Ikigai and the Earth Houses

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A client said to me the other day “I just want to find my Ikigai.” At first, I thought they were using an ironic term for soul mate, but it soon became clear that here was a lifestyle concept encapsulated within a word, and of course it was a Japanese word, because the Japanese are really good at encapsulating lifestyle concepts into single words, from bushido to wabi-sabi to my personal favourite shinrinyoku (lit. ‘forest bath’). Ikigai means ‘a reason for being’ although not literally, because it is vaguely untranslatable, but it implies a sort of harmony between the four pillars of purpose in a human life, what you: love doing, are good at, can get paid for and is useful to the community.

Searching for Ikigai is a life’s work for many people, and that’s even before they get started on the actual task that has been found to be ‘the one’. It is little surprise therefore that it is one of the areas for study in which I am most frequently consulted in my work.

At a basic level, we begin this task by searching out the obvious and understanding factors such as the rulers and tenants of the earth houses: the 2nd, 6th and 10th. Broadly these correspond to what you can be paid for, how you spend your time, and your calling or vocation. These do not map directly onto the concept of Ikigai, but they overlap and for the purposes of astrology we can create a functional model of ‘a reason for being’ here. Of course, we can posit all sorts of correspondences, since the chart is a whole, and we are its product, but in terms of work, vocation, making a living, this is a good start.

Even this is a vast stage upon which to tread, and I do not want to exhaust either of us by attempting to encapsulate every facet of such a study, but instead I want to pose a question about the relationship between these house rulers and the quality of life that this confers. It is not truly a procedural study because it is subtle, and it is esoteric, so you will have to feel your way along.

First of all, it is useful to bear in your mind the sense that tenants fade, and rulers grow to prominence. By this I mean that there is a human tendency to explore and wear down the tenant of any given house and as time and age permit, the house ruler gains greater and more apparent supremacy over the affairs of that house. This effectively means that when we are young, we follow the path of the house tenants, so to use an example if we have Neptune in the 2nd house then we might earn money as a bartender when we are young, but if the 2nd house is ruled by Mercury in Virgo then by the time we are into our 40s, we are more likely to be earning money from an analytical or studious role. Admittedly, we might be working in the accounts department of a brewery, or simply have been promoted to keeping tabs on the stock for the bar we used to work at, but the essential point is that this gradual shift in emphasis between tenants and rulers is a broad truth for us all and for this reason, the relationship between these rulers is likely to define the essential quality of the ‘work’ conundrum that comes to settle in place upon us.

Now, it seems intuitive, obvious even, to suggest that the situation, placement and aspects to a house ruler will determine some of the qualities of that house and how we experience it in our lives. If the 2nd house ruler is afflicted, in detriment, and squared by several outer planets, then the inevitable truth is, resources will not flow gently, effortlessly and pleasantly into our lap. Perhaps less obvious then, is to consider that the relationship between the rulers of two houses will denote the essential quality of how those houses work together – or don’t work together, in the scheme of our lives.

When we can put these factors in context we have a powerful diagnostic tool at our disposal.

The relationship between the rulers of the 2nd and 6th houses, for example, tells us something about the ease or quality of how we earn money, and how we spend our time. If the ruler of the 2nd house is in a sympathetic sign and trines the ruler of the 6th, then money comes easily. What we enjoy doing with our time is lucrative. Here is a condition shared by such diverse luminaries as William Wordsworth, Freddie Mercury and Charles II, each of whom enjoyed comfortable, affluent, and even lavish lifestyles by the standards of their time, and that affluence resulted from doing something that came effortlessly and pleasantly to them. There is no sense that being a poet, a songwriter or a king was in any way a chore.

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Bob Marley had 12 children by 9 different women

An interesting counterpoint to this is the singular case of Reggae star, Bob Marley, who despite having been one of the most lucrative recording artists of all time was not interested in money, and made little time for it, with the result that when he died he left 12 children, wives, several mistresses and numerous music producers, band members and other stake-holders to fight over his chaotically mismanaged millions. Marley’s 6th house ruler Venus, is in Aries and squares his 2nd house ruler Saturn, also in detriment in Cancer and the 7th house.

cropped_Jackie_JFK_John_F_Kennedy_engagement_anncmnt_photos_Richard_AvedonA similar set of conditions surrounds Jackie Onassis Kennedy, who despite being the daughter of a wealthy stockbroker, and the wife of a president and later an oil tycoon, never generated or earned any of her own money. Her Jupiter and Mars were in square, with the 2nd house ruler Jupiter in detriment in the 7th house of marriage squaring Mars in the 10th. So, there are difficult conditions attached to her resources and how she spent her time: both of which were dependent upon marital status (7th & 10th).

