Ikigai and the Earth Houses


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.


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?


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.


Pluto: Enslavement or Self-Mastery, the Choice is Yours (Part 3)

Jupiter - Pluto has status anxiety issues


When we read Shakespeare, as when we read the Greek myths we find a depth and richness of imagery that reflects the myriad personifications of astrological principles; all life is here, within these allegorical masterpieces. And beyond the character of Hades himself there is no undiluted personification of Pluto because that is an inhumane and therefore insupportable role, however the many Plutonic blends litter the pages of history and literature alike.

In the Merchant of Venice we find the character of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, who, is an uncomfortable blend of gravitas, resignation and miserliness, and who, caught up in a rivalry with the Christian merchant, Antonio, courts and realises utter ruin because he insists on the payment of his pound of flesh, which was the security for his loan to the bankrupt merchant. It is a marvellous portrayal of the danger with the Jupiter-Pluto blend. Fundamentally, pettiness is the principle which Pluto has supercharged and it is the expansive, generous nature of Jupiter which has collapsed in upon itself to become its antithesis.

We tend to think strangely in the contemplation of Jupiter and Saturn: as though they are polarities of a single principle, but Saturn is antithetic in essential qualities to Uranus and Neptune too. These two giants are not polarities by design and each has positive and negative expressions (skirting surreptitiously around the tendency to make value judgments as we go) without recourse or reference one to the other. What this means is that Jupiter has just as much power to go “wrong” as Saturn, but obviously, that wrongness isn’t so obviously uncomfortable from a subjective viewpoint as Saturn’s wrongness, so we can make the mistake of believing that Jupiter is either positive or neutral (when misfiring) and Saturn is either neutral (when operating positively) or negative. You only need to get on the wrong side of an unmanaged Jupiter-Pluto square to realise how deficient that perspective can be.

It is fascinating to read Saturn into the character of Shylock; he is after all, wise and venerable, but his character is entirely Jupiter, but Jupiter collapsed in upon itself, twisted by some Plutonic impulse for revenge. Where Jupiter ought to be magnanimous, it is instead petty; where he should have much to be grateful for, he is instead consumed by his grievances, and where he should be motivated by the highest good, he is instead fixated on the most negative outcomes (why else demand a pound of flesh as surety?)


A pound of flesh has become a coda for spiteful penalties and this delineates yet another dimension of Pluto; he ramps up the expression of whatever point he corresponds with and without the transition to personal integrity there is no guard against Plutonic compulsion which filters control, personal agenda and vendetta, power games, psychological cruelty and the desire for others’ humiliation through the lens of that planetary energy. With Jupiter the filter is in part civic: thus one of the compulsions comes through being a person ‘of good standing.’ With Jupiter alone, that is quite straightforward, because we are not compulsively driven to be of good standing so we do not contaminate Jupiter energy with our unconscious agendas and we can simply strive for self-improvement without needing to draw others in before controlling, humiliating and annihilating them.

This was Shylock’s journey, and Pluto, with his contempt for mortal ambition wants no winners, he’s happy if everyone loses, that is more grist for the Hadean mills after all. In his petty insistence that Antonio be humiliated and destroyed he only brought destruction and ruin upon himself, but even then: who could possibly have been exalted in that famous scene? Portia alludes to the antidote however:

You stand within his danger, do you not?

Ay, so he says.

Do you confess the bond?

I do.

Then must the Jew be merciful.

On what compulsion must I? tell me that.

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

And here then is the antidote to Jupiter-Pluto problems: mercy. To be merciful is the exaltation of Jupiter. Jupiter – Pluto, sticking to the superficial appearances of the law, the letter of the law, demands (indignantly and with affronted bluster) that he cannot be forced into an attitude of mercy. He puffs up and pontificates his rights, but these are not inalienable rights, they are not moral rights, they are not even human rights, they are the rights of somebody who perceives that they have been wronged, so they have the right to vengeance.

Every word in the thesaurus of Jupiter is corrupted by Pluto. Shylock is superficial where Jupiter in his dignity should be deep. He is vengeful where he should be merciful, petty where he should be magnanimous, indignant where he should be tolerant and demanding where he should be conciliatory. And these are the compulsions therefore of Jupiter-Pluto. Pettiness, puffed-up self-importance, a lack of faith in others which might be best understood as ascribing the lowest motives to others, which is no more than a projection of the mean-spiritedness of Jupiter-Pluto itself.

Shylock is the caricature of this energy, he is grasping, mean, indignant and spiteful, and he abuses any power that is given him in his quest for revenge on those he feels have held him back and thwarted his ambitions. Jupiter-Pluto is ambitious, but not in the way of Saturn which craves authority, but rather in Jupiter’s vein, which craves the admiration of the pauper for all his glories. Thus wealth and status are the rungs on the ladder of power and control and this combination can make social climbers, arrant snobs and the type that prefers to look down his nose rather than straight in the eye.

But as with any Plutonic issue, the compulsion is simply behaviour that is designed specifically to mask the underlying Plutonic anxiety. This is the same as for Venus-Pluto which has anxiety about being loved and lovable, except with Jupiter, the anxiety is all about inferiority. In my experience, people with Jupiter-Pluto problems are terrified that people will find out about their humble roots, that they are actually quite poor or that their parents were lowly Welsh coal-miners, so they seek to assuage this anxiety by garnering status, and the trappings of wealth and success. Very often with the hard contacts there is some class anxiety and these people will garner various elements into their lives not because they want those things in and of themselves, but because they mask any hint of poverty, low-class or mediocrity which are, at root, the architects of the Plutonic anxiety driving the compulsion.

