November 2012′s Solar Eclipse

I have given it some thought and I have determined that it might be useful to say a few words about the current Solar Eclipse at (close to) 22 Scorpio. Of course you can read plenty of commentary on this from various astrologers who will all tell you that this eclipse will signify a time of deepening responses, the beginning of new cycles of difficult but ultimately rewarding emotional change and a feeling that it is time to get serious or real about life, most especially about the affairs of the house with Scorpio on its cusp, the house where the eclipse falls, and to some extent, as a kind of moderating influence, the houses containing and ruled by the Sun and Moon.

As an example, the eclipse falls for me in the 6th house, and with Sun in the 6th too, ruling the 3rd, and Moon on the Descendant, I am starting my new astrology school. That will change the way that I work (6th) in a profound way (Scorpio) through teaching my skills (3rd) to others (Dsc). It is very simple when you look at it that way. Of course, you will have to look at these factors as they apply to your own nativity and transpose that onto your subjective reality to have it make sense.

What most astrologers fail to mention about this eclipse , or any other lunation for that matter, is that understanding the effect for you and your life depends – and hugely – on where you are in the world when the eclipse (or any lunar phase) occurs.

For example, in the UK this eclipse has been a very curious phenomenon. The Sun and Moon are perfectly balanced, as are Venus and Mars, and too Jupiter and Saturn. These pairs of planets form polarised partnerships in astrology and therefore the fact that each pair is equally potent in the UK eclipse chart is quite fascinating. This suggests to me that there is a getting back to balance imperative arising from the event.

But despite this, in the UK at least, the strongest planet, by some considerable degree, is Neptune. This means that Neptune sets the tone for the eclipse, so the new emotional changes that are called for are to do with getting back to a place of reality, of rebalancing one’s spiritual energy and either fixing, or killing off difficult relationships.

Because that is the other foundation stone of the lunation cycle: every phase is concerned with relating. So if the eclipse falls in your 10th house, it’s the way in which your relationships make you appear to the world at large which needs rebalancing. Have you held onto people in your life because they make you look good, in spite of the fact that perhaps they don’t really nurture you in any meaningful way? Or conversely, have you shut somebody out of your life because of shame, or because they don’t really suit your image and lifestyle somehow? Now is the time to examine how appearances and relationships go together in your life.

As another example, what if this eclipse falls in your 7th house? An eclipse in the 7th is always especially powerful because not only is it an angular position, it’s also a relating house even without the confluence of solar and lunar energies. Here you are being asked to examine the ways in which you relate to partners, especially marital partners (past and present!) Have you let any ‘bad habits’ creep into your primary relationship over the last few months or years? Now is the time to set things straight again, to get some balance back into the relationship. Maybe that means that rather than opting for an easy life, you finally just say what’s been on your mind and get it out into the open, or alternatively, maybe it’s time you were honest with your partner about that situation that you’ve been brooding on for all this time. You know. That situation.

This advice always comes with a caveat though. Neptune is extremely strong and Mercury is weak through this eclipse, so the danger is that you struggle to speak authentically. With strong Scorpio energy the natural predilection is to speak to the heart of any matter, but where Mercury is weak one’s reasoning powers are unlikely to be terribly incisive, and as Mercury squares a very strong Neptune it is extremely tempting to put things in such a way that it glamorises your own part in the proceedings. Indeed, it’s almost impossible not to do this under this influence.

There is a solution to the problem of Mercury – Neptune though, and it goes like this:

  1. Hold in your mind an image of the person that you love (or loved, if they are gone) most in the world and really experience your feelings as you “look” at them.
  2. As you picture that beloved soul in front of you, become aware of your eyes and how they feel soft and caring.
  3. Now, as you relate to others at this time, look at them through these same eyes.

It is such a simple trick, and it is powerfully effective. This completely catharsises negative Neptune energy right at the source and you will find that you can relate to anyone in this way and speak the truth without evasion or unconscious malice.


Of course the situation is going to be different wherever you might be in the world. In New York for instance, Neptune is still strong, but so is Mars. This means that the tone of the eclipse for those living in New York is going to be subtly, but experientially quite different from anyone in London. There’s more sexual energy at work, so it’s useful to go with the current lessons of Saturn in Scorpio and ask yourself where you’ve been avoiding intimacy in your life. As an aside, if you’re looking for more insight about this, try Mandi Lockley’s in-depth but highly accessible Saturn in Scorpio. The other side of the New York eclipse lies in the use and abuse of energy in your relationships, here are a few questions that might get you thinking along useful and self-edifying lines at this time:

  • Is it fair for me to be angry at someone who’s sick, helpless or a victim?
  • Is it fair for that person to be angry with me when it’s not my fault?
  • How does passive and covert aggression block me from relating to others meaningfully?
  • Does being tired prevent me from getting the most out of my relationships?
  • What dreams, desires and fantasies am I keeping hidden from my significant other?

As a final observation for New York, Orcus energy is quite ferocious for this eclipse in your part of the world, so loneliness is part of this picture! If you’re not intimate then you are likely lonesome, right? Time to put your energy into a relationship that can work, and get shot of what’s too broken to be worth rescuing! Yes, plenty of Neptune here. For some instant therapy try reading The Shipping News.

As a final illustration, if you are in Sydney Australia, then the eclipse is going to be even more powerful and profound because it’s visible. But here Saturn is the heavyweight in the eclipse chart, in more ways than one! Mars is also flexing his muscles so the energy here is about a real blockage. What is it you’re not doing out of fear or because of a lack of confidence? Your relationships with friends are highlighted, but this eclipse also focuses inner resources on the way in which your primary relationship fits into your social life. How does your primary relationship stop you being free with your friends? How do your friends stop you from being intimate with your loved ones?

So you see, the tone of an eclipse has a basic quality, but you cannot gauge its specific quality independently of your location. When you apply the locality of this eclipse to your nativity you can begin to formulate some very clear observations about how it will affect you.

If you want to learn how to understand these matters for yourself, then sign up for my 2013 Astrology School. I can show you how it’s done, and much more besides.

And do let me know how the eclipse applies to you: all war stories are gratefully received!