So, having the rulers of the earth houses in relationship is arguably more important than any other factor in terms of generating resources, and finding your Ikigai. Even having those rulers in unsympathetic signs and in hard aspect is better than there being no context between them. Bob Marley and Jackie Kennedy both illustrate the principle. The detriment, the hard relationship is no barrier to wealth, indeed, it promotes wealth, but the conditions around it are burdensome, in Marley’s case because he had so many dependents, in Kennedy’s because her wealth was entirely dependent on the men in her life. So you see, there are conditions, responsibilities, commitments.

But, let us be clear, there are many factors which govern the quest for contentment and fulfilment in a human life, and in the astrology, these are only a part of the overall scheme. We have to consider all parts to appreciate the whole. The earth houses only determine the realm of earthly comfort after all. They do not illuminate our aspirations, our tribal affiliations, our loves, hopes and dreams except through the most mundane and prosaic of lenses. What of the earth planets? What is the condition to the 5th house and our sense of doing what we enjoy?

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Heinrich Himmler: October 7th 1900, 15:30 Munich, Germany.

And allow me to finish this rambling foray into the human condition with a cautionary tale. When searching through many thousands of charts for any which encapsulated the ideal of material placements, I found one individual who evinced the rulers of the earth houses in a Grand Trine configuration: Heinrich Himmler, architect of the holocaust. The ruler of the 2nd, Mars, trines the ruler of the 6th, Moon, trines the ruler of the 10th, Jupiter. Whilst we could discuss the implications of this arrangement endlessly, it does set in stark relief two profound technical principles. First, the rulers of the earth houses are in perfect harmony. Himmler rose from absolute obscurity – at one stage he was a chicken farmer, to become the second most powerful man in the Third Reich in a matter of a few years: a truly meteoric change of circumstance. Second, the Grand Trine which facilitates this dynamic is, not for nothing, plagued by a tendency toward being the path of least resistance. As the well-known maxim says: Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.

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Pluto: Cycles of Horror

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Forgive the frivolity, but perhaps this is less frivolous than we know. For a few years now, I’ve pondered a theory that Pluto’s sojourn in the signs is reflected in society’s horror tropes. This first occurred to me at the time of all those vampire shows and movies, like Twilight and the Vampire Diaries. I can’t say I found any of them particularly engaging, but it resonated with some clarity the thematic principles of Pluto in Libra: love, death, blood, eternal union, all of that Venusian melange, darkened and stripped back by Hadean impulses.

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It’s frightening, yes, but not truly terrifying. Venus softens most anything that she comes to influence. The Lost Boys was perhaps the first major cultural foray into this genre. And then there was Buffy. The Venusian theme became gradually more refined. We signed off with Twilight, adored and reviled in equal measure, but there’s no denying the powerful Venus-Pluto subtext there. So there is fear but also desire and dangerous, obsessive love.

And so, next we had Pluto in Scorpio, and the Zombie craze began to shuffle shambolically into our collective consciousness. Double death, Pluto in Scorpio. Even dying won’t release you. These archetypes are not new of course, but Scorpio on Pluto was already highly accessible to those with Pluto in Leo and Sun in Scorpio (and to a lesser extent those with Pluto in Cancer and Moon in Scorpio). While George Romero is popularly credited with being the progenitor of the zombie concept, the first Zombie movie, “White Zombie” starred Bela Lugosi and was released on August 4th 1932, with Mars on the Aries Point at 0 Cancer. Saturn at 0 Aquarius trines the zombie prototype Orcus at 0 Gemini.

Both of these themes are easy to spot, so one is naturally drawn to consider what came before? What is the nightmare vision of Pluto in Virgo, or Leo? These are less distinct, perhaps because the refinement of special effects and horror genres was not as advanced as it is in contemporary culture. I’d posit contagion and epidemiology as the primary Hadean anxiety of the Pluto in Virgo generation. Robin Cook’s novels (such as Outbreak) gave a voice to those lurking terrors. Usually the underpinning protagonist of such scenarios was that of science gone mad. Even Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park (most of his novels in fact) relied heavily on this exact device. As Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm so presciently asked in the movie: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” So the irresponsible scientist, playing with the fundamental forces of nature and unleashing terror on the world was the Virgoan device.