Fortunately the compulsion follows a highly recognisable pattern. As ever, the energy seeks to personify itself within people and situations, and Pluto in this instance attempts to polarise Jupiter-Pluto energy accordingly, so the native will set him or herself in the superior role whilst ascribing all sorts of degrading, lowly and humiliating characteristics to his or her opponent in order that they are cast in the inferior role. Jupiter – Pluto people are those types that seem to consider themselves to be ‘better’ in some manner that feels very uncomfortable to the target. Really though, when the Jupiter-Pluto opponent calls you ‘a loser’ (or a few hundred years ago ‘a peasant’) they are simply projecting their anxiety about their own inferiority. The next stage calls for a battle of resources. The native will attempt, by fair means or foul, to deny you resources – which is a tactic typical of all Plutonic contacts – while maximising their own. In the case of Moon-Pluto, the resources that are compulsively procured are more likely to have to do with security (which is why people with hard Moon-Pluto contacts often flirt with homelessness), but where Jupiter is concerned the resources are entirely status focused.

Saturn has this propensity too (as we shall see in our next article), and this is one area of note in this discussion because in many ways contacts between Jupiter or Saturn and Pluto are the hardest Plutonic connections to manage. Contacts with personal planets are felt with enormous urgency precisely because those planets are personal. The discomfort of Pluto is felt keenly within the human core. Contacts with outer planets are entirely transpersonal and are very difficult to actualise, hence they are not felt with anything like the same intensity. Jupiter and Saturn sit somewhere in between: they are close enough to evince truly unpleasant and Plutonic effects, but far enough away to not cause enough personal discomfort to grate. People can go for years compulsively projecting Pluto through these intermediaries without realising how entirely compulsive they are being. In a sense this has to do with the societal nature of Jupiter and Saturn, so the compulsion can be, if you like, masked with civic and status concerns. And let us be clear, they are both status-driven, albeit with markedly different flavours. Jupiter craves the status of wealth and celebrity, Saturn the status of authority and respect. They are the Lord and the Judge respectively. The former desires the grand home, the fast cars and the trophy wife (or husband), the latter desires a position of moral superiority, position and rank within the church, the community or the profession. So, crucially, whatever the precise flavour we can say of both these planets in contact with Pluto that there is status anxiety and therefore status compulsion.

I know people with Jupiter-Pluto contacts naturally, and they are usually the types that proclaim their desire to be millionaires before the age of 30, they will buy themsleves a Porsche (which they cannot afford), and dress their children in ‘brands’ because the reflection is then a balm for their status anxiety. By the same token, their expenditure on their children will usually be entirely dependent on how it reflects on them in the eyes of society. They will pay for music lessons (so that they can boast about their child’s musical prowess), but will feed them only the value line of foodstuffs, considering anything more a waste of money.  Frequently these people invest all their resources in the trappings of wealth but are miserly in areas that are not ‘seen’ by others outside the intimate circle. So they will drive a Porsche and yet their home is filled with the cheapest yard-sale furniture. Their grand country home may be another accoutrement of status, but everyone inside sits shivering through the winter because the Jupiter-Pluto owner is too miserly to spend money on heating, since that isn’t an expenditure which can be appreciated by society at large.

The challenge for Jupiter – Pluto is clear because uncannily (or not), everyone with these contacts who does not manage to rein them in and transform Jupiter from grasping to generous, whining to magnanimous and superficial to deep eventually loses the whole lot. This is an aspect that forces one to lose even the shirt off one’s back if allowed to run too far. That is Pluto’s greatest trick of course, upping the ante until the stakes are life-threateningly high. Status-anxiety is the clue. If you want that car, that handbag, that diamond ring, then ask yourself why it matters. Once again, ask the Pluto question: can I just let this go? If not, why not?

On Shame

Before I begin today’s article I want to thank everyone who has commented, emailed or written to me over the last couple of weeks to express their support. I can happily report that Teddy can see, albeit (we think) not very well. His eyes have stopped wandering so much, and he certainly recognises faces now, providing they are a few inches only from his nose! We are therefore very hopeful that it is just a slow development. We have an appointment with the ophthalmologist at the end of this month when we hope to have a better understanding of the situation.

Many years ago I knew a man who went by the name of Pete Woolly-Hat. I have no clue as to his birth name, but he was so known because he wore a woolly-hat wherever he went, rain or shine, winter or summer. He was a musician and probably (at that time) in his thirties, but I could not be any more precise than that. He was not a close friend of mine but I saw him regularly enough because of our shared musical interests, we were both members of moderately successful local bands and through arranging gigs at various venues we had come to have this association. As he learned to relax in my company, he became more open and communicative, he was a shy and quiet type upon first meeting, and then, one day, after many months of acquaintance, he finally removed his woolly hat in my presence.

To reveal a completely hairless top of the head. I was surprised, but only because the dark hair that protruded from under the band of his woolly hat suggested a profusion of follicles that the hat’s removal immediately disavowed. Pete was mostly bald. Personally, he looked to me to be just fine without his hat on, but it clearly did not appear that way to him. Somewhere in the journey of Pete’s life he had learned about shame. Shame is so powerful that it can distort your entire apprehension of life; indeed, in Pete’s case, he was quite literally identified with his shame: he was named for it. Pete felt so uncomfortable with his baldness that he became named for his method of hiding his shame. I feel a frisson of compassion for him even now as I write this, because he was a truly gentle and kind man.

There is an inversion of this exact theme that is germane here. Last weekend I was staying in a hotel at the foot of Snowdon, one of Britain’s highest mountains. The hotel was busy because the Saturday morning saw the start of the Snowdon marathon, a race in which extremely motivated people run up and down the mountain competitively. As I made my way to breakfast on the Saturday morning I was passed by a great procession of grim-faced individuals in running gear. One young man bounded down some steps past me and he had the most incredibly muscular legs I had ever seen; his thighs were enormous. The vast majority of runners had donned clothing appropriate to the cold, rainy and windy Welsh weather: they wore lycra leggings, tracksuits, technical fibre body stockings and so forth; this man, almost exclusively wore uncomfortably small seeming running shorts. One simply could not fail to notice his powerful and muscular legs. Later that day as I visited a local town I passed another man with very powerful biceps. He had obviously been ‘working out’ quite a bit. He wore a vest-top even though the day was cold, wet and blustery. At the same time, a woman walked along the street in a short skirt, she was drawing male attention from all around with her long, slim legs.

