Basking in the Love of the Space Whales

I feel that, despite the self-evident craziness of what I am about to write that I need to get it out there. Think what you will. I have been having incredible dreams of late, and last night I experienced the most remarkable dream of my life. It was astonishing in its depth and immediacy in a way that no other dream I’ve had has been. I would hesitate to call it a dream in fact, because my apprehension of qualities within the dream were beyond my normal experience, it is very difficult to explain with words. I wasn’t entirely asleep, but rather in a kind of meditative trance because I had some vague awareness of my surroundings and a sense of my own sleeping body.

I was floating in space and I could see the earth beneath me and as I looked around I could see whales. Blue whales. They were not the same as the blue whales that you see in the ocean because they were made entirely of a sort of light. I cannot say that it was light, because it had a texture as well, almost like a kind of clingfilm, but it glowed with ripples of colour, and I cannot describe the depth of that colour. it was a textured, coloured light substance, but that does not convey its richness and perfection.

The whales were floating all around and they were very comforting to be near. They were communicating with counterpart whales in the oceans of earth. This communication took the form of a beam of information which comprised a bright stream filled with symbols, geometric, like an alphabet but, and again there is no easy way to describe this, the symbols were accompanied by a feeling of warmth and kindness. They were transmitted with a sense of lovingness.

I realised (by which I mean I just ‘knew’ this in my dream) that the whales of the earth’s oceans were somehow copies of these light-whales, that they were very crude representations but they were the best that could be made with the rather inelegant systems of the earth, and that they were deliberately manifested physical representatives of the whales above the earth. But they were clumsy, and heavy, so infinitely heavy, when compared to their space-counterparts, but it was the best the space-whales could create with the materials at their disposal. I sensed too that there was a direct correlation between humankind’s attitude to whale-killings and spiritual level. I felt with a real urgency the deep wrongness of the killing of whales and that it doomed us as a species to not becoming aware of this other dimension of experience which was all around us and that was permeated with love and kindness. All this while I stayed aware, albeit distantly, of my body which was so relaxed and I realised that I lived every day with deep tension in me and that it was so easy to let go of it in this state. Most of all I understood that something was happening, that some kind of a peak was close, a watershed moment. The whales had a sense of excitement and anticipation as though they had finally poured enough of this love-data down into the earth, via the conduits of the clumsy earth-whales, which were still in themselves creatures of love and grace, but nothing in comparison to their space-brethren.

When I ‘woke up’ I felt humbled and peaceful, and I haven’t been able to shake that sense of excited anticipation either. I just know something is happening…

A Design for Life day or so ago, I was out running under that fabulous Cancer Moon, and I was listening to David Hawkins on my iPod. He is a remarkable spiritual teacher and one of the insights that he relayed struck me quite forcibly. In my life, I do not especially understand the consensus of reality. I have had several occasions to process this dissonance recently. A week or so ago I watched a movie called “Wall Street 2″ or something similar, starring Michael Douglas who is a Libra with a Capricorn Moon and who is currently fighting throat cancer. He has Uranus in Gemini right on the 8th house cusp, so what we can say is that he’s probably going to go fairly quickly, if not downright suddenly and unexpectedly, and there will probably be more than one ’cause’ for his demise. The 8th ruler, Mercury is in the 10th (high profile), conjunct Jupiter (due to excess), on the degrees for the liver (more excess and rich living), conjunct Siva (some kind of breakdown therefore, something that occurs in episodes), opposite Vulcano, conjunct Ceres and conjunct Orpheus. Orpheus is associated with the throat of course, and Ceres with nurturing and digestion. The 8th ruler is square Uranus on the 8th cusp. I’d say he will beat the throat cancer, but it will come back, probably spread to the liver and the bowel and he’ll eventually die of a systemic breakdown and body shock through fighting on too many fronts. I hope he doesn’t read this.

