Orcus, Vulcanus, Saturn-Pluto and Edwina Currie

The brilliant, amazing, awesome Edwina

Back in the late 80s I lived a rather feral existence as a busking, itinerant astrologer (of sorts), and I hung with the hippies, bad companies, clattered haphazardly about the long, dusty summers and tried not to get too embroiled in life. They were the good old, bad old days. Unsurprisingly, in those days, I didn’t have much sympathy for the British Conservative Party in spite of its very illustrious origins, it being the oldest political party in the world, and boasting several luminaries in its historical membership, including its founder Robert Peel (who invented the police), and Winston Churchill, a man of many admirable qualities, but whom I like best for the fact that he would have an afternoon nap every day, in his pyjamas. Truth be told, I still don’t have much sympathy for the Tory way, but times have changed.

The low point for the Conservatives though has to be that collection of scoundrels, hypocrites, criminals, oppressors and narcissists that formulated the bulk of the party’s front bench under Margaret Thatcher, arch Sun-Pluto destroyer of the working class and nemesis of all things meaningful and spiritual. I say this in a considered tone, because in contemplation of the  Sun-Pluto archetype, the understanding remains that while you might be vociferously opposed to nuclear weapons you can still appreciate, with a measure of reverence and awe, their sheer destructive power; their apocalyptic, majestic, naked, irresistible force.

Unfortunately, Mrs Thatch became a poster child for some fairly unpleasant metamorphoses; like the reinvention of avarice. Suddenly, by having a non-materialistic viewpoint you became – almost overnight – a loser. The disciples of Thatcherism weren’t greedy, selfish, exploitative and base of course; they were pragmatic, right-thinking, clear-sighted winners.

Of course it was a manifesto tailored to perfection for an extremely narrow astrological phenomenon and it changed this country irrevocably. Ironically, but not remotely coincidentally, the star pupil of the Tao of Me was among the front ranks, sans brown shirt perhaps, but pronouncing the doctrines with all the fervour of a newly installed town-crier. Edwina Currie, born within weeks of the Saturn – Pluto conjunction in Leo is the most remarkable astrological specimen; rare only in the extremity of her conditioning, but for that reason, remarkable nonetheless.

Edwina Currie, politician, broadcaster, author, superwoman: 13 Oct 1946, 23:30, Liverpool England

I don’t want to wax too long and lyrical about this nativity, but here are a few intriguing pointers:

  • Saturn conjunct Pluto rises in Leo, just look at that picture at the top, isn’t she just too scarily perfect? Pluto supercharges Saturn’s drive for status (Saturn rules Capricorn, it’s ambitious, it wants to be respected, it demands respect, God help you.) Leo needs to be royal, nothing common-or-garden here thank you very much: Saturn-Pluto rising has to be the most respected in all the land, everybody is inferior.
  • If you are still unconvinced, read her self-penned bio. She has rubbed shoulders with the Beatles, US Presidents and a plethora of Nobel Laureates; it raises name-dropping to something approaching an art-form. And look how she’s the most successful person that ever lived! Remarkable, but that, of course is the point.
  • The closest aspect in the nativity and ruler of the Midheaven – therefore the big career driver – is Mars square Pluto. Here’s a woman that’s no respecter of men’s personal space, she gets in close, engages in inappropriate intimacy with them and therein lies the source of her power and impetus to control. With this aspect ruling the Midheaven though, there’s no question who Ms. Currie works for: Number One! I told you she was top of the Thatcherite class.
  • And that Saturn – Pluto conjunction is squared by a stellium of Mercury, Mars and Jupiter, all in the 4th house: here’s some unfinished business in the early family home all right, women weren’t valued, that’s her recollection no doubt, Mercury and Jupiter rule intercepted signs, that energy is lost in the 5th and 11th, giving and receiving love and attention was for the menfolk only, mother wasn’t valued (Moon opposed by Venus, 5th to 11th) and the Saturn – Pluto conjunction manifests the 5th (love me!) and the 6th (all day, every day!)
  • Intriguingly, the closest aspect of all is a quincunx between Astraea (on the cusp of the 5th) and Hygeia (conjunct Hades) in Aries and the 10th. Here’s an intimation of a slow decline in health, a health issue that one doesn’t ever properly recover from, it leads to a deterioration, it has its basis in the past, a genetic condition perhaps.
  • Hopi conjunct Black Moon Lilith: there’s judgment and prejudice at being the other woman (in Norma Major’s life).
  • Saturn-Pluto is also conjunct Urania, and this is extremely important in the context of the Uranus-Vulcanus conjunction in Gemini. She really does have a brilliant mind, a genius for structure. It’s interesting generationally though because the conjunction of Uranus (individuation) with Vulcanus (invisible force or drive) in Gemini, suggests a real impetus toward being considered to be delightfully, intriguingly brilliant, cerebral, mentally switched on, versatile and adaptable. It is, in context with the Saturn – Pluto and Urania the hallmark of the cerebral competitor, one who is special (Uranus) for being a super-achiever (Saturn-Pluto) in many fields (Gemini).
  • And finally, to Orcus. I have a big article on Orcus coming up (when I have five minutes) but suffice to say, Orcus creates serious consequences for those who break solemn oaths. Bill Clinton (whom Edwina met at University) also has Uranus conjunct Orcus (sudden retribution for breaking promises), it’s an aspect that hunts you down, but unexpectedly, the fall from grace can be swift and spectacular (especially with Vulcanus configured). This is exactly what happened to Edwina when she uttered her ill-fated remark about salmonella and eggs, it ended her career as a politician (and the same effect was evidenced with Bill Clinton of course). They were both hounded out of office.

