailored to the individual. Anyone who claims they can look at your astrology without knowing the first thing about your life and tell you they know what makes you tick is lying. They can tell you only what is more likely to make you tick. Astrology can make educated guesses and very often they’ll pay off, but not always.

I’ve discovered something new however: a process of determining what makes a human being tick. It’s remarkable, eloquent and powerfully effective, very soon I will be making that information available, once I have structured it in such a way that it can be transmitted accurately. We astrologers are always trying to balance these two opposing energies: the need for precision and operating with a usable narrowness of focus with the complexity and infinite possibility of astrology’s descriptive language. It’s extremely skilled work, and even with the evidence of a life at one’s disposal it’s difficult, so the future adds another veil over the scene that is being explored, but things change, new discoveries are made, new methods are revealed and we move confidently into a future where astrology becomes that which it is: – undeniable.

Daybreak and the 12th House Sun

Why exactly all the fuss about the 12th house Sun?

I hear the reality of a 12th house Sun bemoaned on a frequent basis. That Venus in the 12th has its plus points too, but generally, wouldn’t it be better for me if…? It’s funny, because nobody makes a great hue and cry about having Sun or Venus in Pisces – which is fundamentally the exact same condition with only a nuance of difference at best – and yet the 12th house, like the 8th and to some extent the 4th gets this ongoing bad press. It all stems from the astrology of the ancients of course, for whom a 12th house Sun had undoubtedly harsher connotations in a world without the leisure and affluence to support any but the most worldly of considerations.

And that’s all it is really. People with an 8th or 12th house Sun have to be identified with non-worldly, non-superficial objectives. For the 8th, that means that privacy and power are the keystones of personal expression and self-development. In the 12th, the ego has to be transcended – which can potentially be astonishingly difficult because the level one exposition of that imperative is to be everyone’s doormat – a common complaint levelled both at and by your average Piscean incidentally – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown, all British Prime Ministers, shared a Sun in the 12th. Hardly doormats or ‘background’ types. So what makes the difference between the future leader of the nation and the future heroin addict or perennial fall guy?

For various reasons, superfluous to this discussion, I have been attending to this issue of late. Why does it happen that the 12th house Sun so often, as Alan Leo said it, is: “promised much improvement in worldly affairs as your life advances”? Sue Tompkins – whom I respect greatly even though I believe in this instance that she has it wrong – determines that the Sun in the 12th is so tired of being overlooked that they push themselves forward with even greater vigour in later life. Of course, this seems logical, but if that were the case then why should they often manage it so well? It’s not as though arriving late at the party qualifies one for being the life and soul of it after all. Surely those who have put more time into the business of being out front in life really ought to benefit more obviously.

I think the answer is very simply found in the instance of the Secondary Progressed chart. This perspective is sorely neglected in contemporary astrology, because the nativity is not in stasis. We are not fixed any more than the seed determines the tree. Certainly it determines the species of tree, but myriad elements of environment, meteorology and soil acidity will shape the resultant outgrowth. In this way, transits and progressions quite deliberately progress our nativity. It might not be therefore that the Sun literally emerges from the cabined confines of the 12th, but countless aspects of strength and dignity are shifted in the ongoing miasma of cosmic interrelationship as the chart progresses. In Tony Blair’s case, for example, he graduated from Oxford in the same year that his Jupiter emerged from the 12th house, the Sun having moved out of the 12th two years previously at the same time as his association with the Anglican minister Peter Thomson awakened within Blair a deep concern for religious faith and left-wing politics. The Solar identity begins to emerge at the exact moment that the Sun emerges from the 12th house by Secondary Progression.

This is no mere coincidence: it happens in every case. With Gordon Brown, the Sun emerged by SP from his 12th house in 1996, less than a year from the Labour party being elected to office whereupon he became Blair’s chancellor; and too the year that – when you follow the news stories of the day – Brown actually thrust himself into the public consciousness. This is not coincidence. Of course, anyone with an 11th house Sun has by definition therefore, to weather the relative obscurities of the long years of the 12th house transit. Consider as an example George W. Bush, whose Sun crossed the Ascendant by Secondary progression in 1983, the same year his father (Sun) became president. In 1995, when he was elected to office, his SP chart evinced not a single hard Ptolemaic aspect, a most beatific astrological disposition. The impression that any retrospective of Bush’s life confers is really one of obscure origins, a slightly murky past (complete with alcoholic tendencies and DUI convictions!) and an earlier life that is lived, to some extent, in the shadows. This period concurs perfectly with the 12th house transit of his Sun by Secondary Progression.

In some ways then, it is perhaps better to be born with Sun in the 12th than with Sun in the 10th, because there is a life that starts well and ends – if not badly – at least with greater obscurity than it began. The arc of that narrative is clear too, consider the businessman (10th) who makes his fortune then through a growing consciousness of the plight of less fortunate humanity (11th house) eventually becomes a philanthropist and gives all his money to the world’s poor and afflicted (12th).

Of course, we will never escape the blueprinting of our emergence into incarnation, so the 12th house Sun will ultimately require an identification with something that represents the infinite, that corresponds archetypically with the return to Eden, and that is why selfishness backfires in the long run on the 12th house Sun and the Pisces Sun alike, but to believe that such placements confer a life-sentence of obscurity and defeat is provably very wide of the mark.

Sadness flies on the wings of the morning and out of the heart of darkness comes the light.”
Jean Giraudoux.

The Astrology of Breaking Down

Today’s article is a story. Not a made-up story, it’s a real-life story, a part of my own story, and it demonstrates, I believe, just how astonishingly powerful astrology is when you are open to its most fundamental principles, when you are fluent (and that’s a potent word in this context) in its language, and how it is a diagnostic and therapeutic tool second to none if you are experiencing life problems.

There is a phenomenon in astrology which I call the cascade effect. I shall quote myself, because I want you to understand the cascade effect, if you don’t appreciate it truly, then you will struggle to harness the power of your nativity: instead, it will remain abstract, disconnected from your reality. So:

Any physical symptom is simply an expression of the astrology at the level of last resort. That psychic impetus that you have not manifested at some level higher-up in the totality of your awareness has – left with no viable alternative – found its way out into the body, and that is the cause of your symptom.”

