Hadean Times: the Rise and Fall of Rolf.


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 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.

BritFate: prediction methods explained in detail

Today’s article will be something of an experiment. Because the time and effort required to produce these educational astrology articles is considerable, I am hoping to encourage a positive energy exchange with my readers (up to 800 a day!) so for major pieces I will produce the work in a PDF document which you can download and either read on your computer or print off and read in bed, or over your cereal or while waiting to talk to your bank manager about the overdraft. The article will be free to download, however the link for my Paypal donation page where you can optionally contribute a couple of bucks for my time and effort, will be listed too.

I hope you will be comfortable with that, because although I do get some donations, in general terms there isn’t much incentive to write articles when I get paid much better for writing nativities, so the bulk of my time goes into that instead of providing this free resource.

Today’s article demonstrates a useful principle about predicting future times which I am certain will be a useful delineation of methodology. Here in the UK we are living through interesting times and I have a strong suspicion that these times are about to get even more interesting.

I had a discussion with my doctor recently about predicting the cause of death through astrology, and she asked if it was possible to posit a time of death as well as a cause. Actually, I don’t entirely believe that it is possible to determine a cause of death so much as a style of death, but that’s another matter. What good astrologers have long known is that you cannot predict your own time of death: many have tried and only one Renaissance Italian managed it: on the second attempt! I have read several theories on this and I think it is linked to the subjective perception of one’s demise, of course it will be traumatic, but the actual moment of departure? I cannot imagine that would show up as a problem.

To some extent I want to reserve insight on this question because I cover the topic quite throughly in my forthcoming book on Orcus, however, that is not actually the purpose of this exploratory digression in any case, the simple fact is that it is much easier to predict a time of death for an individual by looking at the transits, progressions and directions of those people in their intimate circle. If you see then that there is a period of adversity for all those connected with the individual, which is concommitant with an illness, accident or other mortally-threatening happenstance in their nativity, then we can mark that as a possible exit point for the soul in question.

The demise becomes explicable after the fact, as was the case with Natasha Richardson (for example) and there is no question that this insight would have been available beforehand, however, there are numerous convergences of life-threatening portents in a human life and they cannot all result in death (well, the first which does is logically the end of the matter) but undoubtedly they will denote near-misses. You wouldn’t even have to know about it of course; I remember one instance where I crossed a road in London and upon reaching the other side I noted the look of horror and distress on the faces of the many people standing stock-still on the pavement: apparently I had almost been hit by a bus, but, lost in thought I had been oblivious to my brush with mortality.

All of which is a rather long-winded means of pointing to a methodology. Compare the futures of a group and you will see that where there are concurrences, there are therefore shared experiences of significance in the making.

The article today will demonstrate how this method works, how you should put it together, and how to identify hotspots in the future. For the purpose of the demonstration I am going to use the combined nativities of David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, the UK coalition government (which has a birth time) and the nation they govern as well. If we view the three through a convergent lens in this way, we can easily ascertain where the stress points lie. You of course can use the charts of any associated group, and by applying the same methods you will be able to identify future hotspots of especial significance.

If you wish to download the article (5000 words+) please consider making a small donation via Paypal.

The article is available as a PDF document: please click here to read. And remember, I would rather you enjoy the article for free than forgo the article because you don’t wish to make a donation.

The Magic Kingdom of Teddy, Chiron and the Fixed Star Facies

In “Iron John: A Book About Men“, Robert Bly relates an anecdote wherein a friend announced to Carl Jung that he had just won a promotion; Jung responded by saying “that’s terrible, but I’m sure if we all stick together then we’ll get through it,” and conversely, when the same friend announced that they had just lost their job, the eminent Swiss opened a bottle of wine to celebrate the wonderful news. Doesn’t that make you smile? Of course, funny or not, he was really onto something.

One of the concepts that mundane-physicians struggle most desperately with is the reality that everything is as it ought to be; nothing is wrong. How could anything be wrong? We are all exactly where we should be, experiencing exactly what we need to experience and in no discipline is this better demonstrated than in that of astrology.

Allow me to explain.

Astrology relates a map of experience. It is not a map accompanied by directions or imperatives, but, if you like, it is a map of the possible and it does not evaluate rightness or wrongness; rather it simply relates isness. It describes the terrain, the lanes and thoroughfares, the sinkholes and the stiles of your own metaphysical kingdom. You can travel wherever you choose, although you might not be aware of the choosing; rather it is like wandering aimlessly and finding yourself in some place unsought. The only possibility of incorrectness is in deciding that you would rather be somewhere different. The wanderer naturally declines inclines, the down-slope is unawares preferred to the toilsome slope, so to some extent, this principle explains how people become lost.

Regardless though, if astrology describes your inner terrain, there is no question that some are born in a Beirut and others in an Arcadia. It is possible that the bounds of nurture in your nativity are narrow and easily lost; akin to being born into an oasis before striking out into the trackless waste, or that you are born, like Mowgli, into an alien family that preserves you despite your differences, and your challenges are to come later. All things are possible, but, and crucially, we are not all created equal.

Stephen Arroyo wrote about this and it has stayed with me. You cannot judge all people and all efforts with an unwavering benchmark; there cannot be a finishing line in this sense because we are not all born into equal opportunity. It is madness to laud the winner if he was 80 yards closer to the tape than his next competitor at the start. This is astrology, this is why I do not complain, because my own terrain was unforgiving and it cannot be improved through the power of complaint.

So what of that?

I have just passed a dreadful anniversary. On September 17th last it was two years to the day since I last saw my son Joe, and my daughter Ella. They were 15 and 12 years old at the time, although now they are 17 and 14. At the time I was bewildered by their reluctance to communicate with me, my confusion muddled my responses to their rejection. I applied to the courts to try to forward my claim to be allowed to see my children, who of course I loved and missed enormously. I should not have to explain that, but inevitably, it is the kind of rejection which – as I have just said – muddles your responses.

I wrote to them, I texted them, I emailed them and I got no word of reply. Determining that their mother might be intercepting my messages I eventually wrote to them at their schools and almost immediately I received a letter from their mother’s solicitor warning me that if I continued to write to them at school she would take out an injunction forbidding me from contacting them by any means. I was still waiting for a court date so my solicitor recommended that I not rock the boat before the hearing. The wheels of British justice, at least for the unwealthy do move slowly and it was several weeks before we actually got to sit down with the CAFCASS officer. I stated my bewilderment that the children would not communicate with me and my wife explained, amid tears and considerable apparent distress that since our split I had not bothered to contact the children and so they had determined that I did not care about them and as a result they had arrived at a point where they did not love me any more.

They never wanted to see me again.

I was shocked: not so much by her apparent distress – a graduate of the prestigious Italia Conti school of acting and a Sun-Pluto to boot, she was operating well within her range at this stage – but rather by the CAFCASS officer’s apparent acceptance of her word, even though I had documentary evidence of the threats to which I had previously acquiesced. The verdict of the court? That I should be “allowed” to email my children no more than twice a week. Seven and a half months of legal process had given me the right to do what I already had the right to do, but had been coerced into not doing by my wife (and her Mars-Saturn-Pluto mother). I wrote, but of course I did not write twice a week. In my very first email I chatted to my son about how I was moving house. My wife responded by saying that she would be expecting more maintenance from me since I could afford to move home, I did not hear from my son ever again.