So much more to say, so little time. I have nothing personally against Mrs Currie, of course, but her astrology is fascinating. It must be tough being her, exhausting, and I wish her every success, which of course is the lynchpin of her existence. As ever though, with Saturn – Pluto in Leo, and the group born in 1946 have it worst: having a terminator ego might be great in terms of worldly success, but the ordinary mortals who have to share their lives are usually left broken by it.

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.

Hitler and the Golden Yod

I have done a fair amount of research on the quintile; as you may know it is a fifth harmonic aspect which John Addey always associated with the use and abuse of power; because of the occult significance of the pentagram it is considered by some to be an aspect which requires activation lest it be triggered into its base expression with often uncomfortable results. Bill Tierney noted that it is often found in the charts of composers and artists, but also mass-murderers and murder victims.

Adolf Hitler’s chart shows some configurations which other astrologers have claimed explains his motivation, I cannot agree. The inclusion of Eris, Goddess of strife and discord in his nativity, aspects to the ascendant too, evidences an incredible and absolutely perfect fifth harmonic pentagram. If Addey is correct and the 5th denotes the abuse of power, then clearly Hitler was the perfect 5th harmonic instrument.

08) Braunau am Inn, Austria

Adolf Hitler, 20 April 1889, 18:30 ( -0:52:08 ) Braunau am Inn, Austria

Of course, there are other interesting factors in his chart that support the historical outcomes. The partile conjunction of Ma/Ve in square to Saturn on the midheaven tells a story of idealism brutally expounded, and Taurus, fixed earth is powerfully material, Venus disposits the chart, is energised by Mars (which it overwhelms) and is given ruthless staying power by Saturn in fixed, autocratic Leo. With all of those ponderous outer-planet energies configured in this pattern, the Moon-Jupiter conjunction creates the most obvious channel for its expression, in the 3rd: by use of slowly building oratory (Cap. on 3rd) he was able to focus the fanatic zeal for power of Saturn in Leo and the near spiritualised intellect of Neptune in Gemini, itself lent destructive intellectual power by Pluto, accidentally dignified in the fixed 8th.

The quintile when viewed retrospectively in this way is comprehensible, and even beforehand it might be possible to put these clues together, but really, the most remarakble feature of this configuration is its power. It is like a Yod, but supercharged, and without the element of hunting dissatisfaction found in that pattern; it becomes, once activated, innate and in some manner overwhelming and undeniable.

The ‘Golden Yod’ then, is an intriguing configuration formed from a quintile between two planets which each biquintile a third. An angle works just as well. From my research the Golden Yod is often found in the charts of musicians and actors. Kevin Costner has a Golden Yod to his Mc. Many iconic film stars charts evidenced Golden Yods, or what I call ‘Golden t-squares’ (two quintiles joined by a biquintile), such as Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin and James Dean. James Dean has an incredible configuration of quintiles if you take a look at his chart.

Musicians too, Buddy Holly and Carole King for example.

The negative potential is found in the charts of many notewrothy individuals. Murder victims like Albert Ayler who was found dead in NYs East River on 25th Nov. 1970 for one; there are many other examples; victims of anothers power misuse; like Patty Hearst for example.

I have a fairly extensive library on the [bi]quintile now. You may wish to include 36 deg. and the sequiquintile of 108 deg. That’s a magical number too, according to Crowley it is the sum of Jesus and Mary, and there are 1080 bricks in a Turkish oven, always, and of course it is representative of 9 and 12 numerologically.