Anyhow. That wasn’t strictly a digression, although it may appear tangential right now. I watched this film and it began with the protagonist (I believe his name is Shia LaBeouf), living a wealthy and materially replete lifestyle. Of course there was a ‘plot’ too, but inevitably, in any story, there are assumptions made about the viewer or reader. Mostly scriptwriters can make broad assumptions about their audience quite safely, they can assume that their average viewer isn’t going to, for example, enjoy being stalked by a homicidal maniac before being brutally murdered. They can assume that their viewer isn’t going to enjoy having their life’s work stolen by some unscrupulous conman, leaving them bereft and desperate (for example). These kinds of assumptions are what makes the film ‘work’ for its audience, because the audience will identify with the life situation of the protagonist and would react similarly to that individual when faced with their challenges and dilemmas.

When I watched this film however I was placed in the peculiar position of not identifying remotely with the protagonist and yet understanding intellectually that I was supposed to, in terms of typical audience material. What a disconnect it was, watching that movie as a result! It became somewhat akin to witnessing a freak-show, where I found myself cringing at the casual assumptions about where life held meaning, about what experiences were valuable, about what goals in life were worth striving for, and of course what constituted calamity in a human life.

I was left in a state of disconnection, as though I had witnessed something vaguely pornographic. I had watched a ‘worldview’ casually projected at me through the medium of film and experienced total dissonance as an effect. I know that there was a time in my life when I would have identified with the worldview of the movie, but that too was an intellectual apprehension for me, I knew it, but I could no longer feel it. It seemed silly to me, and while I was amazed at the basic assumptions of the movie, I was distressed only by my suspicion that the majority of viewers would not feel that same dissonance and would indeed identify with the movie.

So, as I say, I was out running while listening to an interview with David Hawkins. He was talking about linear reality, which is his terminology for what happens when you watch Wall Street and don’t feel dissonance, and he explained that while a spiritual approach to life is in and of itself a long and arduous journey, the very fact that you have moved beyond linear reality in your thinking puts you in an extremely small minority. He claimed that something like a mere 0.001% of all humans alive today have moved beyond linear reality, so if you have – and all that means is that you have accepted that there is some design to life beyond the material and you act upon it in some way, shape or form – that makes you an extremely rare human being.

Moreover, once you’ve made the smallest step toward a nonlinear view of the Universe, it’s actually impossible to go back to the linear model. Spiritual evolution is incapable of entropy.

Of course, moving into nonlinearity also makes you an idiot in the eyes of everyone who hasn’t made the same paradigm shift, which can only be a cosmic joke when you think about it, but one too that you could only find offensive if you hadn’t shifted. More pertinently though, it seems ridiculous to assume that the shift to nonlinearity could ever occur as the result of chance. It requires a rare melange of constituents to combust the human soul into such an unconventional worldview. It flies in the face of myriad accepted theories of success, and it contradicts directly the principles of social and material Darwinism, which is precisely the worldview of Wall Street movies of course.

One of the real challenges of astrology is that if a client comes to me and they have an entirely linear worldview, I am unable to help them. Indeed, it is impossible for them to be helped, because only in nonlinearity is there design and therefore meaning. Without meaning, life cannot – by definition – be meaningful. This is to me an enormous irony, because astrology cannot help anyone who is not open to the possibility that astrology is a window upon one’s inner workings. Even when I have spoken to those linear thinkers about their astrology and amazed them with knowledge of some unknowable reality of their existence, they are incapable of seeing it as evidence of design, because they do not believe in design, so at best it is a blip. A remarkable and inexplicable blip perhaps, but it cannot be assimilated into a ‘meaningless’ worldview except as an aberration. It cannot transmute the broad sense of meaninglessness into meaning.

The next conundrum lies in the truth that you cannot divine a nonlinear worldview from a nativity. Indeed, you can find two people with similar nativities and one of them will subjectively experience their placements from a linear perspective and the other from the nonlinear. This is easy to appreciate with the sign of Pisces which can fantasize about ‘dream cars’ or ‘dream houses’ or it can just as well appreciate that all endeavour is dust, but there is no marker to glean this distinction within the nativity, even if it is the work only of a single sentence or two to divine it in conversation.

