Tales from the peregrine Moon: Sylvia Plath

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In the pursuit of perfection in poetry there can be few luminaries as bright as Sylvia Plath, and it was her profound struggle with depression and grief which underpinned most achingly her gift, which, in pursuit of the sublime aim of describing the indescribable can have few equals; Plath was noted especially for her uncanny use of metaphor.

The mundane facts of her life are bleak. She was born to Otto Plath, a German professor of zoology and Aurelia Schober, a first generation American of Austrian descent near Boston, Massachusetts. Her early childhood was fundamentally idyllic and until her father died when she was 8 years old, she wrote of it thus:

And this is how it stiffens, my vision of that seaside childhood. My father died, we moved inland. Whereupon those nine first years of my life sealed themselves off like a ship in a bottle — beautiful, inaccessible, obsolete, a fine, white flying myth.

She was winning awards for her exquisite poetry by the time she was 18 years, she won a scholarship to Smith College. During her junior year, she spent the summer in New York as a guest editor for Mademoiselle, a fashion magazine. While still a student at Smith, she had a nervous breakdown, attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills and was given shock treatments. Despite such upheaval, she graduated in 1955 and went to Cambridge, England on a Fulbright scholarship.

One night at a party in Cambridge, February 25, 1956, she met Ted Hughes, and their romance began in a blaze of passion. She wrote, “He kissed me bang smash on the mouth, And when he kissed my neck, I bit him long and hard on the cheek and, when we came out of the room, Blood was running down his face.” The handsome gifted pair married four months later, on June 16, 1956.

The couple had two children, Frieda in 1961 and Nicholas in 1962. During their time together, the brilliant and tortured Plath mined her own anguish, writing obsessively of her depression, her jealousy, her marriage and her father, the strict, formal professor who had abandoned her by his premature death.

Daddy. Published 1965 (Excerpt)

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through.
The black telephone’s off at the root,
The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two—
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

Her first book, “The Colossus” was released in 1960. “The Bell Jar” achieved critical acclaim in 1963 for its moving portrayal of a young woman’s life including her emotional breakdown, suicide attempts, psychological treatment and relationships.

During the course of her marriage, Plath’s behavior became increasingly more erratic and obsessive. Beset by worry over money, insecurity over her worth as a writer, jealousy over her husband’s friendships with other women, she wrote furiously in her torment. Their relationship suffered tremendously from her fragility and his inability to deal with her roller-coaster emotions. Suspecting her husband of an affair, she gathered all of his papers she could find and burned them in the garden. In 1962, he left her for another woman, Assia Wevill. Just one month after the publication of “The Bell Jar,” on a frigid wintry day in England, she tucked her two small children safely away in their room, set out milk and cookies for them, and put her head in their London flat’s gas oven, ending her life on February 11, 1963. She was just 30 years old. Her last-written poems appeared two years later in “Ariel.” In a twist of irony, the poems established Plath as a fiercely original poet who exceeded her husband as an icon in the world of literature.

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Sylvia Plath, Poet. 27 Oct 1932 14:10 (EST +5:00) Boston, MA, USA

Here are my various delineations:

  1. There is an enormous 7th house emphasis on so very many levels. Notwithstanding the stellium in precision (and actually fidelity) fixated Virgo, Moon is peregrine in Libra – thus the reigning need is for marital security – Jupiter and Neptune both are peregrine in Virgo, making for an extremely uncomfortable impetus. Trying to analyse the divine and count the manner of one’s faith in life, neither can be remotely easy and Venus seems to offer some genuine hope, but even beautifully aspected as it is and accidentally dignified it will still struggle in Virgo. Any contact of Venus with Saturn is an act of renunciation; the grand earth trine creates a practical self-sufficiency – thus someone who can attend to their studies even in the very depth of a depression – but the Saturn contact creates an ease with sacrificing love out of a sense of duty. There is a curious mix of easy difficulty here.
  2. I am not entirely convinced by the Ascendant. A degree or more into Pisces would suit me better making Mercury the ruler of the 7th. At 29Le26 however there is certainly a case for looking to both Sun and Mercury as indicative of the marriage partner. Certainly Mercury in Scorpio in the 9th suggests a man who is a powerful, sharp and incisive communicator and a connection with university too, Hughes was a fellow student at Cambridge when they met and they were quickly married. Other qualities sympathetic to the placement are to be found in the opposition to Chiron – much of her anguish and intellectual inferiority issues were experienced through him (Chiron in the third) and the square to Mars in Leo in the 6th further suggests an almost daily habit to argument and disputatious communication. The union cannot have been easy. Hughes himself hinted at the possibility of her rising sign being a little off: ““that day’s Sun in the Fish conjunct your Ascendant exactly opposite my Neptune,” with his Neptune at 3 Virgo. This of course places Neptune on his descendant and clearly resonates with their match.
  3. Her father is easily identified, Sun square Saturn certainly identifies his cold and rather unloving demeanour. In Scorpio and the 8th? The early death or loss of her father is clearly marked out thus. At age 8 Saturn squared Uranus by Solar Arc (something sudden relating to the father) and the Sun applied hard by Solar Arc to a quindecile of Chiron marking the genesis of the pain of the loss of her father which was to form such an impetus for her later work and ongoing anguish, in keeping with the nature of the aspect itself of course it became something of an obsession.
  4. Peregrine Moon always tells a story and intimates something of a dissociation complex. These people disconnect according to the nature of sign and house. In Plath’s case a romantic reverie is implied, and she may have dreamt long and often about the perfection of her great love. In Libra too there is an overwhelming need to be considered attractive, fair (in all senses) and interesting, which gels not at all well with the reality of her marriage to Hughes who was often considered to be something of a brute (his subsequent wife whom he left Plath for also committed suicide incidentally, and many consider it no coincidence that he is a common denominator in the relationships.) Peregrine Moon too often tells of a feeling of emptiness and isolation which seems to permeate her poetry too: “Empty, I echo to the least footfall,/ Museum without statues, grand with pillars, porticoes, rotundas./ In my courtyard a fountain leaps and sinks back into itself,/ Nun-hearted and blind to the world.” (From “Barren Woman”) And her mother too! What impact must it have had on the young Sylvia to see her mother so alone and widowed, even if she considered her father to be rigid and incompassionate? Children love and miss even bad fathers of course.
  5. And what of poetry? Clearly, with Ve/Ju/Ne in Virgo and the 7th there is a prising out of harmonious economy in all matters of love, faith and spirituality. Of course Neptune is key to poetry but also to that yearning sense of wanting to transcend the difficulty of life because of a sense of disappointment with things. So much of her anguish in her poetry has this at its root, a sense that she has been let down and disappointed, most especially by men. No surprise that Plath has in more recent times become such an icon for the feminist movement, although I cannot imagine that she would have been anything short of horrified by such an association considering her astrology if nothing else. But consider the idea of a harmonious economy and what do you have? Metaphor! Consider “bright as a Nazi lampshade” from Lady Lazarus (an autobiographical account of her first suicide attempt): what could be more shockingly bright? Or using a feverish delirium as a metaphor for love gone awry: Darling, all night / I have been flickering, off, on, off, on. / The sheets grow heavy as a lecher’s kiss. This she wrote during her final days after Hughes had left her.
  6. More intriguingly than this even is the most cursory examination of halfsums. With Uranus at the crucially profound Sun/Moon midpoint there is a clear impetus to the separation (Ur) of husband (Su) and wife (Mo) (father and mother too), but essentially separations and upsets are in store. Then consider Pl=Me/Ve. Power (or powerlessness) is realised through communicating or writing about love, or creating an art from writing. The great Ebertin marks this halfsum as “tremendous creative power” and the “recognition of art as a mission.” Quite wonderful. Then we have Ju=Ve/Ne! I wrote an entire article on this single midpoint (called: “The elusive astrology of yearning and the Venus Neptune halfsum“) and in Plath’s case there is no question that it would expand her ability to access the numinous and find an intimation of transcendent love. Ve=Mo/Ne also suggests a disappointment in love but a possibility of accessing a more divine form of contentment.
  7. Of course, there is an even more pertinent observation. Sappho, the asteroid is so named for the ancient Greek lyric poet: later Greeks included her on the canonical list of nine lyric poets; her reputation survives intact even though much of her work does not (fragments attest to her ability however), and it is to be found in Plath’s nativity at the exact midpoint of Venus and Jupiter (3°49′ from each.) A Venus Jupiter conjunction (which does not in this instance detract from the reality of peregrination) is a horn of plenty aspect, and the “joy of love” by Ebertin, so any influence at the convergence of these powers is going to be powerfully exalted. Jupiter too (and peregrine) rules the Midheaven, and conjunct Sappho her vocation as a poet becomes ever clearer.