All of these people understand shame.

That may seem like a strange statement to make, because (one might argue) surely it is good to take pride in your ‘good’ features? That is part of being strong and confident? I think actually that the opposite is true; much as in classical psychological thought a superiority complex is simply an inferiority complex that has turned in on itself, so are these statements of ‘physical pride’ nothing more than expressions of inverted shame. Jimmy Carter said:

A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It’s a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity.

A truly confident person would be content to know that they had ‘good legs’ without needing to display them to the world, because at this point the legs become a statement that requires the attention of others to have positive feedback, it is a validation of sorts that is reflected in the astrology.

I have struggled over the years to get a rounded sense of the variegated shades of archetypal male energy that is heralded by the placements of both Sun and Saturn and I have arrived at one’s relationship to shame. Whilst this might appear, superficially to be a simplistic or even bizarre conclusion, I nevertheless believe that it has this fundamental import. In a spectrum of male teaching, which ought to be passed from father to child, Sun is self-belief and Saturn is shame. A strong Sun is required to counterbalance a strong sense of shame and a strong sense of humility is required to counterbalance a fragile ego, which are respectively the most positive and negative of those fundamental male energies.

I have considered this extensively. I have never been especially comfortable with the dichotomy between traditional and ‘evolutionary’ astrology. I was recently labelled an ‘evolutionary’ astrologer by another astrologer whom I greatly respect and I had not the first clue what it meant (I now understand it to mean a person influenced by the Jeff Green approach to the transformational process view of astrology). I am not at all comfortable with rejecting though (for example) the import of traditional methods of dignity and debility: indeed it is one of the first things I look for and I believe it to have truth. I also believe that we can transform our astrology and become better, more rounded and more intrinsically spiritual beings, through application and effort to (primarily) Buddhist methods of self-development, right-living, right-livelihood and so forth.

So when I read that a person has an essential dignity score for their Sun placement of +5, then I consider that person’s father to have done a good job with them. (It is a self-fulfilling scenario and actually this ‘philosophy of dignity could rightly fill a book, it is that nuanced, and I don’t pretend to have got it all yet). When a baby is born they attract power according to these very scores: I truly believe it, in fact I see it! I actually see people responding to the astrology of a baby, because (clearly) a baby has no power to express their nature at this early stage. Teddy (my lovely boy) has a Sun score of +1 and a Saturn score of +9. Because Sun has no exaltation, unless you’re born a Leo, then it’s quite tough to get a good essential dignity score for your Sun. Teddy was born with Saturn in its exaltation, its triplicity and its term: hence the very high reckoning of essential dignity. These scores both rise to +3 and a whopping +23 respectively when accidental dignities are factored in. Let me tell you a remarkable thing, when people meet Teddy for the first time, they treat him with the greatest respect; he simply commands it, even though he behaves no differently to any other well-cared for baby in the world.

That is the innate power of planetary dignity. It is a little like being a superhero, you are born with certain ‘powers’, and they are just there, helping you to be super. (The same can be said for debility, but that’s a different discussion which is so fabulously fascinating, but I don’t have time to write that today). Now in my own situation, I have essential dignity scores of +3 for both Sun and Saturn (and those scores rise to +8 with accidental dignity factored in) even though they are both in fall; what’s more, they are opposing each other, with Sun rising precisely on the Ascendant. Now my father abandoned me (and my mother) when I was a few days old, but by the time I was three and a half years old, at precisely the month that my Saturn opposition Sun perfected by Solar Arc, I was adopted by the man who became my father. He was a gentle and loving man who missed no opportunity to give me confidence in myself. Indeed, because of him I never learned what shame was.

Throughout my life therefore I have struggled time and again against people who have determined that I should be ashamed of who I am. Sun is identity, and that essential dignity score reflects the innate reality that I simply do not believe people when they try to tell me that I am shameful, or that I should be embarrassed about who I am or what I do. These are both important components of identity and my Saturn opposition brings me up against people who test my innate belief in myself by trying to give me their shame. That is Saturn, you see, shame.

Pete Woolly-Hat understood shame, he had accepted it, subscribed to it. He had learned, either directly from his father or due to his father’s unwillingness or inability to protect him from it, that he had to be ashamed of who he was. More basically even than that, he had a low essential dignity score for Sun, or an over strong Saturn with no counterbalance from the Sun. The Sun protects, it gives innate confidence, it creates an immunity to shame, that is its super-power and the source of the question which came first, the high essential dignity score or the good father?

Chicken or eggisms aside, our sense of identity and our sense of shame are connected. If we are confident in what we are then we don’t need to agree to be shamed by others, nor do we need to attempt to shame others in our interactions with them. We don’t need to hide our baldness under a woolly hat, nor do we need to show the world that we have good legs or powerful biceps. We just are as we are, take it or leave it. That does not mean that we do not make mistakes, or take responsibility for our mistakes, but getting it wrong need not be connected to shame, and when somebody insists that the two concepts are connected, well, they are speaking through a kind of existential Sun-Saturn opposition. It is not how it should be. Mary Pickford said:

You may have a fresh start,
Any time you choose,
For this thing we call failure,
Is not the falling down,
But the staying down.

If somebody insists that you must stay down, then respectfully decline.

The Sun projects what we believe ourselves to be, and over a lifetime we might eventually conform to that inbuilt expectation: if our father told us that we are perfect just as we are, then we won’t need to wear a woolly hat or really small running shorts. If on the other hand he told us that we were not good enough, that we don’t measure up, then (usually if we are female) we are going to put on that short-skirt and stride down the high-street in our high-heels and try to bolster our sense of self-worth with some male attention. Those projections say more about what we believe ourselves to be than any overt “I am” statements we might care to make. Maybe it is even worse for a woman with an ashamed father, because then she marries an ashamed man and calls him husband. Sylvia Plath realised her mistake when she wrote in Daddy:

And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look
And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.

