The Astrology of Oblivion

Last week, we explored some of the broad themes of Neptune. What a delight Neptune is, with his glorious, undermining illusions.

A few months ago, somebody asked me to look at the case of an aging relative who was becoming ‘confused and forgetful’. We talked about it for a while, science, in the form of a kindly, but ultimately noncommittal doctor had no answer to the problem, nor any advice it seemed, except to “monitor the situation”. The fear was, naturally enough, Alzheimer’s.

It is tempting to assume that Alzheimer’s falls within the purview of Neptune. After all, the key energetic qualities have much common-ground. There is confusion, a gradual drifting away, an encroaching sense of loss and eventually, oblivion. It is not for nothing that it is called “the long goodbye”. I researched the matter, and – in an attempt to better grasp the genesis of the disease and its implications – I looked at the history and origins of the disease, then at several case studies and in that process I discovered something new and remarkable.

As is often the case with disease, we are looking at the ‘last resort’ of astrology. I have written extensively on this subject before, as for example with the “Cascade Effect”, and it is worth revisiting the central premise:

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. Now, you might argue that you did not decide to drink the lead-poisoned water and that it was all the wicked power-company’s fault, but really, you did decide to drink it, because it was an esoteric response to a profound unconscious requirement that you apprehend some vanishingly precise and unique expression of human experience and the only way you could manage it was to move into an area where the water was poisoned by an unscrupulous corporate entity.

This posits a fundamental truth of the cascade from psychic pressure, which is itself predicated upon your karma and your innate level of consciousness, the totality of which I would call ‘spiritual energy’, through the emotional body and then into the physical body. If you cannot respond at the spiritual level to your karma then it will begin to have emotional effects. If you cannot purge the ‘dark matter’ then it begins to bring a pressure to bear upon the physical body. Louise Hay writes extensively on the subject without the benefit of astrology, but even so, her observations, with few exceptions, were remarkably cogent. If you have no love in your life then your heart will suffer. If you are fearful then you will have a digestive problem. Problems with the liver and pancreas relate to an inability to feel joy. As can be seen, all of these difficulties are preceded by an emotional trauma, acute or chronic in nature, usually between one and three years before the problem begins to manifest into the body. In that interim, the spiritual problem has begun to poison the emotional system.

Of course, as Wayne Dyer espoused: there is a spiritual solution to every problem, and this is true, but it takes an unusual soul to manage the great leap of faith and love to expedite it. Inevitably, even the most enlightened beings struggle to some extent with anger and woundedness, and these emotional symptoms of a non-spiritual response to conflict and difficulty, if not themselves ‘solved’ with a change of heart (and how apt is that phrase in this context!) will manifest into the mind or body as disease.

So when somebody approaches me with a concern about Alzheimer’s, we look first of all at the background to the problem itself, if we can, and try to build a framework within which we might put the problems in context. We hold in our minds the probability that Neptune is at work, but we can make no assumptions. Herein lies a meandering conundrum about the process of astrology too, which bears examination.

Here is what happens when your 6th house is ruled by Mercury opposition Neptune.

When we consider any disease, or even any broad situation in life, we see that there is a result. The result however, is not the cause. The result might therefore be Neptune in one sense or another, but the cause is not Neptune. Neptune may be part of the cause, but there is no one cause in the nativity. Causes are manifold. In fact, the more causes there are, the greater the likelihood of a particular placement manifesting the result. Sometimes this is a straightforward identification process, the apex of a Yod or tee-square, the debilitating and pernicious black energy of a Mars-Saturn-Pluto stellium, or a series of contacts that are within the same vibrational framework: consider Ronald Reagan’s Mercury opposition Neptune – ruled by Saturn in the 4th – Orcus in a Neptune ruled 3rd house, Pluto peregrine. At birth, Reagan’s Venus was his strongest planet, closely outpacing Mars and Moon, and this set the tone for his life mission, to bring order and harmony to the world (according to his own vision (Mars rises in Capricorn) and traditional, homespun values (Moon is in Taurus)) but crucially, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in August 1994, Neptune had assumed supremacy by his progression onto the IC. He therefore needed to express the quality of Neptune, could not manage it spiritually, nor emotionally, and so the force of Neptune made its way into his mind. The point though is not so much that he was compelled to vibrate at a Neptunian frequency, because that is itself only a result of some other set of prevailing conditions. Thus, if the wind blows from the East, your boat will drift to the West.