Moon – Pluto: the Gathering Storm


Recently I wrote an extensive article on the key tenets of Sun-Pluto contacts. Today I would like to discuss in similar depth, the themes of Moon’s application to the Lord Hades, its effects being less outwardly manifest, but absolutely as far-reaching and powerful. The same quality of course will permeate the astrology of anyone born with Moon in Scorpio or with Moon in the 8th house. Also, it should not be forgotten that Moon in parallel or contraparallel to Pluto will evince a similar influence upon the life of the native.

The key understanding here is that Plutonic energies are brought to bear on lunar qualities in the life; which can have a number of dramatic effects, dependent as ever upon the evolvement of the subject and to some extent too the house and sign of the contacts. Our understanding of aspects especially leads us to an understanding of first principles: the conjunction is the most innate and in some sense therefore the most seemingly intrinsic blend and here most especially the sign and house become of paramount consideration. The Pluto in Scorpio generation will no doubt create a slew of individuals with this effect in serious overdrive, in Libra relationship themes will predominate, and Virgo might display extreme pragmatism as an obvious outlet for this combination. The particular nature of the aspect however is not especially key in my view, since in reality, all aspects are squares with the most marked difference between them being for the most part subjective. Moon square Pluto individuals might struggle more in themselves with the discomfort of the aspect, and their expression of it will therefore be more apparently stressed, but the impetus is just the same as it is for the trine or the conjunction.

Moon Pluto creates anything but milk and water types, their best qualities are self-sufficiency and an ability to stand alone, these natives are tough, resilient to the nth degree and too they are tough on themselves, as we shall see during the course of this discussion.

Let us begin with the simple observation that Pluto is murderous and implacable. This has to do of course with the birth-death-rebirth archetype of the Scorpio principle, one that is engendered in Persephone (Proserpina) the maiden-wife of her uncle who raped and stole her away to Tartarus thus incurring the wrath of Ceres. Every 6 months Proserpina is reborn and reunited with her mother and the crops grow again until harvest and winter whereupon she descends once more into the underworld to be with her husband. Similarly then, there is a cyclic quality to anything that Pluto touches and holds in his power; a thing must be killed before it can be reborn. The rebirth allows an evolvement too, so, perhaps in an ongoing facsimile of the karmic cycle, the killing is enacted in order that something improved might take its place, very much like the phoenix rising from the ashes of what went before. The phoenix too is blind, hinting at the compulsive quality of the cycle, we are very often blind to these same compulsive effects, and it takes a rare honesty and courage to face up to the Plutonic heart which beats life into our darker motives. Here though, the Moon, an already fluctuating and oft-times obscured energy in the psyche is combined with this dark impetus: the emotions must be killed too, especially at times of great distress and this occurs simply because – supercharged as they are by Hadean force – they would otherwise be overwhelming. The double edged sword of Pluto combinations is again revealed, the very power that generates such intensity becomes itself a source of threat and menace, it is as though the force is too great to be integrated, so it is partially absorbed and then one must shy away at the last so as not to be burned in the ensuing conflagration.

This creates a facility for emotional amputation that is the dark-side of a habitually intense, passionate and rich emotional life. For the most part, the native with Moon-Pluto contacts can experience even the minutiae of life in a strangely profound manner, but when there is serious anguish or confrontation, most especially within close or family relationships, the manner which once seemed remarkable for its passion and connectedness becomes suddenly cold, distant and aloof. This is simply the drowning point of Plutonic feeling where the native cannot allow the emotions to run any higher, so a facility has developed to forgo them completely. In almost every case this relates back to the mother, in keeping with the lunar quality and usually there is a sense that the mother in some way used a subtle form of emotional manipulation to try and control the child, perhaps by withholding affection to ensure compliance. The problem however is that the child, learning in a more fundamental manner than any adult can hope to emulate becomes even better at sealing off the emotional side of their nature than the parent; in any case, the relationship with the mother is always likely to be difficult. This might manifest in a number of ways. It could be the case that the mother is seen as being unusually powerful or intense or even cruel, or in some other way she embodies a Plutonic principle; often she may have survived some difficulty in her own life and herein lies a further observation about Moon-Pluto, issues of survival become manifest. Most often this can be seen to operate at a number of levels, and it may be experienced through outside agents (most especially with the opposition) or it could even be self-inflicted.

Consider the themes of Moon and create from them a sense of struggle for survival, and a propensity to Spartanism (a key tenet of Pluto) the mother therefore might not be especially nurturing. The same can be said for those with Moon in Pluto’s domicile, Scorpio and also his house, the 8th. Very often children with these placements are made to ‘make do’ or suffer some form of privation that sets them apart from others. One friend of mine with a strong Moon-Pluto configuration was always forced to make do with the cheapest school shoes and soccer boots, such that they hurt his feet because they were so cheap and poorly made. His mother saw the cost of good shoes as a waste of money since he would only grow out of them anyway. This seemingly trivial economy belies the normal priorities for a mother at least in the eyes of the child: the mother is supposed to consider the welfare, happiness and comfort of the child as being of paramount importance and yet here is a subtle message that the child is undervalued, not worth the expense and not very well nurtured.

This lesson is often taken to heart too.

The Moon-Pluto child might become painfully awkward when attending to their own nurturing as a result. As adults they may develop compulsions about food and dietary issues and this is why Moon-Pluto more than any other contact seems to associate with eating disorders, although in general terms there will invariably be several other supporting factors in the astrology too. As an example, consider the fascinating and tragic case of Karen Carpenter who died aged only 32 from complications relating to anorexia:

Karen Carpenter, musician. 2 Mar 1950 11:45 (+5:00) New Haven CT, USA

Karen Carpenter, musician. 2 Mar 1950 11:45 (+5:00) New Haven CT, USA

Moon Pluto is not even the standout feature here, Uranus peregrine and rising but ruled by the Moon which is conjunct Pluto of course is the key factor. Ebertin ascribes to Uranus the manifestation of rhythm and Carpenter was considered to be a virtuoso drummer and indeed played the drums on every studio track she recorded. Uranus in Cancer of course can create a number of effects, most commonly wanderlust and ofttimes a sudden break from the home environment, but here, consider the conjunction to Ascendant which really creates enormous nervous tension and with the lunar rulership (and on the Aries point too!) a genuine issue with nurturing that might well have a physical manifestation.

mo_pl02There are a number of supporting factors.