Sometimes, when we wear certain clothes, adopt certain postures or profess certain beliefs, then while we might believe that what we are doing is simply ‘being ourselves’ or asserting our individuality, what we are unconsciously engaged in is the business of expressing our shame. Most people with low Sun scores do this and usually, by their late 30s or early 40s they have begun to understand that they learned this pattern from a weak father figure. (The only exception to this in my experience are those who have strong Sun-Neptune contacts; these people seem to misinterpret the paternal script even in the opposite direction; they might have ‘good fathers’ as reflected by a strong essential dignity score, and yet they think their father failed them.) If our father taught us that we should be ashamed of what we are then, by all means, the situation is far from hopeless, we can remedy this unquestioned identity crisis, but the first step in this process must be to reject the notion that we should be embarrassed about what we are, or ashamed of ourselves, providing we live according to a sound spiritual philosophy, another important component of the Solar script incidentally, indeed, Sigmund Freud, in Totem and Taboo (1953) wrote that:

The psychoanalysis of individual human beings teaches us with quite special insistence that the god of each of them is formed in the likeness of his father, that his personal relation to God depends on his relation to his father in the flesh and oscillates and changes along with that relation, and that at bottom God is nothing other than an exalted father.

I am not a Christian, but my father did me a good service, and his own job well, when he knelt at the end of my bed every night next to me and we said our prayers together. His faith was not judgmental or punishing, it was forgiving and warm. It made me feel very close to him and it made me feel that the Universe made sense, because my Dad, through his actions, expressed a loving and gentle faith in the Universe which has stayed with me. My god is not punishing or judgmental, because my father was not.

I am lucky in that respect (you should see my Moon score though!) but it is not the same for everyone. Some people experience a father that professes to love unconditionally, and yet that same father criticises them relentlessly, or espouses a judgmental and punishing spiritual philosophy that leaves their child’s core identity damaged. Other fathers fail through no fault of their own. Their marriages fail and they cease to be able to be effective in protecting their children from people in their lives who demand that they be ashamed. And too, the job of protecting identity is not – in totality – a father’s remit, Saturn’s shame can be experienced through any important authority figures, older relatives, people in positions of responsibility within that child’s life, but a father has unparalleled power to armour his children against these assaults.

If you are a father, the message of astrology is simple. Never tell your children that they are not good enough. It’s a parent’s duty to lovingly guide their child when they have made mistakes, but the day you tell them that they don’t measure up is the day that you have damaged them, perhaps beyond repair. That is the day that you have taught them shame.

The Problem with Mars

In a life without trines, everything is hard work. Is that how it should be? I wanted to read my book but that feels like slacking. “Self-improvement is work too!” I hear myself cry, but it won’t change my inner perspective. I find myself looking forward to waiting rooms because at least then I won’t have to wrangle with literary escapism guilt. I used to meditate in waiting rooms, and quite successfully. Once I meditated in the bank and I was jolted back into my surroundings by an old man who began shouting at the cashier about overdraft charges. It was awful; you’re just so open when you’ve been in that quiet zone and any negativity is instantaneously poisoning. I have Moon conjunct Neptune too, so it must be worse for me than for most. Negativity always makes me sick.

No trines – and one sextile, Neptune-Pluto! skews one’s perspective. I believe that nobody will help me, so I never ask for help, so nobody helps me; irrefutable logic, self-defeating, the law of manifestation. I have no expectation other than to manage, no matter the odds, and I have always been that way. I help others, every day I try to help others and I don’t expect anything in return. Well, of course, people pay me for my expertise, but a great many are in dire difficulty and have no resources. Because of astrology, I could work every hour of the rest of my life if I were able to do it for no reward; many, many people ask for help and I can only help a small fraction of them. Alice is not made in the way that I am. She will receive help from others. She has trines, I mused that this might explain it, but actually, I think it’s a gender thing.

Mars is the culprit here I’m sure. A woman experiences Mars for sure, but she doesn’t have to identify with it. It’s always intriguing to get back to those archetypical basics: Mars – Jupiter, interminable argumentativeness! Mars – Saturn, fear of violence, frigidity. Mars – Pluto – survival anxiety! I have Mars – Pluto, and that’s where it manifests. If I don’t rely on anyone else then I’ll survive more easily, they won’t let me down. So, I never ask for help. All this came from school. Five years of boarding school at a time before bullying was reframed as, well… bullying and was just good old institutionalised British character-building. It was hell. I was a brilliant student, but I quickly learned that it was safer to feign mediocrity. That way I had fewer bruises. I have Mars in the 3rd square Pluto in the 11th. School and the group. Survive at all costs. Keep your head down. Don’t rely on anyone else, because nobody is going to help you. At school, even my best friends were my bullies. I ended up becoming addicted to nicotine because it meant that the people who hit me would accept me instead. I continued to smoke until I was in my 30s. I hated relying on it when life got stressful. When the going gets tough, the tough start smoking.

Now I have an open relationship with my Mars – Pluto square. I see him and I’ve walked this peculiar axis, from aggression to passivity. When I was young, at school I had regular fights. I never stood down because I was terrified that I would be annihilated. I never lost a fight because I never gave up, but that doesn’t mean I always came out best. Often I was more battered than my opponent, but I wouldn’t quit. Usually after one of those fights, the person that had started it became my friend (Pluto in the 11th right?) and in the last couple of years at school my best friend Gideon was somebody who I’d beaten in a fight. It had gone hard for me though. My eye was so badly bruised that I had a lump under the skin there for years afterwards. Years. My Saturn is in Aries, on the degree for the eye. Ruled by Mars in the 3rd. Square Pluto in the 11th.

