Hygeia, the Virgoan Principle?

Hygeia, Klimt.

In about 400BC, a Sicyonian poet named Ariphron composed a paean to Hygeia, underlining the profound importance – to the Greeks – of this deity, an importance on a scale which is  not remotely mirrored by the astrologer of today:

Hygeia, best of the Blessed Ones to men,
May I dwell with you for the rest of my days,
And may you be kind and stay with me,
For if there is any joy in wealth or in children,
Or in royal rule which makes men like the gods,
Or in the desires which we hunt,
With Aphrodite’s secret snares,
Or if men have any other delight,
From the gods or respite from their labours,
With you, blessed Hygeia,
All things are strong and shine with the converse of the Graces,
And without you, no man is happy.
(ep. Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 15.701F; {7}, pp. 104-105)

Furthermore, the original Hippocratic Oath, states: “I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asklepios, and Hygeia, and Panakeia, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation . . .”

Asclepius, of course was Hygeia’s father and Panacea her sister. She is depicted throughout the mythology with absolute consistency as a virgin and a dutiful daughter to Asclepius. Lycimnius referred to her thus: “Bright-eyed mother, highest queen of Apollon’s golden throne, desirable, gently-laughing Hygeia.”

Hygeia was also, in every likeness, shown to be clasping a serpent; symbolically then, she held in her grasp the power of fertility and also a connection with the earth (Gaia), snakes are frequently associated with birth and regeneration, due both to their resemblance to the umbilical cord and their ability to regenerate the skin wholly. Her aspect, despite these overtly biological themes is singularly modest and moral, unassuming and gentle-natured.

According to the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, although she is originally the goddess of physical health, she is sometimes conceived as the giver or protectress of mental health, that is, she appears as mens sana, or huliea phrenôn (Aeschyl. Eum. 522), and was thus identified with Athena, surnamed Hygieia. (Paus. i. 23. § 5; comp. Lucian, pro Laps. 5.)

Thus the phrase, healthy mind: healthy body, seems to encapsulate most succinctly the Hygeian principle. This realisation is entirely in keeping with the emergent fundamental of contemporary holistic healing theory that all disease is conceived in the psychic substrate of being, and this concurs most affirmatively with my own observation in the astrology.

In every sense, Hygeia resonates completely with the Virgoan ideal; she is Virgo personified, chaste, demure, unassuming, pure, virtuous, particular and assimilative, she governs the distilled 6th house principle of those health benefits that are derived from moderate habits.

I am not particularly enamoured of the idea that Virgo is the natural domicile for Mercury, the ‘breaking-down’ function of Virgo can of course be applied to mental process such that an idea can be digested and the nutritive constituent taken out of it, but the same might be said for any of the signs who will process the stuff of the mind according to its own dictate. Mercury is Geminian, in every possible way, and it requires no further dignity, and whilst Virgo might be the sign of its exaltation, there is simply no question that Hygeia responds to Virgo in every sense as perfectly as Mercury does to Gemini.

But this still leaves a void. Not least because it changes so many observations and for those with Virgo rising there is the question of the Ascendant ruler, and the flavour of things is altered immeasurably in this sense alone; when you consider the received wisdom of Virgo and the question of rulership you might well be disposed to question the power of Hygeia in real terms: it seems to be no great thing this Hygeia, not when compared to the Sun or Saturn or even something obscure and far distant like Neptune.

But this fails to question an assumption so fundamental that it is almost completely taken for granted. Consider the words of Ariphron, “With you, blessed Hygeia, All things are strong and shine with the converse of the Graces, And without you, no man is happy.” This cuts to the heart of the matter, because it demonstrates actually how very profound is Hygeia’s power; without her gentle blessing all your Leonine splendour (“For if there is any joy in wealth or in children, Or in royal rule which makes men like the gods“) and Libran charms (“the desires which we hunt, With Aphrodite’s secret snares“) are rendered meaningless and somehow trite and empty. We cannot enjoy love, wealth or anything else if we are ravaged by sickness, so Hygeia’s modest reputation belies her fearsome import – and that resonates again with all measure of Virgoan power.

Therefore, Hygeia holds the key to the most fundamental state of grace in all human aspiration, for without her all other ambitions and talents become undermined. Hygeia gives insight into something far more profound and intrinsic to this life than her footnote status implies, and the astrologer who wishes to fully appreciate the import of Virgo should take note.

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.

The Astrology of Photography.

