Pluto tee square: sell, sell, sell!

I (still) have a new article on the way, but I have had some family dramas over the last few days and work is pressing, here is another quick update on the upcoming tee-square.

The last time that Uranus made partile square to Pluto was in 1932, approximately two and a bit years after the great stock market collapse of October 1929. In 1930 there was a tee-square involving Saturn Uranus and Pluto. There are a number of other correlations too: that was also the last time that Uranus was in Aries (suddenly going back to basics), the tee-square was cardinal, but more toward the middle degrees of the signs, and the reason that I think that this affected the USA most specifically is because the tee-square had Uranus as the apex planet which was opposing the USA’s Saturn. The USA’s Sun squares Saturn from its position applying to the cusp of the 8th house of credit, stock markets and so forth, thus this is a threat to the nation’s health (Sun-Saturn). The presence of Sun-Saturn represents an innate problem, a birth defect if you like, which weakens the overall constitution of the native. This is a congenital weakness for the US: if anything is going to kill the patient (square Pluto) then it will be due to this hereditary problem: an over-reliance on credit, on get-rich quick schemes, on living large: Jupiter rules the chart, applying to the 8th too. Excess, (Sun + Jup vs. Sat) is the congenital weakness.

I’ve already stated how, in a previous article (a little further down this page) the upcoming cardinal tee-square seems to indicate the possibility of a major financial collapse because of the as yet unrevealed scope of the property bubble being burst. This time however, the Aries’ Points are involved, and that seems to suggest that the whole world will be affected. It’s a global financial collapse this time.

My problem lies in convincing people that this needs to be taken seriously, (and actually in convincing myself naturellement) we all need to start getting acclimatised to living more sustainable lives, because very soon there will be too few resources to go around. I take no comfort from the symptoms either. If we count back the same length of time from the last time Uranus and Pluto was in partile square from the next time it is (June 2012) then we arrive at 2010.

In 1929 the stock market crash occurred as a direct result of the Roaring Twenties, and it was the excess of that decade which is widely blamed for the subsequent collapse. Does that seem at all familiar?

And then there’s the archetypal nature of the squaring planets to consider too: Uranus (sudden) square (breakdowns) Pluto (of financial systems).

It just doesn’t look good, people.

The 8th House: A Good Death?


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

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

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

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

So then, to practicalities.

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

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

But that’s another story for another day.

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

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

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

Let us consider some concrete examples.

00) Pissburgh, PA, USA

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

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

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

Care Faulted In the Death Of Warhol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy Warhol was inadvertently drowned.

The Astrology of Marital Breakdown…

Outer transits to the descendant can play havoc with the happily ever after...

Outer planet transits to the descendant can play havoc with the happily ever after...

It is unfortunate that love, perhaps more in keeping with Artemis than Aphrodite both waxes and wanes and there is no doubt whatever where the one is wondrous and fair, the other may often be laced with venom. I have advised a considerable number of clients in this particular regard and I have enough theoretical and practical experience of the astrology of marital breakdown to be able predict with some accuracy the likely course of such difficulties. In the event, knowing that it may all be for the best does not stop the vitriol and judgement of vaguely interested third parties, nor does it assuage the anguish of those more intimately configured, but if this life is to stand for anything at all – other than an empty and vainglorious accumulation of accolades and possessions – then sometimes a small measure of acceptance is the only compassionate path through such difficulty.

In reality, the astrology can provide a considerable insight into the conditions of the marriage, and further, the conditions at the end of a marriage; today I wish to look at various aspects of the psychology and the astrology of marriage breakdown and try to place the often narrow focus of the Saturnine detractor in a broader human context, one that the great Joseph Campbell determined thus: “Where the moralist would be filled with indignation and the tragic poet with pity and terror, [mythology (astrology)] breaks the whole of life into a vast, horrendous Divine Comedy. Its Olympian laugh is not escapist in the least, but hard, with the hardness of life itself – which, we may take it, is the hardness of God, the Creator.  [This] makes the tragic attitude seem somewhat hysterical, and the merely moral judgement shortsighted. Yet the hardness is balanced by an assurance that all that we see is but the reflex of a power that endures, untouched by the pain.” (Joseph Campbell, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces: The Monomyth” pp 45-46 – Princeton University Press 1949).