Sylvia Plath’s final days were a true tale of peregrinated Moon in Libra cast down. Her isolation was complete, the reigning need of her life, to be loved, to be the wife, to be exalted by her union of love was broken and the distress of her lost father and her intellectual self-doubt crowded in on her. She died just as Saturn (husband and father) applied by Solar Arc to her Ascendant whilst simultaneously squaring Chiron. The pain of the men in her life and the great weight of disappointment seems somehow to be born at that point, brought into the light for all the world to see as Saturn crossed ponderously into the first while Venus also squared Pluto by Solar Arc at this exact juncture, love and death configured in with the burden of isolation; loss and loneliness. Or in the words of her final poem:

Edge

The woman is perfected.
Her dead
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little
Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded
Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.

A Sense of Saturn (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Sense of Saturn: through the signs…

Astrology simply cannot be about lists. A list of qualities is an attempt to extrapolate something that is innate and this is fundamentally why there is no better adjective to describe the quality of Saturn than Saturnine. We can use approximations that flesh out this fundamental and core energy such as thoughtful, austere, serious and so forth, but the true understanding of any placement lies in a realm somewhat above the language that is used to describe it; it is (as someone once said about the objective of poetry) attempting to describe the indescribable.

It is for precisely this reason that I wish to underline the key insight that best illustrates the quality of a sign placement, we have to look to people to truly apprehend the meaning of astrology; words fail us, and not necessarily because we have a poor facility for language. Language fails us, in fact, because the thing we are trying to describe is somehow too profound to be grasped intellectually. We need to simply feel it.

Thus, today, I am going to post the first part of an understanding about Saturn. There will be no list of qualities, simply an example of Saturn in each of the signs using the three most urgent expressions of any planetary energy or focus: rising, peregrine or conjunct the Sun. Of course there is a subtle difference between the three which bears examination.

  • A rising planet modifies the appearance and initial manner of relating; it is the quality of first impression that is made by the native.
  • A peregrine planet is an overwhelming force in the native’s life, often it will run away with the entire chart. The impetus can be quite compulsive and overwhelming and often creates an overpowering sense of purpose in the life expression.
  • A solar conjunction creates a self-ideal, the native strives to express this quality, not in an unconscious manner like the rising planet, actually in a rather self-conscious manner. It is how they wish to be perceived.

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Thus John Voight appears as Saturn in Aries, Kylie is on a mission to embody it and Sir David Frost consciously aims to express it. Saturn is in fall in Aries, but somehow it works rather well (and this would be, in my opinion because Mars is exalted in Capricorn which rules Saturn, thus there is a route to exaltation even in a sign of detriment.) The opposition to Sun in Libra bears some examination too (I wrote about this before) since the mutual reception by exaltation contains some measure of promise (Hugh Jackman, Emily Procter).

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Saturn in Taurus is not so easy to find good examples for: Nancy Kerrigan, the Olympic figure skater was famously clubbed in the knee by rival Tonya Harding and almost lost her place in the 1994 Winter Olympic trials as a result. Saturn of course rules the knees in the physical body. No coincidence. The opposition to Sun in Scorpio is shared by Tom Conti and Roy Rogers.

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Once again, consider the qualities of each of these individuals in terms of appearance and first impression (in the case of Mick Jagger), in the life purpose with Jim Morrison (and Jimmy Page who also evinced Saturn peregrinated in Gemini) and in a more conscious attempt at self-realisation with Malcolm McDowell. Jimi Hendrix had the Solar opposition.

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Thus with Saturn in Cancer: David Beckham has the appearance and manner of it, George Bush has made a mission out of it (protection of the homeland) and Danny Glover – who plays the serious and responsible (Saturn) family man (Cancer) role opposite offbeat and unpredictable Mel Gibson in the Lethal Weapon movie franchise so well, consciously aims for it.

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Thus, James Woods, who is somehow so very serious and yet showy all at once has an almost perfectly Saturn in Leo appearance and manner. Barry Gibb has peregrinated Saturn in Leo and also peregrinated Sun in Virgo, and his picture is an almost perfect exposition of Virgo and Leo taken to the extreme. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the other hand is determined to express that combination of Sun and Saturn (doubly so by rulership and conjunction), so little wonder that he wants to assume a position of regal authority.

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Finally we have Virgo: which evinces a similarly neat ambience, a rather thorough and detail focused persona or manner.