Meditation or prayer is a powerful tool for healing when combined with astrological self-awareness

So, if you are sick, then there is a problem in your nativity that has been triggered. Of course, for the sake of clarity, this does not mean that if you have caught a cold there is a problem in your nativity; but if you are unusually sick, relative to the statistical norm for people of your age and background, and even, in fact, relative to your own experience. What this means is that if you become ill, and your symptoms are severe, chronic or unusually distressing, then the reason for that problem will be found in your nativity.

That problem will have manifested at different levels too, although, if it has reached the ‘low-point’ of the physical body, then the chances are that you haven’t noticed it manifesting in any of the higher levels, but have no doubt, it will have been there! I have a theory that these problems want to be noticed, simply because the natural impetus of the human soul is toward improvement and purification. Let me use an analogy.

You go and buy a TV, and because you’re short of cash, you buy it on credit. The next day you lose your job, and because you are always a bit short of cash you didn’t get any unemployment insurance, so you miss the first payment on your new TV. A month goes by and you receive a reminder in the post. You ignore it, thinking you’ll soon be back in work and you’ll sort it out then. Another reminder arrives and you ignore that, and the next, and you’re beginning to get a little panicky about it now. The phone rings and you’re screening the calls and it’s the credit company, so you start avoiding the telephone (we’ve all been there right?) A couple of weeks later, you get a really threatening letter telling you you’re going to be taken to court if you don’t get in touch and sort this out.

Now, you can carry on with this story, right up to the point where the bailiffs are kicking in the door and clearing out all your worldly goods, you get evicted and end up living in a homeless shelter; but since I already said this would be a true-story and not make-believe, I’ll leave all that to you.

The point is that your astrology works in exactly this way, except it doesn’t use uneasy feelings, reminder letters, phone calls and bailiffs; rather it uses synchronicity, feelings of discomfort, interpersonal conflict and physical sickness as a direct correlation.

What this means is that the Universe (which from a philosophical perspective is really your nativity) starts making things happen in external reality as a way of trying to tell you that you need to take note of this problem and start dealing with it. We call this synchronicity for easy reference. Astrology is a universal language; Mercury is concerned with an array of factors, from communication at the interpersonal level to nerves and lungs (and so on) at the physical level. Similarly, Mars rules assertion and competition at the interpersonal level and the muscles, the head (and so on) in the physical body. Therefore, if you suffer from neuralgia or frequent toothaches then the chances are that there is some difficult connection between Mercury and Mars in your nativity. This might not be immediately obvious, but here is a list of some possible interconnections:

  1. Mercury in aspect (especially hard aspect) to Mars.
  2. Mercury in Aries or Mars in Gemini.
  3. Mercury in the 1st or Mars in the 3rd.
  4. Having a stressor aspecting the midpoint of Mercury and Mars (e.g. Sa=Me/Ma).
  5. Having both planets in weak positions, thus Mercury in Sagittarius and Mars in Libra, (or even Mercury in the 9th and Mars in the 7th).
  6. Having another planet act as an intermediary: for example having Jupiter in Aries (thus ruled by Mars) in tricky aspect to Mercury. Or vice-versa, having Saturn in Gemini in tricky aspect to Mars.

Now the crucial point here is that this problem will be trying to get itself noticed throughout your life, but like the reminder letters from the credit company, you’ve been ignoring them. What happens next is that you get a (cosmic) phone call, and maybe you start experiencing heightened conflicts in your interpersonal relationships; you’re always arguing with some people (and just what is their problem anyway!) but still you take no notice, you stop answering the phone and eventually, the bailiffs start kicking the door down. AKA: you get sick.

There are  a number of other stages of course: you might get divorced, your car might break down repeatedly (that’s a Mercury problem too), but whatever, ultimately, if you don’t take notice at one of these other levels, eventually you leave the Universe no other option than to give you a really big and obvious hint and make you sick.

Of course, you can go on with this (as with the original story) and ignore the bailiffs too, but now you’re playing a high-stakes game. Your quality of life might be affected or you might be hospitalised: you could even die; and lots of people do, believe it or not, rather than fix the original problem which is sitting there (often plain as day) in their nativity.

So you see, by following the TV bought on credit example, you can begin to understand how your astrology actually works. It would be nice of course if we were able to work out what was wrong even before we got the first reminder letter, and actually, with practise you can. You can cultivate a habit of taking notice of synchronicity, those coincidences that seem too uncanny to truly be mere coincidences and try to interpret what the underlying message is all about, but of course you need to be aware of the universal and symbolic language of astrology before you can understand the message. If you don’t speak the language, you won’t be able to understand the message (you can of course use a good interpreter).

The human body is an energy matrix that is mapped by your astrology

Now, one more note before we move on; the reminders, like the problem that is attempting to get noticed are not random. They are always triggered by transits, directions, and especially – in my experience – Secondary Progressions. What this means is that you can usually find the cause of the sickness if you take a look at the Secondary Progressed nativity at the time the problem was first noticed. It is not always there (but that would be unusual, especially if the problem is serious), but if it is not, then it will certainly be obvious in the transit chart, the progressed Solar Return chart or somewhere else. You will find it if you know how to look for it.

Now, I could provide theoretical examples, but it would be more powerful, and easier, to give a real-life story to illustrate this issue. This article will probably be especially interesting to anyone with difficult aspects between Mercury and Saturn.

In my own nativity, Mercury is peregrine (not classically peregrine, but Ptolemaically unaspected). That means it receives no major aspects. There are only three minor aspects, a quintile (72°) to Jupiter, a semisquare (45°) to Pluto and a quincunx (150°) to Saturn. I have never had the slightest problem accessing the Pluto semisquare, Mercury is in Scorpio and in mutual reception with Pluto in Virgo, and I understand the quintile to Jupiter (I have a fortunate knack for learning: if I want to understand something I will), but I’ve never been especially aware of the aspect to Saturn.