Astrologically there is no surprise that the vast majority of marital breakdowns occur between the ages of 36 and 42; the dissonance between a third Jupiter return and the Uranus half-return creates a tense space in which the unexplored horizons of earlier life crash jarringly into the phenomenon identified by Jung as the mid-life crisis; a term much maligned by laymen ever since. Jung well understood, as a student of astrology himself the need to identify a sudden revolution in the personal apprehension of life’s meaning that the Uranus opposition instantiated, he termed it a crisis only in the sense that it was a necessary precipitation that would well-up and finally run-free into a more inclusive contact with the Universe; for without crisis there could not be growth. This then in Jung’s view was not a great conjuration, but rather an opportunity. Of course, where Uranus, God of the skies draws us out, Saturn, his castrator and nemesis holds us back and this is the choice we all face during these crucial years: to grow and evolve, or to heed Kronos’ dull and dire laments and begin the slow shuffle into spiritual decline and death. The ‘crisis’ then, whilst not being limited to the institution of marriage, invariably promulgates an upheaval in all areas where scrutiny is required in the scope of a human life, and marriage is inevitably thus configured.

Astrologically it is clear, as it ought to be in mere psychology; the marriage that is basically sound and fulfilling to both parties ought to have nothing to fear from the various returns, progressions and transits at mid-life or indeed at any other time. If there is serious lack, imbalance, incompatibility or suppression of self then it will eventually find its way out, as ever through the various etheric and physical vehicles, spirit or body, creating anxiety, nervous disorder, depression or illness. In such a case, the result is very often a breakdown either within the marriage, or of the marriage itself.

Much can be gleaned from the ruler of the descendant, applications to it or its ruler by transit or progression, and the interactions within the nativity itself. Any of the outer planets crossing the 7th house cusp will instantiate at the very least a serious re-examination of marital objectives and a fair degree of analysis of the conditions within the marriage. Uranus crossing the 7th will create the potential for a sudden break, Neptune a dissolving, often with a difficulty to grasp what exactly is wrong, Pluto a grinding down and an invariably painful insight into the deeper psychology of oneself. Pluto purges us of compulsions and unconscious dependence too, and in the house of marriage this can often shine a new light upon our union; Pluto does not unearth only the difficult however, he also exposes previously unimagined treasures, and the same can be said for all outer transits, providing we understand that we cannot simply stand firm and resist. Life is a journey, we cannot refuse to get on the train.

This is not to say that an outer transit to the 7th cusp or ruler will always signify a marital breakdown, far from it: a basically balanced and sound partnership that fulfils the needs and desires of both parties ought to have nothing to fear.

Then too, look to the sign on the cusp of the 8th and its ruler for an insight into the nature of the break-up itself, should it occur. The 8th of course is analogous to the 2nd of the 7th, thus it determines the manner of the division of shared property – and the 8th is the house of joint resources for precisely this reason. Furthermore, the 8th rules endings, so the ruler and its condition as well as any tenants herein will give a further clue to the manner of the split. If Aries, Scorpio or Mars is configured, do not expect an amicable settlement, Saturn or Capricorn will make the process slow and practical and take all the joy out of it too, Venus, Taurus or Libra should allow some measure of grace or at least politeness to infiltrate proceedings; and in every case this bears out.

Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards underwent a deeply acrimoious split

Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards underwent a deeply acrimoious split

As an example, the breakdown of Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen’s union with actress and glamour model Denise Richards  is worthy of study. After two daughters and only 4 years of marriage, Richards filed for divorce citing unreasonable behaviour. Currently Sheen and Richards are engaged in an acrimonious custody dispute over their two daughters, with Richards requesting a custody evaluation, no overnight visits for Sheen, and authority to make decisions regarding the care of the children. Richards alleges abusive behavior by Sheen toward her and staff, paranoid behavior regarding the care of the children, and that he continues to have gambling and drug addictions. Sheen denies these allegations and further alleges that Richards later requested sperm from him in order to have another child. In short the split has been neither smooth nor swift.