First of all consider the presence of Saturn in Virgo. Here there is a test of diet and assimilation as much as anything else. One friend of mine with Saturn in Virgo is a lifelong vegetarian and has at various times been vegan and fruitarian and indeed is quite fixated on diet such that – whilst he explains his interest as a concern for good, clean living – it resembles something closer to a grim and onerous duty to the onlooker. This is common enough with Saturn in Virgo and indeed, Karen Carpenter was notorious for her dieting. Indeed, malnutrition was cited as a major factor in her death which technically occurred when she was putting on weight during her recovery from anorexia: the extra bulk put strain on her heart which failed as a result (and Pluto is on the degree for the right auricle of the heart in her astrology.)

Sun opposes Saturn too and here there is often a genetic or congenital difficulty. I have Sun opposition Saturn and was born with a cardiac shunt (more commonly known as a hole in the heart) and because of Sun’s rulership of Leo it can very often create a heart difficulty of some form. Here though, with Saturn in Virgo there is an imbalance triggered through diet and with Saturn in the 4th, thus ruled by the Moon, which rules the chart, there is enormous emphasis placed on food and nurturance in general.

Not shown in the nativity is a tee-square from Su – Sa to both Ceres and Hygeia conjunct in Sagittarius and the 6th. Here are further food issues, with Ceres in Virgo’s house and Hygeia too, quite possibly at home there, but profoundly stressed. There is no real doubt however that she was in recovery from her eating disorder and had she survived at the very last she may have gone on to live out the rest of her life comfortably. That is the nature of the early difficulty implied by Saturn and the general tenor of the tee-square itself, which must trine out eventually.

Pluto too rules the 6th, so the small matters of maintaining one’s good health in a prudent and balanced Hygeian manner is a life and death issue for her, and with Pluto conjunct Moon? Nurturance and food are bound to figure.

Memories too can be a rich source of feeling for those with Moon – Pluto contacts and they may have access to powerful emotional recollections from early childhood, a time which might hold a store of rich and often difficult experiences. The Moon of course corresponds most closely with the earliest childhood as well as the final days of life, so the theme of the beginnings of life will undoubtedly be played out at the end of life too for those with this configuration. All of these disparate elements though are connected with the cascade effect of the astrology wherein – like a fountain where the water moves with gravity from one tier to the next – the strength and intensity of the emotional life plays out in all the various interrelated factors and contacts in the inner and outer life. Pluto supercharges the lunar qualities and lends an imperative to transformation, usually through intense, difficult and uncomfortable experience. The emotions therefore are over-powered, which is unquestionably pleasant when the emotions are themselves pleasant, but as soon as anger, jealousy or some other difficult feeling is experienced it becomes overly intense resulting in hard lessons. The Moon-Pluto individual must therefore learn to moderate these outbursts of negative feeling, otherwise like the Scorpion that corresponds to Pluto at his most unevolved, he will even sting himself to death when attacking his enemy. The only possible and lasting solution is true transformation. This creates a necessity to develop self-awareness, so that the snake might be realised from the scorpion, the eagle from the snake, and ultimately, the indestructible phoenix from the eagle. It is only with evolvement therefore that the richness and profundity of emotional experience and feeling promised by this configuration can be realised and its damaging excesses left behind. As ever with Pluto, absolute honesty and a willingness to confront the darkness within are of paramount importance.

Help with your own Moon – Pluto problems can be found here.

Don’t Jump In! Moon conjunct Neptune.

Moon conjunct Neptune is dreamy, refined and often misunderstood.

Moon conjunct Neptune is dreamy, refined and often misunderstood.

Imagine this scenario: someone you know has come to see you and on their way over they have got stuck in traffic, had an argument with a co-worker on the phone and discovered that their husband spent the housekeeping on a hooker, then they call in at your house, and actually, they like you very much and just want to hang out for a while so they don’t mention any of that bad stuff, but inside they are angry, upset, hurt and frustrated, as would only be natural for anyone who had experienced such a frustrating and upsetting set of circumstances. For most, this visitor would appear agitated perhaps, maybe a little off and flat and for anyone without Moon conjunct Neptune it wouldn’t represent much of a blip on their personal radar, off their friend would toddle, and they might think to themselves “hmm, they seemed a little odd today, no matter”, and they would carry on about their business and probably forget all about it.

Not so for Moon conjunct Neptune. Not by a long chalk.

For anyone with Moon conjunct Neptune, they can feel the anger, resentment and frustration from their friend almost as a physical force in the room. The hostility would be profoundly uncomfortable, they feel so uncomfortable in fact that they may even begin to physically sweat, or shake, or feel a little wan and pale. And even before their friend was out the door they will already be running through the list of all possible misdemeanours they could possibly have committed to have caused such an upset, because it is entirely possible that their friend is angry because of something they have done, or said, or not said, or not done, or implied, or inferred or failed to anticipate.

Moon conjunct Neptune is sensitive.

So sensitive in fact that they can walk into a room and feel something in the walls. Moon conjunct Neptune doesn’t like hospitals, or asylums, or even places where somebody else has been in a bad mood in the last hour; and they really absorb the ambient and prevailing feel of people and places; they’re so sensitive in fact that you might even consider it a kind of social disability, because people who don’t have Moon conjunct Neptune simply have no clue how to behave around this person. Moon conjunct Neptune often wants to simply shut herself away if only to feel normal…

It’s not all bad though. There is no more refined possibility of feeling than that which exists as a potential within this aspect. It is entirely possible indeed to experience a sense of near-rapture when the conditions are just right. There is a deep well of feeling and compassion possible within this blend that probably exists nowhere else in the astrology, it creates many difficulties, peculiar ideas and strange notions, a feeling of being unsatisfied and misunderstood, a very difficult level of sensitivity to people and events, but by that same token it creates a sensitivity that when tweaked positively can open up a wide and verdant vista of communion with life that is truly rich and rewarding.