There are two factors to consider here: the aspect, and the quality of the blend. A quincunx is an aspect which fundamentally connotes dissatisfaction: when you try to combine these two energies, you’re never entirely satisfied with the result; it therefore creates a push for perfectionism. Mercury – Saturn on the other hand has plenty of meanings, but fundamentally, it suggests that when you are involved in a communication or exchange of ideas (thus anything from a chit-chat to a formal learning process) there is a feeling of inadequacy, blockage, slowness or frustration. I’d never been consciously aware of any such problem in my life, any dissatisfaction with my communication or ability to learn and as a result I’d never taken too much notice of the aspect before but then, two months ago I began to develop a problem with my shoulder.

As an astrologer, I determined that I really ought to be taking notice of this, because obviously, I’d been ignoring a problem all the way down the line, so I needed to find clues. I thought about it for a few days and went to see the doctor. The shoulder had become so bad by this point that I was practically paralysed, I could hardly move and my every waking moment involved severe pain. The doctor told me that I had a nerve trapped between two vertebrae in my spine and prescribed me powerful painkillers and a muscle relaxant which helped but did not ‘fix’ the problem. I was therefore tasked with translating the problem into the universal language of astrology in order that I find a solution. So, I had: a nerve (Mercury) that was trapped, compressed between two bones (Saturn), which resulted in muscular pain (Mars) for which the doctor (Hygeia) prescribed drugs (Neptune).

So, the trapped nerve immediately made me take notice of Mercury quincunx Saturn. But other events started to make themselves felt.

During the recent Mercury retrograde my car overheated (Mars) and all the water exploded out from a burst pipe in the engine (Neptune and specifically: Mars-Neptune, the explosion of liquids). The next day the temperature dropped and there was heavy snowfall so the water in the engine froze (Saturn), I hadn’t had a chance to put antifreeze in. This resulted in repeated problems with the car; it kept breaking down (Mercury-Saturn). I’ve actually become quite good friends with my mechanic as a result, because he’s had to fix the car (Hygeia) so many times!

So, all the clues are here: we have a Mercury Saturn problem, with elements of Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and Hygeia thrown in for good measure. Now here is my nativity:

As you will see, all of the aforementioned planets are involved in a complicated matrix of hard aspects in my nativity. I was born with this problem. Evidently, I’d managed to ignore the reminder letters, and the phone calls, and now the bailiffs were knocking on my door.

So, what’s the story here? I included the Sun in this picture because it’s relevant.

When I was three months old my father left and I never saw him again (Sun opp. Saturn Rx). My mother remarried when I was 4 and I had never been especially interested in my biological father but through a long course of synchronicities I had finally got to the point where I’d decided to contact him, which I did: just before Christmas. So, for the first time in my life since the age of 3 months, I communicated (Mercury) with my father (Saturn). Shall we call that another coincidence?

So what then is the fundamental problem? As I said before, Mercury – Saturn aspects are all about feeling intellectually inadequate. That would probably seem quite laughable to anyone who knows me well, and indeed, if anyone had told me a year ago that I had a lack of confidence in my intellect I’d probably have found it quite laughable myself, but the more I examined the issue, the more it made sense.

The chakras are the primary energy centres of the human body

My stepfather, whom I love dearly, has always told me how incredibly bright I am, as has my mother. In my stepfather’s case that was all very well, but he is a Cambridge University professor and one of the most supremely intelligent, wise and self-possessed human beings alive on this earth today (which really is no exaggeration). That’s a real legacy to live up to. Upon serious reflection then, I now realise that this first became a problem for me at the age of 14 (when I had my first Saturn opposition, thus triggering the Sun opposition to radix Saturn and the quincunx to Mercury). I fell behind at school after being the highest achieving pupil in my year: and this at one of the best schools in the country. I essentially flunked my exams. Still, my parents persuaded me to go back and take A’ levels, but I lasted almost until the point of taking the exams and I dropped out again. Even still, I went back to school many years later and took A’ levels, this time at 29! The Saturn return: and I got into University as a mature student. I started taking History with Archaeology (how Saturnian is that?) but then decided that it wasn’t for me and switched courses: supremely late, to Computing with Psychology. I got two years through my course and became so discontented that I basically flunked out again.

I am quite sure you are seeing a pattern here.

Sun-Saturn connotes somebody who is not so much motivated by a desire for success as they are paralysed by a fear of failure. They can do quite well in life, but crucially, their efforts are fuelled primarily by not wanting to fail.

Now, the Mercury – Saturn connection provokes a test as does any Saturn connection, there is a looming qualm, an innate inadequacy which the native struggles to overcome, usually through persistent hard work. When connected with Mercury, that test relates to intelligence, one’s ability to learn and communicate knowledge, and it relates very precisely to academic matters, so Saturn here says: are you academically able? The aspect is quincunx, so there is a seeking after perfection, things have to be just right or the aspect nags, like grit in your shoe, demanding that you get it right. But then Sun-Saturn is paralysed by a fear of failure and the primary role-model for success in a man’s life are these exact male archetypes, Sun and Saturn, the living embodiment of which is found in the father or father figure.

So, when your primary father figure is one of the most well-qualified human beings on the planet (and he really is: you could count on one hand the number of people alive today with his credentials in his field, he has taught at Harvard, UCLA and held a professorship at Cambridge) then really, to say that’s a tough act to follow, is an astounding understatement. My younger brother summed it up rather astutely when I saw him a couple of weeks ago when he asked: “what actually is the point in trying to distinguish yourself academically in our family?”


It has dawned on me since that the reason I had always dropped out of education before I really got finished was because then I didn’t have to fail (Sun-Saturn) which meant that I wouldn’t therefore have to feel stupid (Mercury-Saturn). What else was there? Any child only wants to individuate and exceed their parents’ expectation, so what was I going to do, become a double professor?