00) New York, NY USA

Charlie Sheen, actor. 3 Sep 1965 22:48 EST (+05:00) New York, NY USA

Sheen’s astrology evinces a number of fascinating conditions although I will confine the majority of my insights to those specific issues relating to the marriage and in particular its breakdown. It is interesting to note the great difficulties denoted by the 3 point stellium of Su/Ur/Pl in Virgo – thus control and self control problems – opposed by Sa/Ch in the 10th, which immediately tells you something about his public life and the legacy of his father too no doubt. Peregrine Venus in Libra and the 5th is really the runaway factor and entirely describes, particularly in a nativity fueled by Sun conjunct Pluto his self-destructive appetite for licentious gratification: Sheen is reckoned to have slept with as many as 5,000 women in his lifetime and his inability to curb his tendency to sexual excess has damaged his career and his personal relationships.

Most pertinently however, the ruler of the 7th, Jupiter is profoundly stressed in all too flighty Gemini. Gemini on the 7th, or the ruler of the 7th in Gemini always suggests a strong likelihood of 2 or more marriages, but with Jupiter here there is a tendency to really struggle to expand one’s horizons; watch anyone with Jupiter in Gemini trying to have a good time and it is often quite exhausting to behold, they make the taking of ease into such hard work. Here the Moon opposes Jupiter which usually denotes some marital differences, often through being rather wasteful, truculent and generally contrary in one’s manner. Moon in the 7th denotes fluctuating marital conditions and in Sagittarius there are no doubt some boundary issues, an instinctive need for freedom that is not entirely conducive to marital stability at the best of times.

The 8th house ruler however is the key factor in determining the nature of the marital split. With Capricorn configured Saturn is clearly in considerable difficulty even if accidentally dignified; the trines to Mars and Neptune notwithstanding. Saturn ruling the 8th of course determines that the divorce will be difficult, drawn-out and burdensome, and in the 10th: public. The conjunction to Chiron makes it painful and in Pisces, there is little surprise that his history of substance abuse has been cited in the proceedings. The oppositions to the Virgo stellium include Sa/Pl: thus hard labour in Virgo, and a great deal of public (10th) criticism (Virgo) is the result, while the emotional tension of Sa/Ur will have to be endured over a protracted period.

It ought to be noted that having Saturn as ruler of the 8th does not by itself determine that any divorce will be acrimonious: a harmoniously placed and aspected Saturn may indeed allow the process to be handled with dignity and a responsible attitude; in Sheen’s case however, the oppositions from Virgo, and most especially the opposing nature of Pluto will force a power struggle and as with any mundane opposition: themes will be played out through other people.

Their divorce was finalised just as Pluto moved into orb of Moon in Sagittarius and my own view would be that matters will not be completely finalised for Sheen and Richards until the latter part of 2011 when Pluto applies to his 8th house; which might also suggest an entirely unsatisfactory eventual outcome for Sheen in any case.

Of course, the ending of any committed relationship is difficult and painful for all parties, and there are never any winners, but understanding the astrology of these traumatic events at least creates the possibility of knowing the likely course that must be navigated before a more harmonious mode of existence can be enjoyed by all those affected by such traumatic trials.

Alan Watts and the Philosophy of Cazimi and the Quindecile

The following is a continuation of the previous article, below. For a full appreciation of the themes and configurations in Watt’s astrology, please refer to the article preceding this.

To the casual listener, Alan Watts might well come across as extremely thoughtful, intelligent and insightful, but there is no question that his style was anything but taciturn; his subject matter, which consisted of various facets of esoteric, philosophic and indeed transcendental thought, also underlined his interest in fundamentals and unquestionably his style of discourse was to present an idea and then gradually and systematically to follow the trains of logic which ran out from that starting point to see where they would lead. So then, we have a picture of a communicator, taciturn and methodical in style, one that builds up a picture upon a base supposition and then ultimately reaches a pinnacle insight, usually of a philosophic or spiritual nature; unquestioned in all of this process, is an appreciation of the man’s genius; indeed, I could often feel his frustration at having to hammer home some nuance of his argument to an audience that would clearly be losing the thread of it.

