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.

Feminist Astrology and Germaine Greer

As a work that is traditionally hailed as being antithetic to male comfort, I find that Germaine Greer’s “Female Eunuch” probably says more about the negative stereotyping of women by women than it does about men. Of course, she argues (throughout her writing) that this is merely the extension of a patriarchal tyranny, that culturally we accept some pretty astonishing subtexts as normal – when they are anything but – and our ingrained themes of sexual interaction, both inter and intra-sexually are pretty weird. That is as much as I can say easily because I am not a scholar of feminism, I have not read her works exhaustively and I am a man (I guess) and I have been told (by more than one radical feminist I have known) that I lack the insight of subjectivity, so I can comment, but I cannot truly experience.

00), Melbourne, Australia

Germaine Greer, feminist author. 29 Jan 1939 06:00 (-10:00), Melbourne, Australia

Fair enough. I have no issue, but neither am I apologising; I do the best that I can, I treat women as absolute equals (insofar as I am able with a lifetime of cultural programming in tow) and in fact I much prefer the company of women as a generalisation than I do of men. I also found that in circa 1987 when I first read large swathes of The Female Eunuch that it seemed fundamentally out of date in parts even then. The book belonged to my dear friend Vicki who is a (somewhat) radical feminist; at least she never shaves any part of her anatomy and neither does she wear a bra although I cannot attest to whether or not she has physically burned it. I also spent one summer acting as an observer for CND in the late 1980s, a job which required me to sit outside of RAF Greenham Common from 4am until midday in a car and watch for any missile transports. I eventually got to know several of the women on that camp and they of course had built a community which more or less excluded men completely. One of those women, Pippa, a slightly loony ex-midwife at least twice my age became a good friend and although I lost touch with her a few years hence. I talked to her once about psychology, which I studied at University and beyond, and she quoted Germaine Greer to me during that discussion, she said: “Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It has no mother.”

Eris forms part of a grand trine with Mars and Pluto, no surprise there then...

Germaine Greer: Eris forms part of a grand trine with Mars and Pluto, no surprise there then...

It has since occurred to me that the same sentiments are found in the study of astrology, with Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto all being essentially male energies; Mercury is possibly male but at best androgynous, leaving (traditionally) only Moon and Venus to speak for the feminine. How patently ridiculous that is, but also, and thankfully, it is a situation that is gradually being addressed with the inclusion of Pallas, Ceres, Vesta and Juno into the mainstream of astrological thinking. In terms of psychoanalysis I often think of Freud as Saturn, Jung as Uranus, but there are no essential feminine powers because (as Pippa told me) even psychology is fundamentally masculine. In my view, psychology falls down in all sorts of places, but astrology does not have to fall into the same trap. Traditionalists will disagree of course, but that to me is resonant of the self-same dichotomy between psychoanalysis and behaviourism in psychology; they are utterly incompatible systems that are mixed through long habit, not through best practise.

It is for this reason that I believe a whole new avenue of astrological research is opening up. It will evolve into something meaningful in step with the onward march toward acceptance of the divine feminine in human society, and even at a personal level as someone with a peregrine Moon I am doubly compressed, by my innate astrological dissociation complex, and by a society that can only accept my male sexuality as a narrow spectrum of aggression that identifies with cars, jobs, bunny girls and team sports.

Back to the (very brief) astrology of Germaine Greer then. I have not included Eris, but of course she sits at the trined midpoint of Ma/Pl. A near fanatic mischief-maker? Undoubtedly! With Scorpio Midheaven, there is a calling to deal with sexuality, and with Mars in the anaretic degree of Scorpio the impetus to tip over from sex and control to freedom and equality is self-evident. Mercury opposes Pluto, which explains her need to tell it unadorned (just like good old blood and guts Patton remember?) but here a trine to Neptune softens, refines and takes all the edges off. Moon is conjunct Uranus too: and that alone says “radical feminism” right?

So, Germaine Greer: with a grand trine to the Midheaven and peregrine Saturn in Aries in the 3rd, may you keep going it alone and telling it like it is until your last breath, because whilst you’re quite clearly a nutjob, you’re also brilliant, beautiful and absolutely, undeniably genuine.

Denzel Washington: Gravitas personified

his stars outshine even Crowe...

Denzel: his stars outshine even Crowe...