And that’s when I realised that I had an intellectual inferiority complex. It’s not remotely my stepfather’s fault of course, he is as humble, gentle and kind as the day is long, he would never crow about his achievements – indeed, the only reason I even know that he is a professor, or where he taught is because I’ve read his biography in the numerous books he has had published. It hit me with a kind of kaleidoscopic rush. I can now sense the inner tension that builds as soon as I feel pressured to learn something, and it resonates dissonantly, at the same time, with an inner pressure to achieve that learning goal; to prove myself.

And do you know what happened as soon as I realised this?

The pain began to subside. Well, I have a lot of work to do and it will probably take many weeks to fix myself for good, but I feel as though I am on the mend.

Understanding this, let us revisit the story of my car:

During the recent Mercury retrograde my car went through numerous cycles of overheating and freezing (Mars – Saturn: Saturn is in Aries thus ruled by Mars), Mercury was retrograde (breakdowns) and in Capricorn (thus ruled by Saturn). The Sun – Saturn opposition points to a congenital weakness, my mechanic tells me that I bought the car with this problem (on Ebay), and of course, the mechanic himself is represented by Hygeia which is the apex point of a tee square from the Sun – Saturn opposition.

It was when I looked at my Secondary Progressed chart that I decided to just buy a new car, I had already thrown away a small fortune on trying to get the old one fixed.

There are a number of remarkable features here. Before I explain though let me tell you a little about progressed Mercury. I was born with Mercury at 7 Scorpio, unaspected. Mercury continued to progress direct through Scorpio until 1984 – the year I first took my high school exams – when it turned retrograde. It moved back through Scorpio until it had returned to its birth position, when I decided to go back to school and get the exams I needed to go to University. When Mercury was in perfect quincunx to SP Saturn I actually made the decision that I would give up work and go back to school (although it took a while to realise that plan fully). When I experienced my Saturn Return I started University. Mercury continued to retrograde until it reached 1 Scorpio, in 2004. When Mercury came within a degree of the natal quincunx to Saturn (for the 3rd time now) I started to experience pain in my shoulder and the car started to break down.

Quite apart from the rather remarkable fact that SP Mercury has been in Scorpio my entire adult life: and will be until I am well into my 60s, what you will see is that just now, there is a Mars – Hygeia conjunction at the exact midpoint (all midpoints express the two aspecting points) of the Mercury – Saturn quincunx. Hygeia is indeed in exact squile (half-way between the sextile and the square) aspect (75°) to both Mercury and Saturn (don’t laugh, it’s an important and neglected aspect, especially for progressions – as is the squine: 105°). So, the mechanic, the doctor, my health are receiving the tension of needing to fix my intellectual insecurity complex. Mars (overheating, muscles) is manifesting in both the car and my own physical body.

Esoterically I have been reading an interesting book about chakra healing. I meditate most days so I am fairly comfortable with the idea of moving energy around my body, and it’s no coincidence that I’ve always experienced a sluggishness around the meridians in my right shoulder that run up into my neck. I’ve also suffered with a long-standing gallbladder problem (Pluto is on the degree for the gallbladder) and the gallbladder meridian runs up over the right shoulder blade, up the right-side of the neck and on upward through the throat chakra.

Mercury-Saturn of course certainly highlights the throat chakra as an area of potential concern and difficulty (Mercury: communication / Saturn: block). I have had to learn to moderate my communication over the last couple of years, the fallout from my divorce have made that necessary, and in the last few days I am beginning to find the requisite peacefulness of heart to speak my truth without recrimination. The heart chakra, precedes the throat chakra as energy travels up the spine, so the neck problem can only be cured with love and understanding.

What I have learned is this:

I do not need to prove myself to anyone. I am what I am and I live my life with integrity. I try to help people, for no other reason than that it brings peace to my heart to feel their pain easing. Those people who cannot hear me, I forgive, but until they too are able to set aside recrimination and blame I must remove them from my life, in order that I properly protect my sensitive emotional body and the wellbeing of my loved ones. I am learning to say only words which reflect my needs, but without bitterness or anger, balanced with the needs of those around me.

Over the coming days and weeks I will be writing to all those people that I have blamed so that I can express my regret and forgiveness.

That is the path to healing.

Erisian Elusiveness, Plutonic Potential

Here is an interesting idea.

Eris, Goddess of Discord, so named after being more or less directly responsible for the declassification of Pluto as a genuine planet and his reclassification as a ‘dwarf planet’ – if anyone is going to take Pluto down a notch or two it had to be Eris (the sister of Ares no less) – does not roll in a conventional orbit; she is differently inclined.

Which means that for long periods of her very slow perambulation around the Sun, she is far from the traditional ecliptic of the Zodiac; certainly, she makes an appearance in the Zodiac: in the sign of Pisces and Aries, (where she resides now from the astrological perspective) but in truth, she spends most of her time in realms far off the ecliptic and, heliocentrically speaking, has as her backdrop the constellation of Cetus. She’ll make a foray into Aries (and thus into the plane of the zodiacal ecliptic in 2065.)

What does this mean? The phenomenon of precession means that there is no absolute correlation between the physical zodiacal ecliptic and that which we use for casting nativities, but the planets do fall nonetheless in the same plane of the ecliptic. Eris is not at this time (nor at any point since her discovery has she been) in the zodiac at all.

Does this mean that Eris has no power until she falls into the scope of the ecliptical vibration? I certainly do not feel her influence (and I am not denouncing her for that is hubris), but I cannot make a case for the Erisian archetypes in a mundane nativity. Alternately, is she operating from an archetypal perspective that falls somewhat off kilter; Cetus is between and beyond the general region between Aquarius and Pisces; and might that explain how her influence is felt?

We do not wake up to the complex and far-distant archetypes easily. I see how completely Pluto has made his presence felt in human life of course, but it was not always so. The Wall Street crash of 1929 (financial wipeout) heralded his arrival, and the creation of an atomic bomb followed quickly, but it has taken a great deal of development to realise the transformative potential of Hades. What is truly wonderful is the understanding that with Pluto’s discovery our very beings were invested with a transformative potential! Previously, our astrology was fixed, now we are all waking up to the power to transform! Such a great gift was not even available to our great-grandparents, they were more or less cursed by the stars (or blessed of course), but now, if we are prepared to take the journey into the underworld (which is the monomyth as described by Joseph Campbell), then we can emerge, like Theseus from the labyrinth, one step nearer to our soul’s objective: Solar self-fulfilment. What a profound gift, and that too is Pluto of course: a gift beyond wealth!