The taciturnity of expression is found in the conjunction of Sun with Mercury in Capricorn. The sign of Capricorn, denoted by the mountain-goat, is profoundly objective focused, it does not have an affinity with frivolity or frolicking, because, like the goat, it sees its world as a hard and often harsh environment where it must be single-minded and determined in order to survive; the food in those lofty realms is scarce, the path is uncertain and treacherous and the drop, no doubt fatal to the distracted. One step after another, the goat makes it way up the mountain, sure-footed, intensely focused on its ascent, driven, but not urgently, driven in a calm, assured way, but driven all the same.

Apply these principles to the Solar principle, Watts’ sense of who he must be are informed by this same driven certainty, and blended with Mercury, he must communicate that sense of self, at all costs. Here also is a measure of his genius because the conjunction with Mercury is so close as to be termed Cazimi, an Arabic word meaning “the heart of the Sun” and it is reckoned by the old-world astrologers to be extremely fortunate, because the principle that is wedded to Sol thus is imbued with the power of eternal life. Mercury Cazimi then gives a power of communication and intellect beyond the pale, beyond the envelope of human norms and this is clear in Watts’ easy discourse on profound matters; actually the most profound matters imaginable, and I shall turn to his subject matter soon enough. Some consider Cazimi to become combust if the conjunction falls outside of 17 minutes of one degree; Watts’ Mercury conjuncts the Sun within 21 minutes; but clearly his genius is absolutely beyond question. This astonishingly close conjunction explains his brilliance, but here, in the sign of Capricorn, it also explains his taciturn manner; his downbeat style, his dolorous, almost flat and unerringly focused approach to the subject in hand. Capricorn describes exactly how he takes a proposition and gradually and undistractedly leads the listener on an ever-ascending journey toward a revelation, a pinnacle, peak, or you might say mountain-top of insight. Then, the first house placement denotes a great energy, it explains his goat-like demeanour and appearance, it resonates with that Mars in the 1st house too, also in its exaltation in Capricorn, where his great energy can build gradually, methodically, to a crescendo of self-expression.

All of which explains how Watts would express his thought processes, but not particularly why, and of course, for an astrologer, the why of a personality is the causal spark, the raison d’etre of incarnation. So then, why did Alan Watts feel such a powerful need to express himself in this way?

The first reason is the Cazimi conjunction of Sun and Mercury that we already understand. Every conjunction between the Sun and the energy of communication, Mercury has to some extent this effect; the self-image is fundamentally a communicating one; the “I” of the ego is an “I” that talks, writes or moves in such a way as to convey meaning. Normally, the wider conjunction gives an element of blindness and often creates a person that talks about themselves a great deal and struggles to talk about much else, but with Cazimi, the communicating awareness is refined and dignified, rather than scorched and obliterated. But this does not explain all of it; after all, Sol and Mercurius can never be more than 28° apart on the plane of the ecliptic, so it is a common association and not many were so driven to explain themselves in this way.

The Quindecile aspect is one that is not much understood in modern astrology, although it has been revived by Noel Tyl, an astrologer of no mean reputation from whom I have learned a great many useful and insightful techniques. For a full discussion of the aspect then read this article. Suffice to say that for the purposes of this discussion at least, the Quindecile (or 165° aspect) has an element of obsessive-compulsive behaviour attached; from the Aries Point, the aspect falls in 15° Virgo and 15° Libra which describes obsession (striving for mental balance and harmony) followed by compulsion (taking a practical step toward the attainment of perfection). This describes the nature of the aspect well, since it is a mental dissatisfaction that provokes a practical fix. The fix rarely actually fixes anything of course, it merely alleviates the imbalance for a time and then it is back to the start, of thinking that something is not quite right and that we had better do something about it.