One of my favourite pastimes as an astrologer is to take a look at the astrology of celebrities and notables that I like and try to discover whether or not my impression of them is at all justified. I used this method to determine which of Federer or Nadal I would support in the Wimbledon final (I wasn’t particularly bothered, but any game is improved with a sprinkling of zeal – and I went for Federer by the way) and I would quite happily use the same approach to determine the probable sincerity of a politician. As any good astrologer knows though, a study of any human being’s astrology makes them much more interesting to observe; I liken meeting a client post-interpretation to watching the film of a book you may have particularly enjoyed, and usually the big-screen version is rewarding. Studying the astrology of actors, performers and other public notables has led me to take in a great deal of culture that would not normally have intrigued me overmuch. I became distinctly enamoured of Annie Lennox’s music after looking at her astrology, so too with Edith Piaf and Nina Simone, my respect for Liz Greene actually increased post-study, so too with Germaine Greer (who is undoubtedly brilliant), not to mention Sylvia Plath, and then there are those empathic moments too, as with the astrology of Lady Jane Grey, which left me – quite frankly – anguished for several hours.

On a lighter note then, I intend today to make a brief foray into the astrology of Denzel Washington, whom for me can almost do no wrong and I fully expect him to improve as an actor considerably with age: and not just because he is a Capricorn either. He is, astrologically, the genuine article.

I will personalise this just a little by saying that I have always felt a natural liking for the sign Capricorn, I love the dry humour, the deadpan observational style, the sheer toughness and resilience of it and wherever it is found it creates a wonderful wry, self-deprecating and pleasantly implacable ambience in the character. When I was a young man, my sidekick Tich, an accomplished Jazz musician and troubadour, was almost 100% Capricorn and we travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles together with guitars, ephemerides and wacky haircuts and it was entirely down to his uncomplaining determination that we ended up belting out Dylan numbers to a crowd of enraptured fishermen on a beach at dusk in Lindisfarne, or getting through three festivals in a week as far apart as Stonehenge and Wales with no car.

00) Mount Vernon, NY

Denzel Washington, actor. 28 Dec 1954, 00:09 (+5:00) Mount Vernon, NY

Denzel has this same quietly implacable quality and how much?! His astrology is a textbook case and almost impossible to misinterpret in its single pointed foci. Note all the indicators of drive, brilliance, outstanding talent and in particular determination in the astrology, here are my delineations, in a vague order of precedence:

  1. Sun is near Cazimi with North Node, conjunct Mercury and all three elements together are Peregrine. This then is Capricorn unalloyed, the purest distillation of Capricorn in self-awareness, in a sense of destiny and in manner of speech. This would give phenomenal gravitas even if ptolemaically aspected, but here that sense of weight is off the charts.
  2. But look! Peregrine Moon in Aquarius as well! So whilst he may have a serious demeanour, he gets to be cool with it too. Moon in Aquarius is sometimes just too detached though, and where the Sun is in Air, it can make the native almost unengagable, but this dissociative note (peregrine Moon is always dissociative) is probably countered by the Capricorn impetus to mean something. The only fly in the ointment here is the concern that for all his presence and detachment, he might be unable to convey much humanity, but then…
  3. Mars trine Saturn not only gives enormous self-control, it gives incredible emotional power as well; especially with the Scorpio influence and a mutual reception between Moon and Uranus gives a near-genius for expressing the personal needs and inner life.
  4. The tee-square to Neptune provides the drive to be seen as “the actor” and creates a rather tense need to be perceived as sensitive; this, combined with Saturn would in my view, provide the undercurrent of slightly stressed sympathy that adds the essential dash of humanity to his controlled exterior. The tee square is especially intriguing, a close conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus for a start creates a likely ongoing increase in individuation, trine to Venus provides his film-star mannerisms, opposite Chiron in Capricorn – thus a feeling of not being taken seriously enough, in the 4th, probably stemming from childhood. Denzel was sent away to boarding school while his parents divorced, and Chiron in Capricorn creates a real need to be heard, one that is often thwarted, setting up a life that attempts to redeem itself through being given respect; of course that too is unbalanced with Jupiter/Uranus, so his deep sensitivity is difficult to reconcile with his outgoing, powerful individuality and all of that tension gets fed into his acting (Neptune), and this configuration really adds the drive so typical of the tee-square to the whole mix. Interesting to note that Denzel’s first movie was released within a month of Chiron’s discovery in 1977.
  5. The only dark note is suggested by Venus square Pluto which would have been applying genuine formative pressure by Solar Arc at age 3. It is in that light no surprise then that Moon is peregrine and that his parents divorced fairly early in his life. There is a rift here with the mother and that sense of emotional isolation that accompanies peregrination of the Moon is here underpinned. Saturn too applies to square Pluto by SA at age 9, and I would bet good money that this was when the divorce was decided, even though the disintegration of the relationship started some 6 years beforehand. Wherever Saturn is configured with Pluto the outcome is usually hard-work, and across the Leo – Scorpio quarter it is especially rigid, inflexible and uncompromising.