So, how do you interpret the quintiles in everyday astrology? For practical purposes it is uninterpretable, at least, not without the gift of hindsight. The majority are quite oblivious to this aspect because it is – as in music- an off-beat rhythm, it is decidedly Uranian in that respect, if the aspect were a style of music it would be a rather obscure form of jazz. On the other hand, it may be possible to explore some of the theme blends and see where that leads you. Consider this list of personages with Moon in 5th harmonic aspect to Saturn:

  • Adolf Hitler
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Willy Brandt
  • Bill Clinton
  • Betty Ford
  • Edward Kennedy
  • Robert Kennedy

Are you seeing a common quality? Moon – Saturn always speaks to matters of self-discipline, self-control inadequate maternal relationships and staying power; but here it is lent a different quality, one that if “switched on” can become a true asset, for good, or for evil.

The Lion and the Cobra and the Leo-Scorpio Square

Lion and Cobra

There are often profound insights to be found in scripture. This has nothing to do with religious belief either, it merely states a clear fact, because it states in the bible that you really don’t want to be stepping on the Lion and the Cobra if you can possibly avoid it. (Actually it says that you can tread on the Lion and the Cobra, providing you trust in the Lord thus: “No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.” From Psalm 91). Clearly though the wisdom contained therein suggests that unless you have the Lord’s protection, then the last things you should step upon in all creation are the Lion or the Cobra. They’ll mess you up. The aphorism derived from this is astrologically apt, the Cobra will leave you alone providing you don’t provoke it, and a happy well-fed lion will happily ignore you too, providing you show it proper respect and this is no more or no less than we understand about the nature of Leo and Scorpio.

In my experience Leo speaks to two key principles; leadership and creativity and all Leos and Leo placements will have at their essence one of these Manuscript Headerconcerns (and often both). The reason that Leo speaks to leadership concerns is because of its innate expectation of respect, because like any lion, Leo wants to be admired. Thus Saturn in Leo creates a test of leadership, the pull of the Leonine fire is toward exaltation, like the fixed flame of his genesis, it is a wondrous sight to behold (think “the eternal flame!”) but with Saturn the desire for that divine state is turned into a life-challenge; people will not admire the Leo configured with Saturn even though the native will demand it, this creates (often) arrogance and pomposity – which is merely a state of demanding respect which has not been earned. That is Saturn in Leo. Similarly, Leo is the creative principle; ruled by the Sun, creator of all life, which is exactly why Jupiter in Leo so loves children and Saturn in Leo struggles to love them. Moon in Leo is instinctively commanding, when put under pressure the Moon in Leo native will try to take charge. All of these insights are underpinned though by the fixed nature of the sign. Yes fire is warm, fire draws people to itself, but the fixity of Leo proclaims itself as a fire that cannot be put out, thus it cannot be extinguished, managed, controlled or argued with, Leo is an ‘always on’ type of energy that like the Lion will not stand down.

And then there is the cobra. Here is an entirely different animal. Cold-blooded, deadly, hard to properly see and generally feared, but not feared out of respect for its magnificence like the lion, feared because it will leave you for dead as soon as look at you. The cobra is not mighty in that divine and kingly way that the lion conjures, but just as deadly, just as implacable. Now if you think about the cobra (or the Scorpion: another facsimile for the Scorpio energy) you will understand right away that they are small, almost insignificant, but they can kill an animal many times their own size and what this really underlines is the key power of the sign of Scorpio: survival.

There are sub-plots with Scorpio of course, but they all boil down to the essential foundation of the sign’s nature, which is the survival instinct. The major sub-plot is the idea of penetration; that is a sexual imperative (via the penetration involved in coitus) as well as a mortal one (since penetration of the flesh by sword, sting or venomous fang will destroy the life), but essentially, this penetration is always at its core a survival issue; sexual penetration ensures genetic survival while combative penetration ensures physical survival; thus the essence of Scorpio is always survival. I have written about this in the past in context of Moon in Scorpio, but consider Mars in Scorpio; here is a placement that is ideal for the warrior type. It is not the chivalric, noble warrior code of Mars in Leo for whom honour and glory on the field of battle are possibly held in higher regard even than survival, but it is instead the kill-or-be-killed mentality of the pit-fighter, it is the secret, stealthy mentality of the assassin, it is the merciless and ruthless killer who, without hesitation strikes down his foe and doesn’t look back. There is no consideration of honour, but neither is there any attempt to bathe in the glory of an act of violence, it is merely expeditious; it is a doing what must be done, without a great fuss, in order that life can go on.

This understanding gives a powerful insight into the Leo-Scorpio square. Both signs are in their way implacable, both are fixed, both will not give way and a head-to-head between the lion and the cobra is going to make an uncomfortable contest. The lion cannot give way because he would be dishonoured to do so and his dream of respect and leadership would lie in tatters if he were seen to ignobly baulk at the offer of battle. By the same token, the cobra will not turn his back on the fight because his survival instinct is too strong, turning his back would leave it open to attack and so a stand-off ensues.