Whilst looking to all of these examples gives considerable insight into the sign quality of each, they all share a common saturnine thread, for the most part every one of these individuals, with Saturn stressed, prominent or powerful in some sense, evinces a measure of seriousness or gravitas in their demeanour and for this reason they will all struggle to appear especially youthful. The one real exception to this is found in the case of peregrinated Saturn in Aries which in old age (Saturn) gives a propensity to youth (Aries). This quality (peregrinated too) is shared by Twiggy, the British model, who in her 60s has become something of an icon for older women due entirely to her remarkably youthful appearance and demeanour.

I will continue this article with the remaining 6 signs in a future instalment.

More Marital Breakdown

dr02I would like to very briefly pursue another theme from the previous post and explore a little further some of the implications found within the astrology of Denise Richards, the (now) ex-wife of Charlie Sheen. The couple are still involved in an acrimonious custody dispute over their two children. Back in May Celebrity Justice ran with this story:

Denise Richards is making her kids reality television stars and her fuming ex-husband Charlie Sheen is powerless to stop her. Daughters, Lola, 2, and Sam, 3, are headed for Hollywood, as Denise is making the rounds on the nation’s talk show circuit this week promoting a new reality show about her home life called “Denise Richards: It’s Complicated.” But what this star is also highlighting is her ruthless decision to showcase her two toddlers on television in an attempt to jumpstart her career.

What transpires from the remainder of this story is yet more sordid and rather unsavoury grist for the vicarious mill of celebrity-worship, the parry and riposte of two people behaving with considerably less class than their children, but that aside, no tale of separation would be complete without an exploration of both participants’ astrologies. Denise Richards’ situation is immeasurably complicated most especially in the matter of marriage and divorce by lack of a birth time, without a descendant much invaluable insight is lost, although there are a few interesting configurations which will have a bearing nonetheless.

Denise Richards, actress. 17 Feb 1972, time unknown.

Denise Richards, actress. 17 Feb 1972, time unknown.

  1. Mercury is Cazimi, which in Aquarius gives  a slightly offbeat and quirkily exalted manner of communication, this alone ought to make Richards very intriguing to know, but the square to Saturn is undoubtedly difficult. The impression that she gives of being free and unfettered is likely to jar incongruously by a no-doubt materialistic streak and any Sun-Saturn stress very often manifests as a tendency to difficult separations, undoubtedly a factor in the marriage breakdown.
  2. While Charlie Sheen has a difficult Sun-Pluto opposition, Richards is very much the feminine counterpart with Moon opposition Pluto. Here then is someone that is prone to jealousy and emotional upset, Pluto sits on the Aries Point of Libra too, thus a possibility of fame or renown through marriage which essentially jars with a rather aggressive instinctive nature and a tendency to mania. She probably goes off-reservation when she starts to feel insecure or uncomfortable as a result making disputes more serious than they might otherwise need be.
  3. Uranus is Ptolemaically peregrine in Libra. This need not be an especial difficulty, although it can create shocks and upsets in close partnerships if the rest of the chart shows a tendency to extremes which is certainly in evidence here. Usually there are somewhat peculiar ideas about marriage and a need to be given a great deal of consideration, otherwise trouble results, irritability can be a problem too. The quindeciles to Moon and Mars will only add compulsion and stress, however the key observation is the inclination to form partnerships with unusual individuals.
  4. Tee-squared Jupiter in dour Capricorn is a profoundly difficult placement suggesting a serious lack of joie-de-vivre, especially in earlier life. It creates a surfeit of potentially cold ambition and a great deal of stress, most especially because she will struggle to feel very optimistic or positive.
  5. Although not rendered, Venus is conjunct Chiron, an aspect which I wrote about recently on the excellent Jeff’s site Sasstrology thus: The conjunction will probably be felt most keenly as the “pain of love.” Perhaps our relationships cause us continual anxiety and uncertainty, or we feel insecure even when we know we should not really. Mostly, with the conjunction it creates an intense longing for love, but crucially, even when love is found, it does not feel secure enough. For this connection, it seems that no amount of love is ever enough. We feel others’ pain and unhappiness, too — especially in close personal relationships — and may tend to take ownership of it, and feel that it is a sign of wrongness in the partnership. We may try to heal those with whom we are in love as a means of avoiding the necessity to heal ourselves, and we might become quite difficult to love as a result. Both Kurt Cobain and Marilyn Monroe shared this aspect.
  6. Both Sun and Venus are detrimented but Venus is well aspected and forms a mutual reception with Mars which creates an excellent attractive influence in her nature and manner.