For Pluto in Leo, the formula is not so clear cut. But in my view, Leo is the most religious of signs, so it might be fair to say that movies such as The Exorcist and The Omen can give us a clue. Leo is concerned with all aspects of worship, and via the Hadean conversion, we are drawn to contemplate no less an archetype than the devil himself!

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So, what of today? This struck me right away as a new horror trope emerged over the summer as unmistakably the handiwork of Pluto in Sagittarius. The Killer Clown. It’s no great coincidence that a remake of Stephen King’s ‘It’ is in the pipeline, with Pennywise the Clown as the lurking Hadean terror. The incidence of clowns in the woods is pretty creepy (whether you identify much with Sagittarius or not), and dressing up as a psychotic clown seems to be a hands-on pastime, unlike many of the preceding styles of terrorising folks, maybe that’s because in Jupiter’s domain, it’s just good fun to get involved. Not so much fun for those being chased by deranged clowns though.

My feeling is that the coming Pluto in Capricorn trope will be considerably less colourful. It’s not easy to predict how it will look before it appears, but once it does, it’s safe to say, we’ll recognise it immediately.

It seems that while every generation has its particular specter of doom, we seek out these reflections of our own darkness even as we repress them. But why should this be, really? I’d say that it’s to do with the fact that what scares us, also fascinates us. Fear, anxiety and obsession are all closely linked by the tenets of Pluto. As an example, take a look at this woman who was so terrified of spiders that even having one in her bedroom would reduce her to tears. The best Pluto work can be achieved by facing and overcoming our anxieties after all. And what method of facing our archetypal demons could be safer than watching a horror movie? We get to go to work on our subterranean darkness without ever being in true jeopardy. And, for all the warnings from social commentators about the corruption of youth and the inherent dangers of horror and the macabre, that is probably quite healthy.

The Astrology of Austerity

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Here is the birth chart of British austerity, as announced by David Cameron in Cheltenham in April 2009. (26/04/09 22:00 Cheltenham, UK) The chart contains several outstanding markers for difficulty. The austerity chart evinces two tee-squares, a Grand Trine and a few other remarkable features.

The first tee-square then:

  • Venus, archetype of the good times is in detriment, precisely conjunct the Aries’ point, conjunct Mars in his sign and square Pluto. This is a Venus under maximal stress, and unable to make any headway against a supercharged Mars who:
  • Is much better able to cope with a Pluto square, because Mars is in a sympathy with Pluto, where Venus is not. Furthermore a planet exalted or otherwise strengthened is better able to endure stressful aspect.
  • Although not a mainstream marker, the transneptunian Kronos is at 3° Cancer, and represents lofty ideals, expertise and intellectual authority. Kronos opposes Pluto, and in general terms economic experts (Kronos in the 8th) argue that austerity doesn’t work. Pluto in the 2nd, the agenda characterised by the more simplistic ‘money in the hand’ narrative of the Conservative government, holds sway.

Why should this be?

  • Pluto is working for Saturn (by rulership). Saturn is in the Midheaven, so therefore it’s all anyone can “see”. Pluto also rules the chart. Note the language that presaged the advent of this new policy: “The age of irresponsibility is giving way to the age of austerity.” David Cameron has perfectly leveraged the style of Saturn (responsibility) in Virgo (accounting) in the zenith.
  • And bear in mind that the current Pluto-Kronos cycle began with the American War of Independence where Britain lost huge revenues over a tax dispute with its American colonies. Since planetary cycles – no matter how antediluvian in nature – retain a common thread, we can suggest a learning process that involves an element of hubris, and the challenging consequences thereof. Any ruling class (British or other) that seeks to impose austerity through taxation, removal of direct or indirect supporting measures, or through simple authoritarian diktat, is going to tweak this planetary cycle.
  • Saturn is also peregrine, or singleton. This has a tendency to overshadow all other considerations. Saturn squares Ixion, a Plutino in the Hadean triumvirate with Orcus and Pluto, forming a matrix of drives and compulsions that give the raw domination material of the human ego. The great challenge for the adept to overcome. Ixion is the basest of the three Hadean styles, but also the most covert. When Saturn squares Ixion there’s an uncomfortable compulsion to impose harsh, authoritarian measures and thereby get one’s own needs met. Those needs are usually quite unsophisticated too.