One day, the world will wake up and realise that astrology is the only unifying theory of any value. It explains everything. Astrology only falls down through the inelegancy of those that explain it, but it’s not their fault. It’s the lazy theoreticians who demand that you justify your ‘belief’. I don’t believe in astrology, I understand it. That’s very different. I wonder at that too. So many people I know are concerned to ‘prove’ astrology. I say turn it on its head. Have the naysayers disprove it. Not one of them, brittly empowered Dawkins-disciples that they are could manage it. Isaac Newton, lauded for being the finest scientific mind the world has ever seen was convinced  – through his own study – of astrology’s validity. Of course, in that, world’s finest mind or not, he must have been feeble minded. There is no astrology! Well in that case (I had this conversation a while back) there is no psychology. But (the naysayer protested) of course there is psychology! Everyone has behaviour! Confusing cause and effect is easy for those who are ignorant. I mean ignorant in the fundamental sense that they deny the validity of a theory that they do not understand. People do not deny psychology because they make a connection beyween the cause (psychology) and the effect (behaviour). And they’ve heard other people, scientific types talk about it, so there’s no need to be any kind of layman psychologist here. They do not claim to understand the psychology, but they accept it. Of course, psychology is rife with interdisiplinary division: nature or nurture, behaviourism or psychoanalysis, Freud or Jung. The list goes on, rather like religion, they can’t all be right! But regardless, something causes behaviour. Psychology or astrology? Well, not astrology, they say, despite not possessing a single cogent thought on the subject. Empty heads powering empty opinions. I pay them no attention. Ironically their astrology circumscribes both their scepticism and their empty opinion-mongering. I used to be quite opinionated myself too, once, don’t get me wrong. Then I began to work out just how hermetically the seal was formed between the empty jar of opinion and the crowning lid of nativity. And I have Mars in Sagittarius, so I can espouse. I’m good at espousing, but I draw the line at pontificating, having neglectfully sacrificed too many hours to hearing out pontificators.

And of course, Mars is the chief culprit in the business of impressing your views upon others, and most especially when you’re not actually qualified to have an opinion. Venus is the moderator. Mars is only genuinely interested in being on top.

I think this about the ancient world too. The rather naked aspect of Roman ambition seems somehow rude, pastorally rude, from a contemporary perspective. Not petty and yet unsophisticated. There was no Pluto then, not in the psyche at least. Mars was king in the Roman world. Great Romans never asked for help, they coerced it! Mars is still doing that to this day, and it troubles me no end.

I have a Mars problem.

So do you.

Jupiter meets Saturn, is the glass half-full or half-empty?

When the big boys of the solar system get together, it can be a real contest.

Angela asks: “I have a Saturn/Jupiter Conjunction in the 5th house. Can you shed any light on this remarkable pairing – valid information is scarce at best!

The conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn occurs every 20 years and is in consideration not dissimlar to the conjunction of Venus with Mars, albeit writ large; while the manifestated effects are entirely different, the discomfort of blending opposed archetypes is common. It is a conjunction therefore containing the spirit of opposition at its core, and balancing is key, but this balancing act is not nearly so problematic as with Venus and Mars. These planets meet up in 200 year elemental cycles and 1980-81 saw the shift from earth to air (although the conjunction moved back into earth in 2000). Strictly speaking, neither Jupiter nor Saturn can be considered personal planets; so their combination is not always easy to apprehend subjectively, the effects are more pronounced when the conjunction is itself aspected by a personal planet. This is extremely important, a peregrine island (i.e. a Ptolemaically unaspected conjunction) of Jupiter – Saturn would be an experientially obscure impetus and you might be largely oblivious to its effects without the – dubious – benefit of major transits or directions.

This article deals most directly with the conjunction between the two, but indeed, all aspects are valid for consideration; bearing in mind that easy aspects tend to favour lower-friction exchanges, not easier ones!

One of the intriguing technical insights into the aspect is determining which planet is stronger. This is much easier to ascertain with Venus and Mars, the nature of that particular conjunction – being personal – is more readily apparent; Mars tends to coarsen Venus and unless the sign of the conjunction is very sympathetic to Venus, thus primarily Libra, but to a lesser extent Pisces and Taurus, then Venus does rather tend to lose out. Venusian qualities are under-represented therefore and there tends to be an Arian self-interest and pushiness in the character that results. With Jupiter – Saturn, the last 200 year cycle has tended to favour Saturn. As a profitable aside, the decade after the conjunction occurs during Jupiter’s waxing phase and the decade before, Saturn’s, a phenomenon which lends some slight advantage over the waning body, but even this pattern has not served to give especial weight to Jupiter during the earth-air transition. The previous century or so has evinced this pattern:

1901 – Nov 28th, 13°59′ Capricorn, Saturn’s domicile (Walt Disney)
1921 – Sep 10th, 26°35′ Virgo, Jupiter’s fall, (Gene Roddenberry)
1940 – Aug 8th, 14°27′ Virgo (1st pass of 3) Jupiter’s fall, (Bruce Lee, John Lennon, Paddy Ashdown)
1961 – Feb 19th, 25°12′ Capricorn ,Saturn’s domicile, (Billy Ray Cyrus, Heather Locklear)
1980 – Dec 31st, 09°29′ Libra (1st pass of 3) Saturn’s exaltation, (Lleyton Hewitt, Zara Philips)
2000 – May 28th, 22°43 Taurus (ruled by Venus, thus within Saturn’s exaltation, also term, face)
2020 – Dec 21st, 00°29′ Aquarius, Saturn’s domicile (trad.)

Every conjunction over the last two centuries therefore (by my reckoning) gives distinct favour to Saturn. Perhaps this is one reason why the combination is considered a “pillar of the community” style of aspect: it provokes a tendency to seek respectability, to be considered reliable and usually gives some measure of civic stardom, since both planets lend themselves to community endeavours rather than purely personal concerns. House positions would be important as well in this matter of weighting; if in the 9th, or the 12th, then Jupiter would be strengthened, if in the 10th or 7th, Saturn would gain more power, but in most cases, Saturn would be given greater emphasis, so he would lead while Jupiter would follow. Caution and responsibility would therefore, over time, win out.

