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?”

True.

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.

Venus, Mars and Neptune, with a little Zeus for good measure…

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Thunderbolts are go!

Today I would like to look in some detail at the various dynamics of the relating planets – Venus and Mars – in their applications to Neptune. Whilst not nearly as abrasively uncomfortable as Venus and Mars to Pluto connections, this blend does create its own unique difficulty and with understanding, there is certainly enormous potential for progress.

I could of course talk in the abstract about these energies, but it would be better in my view to use the example of Venus Williams, the American tennis sensation who has won, with her sister, every major title and honour in the sport. Let us begin by looking at her chart for reference:

Venus Williams: 17 June 1980, 14:12 (+7:00) Lynwood CA, USA

Of course, what can be seen right away is the enormous number of correlations to her sister Serena: here are just a few:

  • Vesta (at one level, the sister) is on the Aries Point, thus public projection and prominence are the result in relation to the female sibling.
  • The only real connection that Vesta makes though – at a subjective level – is its conjunction to Sun, thus the father is the common ground, and pretty much the only common ground.
  • The asteroid Isis (42) is exactly conjunct the Midheaven: a career configured with a sibling, (Isis also relates to sibling relationships), and with the sign Cancer there is tenacity and loyalty here, but crucially, the conjunction is squared by Icarus (1566), and this is a square from Isis to Icarus of only 7 minutes of arc, so there is astonishing adrenaline-producing tension between them; a big part of her drive to the top is based upon her need to beat her sister, to be faster, better, in Icarus’ terms, to fly higher!
  • Mercury is at the apex of a tee-square from Pluto opposition Pallas. If we take Mercury to signify sibling relationships, what we have here is in fact sibling rivalry, Pallas speaks of behaviours and strategies that are developed to please others, and learned (most especially in a female nativity) through the daughter role; thus pleasing father is the key. Imagine how that feels when opposed by Pluto; it’s not going to be comfortable; there’s a real desperate, gun-to-the-head quality at work here, must be what father wants, and that tension gets channelled into Mercury, into the sibling dynamic. Note how Pluto is ruled by Venus and Pallas by Mars, and these planets are square to each other and both in hard aspect to Neptune, there’s essentially a competition here based on a need to be more attractive than the sibling, to be more lovable, to be preferable to father. This is echoed by a conjunction of the asteroid Lilith (1181) to Pluto, selection or favouritism, being the chosen one is a life or death issue.

The ultimate sibling rivalry, Venus as runner-up...

Now let’s consider, in this context, the tee-square of Mars, Venus and Neptune. Mars is the focus of the tee-square from Venus opposition Neptune and is therefore squared by both and importantly ruled by Mercury, echoing the key motivator in the pattern, being more attractive to father than the sibling. Confusing messages about sexuality would have begun here, love would have begun to unravel as a concept, and very early on this would have been a feature of the family dynamic. All the groundwork for later psychological imprints is done between the ages of 3 and 5 when the hard aspects of Mars to Venus/Neptune and Pluto to Pallas are perfected by Solar Arc, these early childhood years are formative in terms of the sibling dynamic and an awareness of what it means to compete for and win father’s attention begins to make itself felt. In any case, Neptune configured with the Venus-Mars square is profoundly significant, and this is the timing that we can isolate through Solar Arc measurement. We can project these timings forward and look for applications to angles to determine major transition points in relation to these early dynamics. We note the following:

Lifetime Solar Arc directions to As/Mc

1999 was Venus’ breakthrough year, and it marked a period when both herself and her sister Serena were in the zenith of their sport, Venus was ranked in the world’s top 3 for the first time and she faced her sister in a major final for the first time too. The sibling rivalry dynamic was lit up by the Sun’s presence at the zenith of the chart, and with Sun in Gemini, ruling Mercury therefore, it was inevitable that her sister would be configured.

Moving ahead to 2003, the Venusian quality is illuminated by the Arc to the Midheaven. The date here is 5th August and exactly 40 days later, her sister Yetunde Price was murdered by mistake (Venus is opposed to Neptune) in a drug-related drive-by shooting (squared to Mars which is profoundly conjunct Zeus, which rules firearms) near the tennis courts where the sisters used to practise when younger. Note too that Yetunde was a half-sister, and half-siblings are very often a feature of hard Mercury-Pluto contacts. 2004 was inevitably a hard year, Venus lost much of her previous form and struggled to make her usual impact in part because of a persistent abdominal injury which first troubled her at the time of her sister’s shooting. Note then that Mars (violence) conjunct Zeus (firearms) falls at 17 Virgo, the degree that corresponds to the abdominal muscles.