The most difficult consideration of Moon Neptune conjunctions however is found within this very deep pool of feeling that is created within the psyche, because all too often, and most especially in times of adversity, it is all to easy for them to simply “jump in”. It becomes something of a siren call for the native, not so much to wallow in their sense of being misunderstood, but actually to dive head-first into it and actually revel in it just a little. The most important advice I can possibly offer to anyone with Moon conjunct Neptune is to learn to recognise this tendency and when they hear that seductive song, to resist: “don’t jump in!” Skirt around the edge if you have to, paddle a little if you want, but keep your head above water: self awareness is the key, and the eternal refrain: “don’t jump in!” Make it your mantra.

The sense of Moon conjunct Neptune through the signs can be easily delineated by studying some examples.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo works rather well, because Leo is among the most naturally affectionate of the signs, so there is a route out of the adversity of this aspect through allowing that natural predilection to feeling human warmth shine through. At its worst Moon in Leo can tend to the vain and snobbish, but wherever Neptune is configured there is created a predilection to the immaterial. Those with this aspect who pursue the inclination to love of luxury found in the Moon placement will invariably experience disappointment as a result. Neptune in Leo though is profoundly melancholic too, so the tendency to jumping in to the lake of sorrow is decidedly exaggerated here. Jack Lemmon, Anne Frank and Peter Ustinov all demonstrate the gentle and kindly warmth of the conjunction in the eternal flame of the sign Leo: consider Nancy Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II and George C. Scott, all of whom evinced both Moon and Neptune in Leo, but without the conjunction, the quality of the blend when viewed in this context, is unmistakable.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Virgo.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Virgo.

In Virgo then, compare the three examples above: the Dalai Lama, Dustin Hoffman and Marvin gaye with any three other natives born with both Moon and Neptune in Virgo but out of the conjunction: so, for example, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson and Lou Reed. Immediately you will get a sense of the conjunction, the blend, which sensitises, softens and creates an often difficult vulnerability in the manner. Moon in Virgo alone is not the greatest placement for Selene, since it creates an incompatible practicality where the head rules the heart, a love of tidiness, method and order but also, in its best manifestation a tendency to simplicity and frugal habits. At its worst, Neptune in Virgo is pedantic, fault-finding and difficult to work with (which is a criticism very much associated with Dustin Hoffman for example), but it also gives an intuitive understanding of others and a profound interest in natural health. When these influences are brought into the conjunctive blend then we have a potential for great sensitivity to environments, especially cluttered, chaotic spaces. It makes one hyper-sensitive to working relationships (which explains Dustin Hoffman’s reputation almost perfectly) and gives a profound interest in simple, healthy lifestyles and philosophies: which rather gels with the Dalai Lama’s admirable message of compassionate simplicity. Any Moon – Neptune contact speaks volumes about the relationship with the mother too, perhaps she was fault-finding and practical but in some other sense vague or hard to understand or especially sensitive herself. Maybe she was a clean and tidy drunk. Possibly she was profoundly spiritual and methodical in her habits too; the blend always plays out through the maternal experience in one way or other.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Libra

Moon conjunct Neptune in Libra

Libra creates a subtle leaning toward the Other, thus any configuration in the sign of the scales profoundly affects the entire process and approach to relating, and the Moon – Neptune blend is no exception. Neith put it this way, which speaks to this exact potential:

Having spent many years dealing with a Moon-Neptune conjunction in Libra making it very difficult for me to see the reality of what was going on in my relationships, I have some experience and a few thoughts on coping with Mr. Fogbank.

All of that innate sensitivity and confusion is experienced through close relationships, and nowhere more so than in the marriage, although it can potentially create a similar ambience in business or creative partnerships too. Moon in Libra alone creates a need for love and affection as well as a measure of dependence on the partner for security and comfort and when Neptune in Libra is configured there is a genuine requirement for friendship with the partner too, so all of that sensitivity that is implied by the conjunction must in some sense be played out through the partner, who must be a friend of the most supportive kind otherwise the native will tend to become melancholic and confused and – as ever with Libran concerns – slightly off-balance. Sting, David Essex and Benazir Bhutto all shared this conjunction.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio creates a very different ambience to Libra, although the vulnerability and sensitivity engendered by the aspect is still its standout feature. Consider the three examples of John Cusack, David Schwimmer and Greta Scaachi and contrast them with three natives having both Moon and Neptune in Scorpio but without the conjunction of the two in force: Will Smith, Liz Hurley and Jennifer Lopez. The softening and emotionally refining influence of the blend in these latter cases is absolutely conspicuous by its absence. Moon in Scorpio alone creates a tough, resilient, emotionally tenacious and frank impetus, while Neptune in this most emotionally intense of signs creates a very peculiar disposition, one that is rather difficult to fathom which simply increases the potential for being misunderstood that is already inherent in the aspect itself. Scorpio is of course deeply compassionate when evolved, and this aspect certainly encourages that outcome in those affected; this set of circumstances makes the Moon – Neptune in Scorpio native most likely to withdraw from the world – a fairly natural condition for the Scorpio in any case – since the sensitivity is increasingly tweaked by the experiential incomprehension which is the result of this blending. Neptune in Scorpio creates a tendency to soul-sickness and states of low level melancholy too and often this, when integrated into the emotionality of the Moon, creates a soft but world-weary ambience. When all is said and done however, Scorpio on the Moon is required to survive on meagre resources, they can nurture themselves on Spartan rations, emotionally as much as anywhere else, so there is at least an intimation of balance in the equation.

At its very best, in whatever sign it is found, the contact of Moon and Neptune of any type creates a great sympathetic ability in the astrology, a person who can understand and empathise with the difficulties of others, but the conjunction feels those self-same difficulties more directly and immediately than any other type of contact, and very often the sense is entirely involuntary. Vivid dreams are another factor in any of Moon’s applications to Neptune. At worst, the contact creates a tendency to fantasy, delusion and dishonesty, most especially with the square or the opposition, but even in such difficult cases, the overriding impression is one of profound sensitivity.