About 6 months later I found a post written by my son on his Internet page wherein he mocked his ‘bastard father’ for not even being able to comply with the court’s order that I write to him twice a week. The court of course had made no such order, but through a subtle twist of presentation it had been turned into a test that, since I did not know that this was how it had been portrayed, I had unwittingly failed. My son had concluded that therefore he was correct in his determination that I did not love him.

It has been insufferably painful, as any right thinking person would imagine. I went – overnight – from being a loving and loved father of two children to never seeing them again. Truly akin to a bereavement.

Of course, I have anger, and I struggle with that. I feel that I have been duped, manipulated and deliberately misled by my wife and her mother. They engaged in a process designed to alienate me from my children and they were successful in achieving that aim. But I cannot easily blame them because I understand the motive and I think they were both hurt when I left my wife. Without wishing to look as though I am justifying my actions, I would say that the damaged moral compass that can only point one in these spiteful directions is to blame, but inevitably, the possession of this dark capability was always at the heart of the breakdown of my marriage. I was habitually troubled by my wife’s family’s casual callousness and by her incipient controlling nature; I truly lasted as long as I could, and 20 years is not the endurance-span of an easy-quitter.

Naturally, I was embarrassed and confused, I could not understand how this could happen to me. Alice, my partner of today who is as gentle as my previous experience was not, has witnessed this undoing process first hand, and if not for her support and validation I think I would have ashamedly swept the whole sorry affair under the carpet simply because I was at a loss to adequately explain it. Then I found a book by Dr Richard Warshak and it was a revelation:

Your ex-spouse is badmouthing you to your children, perhaps even trying to turn them against you. If you handle the situation ineffectively, you could lose your children’s respect-or worse, lose contact with them. The conventional advice is to do nothing, but Dr. Richard Warshak is convinced that this approach is useless and only leaves parents feeling helpless. The damage to children can be considerable-particularly when warring parents enlist children as allies in the battle. “Divorce Poison” is the first book that offers specific advice to protect children from the results of their parents’ animosity. It details how to distinguish different types of criticism, how and why parents manipulate their children, how to detect these maneuvers, and how these practices damage children. Most important, it offers parents powerful strategies to preserve and rebuild loving relationships with their children.”

I discovered the book too late, because my wife’s work was done and I have had to accept that. Of course it was distressing to read about how the process worked and I could point to a carbon-copy process in the situation I had endured with my own children; it was all there.

I was disheartened though when Alice’s ex-husband began to accuse me of having abused my children. Of course, he did not mention the ‘abuse’ word, but he implied that there must be some sinister reason why my children would not communicate with me and he stated baldly that his children were not safe living in the same house as me. We next had to be interviewed at home by Social Services because of his concerns and he tells his children, my wonderful stepsons that I am a “bad man”, that I do “the work of the devil” and many other groundless and ridiculous “concerns” all carefully presented in the guise of the best interests of his children. The cycle of alienation continues. Accusations of implied abuse are one of the key manifestations of an alienation agenda. He wrote to Alice’s solicitor too accusing her of alienation: another clanger actually, because in the majority of cases, the first parent to make an accusation of alienation is the one perpetrating it. For my part I have been careful to only ever make positive and supportive statements to Alice’s boys about their father, because, unlike him, I understand the damage you do to a child’s psyche when you attack the role models that inform fundamental components of future identity. His attacks damage his own children far more than they do me.

But once again, while I cannot condone such behaviour, I do not blame him because in all of these stories of alienation there is a common component: me.

Somewhere in my astrology there is evidently a great deal of grief and pain around the issue of children.

I cannot begin to describe therefore the joy I felt when my son Teddy Dusters was born on August 30th this year. I love Alice’s children of course, but there are complex boundaries and restraints in these situations, these children are not mine and so I tread a fine line because I do not want to overstep an invisible mark and have to therefore field more accusations. I have had to defend myself against so many outrageous charges that it unfortunately makes me painfully aware of how an innocent remark might be (cynically) misinterpreted. Some accusations (like the “fact” that I am a violent heroin addict) are patently ludicrous, but others – like my deliberate abandonment of my children are more insidious. I pay the same amount in child maintenance to my children that I have not seen or even heard from for two years as Alice’s ex-husband does for his children that he sees every second week, but somehow, I am irresponsible, abusive and sinister. Of course, anyone that knows me literally laughs – often explosively, such is the dissonance – when I relay these ‘concerns’ but they become a great deal more threatening when presented to court officers and social workers who have no personal experience of the kind of person that I truly am. So with respect to my own feelings, there is a certain care that I need to exercise in my relationships with these boys who are not mine. Once again, though, it’s harder on them than it is on me, because they do not want such guardedness in their relationship with me. And what hopeful child would?

So, at last, and through all the anguished preamble, I find myself able to enjoy a relationship with my new son, without any requirement for restraint. With the beautiful Teddy there are no agendas, no distortions, no pound of flesh to be delivered, no Shylock greedily licking his lips in anticipation of my torment. It is like walking unencumbered. Here at last, I thought, there would need to be no pain.

Something is not right with Teddy. Alice noticed it a while ago, his eyes wander back and forth, back and forth ceaselessly. He wakes in the morning and his eyes begin their wandering and he becomes agitated, and only a word will calm him. He cries and can only be consoled with physical contact. He does not make eye contact, does not follow movements; his eyes simply move, back and forth, back and forth.

I have a terrible fear that Teddy is blind.

We took him to the doctor and explained. She examined him and nodded gravely. She chose her words carefully, with that guarded seriousness that does not want to proffer or quash hope, “I think we’d better get somebody to have a look at him” she said. We now have to wait for an appointment with a child opthalmologist and we don’t know how long it will take.

Whenever I see my marvellous, amazing, gentle son my heart is squeezed and wrenched with the most powerful, deep and rich concoction of feeling that I cannot even hope to convey. He smiles, but only when he hears the voice of his Mummy or his Daddy and now, faced with this possibility I cannot look at him without this profound rush of heat that engulfs my chest and rushes out to every limb; it is the fiercest, most protective, anguished love. I cannot – if our worst fears are realised – afford to feel sorry for him because I do not want him to have that identity for himself, but I also cannot separate this wish to shield and sustain and support from the rolling, wrenching anguish of having lost my children in the past. There is nothing but pain in this, even if the pain and love are an inseparable potion that infuses me with tremendous protective power; it wrings my heart to its very core and leaves me desperate, hopeful, afraid, crushed and grateful. How can I possibly feel all of those things? I am glad too, glad because whatever he is, it is simply what he is; it is the terrain of his own inner kingdom and how can it be wrong? I simply don’t have the luxury to be able to feel that as a wrongness.

Nothing is wrong with Teddy, he is perfect.

He will always be perfect, whether or not he can see, and naturally, we will maintain the faith that he will be fine and perfectly sighted.