What we glean from the general tone and dynamic of the nativity is that this tee-square is profoundly powerful, most especially when it is activated by Solar Arc in this way. Let us try to understand the energy at work here, because these planetary relationships do manifest in very specific ways. When we understand and recognise these patterns we begin to be released from their unconscious directives.

The theory of tee-squares is very simple. The opposition creates a pattern of dissatisfaction, inability to find peace because of contrary drives, and the tension this creates is expressed through the apex planet; it fuels the apex point, and in the nature of the square aspect is a tense, driven, challenging and experientially uncomfortable force; it is the channel through which the internal tension is cathartised. Thus, when we understand the opposition, we can begin to speculate as to the motive force behind the external expression of drive.

So, Venus opposition Neptune. We can tell right away that there is a problem balancing (opposition) the themes of love (Venus) and reality (Neptune); in a nutshell it describes a condition whereby the experience of love never quite matches up to the ideal. There is a longing and a yearning – at a very deep level – for perfect romantic union, and the usual pattern for the individual with this aspect is to fall in love very quickly, and for a time everything is perfect, wonderful, a transport of the most exalted kind; the new partner is delightful in every way, it is a rapture, a deep and rapturous soul-union and all is well with the world. Neptune creates enormously high expectations, indeed, it creates impossible expectations, and this is the mechanism by which the innate spirituality of the planet is awakened, regardless of what planets it contacts. The expectations of impersonal Neptune are designed to be so perfect that they have to be beyond the reach of any mere mortal being, so the inevitable conclusion is disappointment (another profoundly Neptunian theme), and with time and repeated episodes of disillusionment in relation to the contacting archetype (in this case Venus, thus romantic disappointment), the transcending process is awakened. The soul learns that no other human can fulfill the dreamy expectations of Neptune, so the love nature begins to focus on transcendent objects of love, the divine, the spiritual, a love of humanity; impersonal love is awakened, the soul begins to focus on spiritual rather than personal desires and themes. Neptune uses divine discontent to fuel the journey toward transcendence.

Mundanely, the pattern is nearly always identical; I call this the ‘One Who Got Away’ Syndrome. Usually, there was a figure from the past with whom the individual didn’t quite consummate a relationship. There may have been a brief fling, or even no fling at all, just a desire for one, but crucially, the relationship never progressed beyond the first rapturous days and weeks of divine contentment. The relationship may have lasted long enough to have been in some way meaningful, but never so long for the mundane and unpleasant realities to impinge upon Neptune’s awareness. The personal hygiene issues and tendency to be a real grump on Monday mornings never quite registered, so the relationship still holds the promise of perfection, even after it is over. Often the reason that the relationship ended is considered to be in some way tragic, as befits Neptune, perhaps they were forced apart by external circumstances and loss and sorrow are bound up in the story, but crucially, it is important to recognise that had the relationship managed to progress, then it would inevitably have fallen into the disappointment trap: because that is what Neptune does.

Now we should consider in this exact context the fact that Mars also squares Neptune. You can put this together yourself, because as the other major component of relationship, Mars concerns itself with sexual (as opposed to romantic) love and this then is also pushed to be the focus of the Neptunian disappointment trap. Typically, Mars – Neptune has very vivid sexual fantasizes that – again – cannot be satisfied by mundane reality and so sex becomes a disappointment too. The wish is to be transported into a state of sexual Nirvana, but it cannot happen, the woman with this aspect especially tends to project it onto the man in her life, his sexual performance doesn’t therefore match up: it is always disappointing. The man is of course perfectly aware of this (albeit at an unconscious level) and this is why he often takes refuge from the self-doubt that is engendered by the projection in Neptunian themes, alcohol, drugs, pornography and illicit affairs. Deception becomes a key component of the projected dynamic. It is astoundingly common for Mars – Neptune women to discover that their husband has been having an affair behind their back, often for many years! The dynamic is quite compelling, knowing (deep-down) that he can never satisfy his wife’s sexual needs, he protects himself from emasculation and ego-collapse by finding somebody whose sexual needs he can satisfy. He is not ostensibly being unfaithful even, or at least that was never his objective, it is invariably an act of self-defence (although understandably it is extremely difficult for the deceived partner to see it this way).