Moon in Scorpio: I am Legend

I am Legend is a 1954 novel concerning the fictitious life of Robert Neville, the last surviving human in the city of Los Angeles, it was written by Richard Matheson who also wrote a number of episodes for The Twilight Zone and it has been made into a movie on three occasions, most recently starring Will Smith. It is ostensibly a science-fiction novel of the post-apocalypse sub-genre, more pertinently however, it is an out and out vampire flick. I read the book as a young man, and have watched the 1971 adaptation: “The Omega Man” starring Charlton Heston, and more recently the newer, glossier and somewhat unsatisfying: “I am Legend” which features Will Smith in the leading role.

Small coincidence.

Here is a movie about the last surviving human in an entire landscape of fear. His home is a fortress, his habits are paranoid, and the themes of his life are about nothing other than outright survival, for Robert Neville, every day is life-or-death day; there are no vacations, light moments or romantic, candlelit interludes. Each time he leaves the security of his four walls, he is taking his life in his hands, he learns – unequivocally – that the world is dangerous, dark and populated with ravaging demons who will rip out his throat without a moment’s pause; life is a trial, each and every day, of the most exacting and serious kind.

And like I said up there, small coincidence, that Will Smith was attracted to the role. The fictional life of Robert Neville is a near perfect facsimile for peregrine Moon in Scorpio and of course, Will Smith has peregrine Moon in Scorpio. I discuss this theme with fair regularity, not least because I too have it (aka Nick Drake Syndrome), but at least Will Smith, and more particularly, the character of Robert Neville creates a standalone out of this aspect (which describes the experiential focus of peregrination to a t). Wherever the Moon is found either in Scorpio or very closely (and especially solely) aspected to Pluto, it creates this same ambience (let us redefine it “Robert Neville Syndrome”), because our inner sense of security, of the ambient safeness of the world is skewed; where we should be able to trust that when we go out into the light we will be safe, Moon in Scorpio, or shackled to Pluto alone, will queer the pitch; and peregrinated, it will become overwhelmingly emphasised, the sense of disconnection, of insecurity, of imminent destruction will become, not just a nagging doubt, but a screaming certainty.

It is important to understand this, Moon peregrinated is always dissociative; watch any interview with Will Smith or Tom Cruise and you can palpably sense their struggle to feel involved, to make their experience real (and they fail), I find the Tom Cruise disconnect to be much more uncomfortable however, Will Smith has the benefit of some very well-favoured supporting conditions thus:

Will Smith, Actor. 25 Sept 1968, Time unknown, 0 deg. Aries chart.

Will Smith, Actor. 25 Sept 1968, Time unknown, 0 deg. Aries chart.

We can ignore the houses since birth time is unknown, however, Moon in Scorpio and peregrine is somewhat compensated for by an incredibly potent and partil stellium of Mercury, Venus and Pallas in Libra, and it is therefore no coincidence that a delightful, charming, gently harmonious quality to the speech and manner of self-expression is the balancing factor which offsets his Moon placement (and Pallas creates a point of astonishing competence). You can still feel the power of Scorpio Moon of course; his expression is emotionally incisive, and he has an edge to his manner that is fundamentally Hadean. So much drive and tension in this astrology (and yet no squares! All his struggles are projected!)! The opposition to Saturn in Aries too from the Libra grouping creates a go-it-alone mentality and a tendency to develop some serious self-reliance (which may at least be some kind of antidote to the ongoing struggle to survive, especially if the native can get past 35!) and look too at the conjunct of Jupiter and Pluto; here is someone who just knows how to get people in his way of thinking, whether they want to or not. All the easy aspects are to Neptune, so the dream of acting is one of the few things that he doesn’t have to work really hard at either.

And as with anyone of this generation, with Chiron opposing both Pluto and Uranus, which trine to Neptune, the best of life is to be found in the latter half, when those outer planet energies finally become meaningful; Will Smith has traded on his Libra stellium, his Saturnine survivalism and his desperate search for security, but an end to all that is in sight, providing he – like this entire generation – can find a way to personalise Neptune and start trading in compassion and sensitivity. If he does manage it, then his best performances are yet to come.

Peregrination: the Movie.

Among the greatest misconceptions in astrology is the exaltation of rules above principles, because it is all too easy to forget that the rules are derived from observed principles, not the other way around. The astrologer that comprehends the principle that underpins the rule is then able to discard the rule-bound logic of the mind, and enter into a dialogue with the illimitable.

I talk a great deal about peregrination, and I receive emails on that subject telling me that I have misunderstood the rule of peregrination completely, with perhaps some explanatory text concerning Ptolemy and his great treatise. There are of course peregrine degrees in the zodiac but broadly, peregrination is used traditionally to denote a state of essential debility. I use the term essential in its truest sense, to express a profound, integral quality; thus the essential debility of Saturn in Aries is based upon the fact that natives with this placement struggle at a fundamental level to promote self-reliance, independence and courage in their lives, most especially in the affairs of that house where it is placed.

Technically the definition of Peregrine degrees is derived from Lilly:

A Planet is then said to be Peregrine, when he is in the degrees of any Sign wherein he hath no essential dignity, As Saturn in the tenth degree of Aries, that Sign being not his House, Exaltation, or of his Triplicity, or he having in that degree neither Term or Face, he is then said to be Peregrine; had he been in 27, 28, &c. of Aries, he could not be termed Peregrine, because then he is in his own Term. (Lilly, CA, p.112).

Thus peregrination of Saturn at about 9 degrees of Aries is so utterly undignified that it really has no power to express itself. Now here is the nub, because it is not the degree that is important, but the experiential, subjective result of that placement: thus the key observation is not that this or that degree is the purpose of this rule, but that the inability to express that planet’s energy is.

Now if we go back to first principles, if we force a child to wear lead boots (or callipers even) for its entire childhood there is little doubt that the unfortunate is going to struggle. He or she will not be able to run as fast as the other children, he or she will probably be considered slow, ungainly and will thus be less-favoured by their peers and by the world in general. There is every possibility then that this child will at some level develop a deep insecurity about their abilities, and may go throught their entire life feeling like something of a failure and never achieving much.