In Watts’ case we find two separate Qunideciles to that Cazimi conjunction of Sun and Mercury. Looked at in this way we can posit the understanding that his need to express these carefully expounded mental constructs in the form of lectures was the Virgoan solution; it was the fix that he was striving for. The mental imbalance then comes from two separate sources; Saturn conjunct Pluto in the 7th and Neptune on the cusp of the 8th.

Let us consider each of these in turn. Saturn conjunct Pluto is a real soul-destroying aspect; it is back-breaking in effect, because it adds Hadean depth (and you don’t get much deeper than the underworld) to Saturn’s propensity for hard work. Put these together then and you get astonishingly profound limitations, hard work, difficulty, burden and constriction, and in Watts’ case, with Pluto on the Aries Point, and in the 7th, marriage was for him, hard labour. Of course, wherever Pluto is found we have to transform ourselves somehow, but it is the place where we are least able to change, so it is an irresistible force and an immovable object, you know that something has to give, but usually it is ugly and painful even so. Watts went through 3 marriages, and whilst not much is known about the conditions of any of them, there is a between-the-lines intimation that they were far from easy.

Thus, it is entirely reasonable to suggest that the pain and discomfort he experienced in his intimate relationships left him feeling out of balance, and the practical ‘fix’ for that imbalance was to express his ideas in this way.It is almost as though his philosophising about the benign nature of the Universe would assuage the brutality of his marriage experience.

This ties in somewhat with the second Quindecile configured to the Sun Mercury conjunction, from Neptune in the 8th. It is reasonably well-known that Watts had a drinking problem; although he never openly admitted such. When he died aged 58 (at around the time of his second Saturn return – thus Saturn would be transiting the natal Saturn-Pluto conjunction in the 7th) the cause of death was recorded as ‘heart failure’ although it is commonly acknowledged that incipient alcoholism was a contributing factor. This is simply one level at which Neptune might manifest in the 8th, as a contributing factor in the (confusing) conditions surrounding death, also as a motivating obsessive impetus to the compulsion of expressing his spirituality and finally there is the question of talking about death as well, in a spiritual context. Watts frequently spoke about the value of meditating on death, his themes were often uncomfortably Plutonic, his spirituality was all about 8th house ideals of letting go, of non-materialism, of Buddhist ideas about attachment; fundamentally his spiritual DNA was 8th house and he felt compelled to talk it out.

These are not the only Quindeciles in Watts’ chart, he has another from the Dragon’s Head to the Moon which perhaps conveys something about his fated compulsion to bring his ideas before humanity at large, and in this last consideration, he was only partially successful. The taciturn genius pinpointed by his Cazimi Mercury was, like the air the determined goat breathes at the summit of his lonely mountain, always going to be somewhat rarefied and remote for general consumption; his brilliance was of the type of the stars, distant and ethereal rather than the tactile and fawned over diamond of earthly desire, but arguably, it was more precious even so, and will hopefully appreciate with time and contemplation.

Scorpio and Taurus, the 2nd and the 8th

I have been working as an astrologer for a long time now, although it is only very recently that I have felt any confidence at all about making an accurate analysis of a particular chart and whilst my skill has increased proportionately with my reading and study what I have found that is most marked and intriguing, is that as my understanding has improved, my theories have gradually simplified. Thus my understanding of astrology is now much more basic than it ever was 25 years ago when I first read extensively on the subject.

As an example I once understood Jupiter to be analogous with a raft of Jovian concepts, from tinned foodstuffs to the law and the judiciary, but this kind of disparate list-making rather obscured the point of it all, Jupiter in my mind now governs the principles of expansion and preservation; thus all things that broaden the mind and spirit, that exalt and dignify human life and community are good candidates for Jupiter’s benefic domain, but equally, Jupiter can broaden and preserve less desirable traits also, and too it can over-broaden and over-preserve, thus giving rise to dissolute and self-indulgent modes of behaviour at the same time. Thus, the clarification of astrological concepts depends on getting into the very heart of the matter and extrapolating out from that kernel, rather than the opposite (and much more commonplace methodology) of starting from the full viscera of all possible connotations and attempting to find which one fits the bill. You could say then that a Piscean rather than a Virgoan approach is better suited to the art of synthesis, but really the one is dependent upon the other for sustenance and put together they become a chicken or egg proposition, because the many and the one, microcosm and macrocosm are but sides of the same coin and the truth of astrology, as much as anything else in life, lies in the polarity.