Finally, Venus squares Mars, and here there is no transcendent conundrum, this is simply an inability to reconcile love and sex, the two feel uncomfortable because there is a competition dynamic at play where love is concerned. Love (Venus) becomes confused with winning (Mars), indeed, all Venusian themes are given dynamic tension through the competitive, physical, go-getting drive of Mars. This dynamic again plays out in Venus Williams’ nativity: with Venus in Gemini (siblings), there is a competitive edge to the need to be loved. Competing for love, might be the watchword of this aspect, and remember that this square rule the Pallas-Pluto/Lilith opposition, which says “if I’m not father’s favourite, then I’ll die”. It was her father who pushed the sister’s to become tennis players and his ruthless determination that they be the best that has provided much of the energy for their astonishing rise to prominence.

There is so much more of interest here (if I had the time I’d write it all out), but suffice to say:

  • Consider how the tee-square expresses. Mars is in Virgo, so power is combined with precision. Ed Moses had Cazimi Venus conjunct Mars in Virgo, perfect precision of movement, economy of movement, here force is applied with skill.
  • Then Mars is in an absolutely partile conjunction (10 minutes!) with Zeus, the Transneptunian associated with firearms and sports! (Archie Griffin has a Cazimi Zeus!) Zeus threw thunderbolts right? Venus Williams has the fastest serve in women’s tennis:

    [From Wikipedia] She holds the record for the fastest serve struck by a woman in a main draw event. At the Zurich Open, she recorded 130 mph (210 km/h). She also holds the record for fastest serve in all four Grand Slam tournaments: 2003 Australian Open quarterfinal – 125 mph (201 km/h), 2007 French Open second round, 2008 Wimbledon final, 2007 US Open first round – 129 mph.At Wimbledon in 2008, her average first serve speed was 115 mph (185 km/h) in the quarterfinal, 116 mph (187 km/h) in the semifinal, and 111 mph (179 km/h) in the final. She also had a higher average serving speed than then World No.1 Roger Federer as well as eventual men’s champion Rafael Nadal.

  • Mars is at the halfsum of Uranus and the Midheaven, so unusual authority, career individuation is realised through precision and power (and throwing thunderbolts).
  • Venus’ boyfriend Hank Kuehne has (wait for it) Zeus conjunct Sun, with Sun at 18° of Virgo, mere minutes from Venus’ Mars/Zeus conjunction. It’s impossible without knowing his birth time to say how exact this might be, certainly it’s within a few minutes at most. That’s one relationship that was certainly written in the stars!

That’s plenty for this article, please bear in mind that I can apply this same insight (and much greater detail) to your own nativity, so please check Astrology Hour if you would like more information.

Hank Kuehne

The Transneptunian Massacre…

http://www.solsticepoint.com/astrologersmemorial/wittephoto-russ.jpg

Alfred Witte

Today I wish to examine certain of the so-called Transneptunians, those hypothetical points proposed by Alfred Witte, founder of the Hamburg School during the 1920s and 1930s. The fact that the Transneptunian points are not known to physically exist was as much a problem for astrologers back then as it is for some today; indeed, as a result of the widespread ridicule he received for these theories and his subsequent disfavour with the Nazi regime, Witte committed suicide in 1941.

I am challenged with the view that these points are meaningless often, and I reject the argument that these points are therefore ineffective. The immateriality of the TNPs is a conundrum, but I have never overvalued the concrete especially thus far in life, so I do not tend to struggle with this dilemma. Such material logic contests that cars have greater intrinsic value than love. So, I test the theory instead and try not to become too entangled in the dimensions of the real.

I find that without question, the TNPs are true, powerful and profoundly useful and in order to demonstrate this validity, I am going to look in some depth at the case of Martin Bryant, the perpetrator of the Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania in 1996, where Bryant, acting alone and with apparent premeditation, gunned down 35 bystanders in a bloody rampage at a popular Tasmanian tourist spot, just days before his 29th birthday. There is a great deal of pertinent and useful background information available in this case and if you are interested in some of the finer detail then you should read this article from Australian news source The Age; video recounting the tragedy is available from Youtube.

martin_bryant_nativity2Even without knowing Bryant’s story, we can apprehend a number of intriguing qualities that are suggested by these configurations:

  • Saturn rises, isolation is therefore a theme of this life story, and with Saturn in fall and near aspectually peregrine, the planet will struggle to express its quality.
  • Mars is in profound difficulty, in fall, within the boundary of the 8th, he is also slow, retrograde and occidental. Mars is therefore struggling and this is key, any archetype which has no route into manifestation will become uncomfortable and might threaten to overwhelm the nativity (and in the case of Mars, that would surely result in an act of violence, or a habit of episodic violence).
  • Chiron rises (not shown) and thus forms a grand water trine which includes the chart ruler Neptune in the 9th. Here is a closed circuit of emotional self-sufficiency that will only increase the isolation implicit in Saturn rising. Whereas – for the majority – a grand trine might be a refuge, in this case it would certainly be of borderline benefit, making something of a prison of the life. In the years leading up to the incident Bryant travelled extensively:

In the two years to the end of 1995, Bryant visited Europe six times and the US and South-East Asia three times, as well as New Zealand and Japan. The summary of his domestic travel over the same period would take three pages to list, travelling to Queensland and South Australia but most often to Melbourne, where he loved the zoo. But had the travel filled the void? No, he would tell Professor Mullen: “Mr Bryant stated that the best part of his international trips was the long plane journey. It transpired that the attraction of the long aeroplane journey was that he could speak to the people next to him, who presumably being strapped to their seats had no choice but to at least appear friendly. Mr Bryant became quite animated in describing some of what he regarded as the more successful interactions with fellow travellers.

  • Bryant loved animals (he travelled repeatedly to the Melbourne zoo) but also kept a fair menagerie of pets. The asteroid Diana rises, a degree into the 1st house. Keeping pets was therefore part of his identity and how he related to the world. To others though, this just made him appear strange as he would drive around with dogs, birds – even the occasional small pony – in his car. It exacerbated his isolation from normal society.
  • In the chart the asteroid Sappho falls at the midpoint of Neptune and Ascendant, the Sappho-Neptune trine is exact to less than 50 seconds of arc! He loved to talk (Asc) to fellow passengers (Sappho) while travelling to exotic (Neptune) foreign destinations (in the 9th). This is a typical trine arrangement, enjoyment is subjectively experienced when the factors are combined.
  • One of the most fascinating aspects of Bryant’s life before the Port Arthur massacre was his relationship with Helen Harvey a wealthy heiress who lived alone with her mother. Bryant befriended her after she employed him to be their handyman.

The two misfits forged a bond… The tragic consequences of their relationship, however, began early. As the friendship moved from employer-employee to friends and then constant companions, Helen’s mother, Hilza, was left increasingly alone inside what was fast becoming a filthy hell hole. She had been moved downstairs into the kitchen at some stage, and it was here that the old woman was forced to sleep, upright in a chair, writhing and wriggling in a bid to gain relief from an undiagnosed and untreated broken hip for most of the last two years of her life.

In June 1990, after someone made a report to the health authorities, medics arrived to find both Hilza and Helen in need of urgent hospital treatment with infected leg ulcers and living in squalor in the kitchen, surrounded not only by roaming animals, but unwashed dishes and saucepans and bowls with mould so high it was climbing out of the oven.

Seventy-nine-year-old Hilza Harvey was an abject horror of neglect, sitting untended with her broken hip and withering slowly in the kitchen on her chair.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/70000/images/_70091_bryant.jpg

Martin Bryant

This is where the Transneptunians begin to make their play: Hades is in Bryant’s nativity Cazimi, which means that it finds a pure expression; it becomes an unadulterated facet of identity, and the themes of Hades are to do with all things unpleasant, squalid, unwholesome, there are qualities of slow decay, gradual disintegration and decline, encroaching morbidity and general and pervasive unpleasantness; it is exactly the kind of squalor described which was visited upon Helen Harvey’s mother. Sun – Hades is to be involved with instances of lingering illness and wasting disease. The Cazimi conjunction applies to the 3rd and describes the gradual deterioration of those mental faculties which became apparent as he grew older in childhood. Something was ‘wrong’ with Martin Bryant, but that realisation was slowly revealed.

And then there is the astoundingly close conjunction between Mars, Cupido and Poseidon. We already understand that Mars is deeply awkward in this position and any Martian expression will inevitably be blended with the flavours and influences of Cupido and Poseidon. If we join these ideas together we have a complex impetus:

Mars/Libra/8: an inability to confront, wanting to negotiate anger (but with deteriorating mental faculties: no way out!), sudden outbursts, a need to control outcomes in partnership, ruled by Venus in the 4th, the father a pacifying influence (his father Maurice, committed suicide in 1993: Stella Sampson, his former teacher, would later tell the media: “My personal view is that his dad kept him in check, and when he died he didn’t have that restraining influence any longer.”) Mars rules Saturn rising, that anger held in check contributes, creates his isolation (“The kids were wary of him,” one neighbour would recount. “They understood instinctively that he was someone to stay away from. He was just a little scary.”)