This is the exact principle behind the rule of planetary debility, but of course in this case the lead boots are actually irrelevant, it is the effect of those lead boots that we should be concerned with. Now imagine that this child rails against their status as the weakling and decides to try and run as fast as the other children despite his or her lead boots, what does this posit? There is a chance (and whilst it may be a small chance it is a chance nonetheless) that the child’s legs will grow strong, far stronger than they would otherwise be, and so they find that one bright morning they can keep up with the other children with their lead boots on! Now we find that this child – as a direct result of this ‘debility’ – has managed to grow comparatively much stronger than those not so debilitated by lead boots.

This then is the principle that underpins the idea of peregrination and it is a very simple and acceptable principle too: through adversity, people grow stronger.

Now, let us broaden that principle, not the rule! Only the principle. If peregrination is nothing more than a pair of lead boots then any other style of lead boot is going to have the exact same effect. It doesn’t actually matter if our lead boots are winkle-pickers or if they are lead-slippers! Thus, if a planet is unaspected, by dint of the difficulty that the native experiences in expressing that energy due to its non-integration with his broader nativity, there will be some requirement to work especially hard with that debility.

Peregrine is derived from a word meaning, outcast, foreigner, it describes a wanderer far from home, a feral power, behind enemy lines that – if it is to survive – must often develop unique and ingenious methods or otherwise continue to suffer the taunts and rejection of their peers for being so hopelessly slow and deficient. It does not matter how that planet is thus peregrinated. It might be by being placed in no sympathetic context through house, exaltation or triplicity, or it might equally be through being unaspected, a singleton, at the apex of a Yod and tee-square at the same time, or any other of a number of peregrinating factors that force the soul within to evolve or be crushed by the burden.

In this way, it is important to see how we must, as astrologers, not simply sit and bemoan all of those lead boots that our clients are forced to wear, but instead we must marvel at the opportunity they have to develop such awesomely powerful legs!

Consider some examples: what do Pamela Anderson and Cat Stevens have in common? They both have Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus in peregrine (traditional, by Lilly). What do the Queen and Tom Hanks share in common? Both Moon and Mercury are peregrine (by lack of aspect). All four of these people have a real debility where their Moon and Mercury placements are concerned, they have lead boots on their emotional, self nurturing and self-expressive faculties. Now consider Tom Hanks and Pamela Anderson; which of these two has developed the “stronger legs” when it comes to matters of emotional expression? Unaspected peregrination is arguably more debilitating than the traditional even, them there lead boots sure is heavy.

(Written by someone who has Su/Mo/Ve/Sa in fall, Sa trad. peregrine, Mo/Me unaspected.)

Help with life’s lead boots can be found here.

Tales from the Peregrine Moon: The Isolation of Nick Drake

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Drake Nativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhona Cameron: A Thumbnail Portrait

Rhona Cameron Comedienne

Rhona Cameron is a relatively little known comedienne, certainly beyond Britain’s shores; I must confess that I am not especially familiar with her work, although I have seen a few snippets of her on television from time to time and I must say that I like her style. That’s about as much as I can reliably report about Rhona Cameron as an observer. As an astrologer, I find her to be a very interesting case, with many fascinating facets to her nativity that bear examination, and her astrology is doubly informative since it combines a case of Cazimi Mercury in Libra – by a mere 1 minute and 47 seconds – configured in a grand trine with Pallas rising in Aquarius. Notably her chart evinces a second grand-trine upon inclusion of Vesta and a near-peregrine Mars in its traditional rulership of Scorpio.

Rhona Cameron Nativity

If you listen to a few of the key themes discussed in her autobiography, you get a very clear idea of somebody who feels a need to discuss eighth house issues; unquestionably, the trine from her Cazimi Mercury in the 8th to Pallas rising gives her a great ability to express herself, she is quirky, offbeat and with Pallas rising, no doubt feisty too, but that need to express her comfortable self-awareness of forthright Aquarian difference is moderated by her powerful intellect and Libran impetus to harmony; so she will always mask her confusion and anguish, not for her own sake, but for everyone else’s. Intriguingly, with Sun in LIbra and Moon in Scorpio, there is a distinct lack of power in her luminaries and it is ever a difficult combination (I know, because I share it) not least because at heart she is incisive, self-reliant and deeply passionate, but this must be suppressed under a graceful, near-indifferent persona. Moon in Scorpio is intensely emotional, while Sun in Libra dictates that we must appear anything but.

The Cazimi Mercury is remarkable because it is so very tight, while her Pallas rising gives her truly Palladian looks and a confident almost Martial and competent demeanour, and with both of these trining her North Node there is an easy ability to catch the Zeitgeist, to be in the way of things, to tap along comfortably with the tunes of the moment. Here then is a grand trine that combines dazzling intellect, harmonious selfhood, a pleasing and able self-expression and a real insight into the mood of society at large, that in the air triplicity and with Pallas in wacky Aquarius gives a real comedic competence (Robin Williams too has Pallas in Aquarius). The grand trine is always informative; it represents a pattern of behaviour that flows so easily that we become self-sufficient, in that triplicity and energy structure we no longer require external validation or approval; this is why a grand trine is both a blessing and a curse. It allows us to capitalise on the positive benefits subjectively although from the point of view of personal evolution there is not much incentive to progress in those areas. With Rhona’s grand air trine falling across the first, fourth and eighth houses there is clearly an emphasis on intensely personal experience, on deep and often uncomfortable areas of one’s innermost being, but Rhona finds it so natural and easy to make these issues light, airy and mentally endearing that she may therefore avoid the more serious implications of such a configuration. This dark-side is neatly encapsulated in the partile conjunction of Uranus – Pluto in Virgo riding on the cusp of the 8th; an aspect that speaks to transformative revolution, the science, if you like, of self-realisation. This opposes the Saturn conjunction to Chiron, thus she “farms out” the pain that has wounded her when her father died of Cancer (circa 1979), with this configuration stressing the 2nd and 8th axis I don’t doubt that her father’s death made a serious financial impact on her formative years too and this speaks fundamentally to values, about money, about a Spartan attitude to life but she will probably not fully address the fallout from that scenario until she learns to go past the easygoing, flighty allure of her grand air trine; something that she is probably doing right about now, with Uranus transiting her radix Chiron and Pluto grinding menacingly through the 12th. No need to mention that the death of her father, when Saturn opposed itself and tipped over into her 8th house as she approached 14 years of age, is the key theme of her nativity in my view.