Ansel Adams Photo

I find that astrology and photography have much in common. They are both concerned with an ongoing attempt to capture the intangible; both rely upon rules that must be learned, subsumed and then transcended in order to attain mastery; they are both concerned with the sublime and perhaps most pertinently of all, neither, whether approached as art or science can ever be considered finished. To clarify, no photographer ever took a photograph so perfect that they considered they could never take better, and the same siren call to improvement haunts every astrologer no matter his skill.

So what of the astrology of photography? The clues are in the immeasurable nature of the pursuit itself, because whilst photographers are required to master some fairly exacting rules of aperture, composition and interpersonal dynamics, the greatest photographs are in some sense boundless, inexact, dreamy or ethereal in an alluring and vaguely mystical manner that is at once immediately arresting and yet almost impossible to define. This then, is exactly why Neptune has always been supposed to be the domain of the photographer and the artist, poet, dancer and ancient mariner alike. Neptune, sea-god, ruler of dreamy Pisces is at the polarity point – the very opposite end of the spectrum to Virgo; but of course a spectrum of any type deals in a common currency and where Virgo is obsessed by rules and specifics, Pisces too is obsessed by rules, but by not needing them because they have been transcended. This then describes perfectly the requirement of the artist to master the technical disciplines of his craft (Virgo) before he can freely express his or her boundless art (Pisces). Or, as Adrian Belew more succinctly said it: even genius needs method.

Thus, Neptune is going to be powerfully important to the fortunes of the photographer, the 12th house and Pisces too must also be considered as the natural domains of photography for this reason.

Ansel Adams' Nativity

Looking at the chart of Ansel Adams, with both Sun and Mars in Pisces, we can immediately see some interesting correlations. Neptune (Gemini/7th) we see straight away is Quindecile to Chiron (Capricorn/1st). Here then is an obsession with using photography (Neptune) to communicate (Gemini) to others (conjunct descendant) his astonishing sensitivity (Chiron) to form and structure (Capricorn). Indeed this is the resounding note that is the hallmark of Adams’ photographic style, his near-deification of patterns in nature that he found in aspens and tree roots, rocks and canyons; he raised the natural structures of the world around him up to an art form, which he then communicated to others in photographs. Of course, astrology sounds its note at all different levels, and Chiron in Capricorn is tweaked out of a fear of not being taken seriously, of being ignored or thought too low in status. Perhaps this speaks to the consensus of opinion concerning the use of photography in those early days; maybe his obsession with proving that photography could be taken seriously as an artist’s media was a large part of his motivation. Wherever the Quindecile is found there is obsession. Furthermore, the ruler of his 12th is in the 2nd, suggesting an ability to earn money from photography and with the signs of Sagittarius and Gemini duplicated he would have been lent extra power from any 12th house activities in his life (at the expense of Leonine and Aquarian activities). There is a strong suggestion from the Moon – Jupiter opposition of marital difficulties that he may have been able to avoid facing up to because he could travel and take photographs, as suggested by the Sagittarius – Gemini axis. The final point of note talks to structure once again; with a peregrine Saturn in Capricorn, Adams’ power to express structure, in magnificent, awesome depth would have been, and is to this day perhaps, unparalleled. Here is another example of a planet unaspected in its domicile which creates a giant in the archetypal concerns of that planet’s power. To Alan Watts’ Uranus, we can add Ansel Adams’ Saturn.

A second study might be informative and I shall take a slightly different tack and look now at the chart of Louis Daguerre, who made his name, not so much as a photographer but rather as a person who changed the very nature of photography itself. Daguerre was one of the principal inventors of a new development process, known as the Daguerreotype which enabled much faster printing of photographic images. He gave his invention to the French government who in 1839, made a ‘free gift’ of it to the world.

Louis Daguerre Nativity

Daguerre was not primarily a photographer but actually carried on two main career paths as a theatre designer and a chemist (and with the Midheaven ruler Jupiter found in the twin sign Gemini, that is hardly a surprise.) If we look to his Neptune we see that it falls within a mere 4 minutes of the cusp of the 8th, the house of transformation and the natural ruler of the 8th is found peregrine (unaspected) in the 12th, the natural house of photography, in the sign of Aquarius. Is it any wonder then that Daguerre transformed (Pluto) the science of photography (12th house) and made a gift of it to humanity (Aquarius)? Look too at the conjunction of Mars with Uranus in the 6th which speaks clearly of a powerful passion (Mars) to revolutionise (Uranus) working practises (6th House), which the Daguerreotype did in spades for photography and then note the Quindeciles from this conjunction to the otherwise unaspected Pluto in the 12th!