Then Mars is conjunct Cupido: and Cupido has associations with partnership, family history, group involvements, it certainly ramps up the Libran energy in this placement, no doubt inhibiting the natural expression of Mars still further. There is an acute awareness of family conflict here, what happened in childhood that limited the natural expression of Martian energy?

By the time Martin was 16 months old, however, he was not only walking but running, climbing – and escaping – and his mother was starting to find it difficult to cope… He would disappear regularly from their house, his parents finding him in the strangest places, once on top of the chook pen next door or even further afield, playing quietly on a swing way across the other side of the railway line that ran north from Hobart along the Derwent’s western foreshore.

Martin Bryant was not the first toddler to love wandering, to show a spirit for adventure or levels of energy that could try a saint. But his mum’s response was an unusual one: “I started to leave him on the house veranda, with a harness and lead to secure him, with plenty of toys all around him. Some person made a complaint about us tying him up like a dog. But of course as his mother, I knew he was happy and safe.”

Mars is conjunct Poseidon: and this creates a very unusual blend, Poseidon attests to one’s spiritual ideal (but retrograde! A lack of spiritual ideals could result, the code is missing), and with Mars in Libra and the 8th, there is this sense that committing violence toward the other person might be in some way spiritually liberating, but remember the entire group is ruled by Venus, it is held together by the father and when he exits the picture (Venus squares Uranus (suddenly!) and Chiron in Pisces (Suicide, drugs and water, Maurice Bryant drowned himself after taking an overdose!))

And of course Cupido conjuncts Poseidon too: and the result is a philosophy or ideal based on a family history that seeks to avoid conflict, to hold violence in check, to negotiate anger rather than deal with it. Father dies, all bets are off. Can you feel these combinations? Violence held in check by the father, because of a family conditioning, because of being leashed and a lack of a spiritual or moral code.

Taurus finds its way into the life arc uncannily. He became the lifelong companion of Helen Harvey, they bought a house together and named it Taurusville! She died after the car they were both in crashed, her neck broken. He broke two vertebrae in his neck as well. She left him a millionaire, he had become enormously wealthy through the death of the only person who would give him companionship, he became further isolated. The Port Arthur massacre loomed.

The fateful day arrives.

Bryant has provided conflicting and confused accounts of what led him to kill 35 people at the Port Arthur site on 28 April 1996. It appears his desire for attention (he allegedly told a next door neighbour “I’ll do something that will make everyone remember me”), as well as mounting frustration at his social isolation (Saturn) had made him unbearably angry (Mars – ruler of Saturn!).

His first victims, David and Sally Martin, owned the B & B guest house “Seascape”. Bryant later described them as “very mean people” and as “the worse people in my life”. The Martins had bought the B & B that Bryant’s father had wanted to buy and he often complained to his son of the “double dealing” the Martins had done to secure the purchase. Bryant apparently believed the Martins had deliberately bought the property to hurt his family and blamed the Martins for the depression that led to his father’s death (Cupido – Mars, anger through family history, but held in check byt he father). He shot them in that guest house before traveling to the Port Arthur ruins. Bryant entered The Broad Arrow Café on the historical site’s grounds, carrying a large blue duffel bag. Upon sitting down to eat a meal in the front balcony area, he remarked “There’s a lot of wasps (Mars) about today” to no one in particular. Once he finished, Bryant moved towards the back of the café and set a video camera on a vacant table. He took out an AR15 semi-automatic rifle (Mars) and began shooting patrons and staff. Within a matter of seconds, he had killed 20 people and wounded 15. He then fled, shooting at people in the parking lot and from his yellow Volvo sedan as he drove away. Bryant drove three hundred metres down the road, to where a woman and her two children were walking. He stopped and fired two shots killing the woman and the child she was carrying. The older child fled, but Bryant followed her and killed her with a single shot. He then stole a gold-coloured BMW by killing the occupants. A short distance down the road he stopped beside a couple in a white Toyota and, drawing his weapon, ordered the male occupant into the trunk of the BMW. After shutting the trunk he fired two shots into the windshield of the Toyota, killing the female driver. He returned to the guest house, set the stolen car alight (Mars) and took his hostage inside with the Martins’ corpses (Hades). The police soon arrived and tried to negotiate with Martin for many hours before the battery in the phone Bryant was using died, ending communication. Bryant’s only demand was to be transported in an army helicopter to an airport. Sometime during the negotiations, Bryant killed his hostage.