With all the 9th house placements lending a bubbly, fun-loving and deceptively philosophical slant to her outlook on the world, Rhona’s positivity is not an act, and her Mars, peregrine – although configured to Chiron – is significant so close to the Midheaven. She may well switch on to her power, providing she can integrate the painful lesson of her father’s tragic death, and discover a real determined power in her career as a result.

Evidently, Rhona’s career is in something of a hiatus, and with Pluto still 5 years from her Ascendant I don’t expect her to be making much headway until it surfaces in the first and starts to make its way to her Pallas placement sometime thereafter.

One last point of interest; Jupiter in Cancer in the 6th falls on the (Cardinal) Aries Point. This I believe to be the source of her modest fame; it falls in the 6th house of occupation and she has achieved a measure of success as a comedienne, and with the sign of Cancer being so prominent, it is small wonder that one her best known routines, concerns her breasts and her “home-baking” accent. And very funny it is too.

Moon in Scorpio and the Myth of Mithridatum

Mithridates VI; Royal Toxicologist

Have you ever heard of Mithridatum? Probably you have not, but it is important to at least one in twelve of all human lives, because they ingest Mithridatum each day, and by it they thrive.

The mighty empire of Rome was under almost continual attack throughout its great history, usually at the barbarian frontiers, far from the Aventine, far from the Forum Romanum and the sacred Dionysian groves beneath the seven hills; in some benighted Northern heath, or desolate Mesopotamian dust-bowl, and usually, those seething discontented tribesmen and goat-herds were like the annoying buzz of a mosquito at the lion’s ear, but once in a while an enemy of Rome surfaced that turned out to be formidable.

We all know of Hannibal, and the Punic Wars perhaps, but what of Mithridates? He was the King of Pontus, a region of what is now Northern Turkey on the shore of the Black Sea, and he fought Rome in three separate campaigns, taking on the Mighty Sulla and Pompey the Great, the latter of whom brought about his downfall in 63BC. Rather than face capture, he attempted suicide by taking poison, which failed, and at the last his friend Bituitus ran him through with his own sword.

Accounts after the fact tell of how Mithridates took a large quantity of poison and “stamped about” in order to try and have it take effect, but he did not seem remotely fazed. The truth though is that Mithridates was obsessed with poisons, he feared that an assassin might take his life by poison and so he spent many years experimenting on his prisoners by feeding them poisons and then trying to cure them with herbal antidotes. The end result of these protracted labours was that he eventually created a panacea for all poison, a silver-bullet cure that he took every day of his life, an “almond-sized” pellet of this mystical substance that became known as Mithridatum, so that he might never be unwittingly poisoned by his enemies.

The Greeks were intrigued by Mithridates great cure and they created their own that was said to even be effective against viper-venom and they called theirs Theriac, from which the English word treacle is derived. But this article has nothing to do with treacle. Marcus Aurelius (as played by the late Richard Harris in the Ridley Scott movie Gladiator) was said to have ingested theriac every day of his life also.

There are two more legends concerning Mithridates that are pertinent to this article, firstly, it was related that he had a prodigious memory and could speak all 22 languages of his kingdom fluently and secondly, it is told that he spent seven years of his boyhood living alone in the wilderness following the assassination of his father Mithridates V – by his attendants and members of his own family.

Any scholar of the classics will already suspect the truth, these archetypal stories from antiquity reverberate in the subconscious because they reflect key truths that we relate to at a primal level, and the story of Mithridatum, of Mithridates himself, is a story of Scorpio Moon in its distilled and undiluted form. Think on it! An ancient warrior-king that even royal Rome struggled to suppress, a hero resistant to poison, who could not be killed by any normal means, who had a powerful memory and who was forced into a protracted period of intense self-sufficiency in his earliest years; Mithridates is the mythic keystone of the Moon in Scorpio placement!

Getting away from this profound talk, what is Scorpio Moon? The Moon talks about the mother archetype, it is the lunar principle, the nurturing feminine, but it is not so easy, in the midst of Solar society to grasp its import, it is instinctive, it is how we have learned to sustain ourselves; if our Moon then is in Leo, we require some drama in our life, and we like to have a little praise; and because we learn our most sublimated behaviours at mother’s knee, there is no question that mother was proud of us, she was warm, affectionate, something of a dramatist in the drawing room; we learned then how to nurture ourselves in a Leonine way, because that was how mother made us feel safe and loved when we were small.

So what of Scorpio? Moon in the sign of the venomous Scorpion is an entirely different affair. Where Moon in Virgo is precise and fussy but essentially nutritive and therefore practically sustaining, Moon in Scorpio actually has a less-is-more philosophy of motherhood. Scorpio withholds, it withdraws, hides away under a rock, Moon in Scorpio is instinctive and protective, but deadly and seriously dangerous too, if that little blighter stings you, then you’re in serious trouble.

This speaks very much of the evolution of Scorpio consciousness, because undeveloped, it is a self-destructive energy. Scorpio Moon is the emotional Spartan who learned that mother was probably just a little dangerous, that you had better leave her alone in case she stung you and so, taking all these archetypal lessons on board, Scorpio Moon ingested a little of mother’s poison every day, until, like the secret of Mithridatum, they became immune to her lethality.

Moon in Scorpio is in its fall, because the lunar principle is all about nurturance, but the Scorpion does not know how to nurture, it is ruthless and careless of life – even its own – and so it will soldier on in the face of the most incredible hardship, wandering the emotional wilderness for years, learning self-discipline and self-control by reasoning that: “if I need less, then I can cope better.” For Mithridates, who spent 7 years (or a Saturn quarter-cycle) wandering the wilderness as a child, this is a fundamental experience of the Moon found in the 8th sign. Then too, there is his remarkable memory, and this is one true gift of the Zodiac’s most tenacious (excepting Cancer) placements, Moon in Scorpio gives a profound power of recall, an ability to retain information.