But wait! There’s a second tee-square:

  • At its apex we have a Moon that is strong by sign but is at the anaretic degree of Taurus. The 30th degree of any sign creates a great sense of urgency, and here the stressing nature of the critical degree is informed by the most material sign of the zodiac. Great pressure in economic matters.
  • Further the Moon is square to Neptune (also Jupiter and Chiron) This narrow stellium has the flavour of what I would call “flawed idealism” and in Aquarius has a humanitarian, universal application. So it represents quite clearly the ideals of social care, of providing support and benefits (Jupiter) for the unfortunate (Neptune) and disabled (Chiron). This is creating a stress for the Moon’s urgent concern (money). The Aquarius stellium is opposed by Orcus who has just moved into the anaretic degree of Leo. So there’s an implacable force at work, opposed to the ideals of social care, and it’s a privileged force too, Orcus is conjunct Regulus, one of the four Royal Stars, whose interests align with kings, rulers and elites.
  • Moon is also conjunct Mercury who is precisely conjunct Algol, the most unfortunate star in the heavens. Here it gives a tendency to strategisation and stealthy enactment of agendas. It gives an amoral cast to Mercury, who is already innately ambiguous.
  • Overall the Tee-Square to Moon/Mercury/Algol is quite potent. It describes a struggle between an elite and the prevailing social policy of our time.
David Cameron: tough times ahead.

David Cameron: tough times ahead.

But the gloss over all of this is a Grand Trine between Sun, Pluto and Orcus.

  • Yikes! Yes, that’s right. Yikes indeed.
  • Bear in mind that the Sun is the public face of any chart, and here we have a Sun applying to the cusp of the 6th in Taurus. And don’t hardworking people deserve to enjoy the rewards of their hard work? Well, don’t they? You’d have to be some kind of leftie lunatic to disagree with that!
  • A Grand Trine is a ‘safe place’ in the chart, a place that one can fall back into when the going gets tough – for better or worse. So here there’s a sense of being in easy control, a single-minded determination to get things done to one’s satisfaction. It’s smooth and very determined.
  • And the Grand Trine lies in the 2nd the 6th, and the 9th Money, philosophy and the working public.

Looking forward, we can say that 2016 is a critical year for austerity. Since Saturn has run away with the chart we look with interest to February 2016 as the first Saturn square for austerity. The first Saturn square is always a time of profound testing, where motives, usefulness and reliability are all under serious scrutiny. Ten days later, the Conservative Party chart experiences the first of three Pluto – Moon oppositions.

This is even more noteworthy because on 12th January, David Cameron weathers the middle pass of Pluto square Sun. A profound challenge to leadership and personal authority. Since his Sun squares Orcus natally, his integrity is also undergoing a withering examination at this time. The Conservative Party chart (18/12/1834, 00:00 Tamworth, UK) undergoes a Uranus square to natal Moon two days beforehand and then Pluto opposes the Tory Mars in April, which when viewed together, constitute one of the most fundamental challenges to Conservative politics, probably for many years. Pluto squares the UK’s lunar axis for the last time in ten days from now. The destiny of this nation is being forged as we speak.

Master and Servant: Rulership Theory

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With respect to the Saturn – Pluto conjunction Zack asks:

Do you feel the same dynamic is in effect for those with Saturn in Scorpio (ie, a Saturn ‘underwritten’ by Pluto)? The unconscious demanding of respect and resulting anxiety when that is not easily or immediately granted?
With Pluto in Scorpio as sole dispositor of my chart, life itself can feel like it’s run by unconscious anxiety. The only way out seems to be to continually let go, when Pluto wants to grip. Hardly a moment’s rest…

It’s worth getting to grips with rulerships. Astrology starts to make a lot more sense when you can begin to pick apart the avenues of causality that exist within our charts, and rulerships give you this exact perspective.

Except in the case of mutual reception, rulerships are a one way street. This means that in the example cited, with Saturn in Scorpio and (I’m guessing) Pluto in Libra or Scorpio – or indeed, Pluto anywhere except in Capricorn, the rulership means that Saturn is working for Pluto. Pluto in the chart is happy to get the help he needs to fulfil his duties and obligations. If Pluto is in Scorpio, then the buck stops there, but if Pluto resides in Libra, then Pluto is in turn working for the objectives and ambitions of the Venus placement.