The next morning, 18 hours later, Bryant set fire (Mars) to the guest house and attempted to escape in the confusion. Suffering burns (Mars) to his back and buttocks, he was captured and taken to Royal Hobart Hospital where he was treated and kept under heavy guard.

And all this seems very straightforward until you realise that the Mars/Cupido/Poseidon conjunction applied to partile opposition of the Sun/Hades conjunction by Solar Arc in 1996.

  1. Poseidon opp. Sun, SA-Na (28 January)
  2. Poseidon opposition Hades (15 March 1996)
  3. Port Arthur massacre (28th April 1996)
  4. Mars opposition Sun (5 May 1996)

Within a week of the Solar Arc oppositions completing, Bryant had murdered 35 people in cold blood.

(NB: The influence of Poseidon is especially odd in my view since it is normally associated with enlightening qualities. Is it simply a coincidence then that Fred West, the British serial killer had Poseidon Cazimi? And what does Hades look like? Here is former US Senator Gary Hart: Hades rising in Aries, exactly conj. Asc.)

Superhuman Force: the Mars – Pluto Contact

The Mars Pluto contact is characterised by Ebertin as ‘Superhuman Force’. It is an entirely apt description, since one of the key understandings of Hadean energy is that, like the atomic power it rules, it creates an incredible reservoir of hidden power. Nuclear fusion is carried on in the deepest recesses of the power station, volcanic process occurs in the deepest subterranean realms and when either finds its way out, devastation and destruction inevitably results; this is a force that ought not see the light of day.

Harnessed properly and handled with respect and caution though nuclear energy can provide enormous benefits. Similarly, a volcanic eruption can induce a sense of wonder and local inhabitants can be moved to a position of safety beforehand, providing the seismologists have done their work. The key observation though is that Plutonic force needs very careful handling and should be handled respectfully, and nowhere is this more in evidence than where it provides the motive power for Martian energy, which is already hot enough all on its own.

Today then, I wish to explore an intriguing insight, that while it is ostensibly concerned with Mars and Pluto in the astrology, gives perhaps an even starker insight into the fundamental quality of aspects than the contact between these potentially volatile planetary powers alone. Any Mars – Pluto contact contains an intimation of superhuman force, regardless of its quality and the square need be no more difficult than the trine in the long term. Squares and oppositions require transformation due to their abrupt and limiting influence on the life; trines and sextiles by contrast are able to bump along much more comfortably and this is why a trine can so easily devolve into something a little decadent, or even sleazy in some cases. Let us consider some examples.

ma_pl01

All of these individuals evince a Mars-Pluto contact in their astrology albeit of a differing arc; in every case Pluto is in the sign of Virgo. Consider the nature of the different aspects first. The square creates an inner drive or tension which manifests out of consciousness as an abrupt, tense and somewhat edgy impetus. The opposition is a tendency to disown our dissonant characteristics and transfer them onto others and often manifests as interpersonal discord or relationship dysfunction. The trine by contrast creates ease and subjective enjoyment and the native can leverage the frictionless exchange of energies between the planets. The conjunction is the most innate and intrinsic form of contact, it becomes a more fundamental and integral facet of personality than any other type of contact.

Thus, Jack Black first of all who with Mars in wild, free-roaming Sagittarius evinces the square to Pluto in Virgo. Here the superhuman force is felt as a great inner tension that makes the energy rather abrupt, tense and potentially explosive. Mars forms the apex of a tee-square from Moon in Pisces opposing Pluto. Moon square Mars is classically disputatious and abrupt, and can manifest as a rather headstrong tendency to rashness. Add to this the force of Mars – Pluto and the abruptness of the square aspect and immediately it is possible to see how Jack is metamorphosed from a usually reserved and potentially timid Virgo into a raging rock monster. And, the fact is, you can see Mars square Pluto in his eyes.