But most of all, Scorpio on the Moon is tough. Tough emotionally for sure, but the native is able to endure all manner of austerities and hardships, they can survive, if not happily, then reasonably unscathed in the harshest of environments, and as a result they learn to be self-sufficient, usually because they have no choice. Most of those born with Moon in the Scorpion sign experienced some measure of parentally enforced deprivation as a child. One person I know always had to make do with the cheapest shoes, which he would wear until his feet hurt, and such was his parent’s reluctance to ‘waste money’ on his feet, he arranged to have his shoes “stolen” after football practise. Another person was sent away to boarding school and while other children’s parents would collect their laundry and return it sometime later, washed and ironed, this unfortunate had to manage on his own, doing his laundry in the school bathroom and ironing all his own clothes at age 11. These are the kinds of tales that are commonplace for those born with this difficult placement. Yet another young man was the son of a prostitute, who frequently had to make do with whatever food he could find for himself in the kitchen while his mother was out working, or sometimes, he lamented, while she was upstairs working; and here the sexual themes of Scorpio associated with the maternal principle are found.

So is there hope? Yes, there is always hope. Scorpio Moon, like Mithridates is mostly immune to poison, so they can be very good at being unriled by insults (with practise) and they rarely resort to comfort-eating; actually if anything, the Scorpio Moon, in a direct contradiction of Taurus Moon, actually resorts to comfort not eating, or comfort starving when they are feeling depressed. Contrary to popular opinion, Scorpio Moon is profoundly compassionate, once the evolvement is complete and the higher sense is activated; and of course, loyalty – even unto death – is one of the most remarkable features of this placement, if you are looking for a kinsman to stand shoulder to shoulder with you before the rush at Thermopylae, then consult your ephemeris. Discard all those witty Moon in Gemini types, forget showy Leo and flip-flopping Libra or wishy-washy Pisces; Moon in Scorpio will be there, until the very last gasp.

Alan Watts, peregrination and the Uranus principle

Alan Watts Nativity

Today I wanted to look at some of the astrological themes of spirituality and religious thought in a specific case; and since I don’t really have any work today I am going to take a glance at the chart of a man, who for me, embodied some of the highest principles in human understanding of cosmic law; the late, truly great Alan Watts. In fact I am going to use his chart to explore some of the key considerations of my work as an astrologer and hopefully demonstrate some of the effects of spiritual and religious configurations in the astrology. Today I am going to talk about peregrination.

It has been said of Alan Watts that he picked up where Joseph Campbell left off, and though I hold Campbell in high regard, there is no question that as a philosopher and commentator upon the human condition, Watts combined the sublime with the practical in a way that nobody before or since has managed. Quite beyond that, I see in him a facsimile for my own grandfather who was born at the same time, also had Sun in Capricorn, had a manner of speech uncannily similar to Watts’ and held many of the same beliefs and interests; this is why (as a purely personal observation) I can be deeply affected just by listening to the sound of Alan Watts’ voice; although having said that I don’t believe that my cognitive bias in this case particularly affects my respect for his profound and sublime genius.

I use that specific word advisedly, because Watts’ chart contains a highly unusual peregrine Uranus. Peregrination comes from the Latin pelegrinus which means something like alien, foreigner and stranger, all placed together, actually, it has a connotation of outcast, separateness and holding oneself apart too, but you get the idea. A peregrine planet is one that is not connected to any other by major aspect (that is technically by Ptolemaic aspect: conjunct, opposite, square, trine or sextile), or at least it has the same effect as peregrination by dignity, which harks back to the original Ptolemaic practise of scoring planets according to their placement by sign and decanate. I have a growing respect for the concept, because I do observe that planets that are peregrine by either dignity or aspect operate in a very similar manner, they are difficult to express and therefore they become an obsessive focal point in the personality. This makes the energy fitful, erratic and very binary. My wife’s grandfather then has a peregrine Mars, in the sign of its traditional rulership Scorpio, and he is renowned (and somewhat beyond the level of familias I assure you) for his astonishing forceful energy and motivation. Now this is a slightly contradictory case of peregrination because his Mars is dignified by placement but made peregrine by lack of Ptolemaic aspect. What this suggests is that it is an unintegrated but very powerful or natural energy. Thus he will either over-express his Martian qualities – like assertion, drive and determination – or he will not express them at all. This is very much in keeping with his essential character; which veers from a rather hopeless form of malaise and listlessness to astonishing periods of upward progress and no-nonsense up and at ‘em bouts of activity that belies his 90 years. So what of my own son then whose unaspected Mars in Cancer is thus doubly peregrine, both by (lack of) aspect and by (lack of) dignity? I should say that he seems to have very little urgency at all, which is not to say that he cannot get things done, but he only has one gear even if he seems happy enough to go at his own pace in all things.

So then, we hopefully understand something about the theory of peregrination which is mildly uncommon by dignity but decidedly quite rare by aspect. To see peregrination both by dignity and aspect is extremely rare and thus far I have only found it in two cases: that of my son and I; and I shall write more on these themes another day.

But in Watts’ case, his Uranus is in the sign of its rulership, thus it is raised up by dignity but made peregrine by lack of aspect. I think this has a rather profound influence since any planet that is peregrine is subjectively felt to be unintegrated and thus the tendency is always to try to heal the rift within and express those qualities inclusively. This, in effect makes Watts’ over-express his Uranus quality, and because it is so naturally domiciled within the sign of Aquarius, he therefore conveys those qualities majestically.

Uranus rules all those qualities of individuation, the need to be unique, to be different, to be raised up above mundane and conventional concerns and thus it has a say in all matters of genius, of originality, of sublime insight. It rules television, radio and the Internet, it rules cutting edge technology and invention in all its forms; in the body it rules the circulation and the lower legs.

No surprise then that Watts, with a peregrine but astonsishingly powerful Uranus in Aquarius in the 2nd house made his money from communicating on televison, radio and audio tape (the cutting edge technology of his day) all concepts of his incredibly insightful mind; actually he made money from communicating his genius, and what better exposition of Uranus in Aquarius in the 2nd and peregrine by aspect could you ask for than that?

Tomorrow I will take a look at some other interesting facets of this fascinating case.