Teddy has the best astrology of anyone that I have ever seen. A fabulously dignified Saturn in Libra sits exactly on the Ascendant and I understand precisely the implication; it is a dignified isolation. The senses so frequently fail with Saturn rising, especially where there is considerable exaltation. I have seen this a few times in the past, and it is a tough message to convey to somebody who is concerned by their dimming apprehension of their environment (which is the very exact sensation of Saturn on the Ascendant of course). In my own nativity I have often pondered Hygeia, the focus of a tee-square (from Sun-Saturn: inherited limitations) conjunct the fixed star Facies, which is the nebula in the face of the Archer; therefore in the constellation Sagittarius but falling at around 8 Capricorn for the purpose of alignment. All nebulae are traditionally linked to the eyes and blindness, primarily because a test of good eyesight in the Roman army was to be able to see that a star was not one but a cluster, and Hygeia in the 3rd focusing both Sun and Saturn does tell a very specific story. My father (Sun-Saturn) gradually lost his eyesight (Facies) too, so that the last few years of his everyday life (3rd house) were made difficult due to his health (Hygeia), to say the least. He did not complain in the slightest, recognising I think that his terrain was difficult and that it could not be improved by the power of complaint, and he responded only by drinking with greater determination and revelling that much more in gentle conversation; quite unsurprisingly.

Remarkable (and yet quite unsurprising) how the same terrain features keep making themselves felt is it not? It is not so much deja-vu as a sense that I have crossed this bridge before, but when I was younger I had no idea where it would lead me. Now at least I have a dim recollection of this vista that will unfold when I reach the other side. It will very likely look like Chiron in Pisces in the 5th opposed by a Virgo Uranus in the 11th. Most of my pain through children has manifested as a result of other people’s ability to rationalise their dispassionate criticisms of me, whether they are true or not – and with Pisces involved, truth is easily distorted through the perfectionist lens of Neptune. My Chiron is conjunct Atropos too, so in a very real sense, things fall apart. That is my kingdom.

Teddy has a grand trine of Sun – Moon (how glorious is that?!) and North Node conjunct the fixed star Facies! And of course, I timed his birth with astonishing precision; he was born in our kitchen, with Juno, our little feisty terrier looking on bewildered and North Node for Teddy is in a 5 minute conjunction with Imum Coeli; it is rather astonishing. His Ascendant is conjunct Vesta and he was born a single pace from the kitchen hearth, where the wood stove burned brightly. I hope and pray that he will see, but what I take comfort from is the message that he will not be especially vulnerable if he cannot, because his parents, and the people of his wider community will always protect him.

And that will be true regardless of how well he can see, because it is mapped in his own magical, marvellous inner kingdom.

And for me?

It is not wrong.

Feeling blueprints…

Transit theory.

Actually, let’s talk for a minute about building a house. Let us say, for the sake of argument that you decide that you want to build your dream home. You probably have some vague ideas about how it will look, about the various features and styles of decor, about the layout. You’re quite serious about the whole idea, so you buy a plot of land to build the house on, and at that point you’ve reached a liminal point in the development of your house; liminality is that evocative space of inbetween-ness that represents a transition from one state to another, in this case the transition from having a vague idea of what kind of home you’d like to live in to needing to have a definite plan about the exact kind of home you’re going to build.

So you consult with an architect and after negotiation what you are left with is a set of blueprints.

The key understanding here of course is that the set of blueprints is not a house, it is only a potential house, albeit a very specificfally realised one. It is an idea of a house that is formally determined within certain parameters; the kitchen will be here and face the East, it will have a garage and you’ve decided that it will have a pool-house at the bottom of the garden.

Your house gets built, it might run over budget, so you make certain cut-backs. You decide that you can manage without the pool-house but at least the kitchen units are just what you wanted. You paint the living room in a deep red tone that you particularly love.

So, what started out as a rather vague and formless idea was translated into some fairly exacting plans which in turn, through the process of construction, through the realisation of those original specifications and the contingencies of life, became something quite unique. Life happens. You have children and need to build an extension. You inherit some money when great Aunt Bertha kicks the bucket so you finally build the pool-house. There’s a hurricane which blows the oak tree over and caves the roof in but the insurance pays out and you fix it all up and have enough money left over to redecorate the house.

Okay, that’s enough talk about building houses.

One day, a human soul forms a vague notion about being born into a new life situation. It decides that there are certain factors that it wants to incorporate into its new incarnation, it wants to have these qualities developed and experiences of one sort or another so that it can learn to be closer to the inner divine nature unto which the Universe ceaselessly cleaves and so it chooses the plot into which it will be born, the family, the parental influences, the culture and so forth and then the soul is born into life and at that exact moment a blueprint is drawn; a plan that defines within some fairly precise parameters how this soul will manifest into material existence. The blueprint of that human soul is its nativity.

But of course, the nativity is not the personality, any more than the blueprint is the house.

And this is the most important understanding that we can begin with when we consider transit theory: if the kitchen in our house faces East, it is never going to get the evening Sun, no matter what colour we paint the walls or what appliances we decide to install in that kitchen. Of course, if we decide that we want the evening sun in our kitchen we can perhaps save up our money over many years and work very hard to move the kitchen into another room on the west side of the property, so we can – in a very real sense – override the blueprint, but it will take enormous effort to do so, and we may have to make sacrifices and compromises along the way,  but with enough focus and determination, our blueprint can be transcended, but on the whole, the likelihood is that expedience and the vagaries of existence will dictate that we will keep our kitchen where it is and learn to live with it that way and get the best out of it. We make small gradual modifications and learn to fit into our home while at the same time modifying, fine-tuning and tweaking our home so that it better suits our needs.

Sometimes we come into some money unexpectedly (think Jupiter-Uranus) and we get to build an extension (or move the kitchen!) Other times we might determine that we really want that pool-house that we didn’t manage to build at the start so we save our money and make economies in other areas (think Mars – Saturn) and one day we get to build the pool house. Sometimes there is a hurricane which makes the oak tree in the garden blow down and flatten the roof (think Uranus=Mars/Pluto), but the insurance pays out more than expected (think Jupiter=Moon/Pluto) and you get to redecorate the house.

So, what we started out with changes according to the ongoing processes of transition and progression, fundamentally our soul-house will never change, we cannot change our city apartment into a beach house regardless of what influences move us forward in our lives, but within the broad framework of the nativity blueprint, we can experience evolution.

What of course you should realise is that transits always have a common quality (a hurricane is a hurricane for everybody in its path) but how you experience it personally is intrinsically, well, personal. It might blow the oak tree down onto your house, but your neighbour, who doesn’t have an oak tree in their garden and whose house sits in the lee of a sheltering hill?

What you should appreciate then is that events (transits/ progressions / directions) will affect you according to the nature of the event in general terms and according to the nature of your blueprint in specific terms.

A transit then will always begin to manifest in relationship to the blueprint of the nativity tempered by the general quality of the transiting influence. A transit of Neptune square the Moon is rather like having a flood in the kitchen because of a burst pipe under the sink. Because your kitchen is made in this certain way, it is going to be affected: the flood won’t affect the attic or the garage. If you have Saturn in Cancer and the 5th house then, what you can understand is that the general quality of Saturn square the Moon will undoubtedly make itself felt in the broad Saturn-squaring-Moon kind of way (feeling isolated, emotionally flat, strained relationships with women, wives and mothers) but in your case that sense of isolation will be partly influenced by themes of children too, or love affairs, or creativity, and family issues will be part of it too. That leads you to suspect that maybe you feel isolated from other women because you don’t have children of your own just yet so you don’t feel like you have a proper family; it makes you feel isolated and depressed. Your relationship with your mother feels strained because she wants grandchildren. On the other hand, maybe your lover is making you feel isolated because his mother doesn’t approve of you, or because he’s too moody and cranky, or you’re down because your responsibilities to him don’t leave you enough time to spend with your own family.