Rob Lowe by contrast will not evince the same forceful tendency simply because the opposition does not internalise like the square: in direct contrast in fact, it externalises instead. Lowe’s manner is almost opposite to that of Jack Black’s, none of the edgy, abrupt energy is in evidence, in fact, he seems to be, by contrast, almost soporifically meek and non-confrontational. This is because the tension and force of Mars Pluto is transferred onto others, so Lowe may consider others to be brutal, forceful and cruel without claiming any of those difficult qualities for himself, however, he will probably fool nobody except himself, because none of us can ever fully outsource our oppositions and those who know him well might consider him to be ruthlessly ambitious, which is certainly one of the most common difficult manifestations of this placement. Another classic interpretation of Mars/Pluto is concerned with sexual drive and vigour, and the opposition could well farm out those darker biological drives inappropriately. In 1988, Lowe was involved in a sex scandal over a videotape of him having sex with two females, one of whom was sixteen, in Atlanta while attending the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Lowe has asserted that he did not know that the second girl was underage, and it was confirmed that the two had met at a bar, which the girl entered by lying about her age. Another part of the same tape was leaked at the time, showing Lowe, a young American model named Jennifer, and Justin Morris having a ménage à trois in a hotel room in Paris. This part of the original tape was sold as one of the first commercially available celebrity sex tapes, damaging his public image.He later entered a rehabilitation clinic for alcohol and sex addiction. Lowe is currently involved in several ongoing legal disputes with three former nannies claiming sexual harassment. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the various situations, there is no denying the potential for use of force (Pluto) in sexual matters (Mars) being used inappropriately against others (opposition). It is equally possible however, that he is (as he claims) the victim of inappropriate sexual accusations himself, for the purpose of obtaining financial rewards. Mars – Pluto can seek advancement without much concern for the moralities.

Ben Stiller enjoys the Mars Pluto trine, which at its best bestows great self-confidence and tireless ambition, the ability to work without rest in order to achieve one’s objectives. With Mars in the 7th and exalted in Capricorn he no doubt displays an easy ability to relate with a measure of intensity within close personal relationships and he has certainly enjoyed a generally uncomplicated married life to date with Christine Taylor, with whom he co-starred in the movie Dodgeball.

For Kevin Spacey, the conjunction plays out in a much more integrated manner as a key component of personality. Mars is of course a personal planet, so it will be expressed at the very core of being whereas Pluto, impersonal and distant, simply cannot be unless it is in some sense blended into some more intrinsic facet of the person. The conjunction performs this exact function in a manner that is entirely more complete and unquestioned than any of the other aspect possibilities. Mars in Virgo gives a curiously asexual quality to the persona, a tendency which is only given a strangely compulsive quality by the proximity of Pluto, here is someone that is methodical and pays attention to detail and has an ability to work on the small-stuff all day long without tiring or losing focus.

ma_pl02

Consider briefly these equivalent case studies in female astrology, where Mars changes its focus subtly. Davina McCall evinces the edgy and ambitious quality of the contact and certainly there is an abrupt and decidedly tense facet to her nature that is immediately evident. For Cindy Crawford the opposition is found across the MC/IC with Mars on the Midheaven and conjunct Saturn, both in dreamy Pisces. The neatening and intense polarity of Pluto in Virgo however, is unmistakable. Shannen Doherty who enjoys the trine has a reputation for being ruthlessly ambitious and has experienced considerable turbulence in her personal relationships, while Teri Hatcher embodies the quality of Mars-Pluto in Virgo forming a stellium with Uranus all of which tightly squares her Sun in Sagittarius in the 9th giving enormous drive to realise her ambitions.

Any aspect, crucially, between Mars and Pluto therefore gives enormous energy, drive and ambition, the nature of the aspect will only in truth modify the manner in which it manifests.

Mars in the 12th: dazed and confused…

Mars struggles in Neptune's house...

Mars struggles in Neptune's house...

I always understood that I was born sometime “getting on for” 6am, and evidently, as an astrologer that is maddeningly ambiguous. I made a point of recording therefore the exact moment that my own children were born; actually, the moment they took their first breath; which with my daughter was very straightforward; but was not so much with my son because he was rushed off and had to be resuscitated, so I was forced to approximate within a 5 or 10 minute window. My own birth was much complicated by the fact (so it is said) that I stopped breathing on three occasions altogether and on the third time the priest was called to administer the last rites; thus the picture is confused by this attendant calamity. When all is said and done, I had the time within this range and for a great many other reasons I was confident that my Ascendant fell somewhere between 24° and 29° of Virgo.

So, what’s the big deal? I realise that it doesn’t sound like much, but did you hear me say the bit about Virgo? I rest my case, and now I shall proceed. So, I tried a few things. My first foray into rectification had nothing to do with astrology; instead I determined to simply wake up at the exact minute of my birth time and I tried this for maybe a week. In every case I awoke (uncharacteristically I might add) no earlier than 5:34 am and no later than 5:51 am. I was therefore very comfortable with the idea that my range had narrowed to something between approaching 25° and 27° of Virgo; this also seemed to correspond with some other forays as well into rectification by progression and arc, so it was all good.