And why should that be? Why is it that one person dreams of a Porsche and another (far rarer individual) dreams of sojourn in the wilderness? It cannot be chance. Nothing else works randomly (unless you are in the linear worldview, then most everything works randomly and you have to resort to statistics or an ‘unknowable’ God to make sense of the Universe), so why should this? Everything has to be worked for. A great runner (which, as I struggled agonisingly along while contemplating this, I most decidedly am not) doesn’t just happen by chance. His (or her) parents have to give him the right genes, he has to have some propensity to get out there and hit the pavement when it would be far more comfortable to stay home and browse your stock portfolio, or wonder agog at what makes a stock portfolio worth browsing in the first place, he has to be able to keep going even when his body is beginning to collapse into a sweaty heap of resentment. Everything in creation is a pinnacle of effort. Why should spiritual insight be any different? After all, anyone who has shifted their perspective in this way would never want to go back to the meaningless Universe, so it is subjectively ‘better’ to have reached this worldview, and it does not come without serious and rigorous self-examination, hardship, calamity, loss, hard-won humility and compassion. These are not experiences that most people would wish upon themselves; they would rather be ‘happy’. Whatever that means.

Now I have no wish to blow your mind with talk of reincarnation, but I cannot hide from the fact that without the ‘fact’ of reincarnation, astrology could not make much sense. That does not mean that it would not work, but only that it would lose context, and of course I could posit a scenario where reincarnation was not a fact. It would be like this: we are each of us simply a piece of the Universe’s consciousness, and thus born out of that unified state in order that the universal consciousness can experience itself. In this way there would not need to be continuity; each life would simply be a random experiential event that would not need to maintain continuity. If you got difficult astrology then it would just be unfortunate but at the same time it would not matter because at the end of life your consciousness would just go back to the vast unity of universal consciousness and your life experience would be integrated into the whole. You, as the individual Fred or Frieda would no longer exist in any separate way, so you would not feel hard done by, or even have been hard done by, because you were not actually a you at all, just a piece of the unity that separated and individuated briefly in order to allow the unity to have an experience.

On the other hand, if you believe that the soul has continuity then you have a case for reincarnation. This does not mean that there is not a unity, and we could picture this as though we are a piece of a larger construct, perhaps like a bee in a hive, whereby the hive is the unity that strives to accumulate experience through its myriad components. This would be like the bees being sent out to find pollen (or experience) and coming back to the hive to share that location (or experience) with the hive. It is a subtle distinction but in this latter case we have a construct which allows for continuity between lifetimes. In this way we can follow with a Buddhist concept of reality that allows the soul to gradually accumulate wisdom through life experiences until it reaches perfection. It also intrinsically intimates a life perspective which suggests that everything that happens to us happens for the reason of our soul’s need to grow and gradually achieve that perfection. In this view we can easily relate to the possibility that we therefore choose our life path before we are born and everything that happens to us during that lifetime is designed to propel us onward along that path.

There are a number of constructs in astrology which allow us to track these markers of past life experience and where we are supposed to be headed during this incarnation. From that perspective we can determine not only what problems we are likely to face (i.e. what ‘karmic’ baggage we have brought along with us) but also where we are headed, what it is we are supposed to achieve in this incarnation in order to fulfil our ‘soul contract’. Once we are done, we are done, and we can die and go back to the hive. Maybe we achieved our life’s mission, maybe not, and if not we will carry that baggage over into the next life as well.

So. From all of this we can grasp two fundamental concepts which are extremely important to apprehend if we are going to see life in the right way, or perhaps in a way that is least dissonant with what ‘is’. Enormous energy is wasted if we cannot accept life as it is (which is not the same thing as being a doormat and putting up with rubbish). First we can say that everything happens for a reason and most especially the difficult stuff of our lives happens for a reason and second, we can accept that nothing is wrong. If you have a difficult marriage because your husband is paranoid and controlling then that is not ‘wrong’. It is probably no fun, and it is almost certainly wearying, but it is not wrong. In fact it is exactly right, it is 100% what you needed to help you learn, grow and carry on working toward your soul’s perfection during this lifetime.