And that’s just the Saturn angle. If your natal Moon is in the third house and Taurus then you have to factor in other potentials; your daily environment, siblings, your car, any of these might be part of the problem and with Taurus, there’s a money angle too. Let’s put all that together and what you’ll see is that there’s strain in your life because you’re feeling lonely and isolated, it’s due to children: maybe with Saturn in the 5th it’s because you don’t have them yet (Saturn in the 5th often denotes delays in motherhood, older mothers), or perhaps for some reason your children entail extra responsibility so they take up your time. And now your car has broken down (3rd) and you don’t have the money to fix it (Taurus), and all of this feels difficult because it’s a square aspect, frustrations and obstacles stand in the way of progress. Perhaps your sister just had a new baby and you feel left out and isolated (Saturn) from the family (Cancer) and from your mother (Moon) because she’s giving all her attention to your sister’s (3rd) new baby (5th).

So, do you see? This is how the transit begins to show itself, through the blueprint.

As the aspect develops (it approaches partility) and transits usually involve very specific events which develop the situation that is manifesting out of the nativity blueprint. This is usually found in the transiting data. Here, let us say that Saturn squares the 3rd house Taurus Moon from its position in the 6th house and the sign Leo. So what happens is that your boss (Leo) starts getting really down on you about your work (6th) which only adds to your sense of frustration, depression and isolation. Or maybe you develop a heart (Leo) problem (6th) and that’s what is adding to your woes. Maybe your father (Saturn) develops a heart problem and you have to spend time with him. Any of these are possible, but crucially, they overlay the foundation qualities of your natal Moon and Saturn placements and bring the themes that are at work in those placement into sharp relief which causes you to take action or make an adjustment to relieve, fix or improve the situation.

So, how do things work out? Well, you can have a guess at this too, and there’s nothing especially wild about the guessing either. Here, the rulerships are key to the outcomes, so you discover that Saturn rules your 10th and Moon rules the 5th (and Saturn of course), so maybe you decide to change your career (or even give it up entirely) since your boss was giving you such a hard time anyway so that you have more time for your family situation, or you get pregnant (5th) so you have to change your vocational aspirations (10th) as a result of that.

Now as you can see, there are a great number of potential outcomes here, but they do tend to fall within certain parameters which are based on your blueprints, on the nature of the transiting points and their relationship to each other and also on a specific catalysing event which occurs to move the situation forward. Thus, your house has an oak tree in the garden (blueprint), there is a hurricane (hard transit) which causes the oak tree to fall on your house (transit event) and this results in you having to rebuild the house, but you take the opportunity to improve it in some way at the same time (outcome that evolves the blueprint).

See? Simple, incredible and profound all at once.

Let us consider a couple of examples, beginning with the ever-intriguing Victoria Beckham who was recently panned by critics for her rather bland contribution to the US TV show American Idol. The Los Angeles Times dubbed her “the night’s saddest failure” while Sharyn Jackson from Village Voice said her face was “too crazy for the close-up” and added: “I always thought a British accent made people sound smart but I guess I was wrong.”

If we take a look at her nativity we can see a few intimidating transiting configurations right away:

Victoria Beckham, media 'personality' 17 April 1974 06:00 Harlow UK

What you can see is that Saturn applies by transit to Pluto in the 6th house and Libra while transiting Pluto applies to a square of natal Pluto from the 9th (and bearing down on her Midheaven too). As you can perhaps see, this is an enormously intense combination of transiting stresses: transiting Pluto opposing radix Saturn is creating a tee-square to transiting Saturn conjunct radix Pluto. Let us use the blueprint – event – evolution model to try and decode the possible influence of these transiting energies.

First of all, the connections are as follows:

  1. Pl 0pp Sa (Tr-Na): This event is in the past (throughout 2008) but crucially it describes the beginning of the current cycle of issues. The implications manifest into the 10th and 7th houses, thus vocation and marriage (and to some extent her marriage is her career).
  2. Saturn square Saturn in October just gone; this has a real ring of everday life issues to it but also of health. It suggests that worry and anxiety (Saturn in Mercury’s house) are having a detrimental effect on her health.
  3. She gets the first of five Pluto squares on February 20th this year. Pluto is in the 6th so health and daily routine are both implicated (that’s the blueprint part), while transiting Pluto is in the 9th, so foreign issues and travel are big factors that relate to these concerns. She is living in the US and has been offered a regular job (6th house) on the American Idol judging panel while her husband David plays soccer in Milan, Italy. That’s the source of the anxiety: while the cat’s away
  4. Saturn squares itself at the same time, so the blueprint part is to do with her mental anxiety with the transiting Saturn in the 6th creating a health event.
  5. All of the influences play out into the rulerships of the planets, thus the 7th and 10th. The principle of Saturn – Pluto is hard labour and specifically the loss of one’s fortune or possessions, a real fall from grace in terms of the 10th and the 7th houses.

Conclusion, Victoria Beckham’s marriage and career will spectacularly collapse over the coming year, a process which may well be attended by some protracted mental health difficulties. There will be intrigues and quite possibly a custody battle which she will almost certainly lose. Victoria’s nativity evinces Uranus on the descendant too, so expect the revelations and the finish of the marriage to be sudden.

Ultimately though, it is an experience and a process that her soul requires. The eclipse may be something of a trigger, it falls within 4 minutes of the Venus square Neptune midpoint. The fantasy relationship falls away to be replaced by a painfully disappointing reality, custody battles, alimony and holding hostages to fortune, it all sounds rather painful in prospect.

Fate, Free Will and the Arc of Pluto


Free will. This concept more than any other has the power to invoke all sorts of impassioned reactions when the study of astrology is in the spotlight. I read once that a scientific conference had to be called off in the United States due to the ferocity of the protests outside the venue: its subject? The criminal gene. This makes a powerful argument: whether or not there is a criminal gene is hardly the point, people are nothing short of outraged when it is suggested that there may be elements of their lives that are not in their control; indeed, people are, more broadly, horrified by the concept of destiny.

Of course, they’re not especially horrified when the destiny is good. They’ve met the love of their life, and smiling beatifically, suffused with the warm glow of romantic contentment, they are positive about that destiny. “It was fate, we were meant to be.” But suggest that their incipient alcoholism was their destiny too? No thanks.

I would argue that the reason that astrology, perhaps more than most ‘quack science,’ has had such a difficult history, is exactly because it contains this essential hint, that in fact, we do have a destiny. Not the good destiny necessarily, but certainly the bad one. Of course, even a good destiny is a problem for some, because they want to believe that their successes are entirely the result of their character, their determination, their all-round wonderful betterness than the next guy. To suggest that good things happen through fate takes away a large measure of our belief in our own brilliance; it diminishes us, makes us a little less fantastic than we might otherwise be.

For me, who has necessarily wrestled for many years with an astrological understanding of fate and free-will, there is a deeper significance to the reality of destiny. If our free-will is a chimera, a mirage, then blame becomes a very shaky concept indeed. And actually this is very true. Before I explain that line of reasoning further though, let me describe how it does work; how free we actually are.