Let’s say that you have Pluto in Libra in the 10th, and Saturn in Scorpio in the 11th. This would denote a situation whereby your friendships with older, more experienced and respected individuals would assist you in pursuing your career goals and enhance your reputation. You’d probably be quite anxious about getting ahead in your work, and maybe even manipulative about getting recognised for your focus and drive in your career. This career respect that you enjoy, would in turn likely serve as a means of enhancing your appeal to the opposite sex, making you a better marriage prospect and allowing you to enjoy the finer things in life (you see, because Pluto is in turn working for Venus).

In this way, a planet’s placement is explained by its ruler. If you have Mars in Libra in the 4th house then there will likely be considerable difficulties around fostering independence in the early years. Assertiveness doesn’t come easily. The approval of others is often a condition for independence. Getting one’s way is a struggle because you learned in the childhood home that compromise was required. Now let’s say that Venus is in Capricorn in the 7th house, we probably see that the parents’ marriage was difficult, money was likely not plentiful; the model for marriage is weighed down by Saturn’s concerns. Love and marriage are hard work, although – depending on aspects and other factors – not necessarily a lost cause, because we learn that in love at least, hard work pays dividends. By following these connections we can tease out the story and understand the life lessons.

To return to the original question though, Whilst the effect of rulership is far from the principle of conjunction, Saturn does still have Pluto’s concerns at heart. So if you like, Saturn is working to alleviate Pluto’s natural inclination to anxiety. Pluto’s anxiety – if in Libra – is going to be centred upon approval. Anyone with Pluto in Libra usually takes rejection pretty hard, especially in romantic scenarios. The same is true of course for anyone with a Venus – Pluto connection, but Pluto is not taking on the struggles of the planets he rules. In this scenario Pluto has anxiety about being liked, not respected. Of course the difference can be subtle! Since approval, lovableness and respect are such closely allied concepts.

There are interesting and curious subcategories. The mutual reception is just that, a mutual support of one another’s interests, like the best of marriages. There can also be a detrimental reception. Consider any of the classic detrimented receptions:

  • Sun in Aquarius and Uranus in Leo
  • Moon in Capricorn and Saturn in Cancer
  • Mercury in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Gemini
  • Mercury in Pisces and Neptune in Virgo
  • Venus in Aries and Mars in Libra
  • Venus in Scorpio and Pluto in Taurus

In these configurations there is a mutual insecurity. The Moon in Capricorn struggles to relax and takes criticism hard. She looks to support from Saturn in Cancer who has little stomach for hardship and just wants things to be easier. That’s not really the kind of support she needs. But this still improves the original placements somewhat, provided the native can overcome the difficulties inherent in the placements.

Even without reception, you can understand how Venus working for Mars’ interests is going to be tricky. Mars is running the show and Venus is like a delicate maiden running with the neighbourhood toughs. She’s going to be suffering before too long.

When you have a final dispositor, as in Zack’s case, then everything is working, ultimately, for that sole objective. It’s like a long line of employees, each working for their own manager, but ultimately, their smaller objectives only make sense in the context of the big boss sitting at the top of the building.

So if Pluto is a final dispositor then you really have a task to work on that Pluto, if for no other reason than the fact that until you do, your entire chart is working to manage Plutonic anxiety. If you can perform the spiritually neat trick of a Plutonic conversion, then all that energy gets refocused into easier, and ultimately beneficial channels.

But bear in mind, converting your Pluto (a kind of metaphorical uranium enriching programme) is made easier or harder depending on how big your Pluto is. It’s an easier road if your Pluto is in Virgo or Scorpio than in Leo or Libra. Like a lot.

Pluto and Me: the Two Great Invisibles

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Today I want to discuss a couple of invisibles. Each has bearing upon the other and they’re inseparable.

First of all, there’s the great blind spot of human (un)consciousness: subjectivity. This is almost impossible to fathom, not least because its frequency is considerably higher than reason. It’s the great conundrum of science and the reasoning mindset that it cannot attune to states of being that are in excess of itself. So science cannot get to grips with love – whether personal or altruistic – except to say something banal and senseless about chemical activity in the brain. The only evidence that can be made in support of love is anecdotal; circumstantial even. The reasoning mind cannot say anything insightful about it at all. Philosophers and great thinkers throughout time have attempted to tackle these thorny subjects. Unfortunately, when Descartes concluded that ‘I think therefore I am’ he committed an act of genocide on higher states of consciousness for all future generations. Consciousness was a done deal; and for every person born since, operating at a sufficiently low frequency (that of reason or below: 99% of all earth’s denizens therefore) there was no need to think any more about it. Hence many of us find ourselves in this strange world that denies our entire experience of life while at the same time it fails to explain it. We are then condemned to spend our lives acting ‘normal’. (And acting normal is, like anything else, easier the more you do it; so that’s okay.)