But more important even than this is the understanding that while the spiritual life is a journey, it is a journey that you are only aware of being on once you have switched your perspective. The chances are that if you are reading this then you are one of those vanishingly rare people who has realised. Otherwise you are still on the journey before the journey; which is the journey (and I would say it is a journey consisting almost exclusively of ‘going round in circles’) of accumulating enough painful experience to realise that you have no option but to begin to look at life more deeply. It is time to change or die.

So while we feel great compassion for all of the suffering we see in the world, what we can know, once we know it, is that while it is painful and traumatic, it is anything but senseless. When I watch the great anguish of the Japanese people, the Libyan people, the Egyptian people, the struggles of Michael Douglas, of friends, lovers, enemies, I do not see the unknowable vagaries of an unknowable God, but rather I see a perfect and magnificent design with a single and wonderful purpose:

“wake up…”

Révolution Tumultueuse…

An awful night. I slept very badly because of a series of anxious dreams about flooding. At one point I was in a pedestrian plaza that I did not recognise: there were tall buildings on either side and I had to run to reach a footbridge before a great swathe of dirty water reached me. At some other point I was driving in my car and turning out of a junction I saw that the road was a river! I was stunned, it was raging, covered with debris and I was really worried about the car being washed away, and about some piece of debris taking the exhaust off. When I woke up I was quite intrigued because I thought that it was one of those emotional dream cues, until I saw the news this morning and there I watched the same scenes as I’d been dreaming all night on the screen…

Suffice to say that nothing quite so psychically compelling has happened to me before, I am actually quite unnerved by the experience because the scenes were identical in every detail and it was terrifying.

Before I knew about the Sendai City tsunami though I lay in the dawn murk thinking about the ingress of Uranus into Aries. I did not know at that point that my oil tank had run dry, although it was uncharacteristically cold in the bedroom, a sure sign that the heating hasn’t been working. For the last 7 years Neptune in Aquarius has been lent considerable dignity by Uranus’ passage through Pisces, the two planets are in mutual reception, so Neptune has gained power, support and comfort from Uranus, but tomorrow night, only 24 hours after the Sendai City earthquake hit, Neptune will lose that support. It is no surprise that my heating oil has run out too. My world is, these days, almost entirely metaphysical in apprehension, so I cannot hide from reality in “reality” and pretend it’s a coincidence.

I fully expect therefore to see the current oil crisis continuing in a fluctuating but broadly deteriorating spiral until Neptune moves into his own sign Pisces, and will be immeasurably more potent than he is in the decidedly unlubricated sign of Aquarius. Oil was “discovered” in August 1859 (See Monica’s fascinating article on this subject for more), and Neptune returns to that same point in April 2023 through Feb 2024. That’s oil’s Neptune return.

I would say that oil will probably run out in around 2024, and until that point we can assume that the egress of Uranus from Pisces will have a disruptive effect in the interim and we are seeing that influence quite clearly already. After all, in Aries, Uranus is operating in service to Mars, and since Uranus tends to make sweeping changes and challenge outdated structures, he’ll be working for that agenda under Mars’ direction. Armed revolution is the order of the day. Under Neptune’s influence Uranus will have been trying to transcend, and perhaps revolutionise indirectly, a révolution tranquille, a whispering campaign. Under Mars, things will become, and already are becoming, far more direct. Indeed, the transit of the Aries’ Point is especially potent because the energy shifts from oppressed, voiceless victim to assertive, fighting energy overnight. At the Aries’ Point we, the people, are done with it.

There is still some protection now because while Mars is in Pisces there is a short chain of receptions lending Neptune power (Mars = Neptune = Uranus = Mars etc.), but as soon as Mars moves into Aries we can expect further and more committed disruptions on the world scene. April 4th ought to be especially potent as Mars contacts Uranus in Aries.

I would say that Uranus energy has been quite affected by the mutual receptions with Neptune over the last few years, and perhaps the Uranian type has been subject to a general malaise as a result, Neptune themes will cloud the effectiveness of the Uranian type under such influence – of course in good ways – but also in difficult ways, and the Cardinal Cross of the last 2 years has simply exacerbated that tendency. Pluto will increase the revolutionary pressure over the next 5 years or so as well, and I fully anticipate the world becoming a much scarier place (especially for Western societies) as a consequence. Having said that though, the world has had ample opportunity over the last few years to devalue Uranian energy, and those who have got onto the Saturn bandwagon in a big way are going to start reaping their ‘rewards’ in the coming days and weeks.