Next, the Sabian symbol trick. I should mention that I have long been familiar with the Sabians after my grandfather gave me a first edition of Marc Edmund Jones’ work many, many years hence, and I always found it to be “otherly insightful”. I am indeed often tempted to produce a Sabian chart as a consequence for my clients. But anyhow, I digress. The pictures for each of the degrees therefore:

25th degree: A boy with a censer.
26th degree: Grande dames at tea.
27th degree: A bald headed man.

Now importantly, anything past the half-degree moves into the next picture, thus I also needed to consider “a man gaining secret knowledge from a paper he is reading”.

That last one, and to some extent also the bald-headed man (expanded by Rudhyar and others from the original transcripts to “a bald headed man dominates a meeting of national figures) have a peculiar resonance for me and I am comfortable with the sense therefore that my Ascendant lies at close to 27½° of Virgo.

Thankfully, I just had this confirmed. Mars has been transiting through my 12th house now for a few weeks, and that, coupled I would say with my ongoing Neptune square creates a very dissolving influence over my Martian qualities; especially when you consider that with Mars in the 3rd squared to Pluto, it was pretty much the sole source of my ability to output the necessary quantities to dispatch my responsibilities to my many clients. I have been completely at sea of late, unable to focus, to set myself any reasonable deadlines or to stick to them when I do. My work throughput has suffered horribly. Then yesterday afternoon, I started to feel distinctly different, suddenly I felt like I could focus again, and I actually wrote a 5,000 word interpretation and mailed it off after pondering and struggling with it for literally days. Last night I simply could not sleep; I felt as if I had mainlined amphetamines and coffee directly into my brain stem; I maybe got to sleep at 2 am and I was awake before 7, my brain buzzing with ideas, thoughts, articles I want to write, work I need to do. So, somewhere between 27°10′ and 27°30′, Mars broke out of the 12th would be my guess.

Now my son Joe is a lovely guy, if I say so myself. He is approaching 16 and he wants to be a doctor. Actually he is thinking that he wants to work in women’s fertility (don’t ask me, it’s not entirely normal for a boy of 16, but it is in his astrology and we did talk about it once and he really liked the idea), he is also what I would call an Indigo (I kind of despise the term, but astrologically it does have meaning) and he has Ur/Ne conjunct at less than one minute of arc just a couple of degrees on the 6th house side of the descendant, which is pretty much unequivocal. He is the appointed mentor at his school for any child with depression problems and he hangs out with children of his age and younger who are suicidal, clinically so, and he actually gets a real compassionate joy out of helping them. Last month he went to sell all his old toys at a boot fair but decided to pretty much give them away to younger kids because it was worth more than money to “make those little guys happy”. I know, it’s probably not normal, but it is what it is.

The point I am making is that he has all these incredibly decent qualities, he is funny, kind, compassionate and very handsome in a slightly offbeat, wild-haired Aquarian way BUT, he really struggles to focus. If I had to make one detractive statement about him, it would be that he has only two gears, “slow” and “standstill” and I do worry that despite his genius (which he really does have) he will struggle with his exams because he just cannot find any urgency. It always mystified me too, because I have the exact opposite problem, with my Mars in Sagittarius in the 3rd square to Pluto, I simply cannot moderate my output (and a peregrine Mercury in Scorpio – thus ruled by the Ma/Pl square – compounds that too). I wrote a book in 4 weeks and on a good day I can get 10,000 words out without skimping too much on quality.

What gives? I always thought. Now I think I know.

My Joe has Mars (in Cancer) in the 12th house. I did not appreciate fully, until just now, this last 24 hours in fact, as Mars crossed my Ascendant, just how subjectively difficult that can be. Self evidently it has something of the quality of Mars conjunct Neptune to it; my friend Alice has a transit of Neptune to Mars just now and she has complained of feeling very out of sorts for the last several months. Conversely, my brother in law has Mars rising, just over the Ascendant and into the first house and he is a study in crazy (Aquarian) energy: his hair stands on end, he is erratic, irascible, infuriating, cranky, offbeat, too cool for school and awesomely, lovably quirky all at once and he is beyond energetic. He gets an idea and he’s up and away. Many have been the times when I will be sitting with him in his garden drinking wine in a refined and leisurely way and he suddenly decides to ‘build something’. Then off he goes, into his workshop, crash, bang, wallop and two hours later he emerges with a “construction”. It’s exhausting just to watch him.

So now I get it. Mars either side of that magical line creates a profoundly different ambience and for the first time in my life, I felt it switch and all the lights came on.