So, I doubt I will make it to 2065 and I’m really not sure I’d want to, except for the interest of being able to see if there is a newly emergent Erisian reality at that time. There is so much to look forward to. Long before that the New Horizons probe will reach Pluto (on 14 July 2015, but surely it is taken as read that you shouldn’t peek into Hades’ realm?) And Regulus moves into Virgo in 2011!

So much to do, so much to get worked out, so many problems to fix (and that’s just my own!)

An Accident of Birth?

I am by no means a traditionalist when it comes to the study of astrology, but by the same token neither am I so much of a modernist that I am happy to discard much of the ancient wisdom either. In truth my only genuine difficulty with traditional astrology is its fixed bias, but I don’t want to get stuck on the debate of ancient vs. modern. My own view is clearly delineated in between the lines of almost every article I write and I am happy to use traditional techniques where they are an aid to measurement, and the scoring of essential dignity is undoubtedly of great benefit in gauging the relative ease or difficulty of any given placement in the nativity.

I have already made a foray into the value of essential dignity in my previous article: Dignity and debility and the fine art of furniture making. In that discussion I make the case for my understanding that whilst essential dignity is a useful technique it is a measure of ease and not potential. Indeed, it is arguable that essential dignity retards potential in the sense that there is no requirement to work at any given mode of expression; craftsmanship is more likely to evolve in cases where there is essential debility than dignity.

One other problem with the system is that it does not account for the houses of the chart. We all know that Venus is at home in the 7th (and to some extent also the 2nd, at least in her monetary guise) and that she “joys in the 5th”, but such wisdom is not included in the measurement of essential dignity and what is unquestionable is that Venus is immensely helped in her expression when she is found in any of these houses. I would certainly be inclined to improve her scoring if she were to be found in the 7th, the 2nd or the 5th. When a planet is found within its natural house, we make note of such accidental dignity and account for it.

But that is accepted wisdom, and the understandings of astrology are fully concomitant with this insight, and yet they make no account of accidental exaltation. By this understanding, Venus ought to also be improved in the 12th house, and arguably, by a greater measure even than in the 7th.

Technically, in traditional lore, accidental dignity is not simply determined by the house position of a planet, it is more correctly determined to be made up by any helpful factor that is not essential. That means that Venus (as per our example) will always be dignified in her own sign (because it is of her essence), but she might be further and accidentally dignified by any number of other less obvious factors, one of the most recognisable of which is her house position. By the same token she might be accidentally dignified through good aspect (especially to a helpful influence, such as Jupiter), through being placed on the Midheaven (and thus exalted and directly sheltering the nativity) or any number of other factors: the ancients listed a great raft of conditions such as speed of travel, not being combust or under the beams, or configured to a beneficial star, but for the most part these methods become obscure to the point of impracticability, or certainly to the point of questionable relevance, due to a law of diminishing returns.

As an astrologer, the key gift of experience is to be able to make a swift consideration of any given planet’s dignity, not necessarily in this exhaustively technical manner, but at the very least by taking into account the strength or weakness of the major factors, which have to be, in a vague order of insistence, placement by sign, house, aspect (or lack thereof especially) and angularity; the last of which is always significant where it is found, (a principle understood as the Gauquelin sectors).

We all ought to understand the basic principles of essential dignity, but the principles of accidental dignity are only at best, vaguely understood within the literature. It ought to be very helpful to have Venus therefore in the sign of Libra, but if she is in the first house squared by Pluto and stationary, then any genuine benefit from her essential dignity would at best be severely curtailed by this level of accidental debility.

By the same token, the sign Aries is not the happiest of placements for harmony and relationship focused Venus, but she might be ably assisted and indeed ‘lifted up’ by other factors of accidental dignity, Perhaps she might be trined to Jupiter and in the 7th house, and these would certainly help to boost her powers and therefore her better qualities might be easier to express. This is absolutely the key insight too, because this score that we are attempting to grasp is only a crude measure of how comfortable the energy of that planet is to express and it is for this reason a means to apprehending an underlying princple; it is not the score itself that matters, but its raison d’etre.

So, Venus in the 7th is much improved because there is no easier place to express the Venusian quality than in a marriage. She ‘joys in the 5th’ because in romance she is allowed to show her best qualities too, and she is comfortable in the 2nd because money earned is her realm as well and all material things that assist in comfort, leisure and ease are her natural domain. By the same token, Venus in the 1st ought to be a considerable block in this most Martian of houses, her influence will be self-directed, so Venus here is more concerned with appearances than with marital harmony; it is a placement that encourages vanity at the expense of partnership.

I would moderate (albeit in an intuitve manner) the essential dignity scores according to all of these factors when considering a nativity. Essential dignity (as determined by sign will always be the first consideration, but it cannot be the only consideration. House position is key as well, and indeed every house has its sympathy with every planet and we ought to understand this. I would consider Venus to be strengthened in the 2nd, 5th, 7th and also the 12th; indeed, I would consider the 7th and 12th to be her strongest positions, because these are the houses of her rulership (Libra – 7th) and exaltation (Pisces – 12th). Each gives a markedly different form of expression, with the 7th representing personal love and the 12th universal love, but in either house, Venus will be considerably more able to express her quality than in the selfish 1st and the workaday 6th. The former struggles to think of the other person and the latter struggles to feel romantic and neither bodes well even for an otherwise essentially dignified Venus.

I hope that the principle is clear enough. Here then is a table of correspondences with which I would modify the essential dignity scores (and please bear in mind this is an attempt to quantify what I would normally consider to be a rather immeasurable understanding, so do not take it too literally, we are concerned with the principles that are posited by the rules, not the other way around!)