Put it all together and you begin to perceive the underlying quality of the entire persona; the key experiential statement then for me is one of great power, gravitas and expressive potency, fuelled by intensely controlled emotions, a need to be heard and taken seriously and a drive to let go of a difficult and uncomfortable sensitivity, itself the legacy of an unhappy and isolated childhood, but with an overall impetus to gradual self-exaltation. Denzel will only get better.

Those Elusive Trans-Neptunians…

Uranian astrology is an interesting study. I have always been a big fan of Ebertin’s Cosmobiology ever since I read my grandfather’s copy of “The Combination of Stellar Influences”, which my decidedly odd adolescent brain found to be strangely compelling and to this day I find Ebertin’s delineations to be among the best. Of course Ebertin rejected Witte’s hypothesis of the Transneptunians, but I find them to be startlingly accurate, certainly if isolated for examination using the Cazimi method.

Take Apollon, associated with Hermes Trismegistus and thus the alchemist and the Magician card of the Tarot deck. I find one case of Cazimi Apollon in my files: that of David Copperfield, the… magician.

Or how about Cupido, named of course for that rather delightfully chubby cherub of sniping renown? Is it any suprise at all that the world’s foremost and most prolific author of bad romantic fiction, Barbara Cartland has a Cazimi Cupido?

Then there is Vulcanus, which is associated with a kind of steamy, yet decidedly “mighty force.” It creates an ‘irresistibility’ and a rather compelling quality. Marilyn Monroe had Cazimi Vulcanus in delightfully flighty Gemini on the cusp of the 11th, the house where we require the adulation of the world.

What about Hades, associated with crime and deviancy? This was found Cazimi in the chart of Martin Bryant, who indiscriminately gunned down 35 innocent bystanders with a high-powered rifle in the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania in 1996. He is currently serving 35 life sentences in Hobart’s Risdon prison. Intriguingly, his chart also evidences a partile conjunction of Poseidon with Mars, which may serve to spiritualise violence as a form of natural justice (in Libra).

There are so many cases that I am uneasy about dismissing out of hand the relevance of transneptunians. Even in general interpretation, I often find it useful to identify the placement of Vulcanus particularly by house (It moves too slowly to be very relevant otherwise) to identify in which domain of life the native may demonstrate transcendent and unmatched energy. This too can be insightful, especially where Vulcanus is in peregrine:

  • Venus Williams, Vulcanus peregrine on the Midheaven.
  • Yehudi Menuhin with Vulcanus Peregrine in the 5th house of creativity.
  • William Morris the Victorian designer, with Vulcanus Peregrine in the 4th house of the home!

I do not personally advocate using the transneptunians in everyday astrology, but if you should find a Cazimi or peregrine placement, then you may be well-advised to look more closely.

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.

Peregrination Files: A Zodiacal Sampler

Peregrination of the Sun gives a beautiful insight into the archetypal vibration of the zodiacal spectrum; there is no more perfect attunement to the fundamental quality of any sign that is possible, except perhaps a Cazimi Peregrine Island of a sympathetic planetary typology in its domicile (such as a Cazimi Venus in Libra or Mercury in Gemini).

Therefore, due in part to the fact that I don’t have the time today to write an extensive article, I have decided to post a meditational for the astrologer who wishes to acquire these key zodiacal attunements; simply consider each of the persons listed here and allow yourself to acquire their essential quality, and in that way you’ll gain a real insight into the male and female manifestations of the undiluted essence of each.

Taurean males are hard to find cases for, and moreso for Cancerian females, but with the powerful family and mothering qualities of that sign, it is small wonder indeed. In truth, all of the water signs appear to have very few good examples of solar peregrination. I was fairly struck by just how much Amelia Earhart looks like a lioness!

Libra and Gemini fared the best with plenty of examples of iconic celebrities and Aquarius wasn’t so bad either. Scorpio males were especially hard to find, but it is interesting that both Prince Charles and his mother, the Queen have Peregrine Sun. No surprise in Flo-Jo’s case that Sagittarius rules the thighs and sports in general; no woman has ever run faster!

Again, Pisceans were thin on the ground, but in water, the ego is to some extent dissolved and nowhere more so than in the 12th sign. Annie Lennox, with peregrine Cazimi Sun/Mercury and peregrine Moon too, is possibly the most pure-bred Capricorn that has ever lived!

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.