If Pluto crosses, by Solar Arc, your Ascendant, then the plain, unadorned and inevitable result will be that your life will go through the most astounding upheaval and it will not be easy. That’s probably kinder than the truth too, because for several months, your relationship to the world will be put under astounding pressure, you will experience (according to the matrix of aspects and energies in your nativity) a transformation, a rebirth, but naturally, as in the mythology of Pluto, Kore, Siva, the archetypal process of rebirth requires a death first. With Pluto on the Ascendant (by Solar Arc especially, but too with mundane transits) your relationship with the world, with your world and everyone in it will be killed, probably quite brutally, then it will be ground up, spat out and trampled on somewhat before being given an unceremonious burial in a shallow and benighted grave. Then you get to be reborn, usually in a better, more rounded way.

No amount of free will is going to change that period of time into one of lightness and ease. It doesn’t matter how much you try, what you do, or how you attempt to manoeuvre people and things into position, it will still be the most godawful experience of your life. Now, that’s your destiny, whether you like it or not, and every astrologer understands this, but clearly, the argument about free will does not reside so simplistically in this framework.

Let us say that you are a woman with a tight Sun-Pluto conjunction in Libra that travels by Solar Arc until one day, when you’re in your late 30s, it traverses your Ascendant in Scorpio. What happens? Your husband (Sun) leaves you, effectively destroying (Pluto) your marriage (Libra). You’re wrecked by this, you’re a Libra after all, nothing was quite so important for you, but being Sun-Pluto, you simply cannot let yourself see it that way; you have to destroy him (Sun-Pluto), you turn his children against him, you turn all his friends against him (after all, the natal conjunction is in the 11th house), you keep all his possessions until finally, it is as though he didn’t exist. You killed him (and that too is the other alternative for the Sun-Pluto wife, to subtly undermine the husband until he quite literally dies).

It is terrible and tragic, but the really difficult part about this story is that on the day she met her husband, it was already going to happen.

That’s fate.

So, what of free-will? Actually, the underlying reality of this example contains the impetus to free will within it. The event could not be changed, it was written in the astrology at the very moment of birth – had she been born an hour later, then the split would have happened 15 years later, maybe the husband would actually have died – but nothing in the universe was going to change the event; the death, destruction or loss of the husband was inevitable. What was not inevitable was her reaction to it.

This is free will. You cannot control events. You cannot change what happens beyond yourself. Other people, events, random acts of chance, all are beyond our reckoning, but our reaction to them is absolutely within our remit. It is within those reactions and responses that our karma is made. If we fight, if we blame, if we hit back at something that was beyond any person’s control, then we create a difficult legacy for ourselves and for everyone else who is affected by our fate.

This then, is the problem with blame. Blame creates a justification for action, and actions that are motivated through a philosophical bias underpinned by blame are inevitably going to have negative consequences: not just for the person we have blamed, but actually for ourselves too. In many ways, more so for ourselves. Not necessarily in obvious and causally connected ways, but often it becomes a karmic time-bomb that will be unleashed in disproportionate measure when we least expect it (although with astrology, we will probably see that when (for example) the Sun-Pluto conjunction opposes Mars by Solar Arc in another few years, those Plutonic controls that have been set in negative motion now will begin to unravel.)

This for me was always the problem with the criminal gene controversy. If there were a criminal gene, then surely it would morally be much harder to condemn a person for committing a criminal act if they were found to have it. That feels like a mercy to me. Would you blame someone for having a cleft palate or one leg shorter than the other? I wouldn’t blame the Sun-Pluto wife for losing her husband any more than I would blame her for having a strong character and dark hair (for example), it was nobody’s fault. On the other hand, her reaction to the husband’s leaving is the one area where the exercise of free-will is possible.

It is the same in all matters astrological. You cannot manage or control people or events and any evidence that you have any such power is an illusion. Such attempts might appear to work, but in reality there is a mechanism which, silently and unheeded, moves the destinies of us all with remarkable complexity, exactitude and and effect, we wrongly ascribe causes to our own efforts simply because (without astrology) we cannot see, hear or feel the mechanism, let alone comprehend it. Our senses are too dull, our imaginations too limited, our self-interest too all-pervading.

This is the great power of this mechanism. It is so complex and unknowable that we cannot grasp it, and the myth of free-will is perpetuated. We do not control the mechanism, only our reactions to its astonishing, perfect, profound movements.

Or put another way, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you deal with it that counts…

(Catch a glimpse of how the mechanism affects you @ Astrology Hour)

The Transneptunian Massacre…


Alfred Witte

Today I wish to examine certain of the so-called Transneptunians, those hypothetical points proposed by Alfred Witte, founder of the Hamburg School during the 1920s and 1930s. The fact that the Transneptunian points are not known to physically exist was as much a problem for astrologers back then as it is for some today; indeed, as a result of the widespread ridicule he received for these theories and his subsequent disfavour with the Nazi regime, Witte committed suicide in 1941.

I am challenged with the view that these points are meaningless often, and I reject the argument that these points are therefore ineffective. The immateriality of the TNPs is a conundrum, but I have never overvalued the concrete especially thus far in life, so I do not tend to struggle with this dilemma. Such material logic contests that cars have greater intrinsic value than love. So, I test the theory instead and try not to become too entangled in the dimensions of the real.

I find that without question, the TNPs are true, powerful and profoundly useful and in order to demonstrate this validity, I am going to look in some depth at the case of Martin Bryant, the perpetrator of the Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania in 1996, where Bryant, acting alone and with apparent premeditation, gunned down 35 bystanders in a bloody rampage at a popular Tasmanian tourist spot, just days before his 29th birthday. There is a great deal of pertinent and useful background information available in this case and if you are interested in some of the finer detail then you should read this article from Australian news source The Age; video recounting the tragedy is available from Youtube.

martin_bryant_nativity2Even without knowing Bryant’s story, we can apprehend a number of intriguing qualities that are suggested by these configurations:

  • Saturn rises, isolation is therefore a theme of this life story, and with Saturn in fall and near aspectually peregrine, the planet will struggle to express its quality.
  • Mars is in profound difficulty, in fall, within the boundary of the 8th, he is also slow, retrograde and occidental. Mars is therefore struggling and this is key, any archetype which has no route into manifestation will become uncomfortable and might threaten to overwhelm the nativity (and in the case of Mars, that would surely result in an act of violence, or a habit of episodic violence).
  • Chiron rises (not shown) and thus forms a grand water trine which includes the chart ruler Neptune in the 9th. Here is a closed circuit of emotional self-sufficiency that will only increase the isolation implicit in Saturn rising. Whereas – for the majority – a grand trine might be a refuge, in this case it would certainly be of borderline benefit, making something of a prison of the life. In the years leading up to the incident Bryant travelled extensively:

In the two years to the end of 1995, Bryant visited Europe six times and the US and South-East Asia three times, as well as New Zealand and Japan. The summary of his domestic travel over the same period would take three pages to list, travelling to Queensland and South Australia but most often to Melbourne, where he loved the zoo. But had the travel filled the void? No, he would tell Professor Mullen: “Mr Bryant stated that the best part of his international trips was the long plane journey. It transpired that the attraction of the long aeroplane journey was that he could speak to the people next to him, who presumably being strapped to their seats had no choice but to at least appear friendly. Mr Bryant became quite animated in describing some of what he regarded as the more successful interactions with fellow travellers.