Of course there are various provisos to all of these various positionings but as a general rule I would modify the essential dignities by 3 or 4 points either way for accidental dignity or debility according to house position. I would be prepared to modify those factors according to the more general conditions of a nativity, but the fundamental message that this entire apprehension of placement is intended to convey is that scoring is designed to facilitate a correct feeling for any given placement, but more importantly how that fits into the whole. It is simply not good enough to say that an essential dignity score of (say) -9 is a recipe for disaster without considering the various other factors that are in play: of these house position is very nearly as important as sign; it is all very well being able to sing like an angel, but if the only place you are able to sing is in the bath then it is not going to affect your destiny to any great extent.

Next time around I will be considering an example where these principles are thrown into very sharp relief.

Pluto through the signs: what’s your obsession?


Today, I wanted to make a study of the various effects experienced under the transits of Pluto, but I would like to make a few remarks before I attempt that article about the particular ambience of Pluto in the signs, from Cancer through to the present time. The two themes cannot be treated entirely separately, a Pluto transit will inevitably take on the character of its natal expression and we ought always to consider it in this way. For this reason I will begin with an analysis of Pluto’s various manifestations through the signs.

I have written about outer planet transits before, specifically in relation to their purpose in the ongoing process of soul-purification. This is the existential expression of Plutonic pressure in the arc of a human life. You may wish to read that article before proceeding here.

Bernard Manning: Pluto in Cancer and felt the word "wog" was "a horrible, insulting word I've never used in my life" but defended use of the words "nigger" and "coon" as historical terms with respectable roots.

Bernard Manning: with Pluto in Cancer he claimed that "wog" was "a horrible, insulting word I've never used in my life" but defended use of the words "nigger" and "coon" as historical terms with respectable roots.

Thus, Pluto in Cancer (1914-1939) creates a focus on traditional, territorial and inherited values. It contains the essence of the Moon-Pluto contact but writ large across an entire generation. Pluto made his first serious foray into the sign of Cancer on June 27th 1914 and within a month Franz Ferdinand was dead and the first world war had effectively begun. Pluto’s final days in that sign occurred in June 1939, just 3 months before the start of the second world war. Cancer of course rules the homeland, those inherited clannish values of belonging, of our family, our home, our country and our heritage, so inevitably, the extreme nationalism, indeed jingoism of the period was a direct manifestation of these lunar and 4th house qualities negatively supercharged by the Lord Hades. Consider all the many innovations related to domestic science: the refrigerator was invented during this period which created a death and rebirth of family values: Pluto very often creates this dichotomy, the labour-saving innovations of this time actually freed women from the home and the drudgery of the kitchen which in itself sounded the death-knell for the old order of traditional tribal gender roles. It is this falling away of an outdated paradigm which is required to be taken up by the subsequent generation thus Pluto in Leo was required to redefine the role of women in society, but crucially, they inherited this necessity, even if they would actually like to claim it as their doing.

Obsessed with: Tradition, family, the home country.
Responsible for:
the refrigerator, the BNP, the KKK and women’s lib.
At best: thrifty and supportive.
At worst: racist and cranky.

Janice Dickinson: this is how Pluto in Leo wants to look: age 55!

Janice Dickinson: this is how Pluto in Leo wants to look: age 55!

Pluto in Leo (1939-1958) has problems all its own – every Hadean generation does without doubt – and here the themes of the Sun and the 5th house are given especial focus. Status, egotism, self-centredness and pride are the most difficult facets of these years and the broadly narcissistic focus of Leo is given a difficult dose of Plutonic force. The characteristics of this generation are more in keeping with the 5th house and solar principles: being the centre of attention, enjoying life, music (Elvis was 3 when Pluto crossed into Leo), rock and roll lifestyles became the order of the day and the need to be loved because one is a person of importance in the world; this is the royal persona writ large. More difficultly, there is the underlying quality of Sun-Pluto to consider which is the classic indication of megalomania. Hitler’s blitzkrieg was unleashed on Poland within 3 months of Pluto crossing into Leo and his attempt to manifest a glorious Germanic empire, a third Reich (kingdom), echoed the dreams of dominion of the European kings of old. Consider too that when the Pluto in Leo generation was at its zenith it voted an actor into the White House and a woman (newly liberated by Pluto in Cancer) with a Sun – Pluto square into Downing Street. This generation has been dubbed the “Me Generation” and they created the phenomenon of personal psychotherapy to feed the great appetite of their own self-interest. Leo is also the sign of the child, and this for me strikes to the core of the Pluto in Leo condition. Here is a generation that didn’t want to grow old (plastic surgery is their invention too), who wanted to remain eternally youthful which fundamentally shifted the attitude to childhood. In the same way that Pluto in Cancer ‘killed’ the role of women in the home, requiring it to be redefined by the next generation, Pluto in Leo killed the role of the child. Pluto in Leo, needing to be the centre of attention the whole time, raised an entire generation of children that felt they did not matter, that was forced to play second-fiddle to their dramatic, showy, self-obsessed Mum or Dad. The result? A generation of parents who are determined to let their children be the centre of attention and who have subsequently made out of their children’s early lives a fiercely idealistic and protected idyll, where their little ones cannot be exposed to any manner of hardship, unpleasantness or harsh reality. Pluto in Virgo then has been tasked with recreating childhood, and they have done it in a typically Virgoan manner: for the children of this generation, everything must be perfect.
Obsessed with: status, appearances and youth.
Favourite things: Hair-dos, sports cars, diamonds and sunbathing.
Responsible for: plastic surgery, psychotherapy, rock n’ roll, Hollywood and the stock market.
At best: warm and generous.
At worst: self-obsessed and hysterical.