But subjectivity is a vast fact of human life that due to its intrinsic quality, is invisible to ourselves. Sometimes it’s more visible to others, usually when their frequency (I’m sorry to use that word, it’s very new-age and I don’t like it, but it’s close enough that it’s useful) is higher than ours. And that person probably feels a little compassion when they see it, or maybe they know to cross the road when they see it. (In the opposite direction of course, the person with low consciousness sees high consciousness concerns as ridiculous, stupid.)

But whatever your level of consciousness, subjectivity is a blind spot. Unless you’re a great enlightened one that is. Maybe if we could get into the inner workings of subjectivity we could get around it somehow; nullify it, or at least ameliorate its worst effects, but even understanding it is nigh on impossible because it gets into the great mystery of the human condition, and such explorations have defeated the greatest minds in human history. The ones that weren’t astrologers at least.

Astrology gives us a glimpse into the secret heart of our own subjectivity. In fact, as we all know – those of us who haven’t reasoned the study of the stars into nonsense that is, (in pretty much every case forgoing actual study of course) – astrology can be a weapon if wielded by a clumsy hand. It’s possible to lay bare the unconscious soul to the shock and detriment of the consciousness within. We have all of us, in our serious study, been subject to painful revelation, that with unerring accuracy lays bare our raw and unhappy weakness. Our ‘fatal flaw’. This kind of subjectivity is one that we become increasingly aware and respectful of, as we study the workings of our own incarnation and struggle to become acquainted with our true selves. It brings us to greater and lesser certainty. We are more grounded. We are less pushy. We understand that opinion is our own via dolorosa, and we try to forge a new path. We grow in this way, and become acquainted with who we are.

The alternative is difficult, but as roads go, it’s positively thronged. The countless multitude asleep to their astrology, and blind to themselves. The great map of (un)consciousness that is the nativity remains unexplored. Each well-worn aspect remains to one extent or another, something between a preference and a compulsion. Always unquestioned. It’s difficult to explain this too, because it’s so very fundamental and intrinsic and innate. For most people it’s as invisible as breathing. We rarely get the inclination to relate to our respiration. The same is true of our astrology, our preference or compulsion. Perhaps, like breathing, we only get very focused on it when we’re drowning. In adversity we are introduced to ourselves after all.

Perhaps an example will help.

Take the case of the greatest and most difficult of all compulsions / preferences. The Saturn Pluto conjunction. Here we introduce the second great invisible: Pluto. To see how this operates, understand that we’re usually quite conscious of aspects to the Sun because they represent our ideal way of being. We get a hit from them. People who embody them become our role models. But Pluto works the other way; they represent our most repressed way of being. We get a sense of anxiety from them. People who embody them become our enfants terrible. So when Pluto combines with another planet, he hides that planet’s influence from ourselves. He makes that paradigm into a blind spot. And since, aside from Pluto and his Hadean counterparts (Orcus, Ixion) there’s no more inflexible, tricky energy to work with than Saturn, the combination is especially challenging. Furthermore, because there’s no aspect that even comes close to the conjunction in terms of strength and reach, it’s little wonder that Saturn conjunct Pluto has always been known as old ‘hard labour’ by those in the know.

But what is ‘hard labour’ when it’s in our blind spot? It’s not hard for us because we don’t see it. In fact, it’s simply unquestioned. It has several manifestations of course, but usually, and most apparently it comes across as judgement. For anyone born in the early part of 1947, ( but to a lesser extent from late 46 to late 47, in Leo) or the later part of 1982 ( and again less intensely from early 1981 to early 83, in Libra), this is their great life challenge.

I grew up in close proximity to some of these energies, so I’ve always found them challenging. And I grew up too carrying the antithetic superpower of Uranus conjunct Pluto in Virgo, so Saturn-Pluto has always been my kryptonite – and vice versa of course. But that awareness has grown into a fine sensitivity. I can spot 1947 a mile off. I have to say, I’m getting to be able to spot 1982 from at least half a mile now that they’ve gone through their first Saturn return too. It’s a really tricky energy. I’m not going to judge it, God forbid, it is what it is. But I do reserve the right to cross the road when I see it coming. Which isn’t to say that it cannot be wonderful. Indeed, 1947 is usually a very strong character and you can think them very fine – provided you’re on the right side of them!