  • Bryant loved animals (he travelled repeatedly to the Melbourne zoo) but also kept a fair menagerie of pets. The asteroid Diana rises, a degree into the 1st house. Keeping pets was therefore part of his identity and how he related to the world. To others though, this just made him appear strange as he would drive around with dogs, birds – even the occasional small pony – in his car. It exacerbated his isolation from normal society.
  • In the chart the asteroid Sappho falls at the midpoint of Neptune and Ascendant, the Sappho-Neptune trine is exact to less than 50 seconds of arc! He loved to talk (Asc) to fellow passengers (Sappho) while travelling to exotic (Neptune) foreign destinations (in the 9th). This is a typical trine arrangement, enjoyment is subjectively experienced when the factors are combined.
  • One of the most fascinating aspects of Bryant’s life before the Port Arthur massacre was his relationship with Helen Harvey a wealthy heiress who lived alone with her mother. Bryant befriended her after she employed him to be their handyman.

The two misfits forged a bond… The tragic consequences of their relationship, however, began early. As the friendship moved from employer-employee to friends and then constant companions, Helen’s mother, Hilza, was left increasingly alone inside what was fast becoming a filthy hell hole. She had been moved downstairs into the kitchen at some stage, and it was here that the old woman was forced to sleep, upright in a chair, writhing and wriggling in a bid to gain relief from an undiagnosed and untreated broken hip for most of the last two years of her life.

In June 1990, after someone made a report to the health authorities, medics arrived to find both Hilza and Helen in need of urgent hospital treatment with infected leg ulcers and living in squalor in the kitchen, surrounded not only by roaming animals, but unwashed dishes and saucepans and bowls with mould so high it was climbing out of the oven.

Seventy-nine-year-old Hilza Harvey was an abject horror of neglect, sitting untended with her broken hip and withering slowly in the kitchen on her chair.


Martin Bryant

This is where the Transneptunians begin to make their play: Hades is in Bryant’s nativity Cazimi, which means that it finds a pure expression; it becomes an unadulterated facet of identity, and the themes of Hades are to do with all things unpleasant, squalid, unwholesome, there are qualities of slow decay, gradual disintegration and decline, encroaching morbidity and general and pervasive unpleasantness; it is exactly the kind of squalor described which was visited upon Helen Harvey’s mother. Sun – Hades is to be involved with instances of lingering illness and wasting disease. The Cazimi conjunction applies to the 3rd and describes the gradual deterioration of those mental faculties which became apparent as he grew older in childhood. Something was ‘wrong’ with Martin Bryant, but that realisation was slowly revealed.

And then there is the astoundingly close conjunction between Mars, Cupido and Poseidon. We already understand that Mars is deeply awkward in this position and any Martian expression will inevitably be blended with the flavours and influences of Cupido and Poseidon. If we join these ideas together we have a complex impetus:

Mars/Libra/8: an inability to confront, wanting to negotiate anger (but with deteriorating mental faculties: no way out!), sudden outbursts, a need to control outcomes in partnership, ruled by Venus in the 4th, the father a pacifying influence (his father Maurice, committed suicide in 1993: Stella Sampson, his former teacher, would later tell the media: “My personal view is that his dad kept him in check, and when he died he didn’t have that restraining influence any longer.”) Mars rules Saturn rising, that anger held in check contributes, creates his isolation (“The kids were wary of him,” one neighbour would recount. “They understood instinctively that he was someone to stay away from. He was just a little scary.”)

Then Mars is conjunct Cupido: and Cupido has associations with partnership, family history, group involvements, it certainly ramps up the Libran energy in this placement, no doubt inhibiting the natural expression of Mars still further. There is an acute awareness of family conflict here, what happened in childhood that limited the natural expression of Martian energy?

By the time Martin was 16 months old, however, he was not only walking but running, climbing – and escaping – and his mother was starting to find it difficult to cope… He would disappear regularly from their house, his parents finding him in the strangest places, once on top of the chook pen next door or even further afield, playing quietly on a swing way across the other side of the railway line that ran north from Hobart along the Derwent’s western foreshore.

Martin Bryant was not the first toddler to love wandering, to show a spirit for adventure or levels of energy that could try a saint. But his mum’s response was an unusual one: “I started to leave him on the house veranda, with a harness and lead to secure him, with plenty of toys all around him. Some person made a complaint about us tying him up like a dog. But of course as his mother, I knew he was happy and safe.”

Mars is conjunct Poseidon: and this creates a very unusual blend, Poseidon attests to one’s spiritual ideal (but retrograde! A lack of spiritual ideals could result, the code is missing), and with Mars in Libra and the 8th, there is this sense that committing violence toward the other person might be in some way spiritually liberating, but remember the entire group is ruled by Venus, it is held together by the father and when he exits the picture (Venus squares Uranus (suddenly!) and Chiron in Pisces (Suicide, drugs and water, Maurice Bryant drowned himself after taking an overdose!))

And of course Cupido conjuncts Poseidon too: and the result is a philosophy or ideal based on a family history that seeks to avoid conflict, to hold violence in check, to negotiate anger rather than deal with it. Father dies, all bets are off. Can you feel these combinations? Violence held in check by the father, because of a family conditioning, because of being leashed and a lack of a spiritual or moral code.

Taurus finds its way into the life arc uncannily. He became the lifelong companion of Helen Harvey, they bought a house together and named it Taurusville! She died after the car they were both in crashed, her neck broken. He broke two vertebrae in his neck as well. She left him a millionaire, he had become enormously wealthy through the death of the only person who would give him companionship, he became further isolated. The Port Arthur massacre loomed.

The fateful day arrives.

Bryant has provided conflicting and confused accounts of what led him to kill 35 people at the Port Arthur site on 28 April 1996. It appears his desire for attention (he allegedly told a next door neighbour “I’ll do something that will make everyone remember me”), as well as mounting frustration at his social isolation (Saturn) had made him unbearably angry (Mars – ruler of Saturn!).

His first victims, David and Sally Martin, owned the B & B guest house “Seascape”. Bryant later described them as “very mean people” and as “the worse people in my life”. The Martins had bought the B & B that Bryant’s father had wanted to buy and he often complained to his son of the “double dealing” the Martins had done to secure the purchase. Bryant apparently believed the Martins had deliberately bought the property to hurt his family and blamed the Martins for the depression that led to his father’s death (Cupido – Mars, anger through family history, but held in check byt he father). He shot them in that guest house before traveling to the Port Arthur ruins. Bryant entered The Broad Arrow Café on the historical site’s grounds, carrying a large blue duffel bag. Upon sitting down to eat a meal in the front balcony area, he remarked “There’s a lot of wasps (Mars) about today” to no one in particular. Once he finished, Bryant moved towards the back of the café and set a video camera on a vacant table. He took out an AR15 semi-automatic rifle (Mars) and began shooting patrons and staff. Within a matter of seconds, he had killed 20 people and wounded 15. He then fled, shooting at people in the parking lot and from his yellow Volvo sedan as he drove away. Bryant drove three hundred metres down the road, to where a woman and her two children were walking. He stopped and fired two shots killing the woman and the child she was carrying. The older child fled, but Bryant followed her and killed her with a single shot. He then stole a gold-coloured BMW by killing the occupants. A short distance down the road he stopped beside a couple in a white Toyota and, drawing his weapon, ordered the male occupant into the trunk of the BMW. After shutting the trunk he fired two shots into the windshield of the Toyota, killing the female driver. He returned to the guest house, set the stolen car alight (Mars) and took his hostage inside with the Martins’ corpses (Hades). The police soon arrived and tried to negotiate with Martin for many hours before the battery in the phone Bryant was using died, ending communication. Bryant’s only demand was to be transported in an army helicopter to an airport. Sometime during the negotiations, Bryant killed his hostage.