An excellent candidate for this approach is the difficult 8th house. I frequently despair of the amateur astrologer’s rather benighted insistence that the 8th is the house of death and the attendant portents of doom and disaster that are implicated in transits and placements to its cusps. The insistence comes from the association of the 8th with those fundamental states of existential transformative powers, the so-called “birth, sex and death” triplicity so favoured of ‘planets by house’ textbooks. Of course, it might be fair to say that with the ruler of the 10th in the 8th there might be some possibility of a career in probate, but that is merely a mundane side-effect at best, it certainly does not describe anything about the core polarity.

This polarity is derived in its entirety from the Taurus-Scorpio axis, and if we are to assume that the 8th is the house of death then we should be equally comfortable with the notion that the 2nd is the house of life. But actually, nobody ever made that claim, because (quite rightly) it is not a factor in the polarity.

The polarity covers a number of themes, and if we consider the mundane side-effects of the 2nd then we might get some insight into the 8th as well. The 2nd is the house of money, of material resources and wealth. Thus the 8th has some affinity, not with death but with resources and values. Now let us dig a little deeper and understand that the 2nd has this association with resources, not because it was just decided thus at some point in history, but because it is the natural house of Taurus and this actually informs the concerns of the second and by extension forms the resonant polarity with the 8th. The 2nd then is nothing more than the mundane and natural area of concern of the Taurean principle. You might even say that it is the area of interest that a true Taurean might most closely attend. That is why the 2nd is about money, because Taurus, fixed earth, is a lover of the finest material joys of earthly existence; it enjoys good food, good wine, the finest and most sumptuous silks, the tactile sensations, contact with the earthy stuff and there is no more accessible means to realising fixed earth than through money.

The polarity of Scorpio, and thus the 8th, is also concerned with resources, but because Scorpio is fixed water the resources are emotional instead of material. Now we are not concerned with food for the body, but actually with food for the soul, now we need to discover what sustains us that we cannot touch. If Taurus is about having enough to survive, then Scorpio is about having little enough to survive. Taurus is about wealth and Scorpio about austerity and this informs the 8th house because it contains a lesson of Scorpio at its heart and by its polarity that lesson is tied up with Taurus. This is why the 8th is frequently concerned with legacies, because these are bequests of other people’s resources and astrologically other people are contained within the opposition and if Scorpio tells us to be self-reliant in a non-material manner then our money is likely to come from others simply out of necessity. A strongly Scorpionic individual, or one with many 8th house placements is just not going to be motivated to amass wealth in the way that a Taurus/2nd house native will be and so a legacy might well be their best bet for material comfort in this incarnation. Of course, this matter of legacies goes deeper still because the essence of Scorpio is ‘loyalty unto death’, and this level of devotion that is aligned to an ideal higher than mere financial improvement makes a powerful ally; actually the type of ally that one might consider worthy of reward when one is composing one’s will.

So the 2nd then is about having enough to be self-sufficient and the 8th by contrast is also about not needing so much to be self-sufficient. They are both powers with the same objective: self-sufficiency but with diametrically opposed methods. The 2nd says “wealth buys freedom” while the 8th says “less is more”. The 2nd represents life only in the sense that it clings to the earthly vibration with a vicelike grip while the 8th transcends the earthy fixation of Taurus and finds sustenance in the emotional consistency of such ideals as loyalty, self-reliance and above all Spartanism. Taurus then is Louis XIVth while Scorpio is Leonidas.

If you understand this, Louis and Leonidas, then you understand the 2nd and the 8th.