Johnny Depp has apparently become a health freak. The Sweeney Todd star - once famous for his wild, hard partying lifestyle - is shooting a new movie in Vancouver where he has requested his trailer be equipped with a treadmill, weights and a stability ball, according to Star magazine. The 44-year-old father-of-two also reportedly asked for his fridge to be stocked with blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi and soy milk. Johnny is also said to have requested throughly cooked chicken, tuna in water and hard boiled eggs to snack on during filming. It seems that a source told the celebrity magazine: "No wonder he looks so good for his age." Johnny is filming Michael Mann's new movie Public Enemies, alongside Christian Bale, Channing Tatum and Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard. The gangster movie is set in the 1930s and Johnny plays notorious criminal John Dillinger.

Johnny Depp - poster boy for Pluto in Virgo has apparently become a health freak. The Sweeney Todd star - once famous for his wild, hard partying lifestyle - is shooting a new movie in Vancouver where he has requested his trailer be equipped with a treadmill, weights and a stability ball, according to Star magazine. The 44-year-old father-of-two also reportedly asked for his fridge to be stocked with blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi and soy milk. Johnny is also said to have requested thoroughly cooked chicken, tuna in water and hard boiled eggs to snack on during filming. It seems that a source told the celebrity magazine: "No wonder he looks so good for his age." Johnny is filming Michael Mann's new movie Public Enemies.

So, what of Pluto in Virgo? This generation (1959-1972) has struggled to emerge from the great fixity of its forbears, and with parents demanding to be in the spotlight until their last breath, it is no surprise; an unhappy collusion which is simply exacerbated by the Virgoan’s regard for the qualities of simplicity, modesty and humility. This generation – possibly in part due to the perceived selfishness and narcissism of the generation that has gone before has learned to abhor self-promotion and ostentation. Even the great celebrities and rock-stars of this generation cannot get away with the over-the-top hotel trashings of those of previous decades; such behaviour is deemed to be rather embarrassingly brash and brassy. If Pluto in Virgo does have a vice, it is intellectual hubris, albeit one that manifests as a fierce propensity to pedantry and criticism. This generation loves nothing more than to deconstruct, and witheringly, the perceived flaws of those who raise themselves up onto a pedestal; the fascination with celebrity culture with all its attendant vicarious and voyeuristic sneering is a direct consequence of this Plutonic pressure across the generation. Even more direct is this placement’s obsession with work: Pluto in Virgo works all hours and struggles to maintain any sort of balance between home and career: and weekends are invariably spent mowing the lawns, polishing the car and pressure-washing the patio, so-called leisure activities which to every other generation seem more akin to drudgery than relaxation. It might well be that Pluto in Virgo turns out to be the generation that kills work, in the same way that Pluto in Cancer killed the family and Pluto in Leo bumped off childhood. Pluto in Libra will no doubt be required to reinvent the concept of employment in years to come as a result.
Obsessed with: health, work and being clever.
Favourite things: Health and fitness clubs, reality TV, gadgets, Ikea and dietary supplements.
Responsible for: the end of trade-unionism, environmentalism, recycling and nutritional information labels on food.
At best: meticulous and modest.
At worst: carping and finicky (to the point of OCD).

Jordan: too much make-up, big, fake boobs and one half of a celebrity couple: how much more Pluto in Libra do you need?

Jordan: too much make-up, big, fake boobs and one half of a celebrity couple: how much more Pluto in Libra do you need?

Pluto in Libra conversely doesn’t have much time for being meticulous about work, they simply want to be appreciated and appear attractive. While Pluto in Leo resorted to cosmetic surgery to fend off the horrors of aging, Pluto in Libra has utilised the same facility to get themselves a bigger pair of boobs and a nicer looking nose. Here, Venusian themes are at the forefront, so this generation wants to present a flawless visage: girls with this placement very often wear so much make-up that their skin appears utterly blemishless. The Pluto in Virgo generation, who are the employers of this age-group are quite often shocked by how poor Pluto in Libra’s attention span is when it comes to the workplace; they’re too busy flirting via text and updating their Facebook profile to care too much about scrubbing the company database. Of course, it is no surprise therefore that Facebook is a uniquely Pluto in Libra phenomenon, as are texting, Myspace and so forth: social networking is a chance to interact on a scale hitherto undreamed of and enormous entourages of admirers can be accumulated to sate Pluto in Libra’s obsession with being socially desirable and – at least superficially – attractive. Relationship will no doubt be the Achilles’ Heel for this generation, they’ll be so busy with trying to be universally appealing that their flailing sense of commitment might destabilise the institution of marriage once and for all, which leaves a fair amount of work for fanatically loyal and committed Pluto in Scorpio to do.
Obsessed with: attractiveness, flirting and popularity.
Favourite things: Networking, cellphones, boob-jobs, style (over substance) and celebrity couples.
Responsible for: Facebook, Extreme Makeover, Trinny & Susannah and What Not to Wear, botox, crop-tops and Ecstasy.
At best: poised and charming.
At worst: vain and superficial.

The Pluto in Scorpio generation are still young, so it will not be so easy to observe their predilections and in any case, here in its own sign, it’s likely that all bets are off. Pluto in Scorpio’s fixations and obsessions are likely to be based around sex, non-materialism and commitment. Watch this space.

Next week I shall begin an exploration of the transits of Pluto in the context of the radix placement and I have some exciting observations to share. In the meatime, if you require my professional insights into the meaning and purpose of your Pluto, then please visit Astrology Hour.

Dignity and debility and the fine art of furniture making.

With Sun in Libra and Moon in Scorpio, the nativity of the 39th President of the USA, Jimmy Carter did not lend him great advantage, but he understood something about how to make a table...

With Sun in Libra and Moon in Scorpio, the nativity of the 39th President of the USA, Jimmy Carter, did not lend him great advantage, but he understood something about how to make a table...

Ancient astrologers placed enormous emphasis on dignity and debility in the nativity. Any proficient astrologer will be well aware of the classical assignments, but fundamentally the theory of essential dignity suggests that planets are considered to be more ideal in some signs than in others. Of course, this mode of thinking is relativistic and leans ultimately toward determinism, it becomes entirely too easy to consider one given placement as being “better” than another, and traditionalists in astrology to this day consider dignity and debility to be profoundly relevant.