The next morning, 18 hours later, Bryant set fire (Mars) to the guest house and attempted to escape in the confusion. Suffering burns (Mars) to his back and buttocks, he was captured and taken to Royal Hobart Hospital where he was treated and kept under heavy guard.

And all this seems very straightforward until you realise that the Mars/Cupido/Poseidon conjunction applied to partile opposition of the Sun/Hades conjunction by Solar Arc in 1996.

  1. Poseidon opp. Sun, SA-Na (28 January)
  2. Poseidon opposition Hades (15 March 1996)
  3. Port Arthur massacre (28th April 1996)
  4. Mars opposition Sun (5 May 1996)

Within a week of the Solar Arc oppositions completing, Bryant had murdered 35 people in cold blood.

(NB: The influence of Poseidon is especially odd in my view since it is normally associated with enlightening qualities. Is it simply a coincidence then that Fred West, the British serial killer had Poseidon Cazimi? And what does Hades look like? Here is former US Senator Gary Hart: Hades rising in Aries, exactly conj. Asc.)

Dignity and Debility and How to be Practically Perfect in Every Way…

"Is Venus my best feature? Or my worst?"

"Is Venus my best feature? Or my worst?"

Any study or discipline which requires the consideration of a vast array of variables is bound to suffer from encroaching inelegance, and astrology suffers from this more than most disciplines; in the world of accepted science, perhaps meteorology is the closest facsimile that we can find for this situation. An astrologer, as much as the meteorologist is charged with the dire business of prediction, given faint praise when the outlook is mostly compatible with their prophecy, and damned into insignificance when they get it wrong, and when you consider that the spectrum of possible outcomes for weather are confined to a fairly narrow set of possibilities, precipitation, barometric pressure, humidity and temperature (thus wet or dry, windy or calm, hot or cold?) then the bleating denouncements of the “scientifically minded” begin to appear wholly ridiculous (which they are). Just because meteorology is often inexact nobody claims that we do not have weather. We understand though, and this crucially, that accurate measurement does not guarantee accurate insight, but it nevertheless maximises the potential for accuracy.

In my view, the main gift of astrological experience is what might be termed (in other industries) a soft-skill. It is a refined faculty of judgment which allows the expert to gauge what most matters in an individual astrology. In this sense, measurement is not about determining absolutes, but rather about determining priorities. In a system where there are a thousand variables, and each single one of these is itself subject to attenuation and moderation by other factors, well, it is simply not possible to make an exactitude. Vast networks of processors in subzero subterranean vaults grapple daily with the 6 intrinsic variables of weather and get it wrong. We are not, as astrologers, guilty of being unscientific, but those who claim as much are themselves; hypocrites by projection.

The ancients understood this much at least, although they did not have to face down such a vociferously narrow defile of consensus. For this purpose they made the system of essential dignities and debilities, and I have talked at some length about these important principles in recent weeks, but my most keen intention has been to espouse the understanding that we cannot measure an organic system with absolutes. The application of measurement is designed to assist us with gaining a generalised classification of typology within the nativity. When we look to essential dignity, we are given a numerical cue, one which suggests a certain intrinsic power or ease of expression of that particular point in the nativity. Traditional astrologers set great store by the system – and rightly so; it is useful – but they often overvalue its insights, most especially in light of the evolution of understandings that the ensuing centuries of work by incisively minded researchers and observers have gifted us.

The system of essential dignity is absolutely important, and there is also of course a broad system of accidental dignity scoring which can further refine and isolate priorities. Rather than exhaustively work through the system’s merits, I will today work through an example which will hopefully give us a three-tiered system of assessing priorities through measurement.

Fundamentally, we will use the following approach:

1) Scoring for essential dignity.
2) Scoring for accidental dignity.
3) Moderating priorities according to my own understanding of ease of expression.

Before we begin, and as far as I am aware, it is important to understand that your astrology software will happily spit out a score for essential dignity for any nativity you throw at it; but nothing will give you an accidental dignity score, and it will certainly not moderate those scores according to other, less deterministic factors. The irony of this is that the first, essential dignity, score is quite possibly likely to be utterly misleading when cited without reference to the subsequent considerations. Furthermore, you should bear in mind that while the system might seem initially complex, with time and experience you can quite happily make these calculations ‘on the hoof’ to a perfectly acceptable degree of exactitude.

Today I would like to use the example of Julie Andrews, because, as you will hopefully see, she makes an excellent test case. I am also rather intrigued by her in general  , not because I have any repressed ambiguities (I’ve never watched the Sound of Music), but rather because my astrology is uncannily similar to hers: indeed, Alice very often refers to me as ‘Hairy Poppins’. And it’s not funny, so no laughing. FYI, Julie and I share:

  • Sun in Libra in the 1st.
  • Moon in Scorpio in the 2nd and within a minute of mine.
  • Mercury in Scorpio in the 2nd.
  • Venus in Virgo in the 12th.
  • Mars in Sagittarius in the 3rd.
  • Our Ascendants within 4 degrees of each other
  • Saturn Rx.
  • A closest aspect of Sun ssq Jupiter.

Which, as I am sure you’ll appreciate is nothing short of uncanny. Here then is her astrology.

Julie Andrews: 1 Oct 1935 06:00 (BST -1:00) Walton on Thames, England

Julie Andrews: 1 Oct 1935 06:00 (BST -1:00) Walton on Thames, England

Typically then we might look at her astrology and our software will tell us that her essential dignity scores are as follows:

  • Sun: -3
  • Moon: 0
  • Mercury: -5
  • Venus: -9
  • Mars: +5
  • Jupiter: +5
  • Saturn: +1

According to essential dignity scoring then, Venus is the standout with Mercury being also weak, and Mars and Jupiter moderately strengthened. How does this scoring tally with our understanding of Julie Andrews’ life and success? This is important to understand because dignity scoring gives us an insight – according to traditionalists – into our potential for success. For my own part, I believe that this is somewhat simplistic, my own view I explained and explored in much greater detail in my article on Dignity and Debility and the Fine Art of Furniture Making.

Ironic then that at this juncture, Julie’s Venus score is really rather bad, especially when you consider that it was undoubtedly her Venusian qualities which led her to fame (consider a 4 octave voice, alleged perfect pitch and her very perfectly Virgoan appearance and demeanour).

If we consider Venus in more detail then she is (traditionally) peregrine, which scores -5. This should not be confused with peregrine through lack of aspect, but it is part of the same paradigm; traditionally, peregrine is used to denote a body with no essential dignity. It becomes peregrine therefore because it cannot easily express its quality. The key insight then is that without aspect a body has less media through which to project itself; it is a further debility (and I really cannot begin to emphasise just how important this is).

So, peregrination is just a sense of absolute and outright debility. Consider Forrest Gump. The child with calipers develops such strength in his legs that he eventually is able to outrun anyone and everyone! That’s peregrination! That’s the exalting power of debility!