There are, naturally, a great many ‘broad’ effects of the combination because these are not especially precise instruments; I personally find Charles Carter’s remarks very useful (modified in our apprehension particularly for the astrological Zeitgeist) :

It must be considered potentially gloomy, for it occurs sometimes in maps of suicide, especially if it falls in Virgo. It distinctly favours a hard life, with privation, struggle or danger. The native essays difficult though sometimes glorious feats and may acquire fame through performances of great arduousness, either mental, physical or spiritual. It is distinctly a sign of great possibilities to be realised by hard work.”

This judgment makes a great deal of sense. For a start the combination will give the early life a distinct degree of hardship because faith and optimism are curtailed by Saturn’s hard opinions; it is an archetypal struggle between optimism and pessimism that must be balanced by life-experience; a sense of tempering (or temperance) therefore comes naturally to the consideration of the pair as a requirement for realising benefit. Clearly improvement (Jupiter) must be attained through industry (Saturn), and these considerations form the basis for Carter’s insights. For this reason I would say that Jupiter – Saturn contacts have an enormous number of potential manifestations but these are very much dependent upon age and also upon contacts to personal planets and the tenor of the nativity as whole, because neither are personal planets. They cannot therefore be directly expressed.

Other than improvement through hard-work, there can be a tendency to swing, ofttimes rather wildly, between extremes of optimism and pessimism, which at worst will manifest as inflated pessimism (Jupiter operating on Saturn) and this is a tendency that with age might be transmuted through awareness into a brand of cautious optimism, being able to carefully reach one’s goals and targets in life (Saturn operating on Jupiter).

So you can perhaps see that the Jupiter – Saturn contact is not so much a state as a process; as all the best astrology ought to be. Fundamentally it is a test of faith and belief in the bounty of the Universe and this is – in my experience – astonishingly pertinent to the combination, regardless of aspect. Earlier in life there is a feeling that the world is not safe, not giving and plentiful, but with experience comes an adjustment of expectations, a sobering down occurs, Saturn begins to do his slow, relentless work on Jupiter’s excessive optimism and gradually perspective dawns. One realises that provided one takes a responsible and sensible course, great benefits are possible.

The pessimism and gloominess inferred by Carter is also quite easy to decipher. Saturn is moralising and ‘proper’ in the extreme and Jupiter tends to exaggerate these qualities, many people with the contact strong actually struggle under the weight of their own strict moral codes, they feel weighed down by their own sense of justice and self-imposed standards. An inflated Saturn cannot be much fun and one might be considered, or even consider oneself, to be something of a wet blanket, forever putting the brakes on the more relaxed predilections of others in the environment. Jupiter exaggerates Saturn’s sense of responsibility, so this aspect makes the mother who is continually providing cautionary curbs on the childrens’ enthusiasms: “put your coat on or you’ll catch cold,” or “don’t climb on that wall, you’ll fall off and break your neck!”

Looked at in this way, it is easy to see how natives with this combination can ofte end up being pillars of their community. Quite apart from the sense of civic (Jupiter) responsibility (Saturn), Jupiter once again expands the Saturnine 10th house tenets of respectability, achievement and social standing. It also tends to increase ones conservatism, or it makes at best, a serious and committed liberal!

Getting the best out of the blend can take time, experience and a measure of good-standing

As can perhaps be deduced, Saturn needs time to temper his working materials, so it is a combination that takes patience to really kick into gear and begin paying dividends, perhaps because it takes experience to master the sense of fine judgment and timing that the aspect implies. In the dichotomy between risk and caution, there is an early difficulty with taking chances where caution is called for and with opting to play it safe when a gamble would create opportunities; this challenge is always at the heart of Jupiter – Saturn contacts and personal planets connecting with the pairing will often give a sense of how this tends to manifest. If Venus conjoins in some way, then both money and love are areas of immense early difficulty (or at least concern); the native will often tend to stick when they should twist and as a result struggle to learn good lessons. The next time that love (or an investment opportunity) comes their way they will remember the hard lesson from before and be cautious and thus lose an opportunity for happiness or profit or alternately take a wild chance (with an exclamation of “what the hell!”) on a bad bet and find themselves subsequently crushed. It takes a long time for these natives to learn how to judge each case on its own terms and this is because Jupiter overly-inflates the value of Saturn’s experience. If Mars is configured, it takes great experience before the native understands when and how to assert, and it can be a long and painful road to tread for anyone with Mars connected to this pairing, quite apart from the enervation of swinging between periods of high-energy and enthusiasm and general exhaustion and pessimism. Both Mars and Mercury with Jupiter/Saturn tends to speak too plainly when circumspection is called for, and keep its counsel when free discourse would be appreciated, until experience can be brought to bear.

Crucially though, the effects are much easier to isolate when any personal planet is configured, either by aspect or through a halfsum picture. Mars = Jupiter/Saturn will evince the aformementioned effect with regard to energy and assertion, as will Mars squaring Jupiter conjunct Saturn (which is in itself a halfsum picture as well when in tight orb of course).

On the whole though, this aspect is a good teacher, so long as neither archetype is allowed to gain the upper hand, and with time, age and (often bitter) experience, there can be a real power of application and industry applied to worthy goals with subsequent achievement. The highest realisation of the combination is the enlightened judge, the judicious optimist and having faith in one’s responsible, considered nature and ability to keep improving is key to manifesting the best potentials of the combination.

Perhaps Saint Francis of Assisi coined best the mantra for those with aspects between these distant bodies:

“Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Amen to that.

The True Spirit of Opposition

Today I would like to present you with one of the most challenging hypotheses you will likely hear in the entire spectrum of astrological debate. I contend that the best possible aspect that you can have at your disposal out of the entire array of angular connections between celestial bodies is the opposition.