It is more than a little unfortunate that the birth-time is not known, but the overall ambience is still quite clear; here is a quirky and attractive personality that manifests a fair degree of stress and difficulty within relationships. There is also a definite potential for extreme emotional states which is certainly exacerbated by an almost complete lack of water, which always creates a tendency to overreact to conflict due to an inability to empathise; such people very often cannot appreciate the hurt they cause or the consequences of their venom.

The Making of an Astrologer

Would you be interested to see the nativity of a born astrologer? Somebody for whom the impetus to astrology would have been astonishingly powerful, irresistible even? When you look at the chart then, notice all of these indicators:

  1. Sun peregrinated in Virgo on one of the astrologer’s degrees. (11° 35′), an overwhelming need to shine in the arena of astrology.
  2. Midheaven ruler is Mercury, peregrine, in dignity, a fearsome intellect and potential for genius.
  3. Pluto is peregrine, and accidentally dignified, giving a keen and dominant insight into psychology and the underpinning paradigms of human life.
  4. Saturn is peregrine, and in Leo and the 8th creates an enormous fixity, drive and determination to be top of the pile in the chosen field.
  5. Neptune (this is getting silly now) is peregrine in Libra and the 10th house of vocation, thus spiritual matters and the concerns of relating to others are configured powerfully into the career.
  6. Moon rising in prophetic, breezy Sagittarius expands the capacity for relating, creates a cheerful and optimistic ambience to soften some of the peregrine intensity; the Lord of the Geniture, Jupiter too is tightly conjunct Venus in dignity, creating those “film-star mannerisms”, a winning personality and a disarming and easy going good-nature.
  7. All of the easy aspects in the astrology are to Uranus in the 7th house and Gemini, making the expression of ideas easy and intuitive and making profitable business collaborations possible with another Mercurial type. Uranus governs a significant element of the astrology of course, the power of sudden flashes of insight is his domain, and this empowers the astrologer’s gift of reading the glyph, as I like to call it.
  8. Urania, the astrologer’s asteroid is exactly square to Chiron, the asteroid that like the chiromancer named in his honour, practises the casting of horoscopes with his hands, then Chiron trines to Uranus, having these three astrologic powers configured together is meaningful in the context of the great art.
  9. Enticingly Lillith rises, giving the power to mesmerise and bewitch and most especially to express innately the divine feminine within; here is someone with personal power and feminine magnetism. Lillith trines Pluto too, thus the amplitude is ramped up considerably, possibly even uncomfortably on occasion.
  10. The only fly in the ointment, in my view, is a real discomfort with empathic energies as a total lack of water certainly signifies. Of course, subjectively, a lack of emotions is never felt, a lack of water person will never recognise their discomfort with handling the emotions, but nevertheless, an innate ability to reach out emotionally, without words is the hallmark of a strong water type and this is an ability that cannot be present without any water in the astrology.
  11. Finally, consider the general ambience of this astrology, Peregrine Sun in Virgo, Mercury too, in its sign, thus competence, efficiency and a truly penetrating mind expressed through a breezy, optimistic, outgoing (and everything is above the horizon too) emotional manner, a genius for relating, a dazzling sociability and just a little black magic for good measure. Truly, this is a person who has the world of astrology at their feet and a very well deserved reputation to boot.

It is of course, the nativity of Liz Greene, who has done more than probably any other individual to promote the study of psychological astrology since Dane Rudhyar. Interesting to note then that she conducts most of her seminars in tandem with Howard Sasportas (Uranus in Gemini on the 7th) and the emphasis of Pluto peregrine and accidentally dignified (psychology) with Sun peregrine at the Virgo astrologer’s degree, creates a fairly compelling association for the study of psychological astrology. Her book, “The Luminaries” is undoubtedly the best explorative work that deals with Sun and Moon in the astrology to date, and really, the world of astrology owes her an enormous debt.