Now, if we consider also that Venus here is in the sign of her fall (another -4 then), she really has so little support that she is in all sorts of distress. Let us consider the second stage of measurement; that of accidental dignity/debility.

  • 12th House: -5
  • Direct: +4
  • Slow: -2
  • Oriental: -2
  • Not combust or under beams: +5
  • Opp. Saturn*: -2
  • Sq. Mars*: -1

(* the ancients considered only partile hard aspects to the malefics to affect scoring but there is an easily observable attenuation at work in these cases and I always allow for any contact up to 4 degrees of partile and subtract a point per degree accordingly).

These factors give Julie’s Venus a score at stage 2 of our process of -12. If we apply this same methodology to the remainder of her nativity, then we have a cumulative essential and accidental dignity score set of:

  • Sun: 0
  • Moon: +8
  • Mercury: +7
  • Venus: -12
  • Mars: +15
  • Jupiter: +15
  • Saturn: -3

The picture already becomes considerably more compelling. The debility of Venus is now seriously challenged by the power of Mars and Jupiter. Now we need to consider some of the soft factors, most of which are either commonly understood by modern astrologers, or are the result of my own experience over many years of consideration.

One of the most glaring differences (and hence difficulties) between traditional and modern astrology is that the former does not particularly acknowledge the influence of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Chiron). These undoubtedly influence the personal planets however, but not in a way that is easy to account for. In broad terms the reality is compelling: whenever a personal planet is contacted by an outer, it is required to assimilate a measure of impersonal energy; that is to say that it can no longer be satisfied with personal, earthly or straightforward fixes; it must incorporate an element of the divine (even in easy aspect). To ignore this reality is patently ludicrous, but even aside from these, there are other factors which moderate these ‘scores’.

Sun first then. He has no hard major contacts, but is in semisquare to Jupiter and this at only 4 minutes of arc is the closest aspect in the chart. This moderates by -2 in my view, simply because the aspect is so very tight and innate. Otherwise Sun is unaffected.

Moon is more intriguing. Traditional scoring will not account for a mutual reception with Pluto (a feature for this generation with Moon in Scorpio, consider also Elizabeth Taylor) and this lends enormous emotional power and a truly magnetic feminine. This accounts for a further +5 (certainly it cancels out the fallen position of Moon here). We also find the halfsum Mo=Sa/Pl, which is difficult enough to merit a further -2. Pallas is in utterly partile sextile with Moon also: this cannot be underestimated (and undoubtedly accounts for her typically fresh, near-boyish haircuts) and this ought to cancel out the previous halfsum consideration.

Mercury has to be an intriguing consideration, but consider that he rules the Ascendant (thus the self-expression, and most especially the voice) and there has to be a story here. First, he is squared to his modern ruler, which lends tension and power to his expressions but perhaps ought to be considered a debilitating factor, I make no modification however, because of the mutual reception with Moon and Pluto, which means that (by MR) Mercury is ruled by Pluto in his sign and can be seen by him: rather like a courtier who is in the king’s sight, he might struggle under the scrutiny but he will not vanish into obscurity. As an intriguing aside, Mercury is here closely conjunct Eurydice, muse of Orpheus, who had such a sweet voice that it made the Gods weep! Inevitably there is a great deal of power available to Mercury in this condition. Most importantly, Mercury began with an essential dignity score of -5 and this was vastly improved to +7 by inclusion of accidental dignities!

Venus we have already covered in some detail, and there is a difficult consideration to be found in this placing within the scoring system. The 12th house is never very comfortable for earthly matters, but we have to take this factor on board with a very careful understanding of the Zeitgeist which cannot remotely support the same motivations and insights today as they did in the time of Ptolemy. Global superstardom was never a particular option for the ancients (excepting perhaps an Alexander or a Caesar), so it would have been exceptionally difficult to incorporate a Neptunian impetus and still be ‘materially’ successful in days of old. A spiritual, artistic or shamanic role might have sufficed but it is a different measure of ‘success’ that we need to consider in that context. Nowadays, Neptune rules cinema (for example), and so Venus in the 12th does find an outlet that capitalises – at least potentially – on the normally materially dissolving propensities of the Sea-King. The 12th house is also the house of Venus’ exaltation, so we might moderate favourably the ancient rule in this light. On the other hand, Venus is beset by difficulty through her being configured in an intriguing tee-square to Mars. A Venus-Mars square alone ought to be something of a disaster in any case since it is especially distressing for her best expression. This though has been accounted for somewhat through the ancient conditions and so I shall not modify it further.

Mars is rescued by his mutual reception with Jupiter and a number of accidentally dignifying factors but this cannot detract from his otherwise profoundly uncomfortable placement. As the focus of a very difficult tee-square being powered by a lack of parental love and affection (in the form of Venus-Saturn) all of that angst is released through energetic communication: Mars in Sagittarius is a lover of fresh air and horseplay and in the third, communication is key; one is forcibly reminded of someone twirling energetically through the fields and singing rather unreservedly…

Mars is also squared to Neptune and this is invariably a difficult energy, and I would subtract a point or two for this alone, the two forces are so utterly antagonistic that it cannot be easily assuaged and reconciled. Note too that this aspect more than any other is sexually ambiguous and creates a very tricky gender and sexual orientation confusion or bias. I find this especially intriguing in light of the fact that Julie Andrews is such a celebrated gay icon. Neptune is in his house as well remember.

Jupiter is intriguing because the only major aspect he makes within a tight orb is to Pluto, he is almost for this reason aspectually peregrine, I rarely find that Pluto is a happy medium through which to incorporate an energy, so too with any of the outer planets, but especially so with Hades. The semisquare to Sun also lessens his impetus and this ought to be a minor consideration.

Saturn is for the most part correct in my view, although a retrograde Saturn is usually among the most compelling of retrogradations and this cannot be underestimated.

Thus, the story is complete. I would set the final scores thus:

  • Sun: -2
  • Moon: +13
  • Mercury: +7
  • Venus: -10
  • Mars: +10
  • Jupiter: +12
  • Saturn: -4

So, when all is said and done: how account for her great and iconic success; after all, at one time, Julie Andrews could lay claim to being the lead in the longest running Broadway musical of all time, the highest grossing Hollywood movie of all time and the biggest selling album of all time.

I believe that the timing is interesting, with Mary Poppins being released in 1963 and The Sound of Music in 1964, and these being the primary motivating productions for her subsequent stardom, I see that Venus by Solar Arc Direction transits the Saturn – Uranus midpoint by opposition on December 16th 1963; but more incisive even than this is that this midpoint placed Venus in quincunx to Sa/Ur, effectively forming a Yod by Solar Arc to Venus at 4° Libra, thus rising in the first in her domicile. This would be an incredible drive and impetus to express her difficult and profoundly debilitated Venusian quality.

But, when all is said and done, what do we learn through our scoring? It is not the strongest planets which have determined her path in life although inevitably they have assisted and supported, but rather the weakest, Venus, which has been the prime mover of her life.

It is ever the way, peregrination, debility, struggle, these are the restraints which temper and forge the soul and ultimately exalt and emancipate, if they do not grind to nothingness in the attempt. Within our greatest weaknesses lie our most staggering potentials.