But what happens with Saturn – Pluto is that it judges. It doesn’t start that way, but it usually takes a position which it considers to be inviolate. It can take many forms but (unsurprisingly) it’s a Saturn position. So it’s always, in some sense of the word, status orientated, usually that’s coloured by its sign and house position and the influence of other aspects. In Leo, a proud, theatrical and highly religious sign (yes, few signs are as religious as Leo) it might take a position as high status in the arts. It might get onto the high ground through church membership. It might get up onto the stage and put on a show. It might take a leadership position. It’s important to remember that astrology is expressed through consciousness; so if the consciousness is low, you’re likely to have a religious zealot, looking down their nose at morally inferior types. Or a great artist whose rarefied talents set them above the plebeians. Or a self-proclaimed leader, blithely taking charge of those better qualified and more experienced.

In Libra, there is usually a tendency toward intellectual judgement. At worst, other people are deluded ‘idiots’ who clearly have no clue about how the world works. They’re muddle headed, fatuous and weak minded. The competitiveness of Libra in the air element (that repressed Arien polarity) is always a strong feature of the Libra typology.

If the consciousness is high then things are less likely to be catastrophic, but in some area of life, the Saturn – Pluto conjunction always makes hard work to one extent or another, and that hardship is always self-inflicted.

Why should this be? The problem is that the tendency to judgement is so innate that it’s intrinsically unquestionable. To the bearer of this particular cross it’s as obvious as the sun in the sky, so how can it be anything other than correct? What the aspect fails to appreciate is that the worldview it has created is not the result of inviolate natural laws. Their platform of judgement is not infallible. Indeed, they were simply born with a burgeoning need to judge, but cannot see it as anything other than common sense so they do not even realise they are sitting in judgement.

Underneath the tendency to judgement lies a huge and compulsive insecurity. Remember that Pluto imbues any point it touches with anxiety. So if Pluto relates to Saturn in Leo, then the great fear is that the person is not loved (in Leo) and more broadly not respected. Saturn is a harsh critic at the best of times after all, but when he is hidden from oneself, there is a great unconscious reaction. And the major problem here is that this high level of respect is unconsciously craved, demanded even, without – very often – having been earned. The interpersonal feedback that Saturn – Pluto gets causes a short circuit. They get treated just like anybody else, not necessarily disrespected, but certainly not with the automatic deference the aspect secretly craves. So the ego goes into overdrive building a platform from which to be superior. Then, because for reason x.y or z they are in fact superior to most everyone, they can meet such indifference with the cool repose, or even contempt, it deserves.

This of course is just one example, and a bad case in prospect. The pity of this collusion between subjectivity and Plutonic compulsion is that it becomes impossible to forge the authentic self in the context of such mindlessness. And while we have focused here on the sole example of the Saturn – Pluto conjunction, the same principle operates in the presence of any contact between these planets, since as we know: all aspects are squares!

Furthermore, the two great invisibles have this effect on any planet that is contacted by Pluto. With Venus it is the need to be approved of that becomes invisible. With the Sun, the need to be admired. Coming to awareness of these hidden anxieties is painful and difficult. Some people will go to great lengths to avoid waking up to them. In such short term blissful ignorance lies long-term tragedy. Imagine living a whole life having done no work! And yet that is what the majority of us do, in order to preserve our dearest and most cherished compulsions.

More soon.

Hadean Times: the Rise and Fall of Rolf.

Rolf2

The rise and rise of Rolf Harris was always somehow improbable, and though his fall has only just begun, it makes an excellent study of how easy it is to fall into the trap of misplaced self-belief. Many of my generation are reeling somewhat from the news that Rolf Harris, whose cheerful, positive and uplifting manner is somehow keyed into the DNA of our childhoods, has turned out to be a fake. And it’s not so much that he was just a fake, because fakery is commonplace, but rather that his deception was so singularly spectacular.

One of the key lessons of a life of astrological study though has to be that our astrology only has negative power if we give ourselves away. This is as true for Rolf as it is for anyone else. While there is an element of fate in everyone’s nativity, that fate is predicated upon free will. That is to say, that it is the choices we make of our own free will that set the specific shade of karmic machinery in motion and lead us into difficulty, or into eventual emancipation. We choose to do right and despite the difficulties of our fate, we are eventually exonerated by life. We decide we can ‘get away’ with something, and we might for the rest of our days, but eventually, in this life or the next, we need to pay our dues.