Of course, to some extent this is true, but it fails to account for reality. It is true that when it comes to expressing Solar energy that ideal is most easily expressed through the signs Leo and Aries and least easily through Aquarius and Libra, however, if the world were populated solely by Sun in Leo types I think it would be be less enjoyable to live in than it is currently. If everyone had Mars in Aries then certainly there would be much more assertion and forthright self-expression, but the qualitative experience of life collectively would be impoverished by it, because nobody would have to struggle to make themselves heard and no ingenious, creative or lateral solutions would ever be found to the problem of getting one’s views across.

But it is true that those with a glut of essential dignity in their nativity seem to fare better in life when compared with those whose nativities are characterised by essential debility. It is profoundly misleading however, to maintain that dignity is in any way better than debility. Dignity is very often a double edged sword. To use an analogy, it is rather like the difference between buying a table and buying a bag of tools and some wood to make a table. The individual whose astrology is characterised by dignity has bought the table. They get to go home, plonk the new item of furniture in the middle of the kitchen and start enjoying the benefits right away. There’s no problem with that of course, and indeed it’s expedient, easy and uncomplicated. The debilitated type however has to get busy. He has to carry all this stuff home, and start to fashion the furniture himself out of the rather more crude raw materials. He might have little experience or skill with making tables too, or with using the tools, and it could even transpire that his table is a disaster: it wobbles or worse, it breaks! Then he has to try again to make a functional table. As you can perhaps see, there are certainly disadvantages to being debilitated, but also, there is the potential of a great benefit too. Now most people, mindful only of creating something functional, will devote the bare minimum of effort to constructing their table, but innate in the necessity to make this item of furniture is the potential to discovering craftsmanship. This person could – if they are determined and focused and committed – discover a means to turn the disadvantage of not being able to buy a “ready-made” table to their ultimate advantage and become a master table maker!

Now it is true – and this analogy bears further extrapolation – that there is no guarantee that the would-be table craftsman might not be able to create a better table than the one that can be bought from the showroom, but even if his home-made table is not more beautiful, sturdier or in any way more desirable than the shop-bought model, the fact is the committed craftsman understands something about table-making that the mere shopper does not. Certainly – and crucially – his table is not better, it may indeed be worse, but his understanding of that table is undoubtedly better.

Thus the individual with Sun in Leo might be much more impressive somehow than his counterpart with Sun in Aquarius, but the chances are, because of that very difference in facility, the Aquarian might well have a better understanding of the mechanics of the solar principle as a result, assuming that he has focused himself upon that process of attaining craftsmanship.

Now in the vast majority of cases, the classical principle bears out. Dignity confers advantage and very often those whose nativities are marked by especial compatibility between planet and sign do usually seem to do “better”. Life simply appears to run more smoothly and benefit is often accrued more easily and it is as simple as that. In the converse situation the home-made tables are turned for the most part, and a measure of struggle seems to enter into the equation.

It is my decided view that debility does not always denote a lost-cause of expression in that arena of life-activity. The individual with Mars in Libra is not doomed to be walked over and ignored, providing they are focused upon the craftsmanship of assertion and standing firm. It will not be easy for them, and it might take many years to attain any great skill with Martian qualities: but every sign contains the seed of its polarity. Libra understands Aries innately, but it is focused on the far end of the spectrum, albeit – and crucially – the focus is maintained within a common spectrum. Libra has more sense of Aries than any other sign in the zodiac, and vice versa. If you have Mars in Libra then you have a more innate grasp of how to assert in an Arien manner than any sign other than Aries itself, but you have to consciously aim for mastery, for craftsmanship. If you simply go with the flow then your natural tendency will be to avoid conflict, to opt for diplomacy and to avoid the fight altogether in an attempt to maintain the ideal of harmony. On the other hand, understanding that harmony for all is best preserved when everyone’s rights are respected – including one’s own – there is a definite logic to learning to stand up for oneself even if in the short-term there is some risk of upset or distress in pursuing this objective.

As an example, consider Isabel Hickey whose astrology evinced an astonishing array of dignified placements: Sun in Leo, Moon in Cancer, Mercury in Virgo, Venus in Libra, Mars in Scorpio, Jupiter in Pisces and Saturn in Aquarius! Her essential dignity score is off the charts! Contrast this with Stephen Arroyo who with Sun in Libra, Venus in Scorpio and Saturn in Leo has much less ease at his disposal. Which of these two was/is the better astrologer? Having read almost everything each of these luminaries in the field has penned there is no question in my view which holds the greatest insight and ability. Arroyo is a bona fide genius whereas Hickey, although marked by the quaint and undemanding astrological zeitgeist of her age, is merely competent. Indeed, Hickey for me is quite typical of the essentially dignified type. She undoubtedly had ability, but somehow it appeared to have propelled her much further than you would have expected were the yardstick for success ability alone. And whilst such considerations might appear – superficially at least – to be churlish, there is no question that it is a principle which so often bears out in my own experience that it simply cannot be ignored.

As far as practicalities are concerned it is undeniable that dignity and debility are significant in the process of interpretation. As a generalisation it is entirely fair to conclude that a nativity characterised by a general condition of dignity will render the life-experience easier because any planet in a compatible sign works more effectively without any requirement for mastery. With Saturn in Capricorn you are simply taken more seriously than the individual with Saturn in Cancer weherein all other factors are equal, but there is a great danger here in making an assumption because you might be dealing with a craftsman who through a long process of struggle has learned the underlying principles of responsibility and gravitas and is able to work with them consciously.

What this does push to the fore though is the realisation that the reversal of debility requires experience and mindfulness and it is therefore unlikely to manifest in youth. In this astrologer’s view it bears comparison to the principle that all aspects are squares: and certainly with age it might become evident that the dignified chart devolves through a lack of necessity to develop inherent mastery (or craftsmanship) while the debilitated native has instead been forced – if they have not been laid low by the struggle of early life – to attain a great skill or facility with their limited starting resources which ultimately catapults them above and beyond the benighted realms promised them by the mechanical accumulation of mere scores.

A Sense of Saturn (Part 2)


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


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


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


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


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


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

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