There is therefore an inability to compromise in any square between the signs of Leo and Scorpio, both want to go their own way and neither is prepared to back down. The result of any square is tension and ultimately inertia, but with these signs the tension is multiplied and magnified both; neither sign too understands the other, inextinguishable flame and stagnant water have little enough common quality, it is an irresistible force and an immovable object combination that simply creates a peculiar form of paralysis. Actually, as we are beginning to understand it is actually very much a stand-off; neither can feel it is able to win the fight, but neither – for entirely different reasons – feels comfortable with the idea of backing down.

Let us consider a few informative examples.

How about Ted Bundy, the American serial killer, estimated to have murdered between 29 and 100 young women between 1974 and 1978?

Ted Bundy Nativity

Here the square aspect connects a conjunction of Saturn with Pluto in Leo on the 12th with Jupiter in Scorpio riding the Imum Coeli; this is significant especially. Saturn combined with Pluto is known for its brutality; it was known bt Ebertin as “hard labour” and indeed wherever it is found it makes life very, very difficult; it is for this reason that esoteric astrologers consider it to be a deeply karmic aspect, and whether or not you choose to believe that, the reality is, it makes something of a prison sentence of the life. With the ruler of the 8th – Neptune – itself being the ruler of the 12th, then it is little surprise that Bundy’s life ended in prison at the hands of the legal system (Neptune in Libra!). This aside though, consider the ruler of Leo, the Sun and place that brutality in context; the Sun is in the fourth, so the brutality implied by the Saturn Pluto conjunction is enacted through increasingly sadistic sexual tendencies (Jupiter in Scorpio negated) in private (the 4th). The majority of his attacks were carried out in his car or in the homes of his victims, (3rd/4th houses). Jupiter configured with Saturn creates an enormous oscillation; it is a stop-start, hot-cold aspect that generates debilitating tension; Jupiter and Pluto bring leadership and dominance issues to the fore; especially across these signs; here there is tremendous potential for abuse. Consider the near-peregrine island of Mercury and Venus in Scorpio; here is somebody who thinks about sexual or power issues, who possibly confuses love and sex and who is sexually dissatisfied (implied by the Venus quincunx deviant Uranian thinking in Gemini). The mix is difficult and dangerous.

The key however is Jupiter in almost partile square to Pluto; which itself combined with Saturn in the suppressed 12th gives near-fanatic sexual dominance issues that conjunct the IC, are carried on in secret. Anyone born in the years 1946 and 1947 with this particular square (and more generally the Sa/Pl conjunction) will probably display some measure of fanaticism in their outlook; I have seen it time and again in this subset of the Pluto in Leo generation and it nearly always combines power and money issues in some way (and how else explain how that generation ushered in the most debilitating era of pointless and soulless capitalism since the days of European feudalism?) Here is a further example:

Arnold Schwarzenegger Nativity

Consider this identical aspect in the chart of the well-known actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here the fanatic impulse is found in the Sa/Pl conjunct in Leo too, but now in the earthy 2nd, there is therefore a financial connotation, and Arnold is truly wealthy, but the house (and the sign of Leo too) is now dominated by the Sun, partile to the cusp in its domicile; creating an enormous ego and huge personal and physical power. The square to Jupiter in Scorpio creates a leadership issue too, but the Ascendant is trine Jupiter giving an easy outlet for the tension into the body itself. Arnold’s physique becomes a channel for all that power, leadership and dominance; he can quite literally manifest the tension into his muscles. In the 5th as well, Jupiter introduces an element of joy into proceedings, Arnold enjoys flexing his biceps and showing off his great power. But let us not forget too that Arnold has a peregrine Venus, he really wants to be beautiful and admired for his physical perfection (Venus rising) and in the sign of Cancer and with Moon quindecile to Mars in the 12th, he probably feels compelled to do that because his mother didn’t nurture him very well.

But despite all of this, there is a combination of Leo and Scorpio that is respectful to both. It is the Spartan. Here is a warrior that retains honour and respect, but fights for survival. The key to transforming the Leo-Pluto square then is to fight, not like Richard, Coerr de Lion, but to stand your ground, like Leonidas at Thermopylae. That is the archetypal compromise for these two difficult energies. It is not so much a winner and loser scenario, but instead it speaks of finding the very narrow common-ground, the perfect balance between the two, where their energies can be combined in the person of the Scorpion-King (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Conan the Barbarian, the role which first catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger to the A list. Another example of just how succinctly life imitates art!)