So Rolf’s astrology hasn’t put him in prison, it was Rolf’s choices that did that. Having made the style of choice he did however, we can read the astrology and find the message in it, as clear as can be. And sure, innocent people get sent to prison too, and we can understand that as well, because we all get to pay our dues: in this life or the next…

Rolf

Rolf Harris is a poster child for that Martian/Uranian blend that is so perfectly encapsulated in his Sun/Uranus conjunction. It’s fascinating to note that as a child, Rolf was a champion swimmer, being the junior backstroke champion (no mean feat in Australia incidentally). This Mars is surprisingly strong in the water, here in Pisces, and he is accidentally further dignified in the 1st, but ruled by a very difficult Neptune, detrimented in Virgo, weakened by retrogradation, and peregrine. This suggests that he was secretly very disappointed by his choice of marriage partner, and with Neptune opposing Eros 433, there was no sexual attraction. But Neptune also opposes Atropos 273, so it did not begin this way, but the attraction faded to be replaced by a critical, almost intellectual dissatisfaction. So a strong (very strong) Mars, giving a strong libido, squaring Jupiter – a real bed-hopper in the style of Zeus himself, ruled by a difficult Neptune that magnifies the idealism of the marital bedroom gone awry, gives a very difficult construct to carry on with.

One might wonder why he didn’t leave his wife. It may be that like many deviants, he needed the ‘cover’ of a healthy and functional relationship to act as a smokescreen for his dark dalliances, and though the marriage, for his wife Alwen was unhappy, she contemplated suicide in the1960s; ‘”I feel like killing myself, I am so bored,” she had written in her diary at the time, “My days are filled with such emptiness. Please take me away from here…” Rolf appeared to have no clue or awareness that his wife was struggling. To compound this impression, his daughter has described him as absent at home, a man who only came to life when the centre of attention out in the world. “As a child I got fed up with everyone going on and on about Dad because he was on telly and because they imagined he was painting paintings on my walls, being funny all the time. It simply wasn’t true – he was always busy, rushing off, giving his all to everyone else in the world.” A narcissist perhaps, but one content to mask his hard won reputation in the veneer of conventionality that a longstanding, stable marriage confers. Clues to narcissism can often be gleaned from the placement of Ixion, who delineates the areas and the styles of personal entitlement. Once again, Ixion, like Neptune is peregrine, conjunct Atlantis 1198. This gives a style of narcissism, if one can call it so, that invades the privacy and sexual boundaries of others (+Atlantis, in the 8th house). It operates secretly, covertly, and peregrine: it’s either full on or completely absent.

Then there is Orcus, remarkably also peregrine, in Taurus and only 16 minutes from conjunction with IC. Rolf is worth an estimated £11 million, and this is very much in keeping with the motivated style of Orcus in Taurus, where Orcus is angular or powerfully configured with the chart, to accrue wealth. The same can be said for those with Orcus in the 2nd house or intertwined with Venus in some way. What’s more telling is the placement on the IC, which with the 4th is strongly redolent of end of life qualities. It seems likely that Rolf might well die in prison. At the very least this describes someone whose final days are spent in isolation. Whether he survives incarceration or not seems beside the point, he will have very few ‘admirers’ to call round should he pay his debt to society in full and be sent home. Once again, the style of that rather fearsomely angular Orcus is entirely dictated by Rolf’s choices. A life of respectability and admiration is nothing if it is hiding a cruel, unsavoury truth, and Orcus finds out the bodies given time. Had he made healthy choices, his final isolation would most likely have been splendid and dignified.

With Pluto squaring Venus and opposed by Saturn, Rolf was destined to come up against insurmountable authoritarian forces at some time or other. His compulsive attractions were the trigger for that hopeless conflict and now with Pluto ruling his Midheaven, and Orcus opposing from the IC, he must die alone, with his lifetime’s efforts unspun and his seemingly untouchable reputation in ruins.

It’s a hard road for those blighted by the judgements of the Hadean planets, but once again we learn that while challenges, to success, wellbeing and reputation are inevitable, suffering is merely optional, and all that is required to see your way clear is to do the right thing, even if nobody is watching.