Of course, I could leave it at that and ask that you simply trust that conclusion, I haven’t formulated it overnight after all, but rather after nearly 30 years of astrological practice, but I shall try to make a lucid explanation.

Let us consider the nature of aspects. I have written at great length about this on this journal and I have devoted an entire chapter to aspect theory in my forthcoming book, and too I have read most of the major works on the subject from the near majestic (Bill Tierney’s “Dynamics of Aspect Analysis“) to a plethora of less incisive but ultimately well-intentioned works that are for the most part conventionally regurgitative. This is one area of astrological understanding that is rendered academically inert through mainstream prima facie acceptance. It is not particularly an area that is open for research, except in the exploration of new angles (such as the work of Ricki Reeves on the important 165° quindecile aspect).

Convention dictates that the trine is the best of aspects, but I have always believed in the principle – put so perfectly and eloquently by the great Noel Tyl – that all aspects are squares. That at least conveys some evident and fundamental truth about the nature of celestial contacts; but I have little time for convention; I have seen semisquares running the show just as frequently as their double-breadth brethren and halfsums that open up incredible power-potential in a person who is beginning to understand the challenge of their own nativity.

There are a raft of allied principles which mirror this in the study of astrology. We grow older and wiser and a certain jading takes place. That does not mean that we become depraved and aristocratic (although some do), but rather that we no longer take so much substance out of the simplistic. This is not to say that we cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life (the opposite is true, aging and wisdom is a decomplication), but in astrological terms it means that we undergo a gradual transition; we have learned as much as we can from our Jupiter in the 4th house, so we begin to explore the effect of Pluto, the house’s ruler more thoroughly. This is why some ‘obvious’ qualities of our nativity appear to erode and be replaced by other realities. There is too the ‘Saturn effect’, where what limits us in the first half of life becomes our emancipation and power in the latter. These and many other realities of exactly this type are extant, I see them every day.

A trine is easy, fluid, subjectively pleasing only in the sense that it requires no application of effort. But what is being lubricated here? Is it a trine between Moon and Mars retrograde in Cancer? Believe me when I tell you that you’d be better off with no aspect at all in that case. All aspects require effort but the problem with the trine is that it ‘works’ whether we apply ourselves to it or not and that is why, after time has elapsed, and no effort has been made, the trine ‘squares out;’ it becomes degenerative. I have seen far more clients suffer from addictive tendencies and issues with Neptune trines than I have with Neptune squares. Truth.

This then is the first clue and it is fundamental. All aspects are squares. What this means is that the concept of an ‘easy’ aspect is a myth, and if you think that you are blessed with a grand trine, then, in my view, you are just as much cursed. On the other hand, the dreaded square – worked with, made conscious, transformed, becomes the most mindful of trines, but we are forced to examine our squares, they don’t just happen, they grate. We are disenfranchised by them and so they become our agenda.

The second clue lies in the concept of polarity, and this too is an idea I have written about before on this journal. Conventional wisdom dictates that it is best to have a planet in its dignity or exaltation and worst to have a planet in its detriment or fall, with all other cases being in the unremarked no man’s land between good and bad. This is another misconception based on an oversimplistic, quantification of reality. Actually, it is easiest to have a planet in its dignity or exaltation, not better, and it is harder to have a planet in its detriment or fall, not worse. Do you understand the profoundly important distinction that is being made here? This works in exactly the same way that we understand that it is easier to have trines, but it is not better. (Indeed – and I have written about this before too – it is probably better to have a planet in its detriment or fall than for it to have no essential dignity or debility [classical peregrination therefore] whatever, although it will make your life more difficult, more of a struggle: but what does adversity build? Character! I rest my case).

A polarity then is a blending of opposites which alchemically combine to create a harmony. That is exactly how Kepler formulated his theory of aspects in the first instance, though a translation of musical theory (musica universalis: the music of the spheres, based on the earlier theorem attributed to Pythagoras). Dante’s Inferno contains an entire treatise on this exact subject for the scholarly minded.

Harmony then is made through a blend, and there is no more potent blend than the fusion of opposites because it contains a totality which creates a self-sustaining singularity. We can look at this from a different perspective by considering the principle of conjunction. Once again conventional wisdom dictates that a conjunction creates a blend, the result of which is entirely dependent upon the quality of the bodies so conjoined. A mix of cream and vinegar will curdle the cream. And a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. This is all well and good, but of course, there is another effect of conjunction: it creates an emphasis, and perhaps too strong an emphasis on one quality, on one side of a polarity. Too much Virgo and not enough Pisces creates at worst an over-analytical, neurotic cynicism that needs to be tempered by faith, an ability to transcend, to accept at face value that happiness and beauty exist in the world and need not be counted or measured to be true. Is the over-Virgoed type then doomed to be a hopeless neurotic until the end of their days? No, although it will make a great struggle out of life for them, but somehow, the seed of the polarity is found in every placement. Nobody understands Libra better than Aries and vice-versa; the intrinsic qualitative experience of opposition is therefore found at the very heart of each placement and that is the path to neutralising the imbalance of stellia and major conjunctions.

The polarity then, is opposition, and the polarity is the key to harmony and balance.

So, very much like the trine that is left to its own idle devices, the opposition that is unbalanced is a stressor, but an opposition that is recognised, balanced out, brought into awareness can give enormous perspective. Indeed, a chart without oppositions is possibly among the most cursed of all conditions because there is no possibility of perspective: life is a one-sided exposition of outright subjectivity that can create a long series of battles and conflicts; the native simply cannot see the other person’s viewpoint and so they fight on, and on, and on, and on, and on.

The opposition is the exaltation of polarity, and the polarity is the key that unlocks the nativity, so, don’t despair, learn to value and love your oppositions for they are your greatest gift.