Reagan’s first job as a pro-rescuer – and a good one, he saved 77 lives. Neptune only got stronger from here on in…

In Reagan’s case, there is a fascinating stormy petrel in the form of White House correspondent Lesley Stahl who recounts her final meeting with the president, in 1986: “Reagan didn’t seem to know who I was. … Oh, my, he’s gonzo, I thought. I have to go out on the lawn tonight and tell my countrymen that the president of the United States is a doddering space cadet.” But then, at the end, he regained his alertness. As she described it, “I had come that close to reporting that Reagan was senile.”

This meeting took place precisely as Orcus fell conjunct Reagan’s Ascendant by progression.

There is one other important factor to consider in the case of Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s affliction, one final cause, but we must digress further to make it accessible.

When we look at the history of the disease, we find that it was named for Aloysius Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist whose life obsession became a single 51 year old patient, August Deter, who exhibited all of the, now classic, symptoms of the disease: withdrawal and confusion being most prevalent. After the patient’s death, Alzheimer studied the chemical structures of Deter’s brain and discovered that when studied under a microscope, the patient’s neuron structures were deformed, having a ‘tangled appearance’. These tangles cause the proteins to become insoluble, and thus normal brain function is impaired, albeit in a way that science does not understand. The result is Alzheimer’s disease. Doctor Alzheimer presented his research on November 3rd 1906 (at the 37th meeting of the Southwest German psychiatrists in Tübingen, the first order of the day’s discussions, after breakfast), wherein he first described the characteristic neurofibrillary tangle. Alzheimer’s disease was ‘born’.

The birth chart is interesting because Mercury rises and is precisely parallel Arachne on the Ascendant at 22 Scorpio. Mercury trines Orcus. The neurofibrillary ‘tangle’ looks, under the microscope, like a cobweb, and Orcus makes a prison from the mind as a result.

As I researched Arachne further I came to see that this little-known point loomed large where dementia was found. It was a ‘marker’.

Now, when we return to our study of Ronald Reagan’s nativity, we see that Arachne was trine Orcus at birth and had progressed precisely to his Midheaven on the day he was shot by John Hinckley in Washington DC on 30th March 1981. Remarkably, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994, Orcus has covered one third of his nativity, and replicated the birth trine to Arachne, albeit now from Leo, rather than Aries.

A seriously bad choice of mug-ee…

Further research bears out. Charles Bronson, another Alzheimer’s sufferer (and Orcan personification) experiences a Grand Trine of (Sun/Mercury) = (Pluto/Arachne) = Uranus, and these form the basis of Kite when Orcus is included: via his opposition to Mercury!

Iris Murdoch too, with Orcus on the Midheaven opposing Arachne on the IC died 9 days after the all-powerful middle-pass of Orcus = Ascendant; her Alzheimer’s was diagnosed as Orcus transited in opposition to her Moon and Mercury. At the middle pass, quite naturally.

By 1965, Neptune was really making himself felt…

Numerous case studies affirm that Arachne and Orcus are the major markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the nativity. But it bears repeating that it makes no sense to rush off and look up one’s own susceptibility. These are merely the routes to a result that your soul needs to manifest. If Neptune becomes your strongest power then you are simply letting go of control in your life, and you can resist that need to let go if you like. As Louise Hay writes of dementia: what is it that you need to forget?

For Ronald Reagan, it is my view that he could not face the ultimate powerlessness of his own mortality on the fateful Washington morning in 1981, exactly as Reagan’s Arachne progressed onto his Midheaven! The sheer randomness of that dreadful threat must have shaken him to his core. Hinckley, his would-be assassin was declared insane and quite rightly, after all, he decided to kill the President in order that he might impress Jodie Foster.

Jodie Foster incidentally has a one-degree opposition between Orcus and Arachne.

And Hinckley? Orcus conjunct Node, Mars and Mercury, square Moon, sesquisqaure Saturn, parallel Jupiter, Uranus and Arachne, semisquare Arachne.

We are all connected, even when sometimes; we really don’t wish to be.