On the peregrination of Pluto and other such tragedies

As I have discussed in many articles previously, there is no better way to gain perspective on a planetary focus than to find an instance where it is overexpressed due to peregrination; usually this works very well, but in the case of Pluto, and to a lesser extent with Uranus and Neptune as well, the effect can only be observed if the native has some facility to resonate with the vibration of that particular imperative; and that, as you might imagine; is extremely difficult with an energy as fundamental and inhuman as Plutonic force. It is for this reason that Plutonic activity seems so especially fated and inexorable. When you consider that Buddy Holly who died in a plane crash aged only 22, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec who died of complications arising from alcoholism and syphilis in a Paris asylum aged 36 and Cliff Burton, the bassist of mega-metal band Metallica who was crushed to death by the tour coach aged only 24, then you begin to see something of the difficulty with peregrination of a force as unyielding and insidious as Pluto.

A few with peregrination of Pluto

A few with peregrination of Pluto

Most intriguing in my mind however, is the understanding that both JFK and Marilyn Monroe shared more than a supposed doomed attraction; they both evinced peregrination of Pluto in the sign of Cancer. This suggests that familial bonds and ties need to be transformed but here Pluto is overexpressed, and Plutonic power is absolute and there is no question that both Kennedy and Monroe wielded astonishing personal magnetism and power, inhuman levels of charisma and influence on the populations of the world. Monroe also evinced peregrination of Uranus creating a very difficult manifestation issue, not least because the need to individuate would be overwhelming and this too in tandem with a need to become phenomenally powerful in some meaningful way; and of course let us not forget that Pluto, ruler of Scorpio has a sexual component, so how better to express Pluto’s power than through elevating to the role of being the world’s foremost sex-symbol; similarly her Uranus was in Pisces, thus individuation through dreaminess. There you have it then, an overwhelming impetus to become the world’s most dreamy sex-symbol. Kennedy on the other hand combined with his peregrine Pluto in Cancer (power over the country of origin) a peregrine Sun, a factor very often seen in the charts of presidents and prime ministers (and a configuration which Hilary Clinton shares), which you will see combines both a conscious and an unconscious need for power, which altogether makes a fairly compelling need to take charge.

These are profoundly difficult energies to express, and at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, one very straightforward solution to the problem of expressing Pluto is to die. Generally speaking this tendency to overexpress outer-planet energy manifests through various levels of the spectrum of energies; Donald Trump has peregrine Pluto, and he deals with that impetus by amassing Plutonic wealth. Robert Redford is one of the true movers and shakers of the Hollywood machine, while Liz Greene really does hold the keys to the throne of the world of astrology (and quite rightly so in my opinion).

Peregrine Neptune calls for another difficult – if less frightening – expression, and here the call is to transcendence or certainly, to go to sea. Alan Villiers, yachtsman and author of many books about the seafaring life has peregrine Neptune, as does Sir James Hardy (the owner of Hardy’s wines, that most famous of Australian winemakers) who spends the rest of his time at sea sailing in his yacht. The chart for the discovery of oil – ruled by Neptune (Titusville USA 27 Aug 1859) – has peregrine Neptune, while Frank Sinatra, Sylvester Stallone and Orson Welles all share this peculiar and otherworldly need to manifest Neptunian energy.

If you have peregrine Uranus similarly and are not, by design a natural genius (as in the case of Alan Watts), then again you have a problem because you have to be seen in some way as very exceptional, an impetus which can very easily degenerate into perversion and abrupt willfulness if you have no other means of individuating. Gary Kasparov, Margaret Thatcher and (again) Frank Sinatra all share this condition with Alan Watts and Marilyn Monroe. Peregrination is never easy, but it becomes decidedly less so in the cases of outer planet energies, but even then, in the case of Pluto especially (and it will no doubt become clear with time that the same holds true for Orcus) the transformation will be a near inhuman imperative. The best defence against the ultimate expression of death and rebirth is awareness, from which a means might be found to channel the compulsion for inhuman power in such a way that it does not provoke the fates, because for natives with peregrine Pluto, life is nothing short of a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.

Saturn in Aries: into the wild…

Chris McCandless in Alaska

Chris McCandless in Alaska

I recently watched Sean Penn’s magnificent biographical drama of the life of Chris McCandless, described as an American wanderer who quite literally went “into the wild” to try and answer some inner impetus. I found the film to be profoundly moving (I don’t care, I cried – a lot!) and I cannot recommend it highly enough; so if you haven’t watched it yet, go rent it or buy it, then watch it, then get back and read the rest of this post.

So, if you’re half way familiar with this young man’s story then you will no doubt wonder what motivated him to feel such an overwhelming need to go “into the wild” at all, after all, he had a good life, good prospects, a future of genuine promise. His demise provokes real polarity in onlookers with the majority thinking that he was tragically driven by a surfeit of feeling and others preferring to consider him at best “an idiot” who got exactly what he deserved. (And who says there’s no compassion left in the world!).