The correlations then are quite astonishing when looked at in this way. Once again the brute power of unaspected planets makes itself felt in the nativity of two very different, but uniquely pioneering individuals in the field of photography.

Consultation, for photographers (and for anyone else) can be found here.

Alan Watts, pt 3: Moon, Chiron and a few notes

Alan WattsTime then for a few closing notes on the subject of Alan Watts’ fascinating nativity. We have covered some of the key issues that made him the enigmatic but brilliant genius that he so clearly was; his peregrine but dignified Uranus, Cazimi Mercury, qunideciles from Saturn conjunct Pluto and Neptune on the 8th and his Saturnine/Uranian soul, realised through an appreciation of his Capricorn stellium in the first. Of course, no chart is defined entirely by just one or two configurations, and really we have up till now concerned ourselves with confirming those aspects of his nature that we are privy to, so what of the rest of the man?

Astrologically I find the Moon opposition to Chiron intriguing. This suggests a painful and never-healed rift in the relationship with the mother; with his Moon in pure but perfection-seeking Virgo in the 8th there is a hint that she may have held high standards that the young Alan found hard to attain. His interest in philosophy and later eastern mysticism came about largely through the influence of his mother, Emily, as she was the daughter of a missionary herself and Watts recalled in his biography how his mother taught at a local school for daughters of missionaries to China. It was because of his mother that Alan had early exposure to Asian culture, via art and other gifts brought by parents returning from China. A Sinophile all his life, Alan attributed the start of his interest in the writings of Chinese poets and sages to his mother’s gift of a Chinese translation of the New Testament.

Immediately, we get a sense of Emily as having a deeply spiritual, albeit orthodox facet to her nature, and it is interesting to note how Watts spent a great deal of his philosophic effort upon deconstructing many of the inconsistencies of traditional theistic logic. With Chiron in Pisces, we get a sense that the damage in his maternal relationship was at heart a spiritual one, an inability to find a middle ground between the exacting rules of critical Virgo and the polarity of Piscean faith; an existential incompatibility between a mother who may have been obsessive and critical, and a need to find a sense of trust in a benevolent Universe. Indeed, much of Watts’ greatest insight speaks to powerfully Neptunian themes of dissolution, of impermanence, of illusion and compassion.

So what might have caused this rift? Moon in Virgo hints at a mother who wanted things to be just so, neat, orderly and if not exactly conventional, certainly humble and God forbid! None too flashy! Then we see the quincunx to otherwise unaspected Uranus in its domicile of Aquarius, suddenly (and thus fittingly for Uranus) we see the source of the pain. Watts was different, naturally he was odd, quirky, noticeable by dint of being not-normal; his interests were weird and profoundly unorthodox and he speaks of a childhood spent devising complex funeral rites for birds, and composing treatises on theology which he would discuss with his parents long into the night. There is no question that his mother loved him; he speaks of her fondly, but of course that quincunx speaks to dissatisfaction, and it appears that even after declaring himself a Buddhist at age 14 Watts was still inclined to try and reconcile his chosen belief with that of his mother’s choosing.

The maternal principle is internalised, and with Moon in the 8th, there is a theme of letting go; this opposed to Chiron further posits the idea that letting go of his mother drove him to seek some spiritual solution to his painful loss. Chiron in Pisces on the very cusp of the 3rd forces one to continually readjust their faith in hope of addressing the cold-shoulder of an uncaring cosmos.

A few other points worthy of mention:

  1. Neptune conjunct royal Regulus would dignify his spirituality.
  2. Venus in Sagittarius in the 12th gives a profound love of prophetic and far-reaching  ideals, of far off places, of the exotic and mystical; it also gives a deep love of solitude, and it is well known that Watts would spend several hours a day meditating alone, a confirmed Buddhist; which in his day was certainly an exotic belief system.
  3. Venus furthermore rules the 10th, so this love of exotic belief systems would somehow define the career!
  4. Saturn in Gemini creates a challenge to articulate, and here, conjunct Betelgeuse denotes “success which is not blocked” according to Brady. Unquestionably so.
  5. Saturn furthermore mutually receives Mercury; thus lending great stability to his thinking and much faculty for adaptability in meeting his obligations.
  6. Pars fortuna is partile the Imum Coeli, suggesting that his most private self was his bounty.

This is the final article concerning Alan Watts. I strongly recommend that you listen to some of his marvellous teachings, and here is a podcast which will allow you to do just that.