The Not-So-Grand Trine…

Theoretical wisdom (an oxymoron if ever there were one) tells the astrologer that there is nothing as fortunate in all of astrology as the grand trine. If I had a dollar for every message board missive I’d read proclaiming one’s great good fortune at being the recipient of such a favoured configuration then I would have an appreciably more polite bank manager and it goes without saying that if you could buy such constructs on Ebay and have them grafted on to your own nativity somehow, then they would be no doubt among the most desirable of items, fetching kings’ ransoms as a matter of course.

And I would probably be one of the very few not bidding.

Having said that, I do absolutely concur that a grand trine does ostensibly confer the most delightful of blessings, a sense of ease and harmony according to the nature of the planets or angles that the pattern incorporates. If, as conventional wisdom suggests, the trine designates flow then a grand trine ought to create a rather regal and supercharged flow altogether.

My sense impression of easy aspect patterns as a rule is that they operate much as the rubber bumpers do in a pinball machine, as the pinball hits the bumper a kinetic kick is added to the mix. This creates a real buzz within the element and for the most part it is experienced subjectively as enjoyable.

Broadly speaking therefore, and by way of an example, a grand water trine ought to create a sense of inner richness, emotional ease and contentment, a feeling of being at peace within oneself and with a gift for expressing the feeling-nature. This sounds rather wonderful and indeed, it probably does feel that way for the owner. My experience in counselling however posits a very different understanding of the much vaunted grand trine.

At this point, I would like to make a clarification which might add insight over the course of this discussion. I very rarely receive requests for astrological interpretation from individuals whose charts evince grand trines: although their less celebrated counterparts – the kite – feature very heavily in my consultations. The kite is a pattern whereby two of the planets or points of that are in trine are bisected by a 4th point which is in sextile to both of these and in opposition to the other which creates a pattern which looks like a kite (and obviously therein lies the etymology).

Here, for the purpose of edification is an example:


This particular example is both rare and remarkable and it has not yet come into manifestation. This is the nativity for 10:19 am on 18 September 2031. This is the closest kite that most of us will ever see in our lifetimes (assuming we all make it that far). The only previous kite of such exactitude occurred on 6th August 1905. The key understanding I wish to convey about the kite however is that it is given developmental tension through its opposition (in the example above between Moon and Neptune), this is important and it explains exactly why the kite owner is so much more likely to consult with an astrologer or counsellor than the owner of the basic grand-trine.

An opposition promotes awareness, usually through difficult interactions with others, and it is for this reason that the kite-flier will begin to suspect that all is not well in their harmonious land of free-flowing ease and plenty, because, whilst they may enjoy the pleasant experience of subjective ease promised by the trine, they eventually become aware of a dissonant note in their personal relationships which causes them to begin to question the situation. Thus, they might say to themselves, “I feel good, but why do people react in this way to me all the time?”

In the theoretical example above, this would be experienced as a rather transcendent feeling of warmth, artistic and cultural appreciation and an easy ability to realise financial benefits from artistic projects with a cross-cultural basis. I would consider it thus and then account for the houses accordingly:


Immediately you might be able to see how this pattern would promote a sense of easy control of feel-good passions and a love of art, music, culture and an ability to generate enthusiasm accordingly – in the fire element. This ought to be fantastic, and quite rightly it is experienced both subjectively by those born with it, and objectively by astrological textbooks, as a desirable and beneficial configuration.

Then we add in the opposition to Moon from Neptune. Neptune in Aries ought to refine the impulse to self-pointedness, so there would be a dissatisfaction with one’s Martian quality acting as a spur to spiritual evolution. The Moon in Libra needs to be fair in all senses of the word, physically, morally and socially. The opposition creates tension usually experienced through subtle projection in interaction. The experiential quality of this aspect therefore ought to be that the kite owner experiences tension in interactions due to taking offence at perceived insensitivities, the native won’t understand why this keeps happening because they are so very concerned with promoting harmony. Moon in the 11th too requires social approval to feel secure and the opposition to Neptune will make others appear selfish, but in all likelihood, it is a subtle farming out process that is the problem: in order to be approved of and to maintain the social grace that Libra Moon requires the disappointment that is felt at not being the centre of attention will be projected onto others. They don’t value you enough, they’re too insensitive and selfish. It amounts to an annoying dissonant buzz that undermines the soaring symphony of the grand trine.

So, if you consider that reality, what you get is a sense that the grand trine without any tension might become a kind of internal Shangri-La. Something that might be wonderful, but which is first and foremost intensely private. Nobody else can share it.

This then is the dark side of the grand trine. It is, if you like, a three sided moat which keeps you safe in its confines, but importantly, as a place of refuge, it also keeps everyone else out. The native can go on in this way for years, and in the case of the grand trine alone, probably will, for the remainder of their days on earth, but in the three sided construct that the pattern offers them, they will never be able to share those facets of themselves with anyone outside (thus anyone at all) and that is nothing more than a facsimile for isolation.

Now, don’t get me wrong: in the case of the grand trine, it is probably, as Disraeli termed it, an entirely “splendid isolation”, but that does not detract from the reality that while it promotes subjective comfort and inner harmony, it absolutely acts as an impediment to true intimacy with other human beings. The kite is truly a blessing in this respect because it offers a ‘breakout clause’ in the oppositional spine which is simply not available in the trine alone. The interpersonal discord that becomes apparent is experienced as a tension and isolation which is the result of the selfsame self-containedness in one’s relationships. I have seen many cases of individuals with an abundance of grand trines who are almost completely lost to the outside world even thought hey seem very content with things. The kite, conversely creates an awareness of this disconnection, at least by the time one has lived for thirty-something years, and if a break-out has not occurred by age 40 it can degenerate into a real sense of desperation and even loneliness.

Currently, with Mercury retrograde and  a mountain of correspondence and work to complete, I am going to leave this article at this juncture and aim to continue the theme with an example or two that ought to be very interesting. This is the theory lesson, what will follow is applied theory.

If you require insight into your own trines or kites, please visit astrologyhour.