I cannot find his birth time, but actually it does not really matter, because there is one overwhelming factor in his astrology that simply cannot be understated; let us consider his chart:

Astrologers beware! I know that tee-square to Neptune looks enticing, and how can we gloss over the grand water trine, which actually forms a kite to Uranus for Pete’s sake! and then too there’s the opposing near partile conjunction of Mars with Chiron to consider; but all of these are mere appetisers when compared to the main event, peregrine Saturn in Aries.

Not for nothing is Saturn in Aries called the lone ranger position (by me mostly), and “the loneliness of the long-distance runner” has some ring of authenticity to it, but if ever there was an “into the wild” placement then people, this is it. The sign of Aries is all about adventure, solitude, strength and character, and wherever Saturn is found it makes a test. Peregrination, as you should understand if you want to help your clients whose charts evince it, creates an extreme polarity, it is like having only two volume settings on your stereo: totally silent or really forkin’ loud! Or only having two speeds in your car, standstill or a thousand miles an hour! Now it stands to reason that if your car behaved like that you either would never go anywhere in your life or you’d create complete havoc when you did decide to take a trip to the shops. That is peregrination, trust me, it works every time.

So, for Chris McCandless he never really had any choice. Here then is not actually “an idiot who deserved everything that happened to him” but someone with an almost soul-destroying burden of astrology; Saturn peregrine is really tough, hey guys, Saturn is pretty tough even when it gets trines, so imagine not having anything to moderate that entire influence and having to express that exacting energy with every fibre of your being! In Chris’ case he was switched into a particular mode of Saturnine/Arian expression, that of survival and going it alone, and this was motivated by a need to transform himself into a non-materialist free-spirit (tee-square to Neptune in Scorpio) and the grand water trine creates an emotional self-sufficiency and introversion that allowed him to feel secure within himself and which requires no external validation (a great insight into the grand trine experience by the way). If you watch the film and consider the manner of the ending too then it really speaks, does it not, to those themes of Mars/Chiron opposing Uranus/Pluto across the Virgo Pisces axis. Here are themes of recklessness in regard to nutrition and sustenance, with giving up on the world and trying to trust in something less tangible, with a need to very abruptly transform the self whilst simultaneously rejecting the pain of confused emotions.

These factors though only describe the mode of expression of the peregrination. Far more common, where Saturn is Aries is concerned, is the “fountain of youth” effect. Consider two further examples of peregrine Saturn in Aries, Twiggy and Kylie, both who have made a considerable career from their vivacious and youthful good-looks. Even to this day Twiggy is considered a role-model for ageing women wishing to retain some measure of youthful vitality. Here then is another expression of Aries (youth) configured with Saturn (old age). With Saturn in Aries this impetus is prevalent: no matter how you achieve it: it is either “forever young” or “into the wild”. This is exactly why Saturn in Aries speaks to the loneliness of the long-distance runner, because it neatly encapsulates both principles to near perfection; you can actually don your running shoes and go into the wild, all the time fighting the signs of premature ageing by keeping your body in top condition. It is so good a rule that one of the first questions I ask anyone with Saturn Aries is: “did you start running yet?” They always do.

And before you wonder, I do have Saturn in Aries and I’m all signed up for the Hastings half marathon next spring, so I have to get out there and do my 5 miles, right now.

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.

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.

More on Pallas: Powerhouse of Undiluted Talent.

Pallas Header ImageMy last article brought together the principles of Cazimi and Peregrination as identifying criteria for the most pure and profound expressions of planetary energy; in my experience there is no better method of identifying a specific astrologic archetype than identifying natives who display either Peregrinations or Cazimi placements. The first forces an ‘over-expression’ of the planetary theme, the latter ego-identifies that energy, and thus the effect is remarkably similar to Peregrination. If you have a subject whose Cazimi placement is also a Peregrine Island, then that would create a point of incredible focus in the personality. This offers a remarkable tool for insight to the practising astrologer.

It was by use of this exact method, in conjunction with a study of mythic resonance that I refined and identified the central theme of Pallas. Best practise demonstrates that planetary archetypes can be distilled (itself a Saturnine key) into a single all-encompassing principle; thus Jupiter expands or preserves, broadens or promotes; the failing here is entirely semantic, because the principle is easily grasped as a single-pointed theme or energy; Saturn distils or contracts, limits or concentrates, and again the principles are far from disparate; this is why extensive experience of astrology teaches that if text-books on the subject were to remain wholly accurate they would contain at most a single sentence!

Chiron suffers this same wilting lack of exactitude, although I believe I have finally determined the focal energy of the so-called ‘wounded-healer’ and I shall write a post on that subject in the future. Pallas has before now suffered the same ignominious fate, but by studying cases of Cazimi and Peregrination in tandem with the mythic root, it soon became overwhelmingly clear that the principle of competence, undiluted ability and opportunity for victory described most accurately – and succinctly – the archetypal message. How this conclusion was arrived at may be useful in the broader context of understanding the Palladian principle, but ultimately, a long discourse on pattern recognition is not much help in understanding the nativity. The gift that Pallas gives – of competency – is undoubtedly a gift of the mind, an ability to think “outside the box” that confers an almost inarguable advantage in the arena of human interaction and competition.

This identification would be almost impossible without the advantage of Peregrination and Cazimi. Take the cases of Peregrination of Pallas:

  • Alan Shearer, the greatest English centre-forward of the modern game has a Peregrine Pallas in Pisces which – usefully for a footballer – shows competency or undiluted skill with the feet.
  • Stephen King with a Peregrine Pallas in Pisces of the imagination in the 8th house of horror.
  • Woody Allen with a Peregrine Pallas in Libra; Woody’s genius for insights into human relationships can hardly be questioned.
  • MC Escher’s Peregrine Pallas in weirdly, lunar Cancer, brings out the pattern-competency implicit in the mythology.
  • The sheer number of tennis players that have Pallas Peregrine, Cazimi or otherwise strongly configured is almost unbelievable! Martina Navratilova, Michael Stich, Tracy Austin, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to name but a few, all have Peregrine Pallas. (And Chris Evert has Pallas rising!)
  • Robin Williams’ has Peregrine Pallas in quirky, offbeat Aquarius in the 3rd house of communication!

I note an overwhelming emphasis on Peregrine Pallas placements in the signs of Cancer, Pisces, and Capricorn.

As for Pallas Cazimi, note the following:

  • Tony Blair has Cazimi Pallas in the stubborn, determined sign of Taurus.
  • Yehudi Menuhin, also in musical Taurus.
  • Dan Rather, in investigative-reporter exalting Scorpio.
  • General “old blood and guts” Patton in ruthless warrior sign Scorpio.

Notice a pattern here? Cazimi Pallas seems to fare very well across the fixed Taurus-Scorpio axis.

Finally, looking at the charts of those with Pallas included in major aspect configurations is intriguing:

  • James Dean with Pallas in Virgo as part of a grand earth trine.
  • James Earl Jones with Pallas in Virgo as part of a grand earth trine.
  • Whitney Houston with Palls in Virgo as part of a tight Stellium with Pluto and Mercury. So that explains her belter of a singing voice, in pitch-perfectly-precise Virgo.
  • Consider Daniel Wesson’s Pallas in Taurus as part of a grand earth trine. He died having amassed an estimated 80 million dollar fortune in 1906!
  • Rory Bremner with Pallas in Pisces as part of a grand water trine.
  • Michael Caine with Pallas in Aquarius as part of a grand air trine.
  • Germaine Greer with Pallas configured in Pisces as part of a grand water trine.
  • Grace Kelly, with Pallas tightly configured with the Moon in Pisces as part of a grand water trine.

There is a simply overwhelming propensity of placements of Pallas across the Pisces-Virgo axis when configured in the grand-trine aspect pattern. On the whole therefore, there is a strong association between Pallas and Virgo-Pisces, also Cancer-Capricorn and Scorpio-Taurus. In my view Pallas is stronger in earth and water than anywhere else.

Now I want to concentrate on how Pallas looks. Here then it might be useful to look at those who have Pallas rising!

Pallas Rising

I will not say too much about these placements; but consider Stallone’s Pallas rising in strong, taciturn Capricorn, Pamela Anderson’s Pallas rising in breast-obsessed Cancer, Pacino’s configured with intense, darkly powerful Pluto, Janis Joplin’s Pallas rising in flower-child, peace-loving Aquarius or Meryl Streep’s Pallas rising in drama-queen, leading-lady Leo?

I am still looking for rulership clues, so if anyone has any ideas about that, please share.