This isn’t just typical Neptunian apocalyptic thinking either: we are seeing it happen on our TV screens. When we oppress innovation, difference, even craziness, we run the risk of gradually narrowing focus, until societies serve only the interests of those who toe the line and the unconventional is stigmatised until it has become deviance and weirdness.

Such are the symptoms of the decline of empires.

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.

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.

The Astrology of Breaking Down

Today’s article is a story. Not a made-up story, it’s a real-life story, a part of my own story, and it demonstrates, I believe, just how astonishingly powerful astrology is when you are open to its most fundamental principles, when you are fluent (and that’s a potent word in this context) in its language, and how it is a diagnostic and therapeutic tool second to none if you are experiencing life problems.

There is a phenomenon in astrology which I call the cascade effect. I shall quote myself, because I want you to understand the cascade effect, if you don’t appreciate it truly, then you will struggle to harness the power of your nativity: instead, it will remain abstract, disconnected from your reality. So:

Any physical symptom is simply an expression of the astrology at the level of last resort. That psychic impetus that you have not manifested at some level higher-up in the totality of your awareness has – left with no viable alternative – found its way out into the body, and that is the cause of your symptom.”

Meditation or prayer is a powerful tool for healing when combined with astrological self-awareness

So, if you are sick, then there is a problem in your nativity that has been triggered. Of course, for the sake of clarity, this does not mean that if you have caught a cold there is a problem in your nativity; but if you are unusually sick, relative to the statistical norm for people of your age and background, and even, in fact, relative to your own experience. What this means is that if you become ill, and your symptoms are severe, chronic or unusually distressing, then the reason for that problem will be found in your nativity.

That problem will have manifested at different levels too, although, if it has reached the ‘low-point’ of the physical body, then the chances are that you haven’t noticed it manifesting in any of the higher levels, but have no doubt, it will have been there! I have a theory that these problems want to be noticed, simply because the natural impetus of the human soul is toward improvement and purification. Let me use an analogy.

You go and buy a TV, and because you’re short of cash, you buy it on credit. The next day you lose your job, and because you are always a bit short of cash you didn’t get any unemployment insurance, so you miss the first payment on your new TV. A month goes by and you receive a reminder in the post. You ignore it, thinking you’ll soon be back in work and you’ll sort it out then. Another reminder arrives and you ignore that, and the next, and you’re beginning to get a little panicky about it now. The phone rings and you’re screening the calls and it’s the credit company, so you start avoiding the telephone (we’ve all been there right?) A couple of weeks later, you get a really threatening letter telling you you’re going to be taken to court if you don’t get in touch and sort this out.

Now, you can carry on with this story, right up to the point where the bailiffs are kicking in the door and clearing out all your worldly goods, you get evicted and end up living in a homeless shelter; but since I already said this would be a true-story and not make-believe, I’ll leave all that to you.

The point is that your astrology works in exactly this way, except it doesn’t use uneasy feelings, reminder letters, phone calls and bailiffs; rather it uses synchronicity, feelings of discomfort, interpersonal conflict and physical sickness as a direct correlation.

What this means is that the Universe (which from a philosophical perspective is really your nativity) starts making things happen in external reality as a way of trying to tell you that you need to take note of this problem and start dealing with it. We call this synchronicity for easy reference. Astrology is a universal language; Mercury is concerned with an array of factors, from communication at the interpersonal level to nerves and lungs (and so on) at the physical level. Similarly, Mars rules assertion and competition at the interpersonal level and the muscles, the head (and so on) in the physical body. Therefore, if you suffer from neuralgia or frequent toothaches then the chances are that there is some difficult connection between Mercury and Mars in your nativity. This might not be immediately obvious, but here is a list of some possible interconnections:

  1. Mercury in aspect (especially hard aspect) to Mars.
  2. Mercury in Aries or Mars in Gemini.
  3. Mercury in the 1st or Mars in the 3rd.
  4. Having a stressor aspecting the midpoint of Mercury and Mars (e.g. Sa=Me/Ma).
  5. Having both planets in weak positions, thus Mercury in Sagittarius and Mars in Libra, (or even Mercury in the 9th and Mars in the 7th).
  6. Having another planet act as an intermediary: for example having Jupiter in Aries (thus ruled by Mars) in tricky aspect to Mercury. Or vice-versa, having Saturn in Gemini in tricky aspect to Mars.

Now the crucial point here is that this problem will be trying to get itself noticed throughout your life, but like the reminder letters from the credit company, you’ve been ignoring them. What happens next is that you get a (cosmic) phone call, and maybe you start experiencing heightened conflicts in your interpersonal relationships; you’re always arguing with some people (and just what is their problem anyway!) but still you take no notice, you stop answering the phone and eventually, the bailiffs start kicking the door down. AKA: you get sick.

There are  a number of other stages of course: you might get divorced, your car might break down repeatedly (that’s a Mercury problem too), but whatever, ultimately, if you don’t take notice at one of these other levels, eventually you leave the Universe no other option than to give you a really big and obvious hint and make you sick.

Of course, you can go on with this (as with the original story) and ignore the bailiffs too, but now you’re playing a high-stakes game. Your quality of life might be affected or you might be hospitalised: you could even die; and lots of people do, believe it or not, rather than fix the original problem which is sitting there (often plain as day) in their nativity.

So you see, by following the TV bought on credit example, you can begin to understand how your astrology actually works. It would be nice of course if we were able to work out what was wrong even before we got the first reminder letter, and actually, with practise you can. You can cultivate a habit of taking notice of synchronicity, those coincidences that seem too uncanny to truly be mere coincidences and try to interpret what the underlying message is all about, but of course you need to be aware of the universal and symbolic language of astrology before you can understand the message. If you don’t speak the language, you won’t be able to understand the message (you can of course use a good interpreter).

The human body is an energy matrix that is mapped by your astrology

Now, one more note before we move on; the reminders, like the problem that is attempting to get noticed are not random. They are always triggered by transits, directions, and especially – in my experience – Secondary Progressions. What this means is that you can usually find the cause of the sickness if you take a look at the Secondary Progressed nativity at the time the problem was first noticed. It is not always there (but that would be unusual, especially if the problem is serious), but if it is not, then it will certainly be obvious in the transit chart, the progressed Solar Return chart or somewhere else. You will find it if you know how to look for it.

Now, I could provide theoretical examples, but it would be more powerful, and easier, to give a real-life story to illustrate this issue. This article will probably be especially interesting to anyone with difficult aspects between Mercury and Saturn.

In my own nativity, Mercury is peregrine (not classically peregrine, but Ptolemaically unaspected). That means it receives no major aspects. There are only three minor aspects, a quintile (72°) to Jupiter, a semisquare (45°) to Pluto and a quincunx (150°) to Saturn. I have never had the slightest problem accessing the Pluto semisquare, Mercury is in Scorpio and in mutual reception with Pluto in Virgo, and I understand the quintile to Jupiter (I have a fortunate knack for learning: if I want to understand something I will), but I’ve never been especially aware of the aspect to Saturn.

There are two factors to consider here: the aspect, and the quality of the blend. A quincunx is an aspect which fundamentally connotes dissatisfaction: when you try to combine these two energies, you’re never entirely satisfied with the result; it therefore creates a push for perfectionism. Mercury – Saturn on the other hand has plenty of meanings, but fundamentally, it suggests that when you are involved in a communication or exchange of ideas (thus anything from a chit-chat to a formal learning process) there is a feeling of inadequacy, blockage, slowness or frustration. I’d never been consciously aware of any such problem in my life, any dissatisfaction with my communication or ability to learn and as a result I’d never taken too much notice of the aspect before but then, two months ago I began to develop a problem with my shoulder.

As an astrologer, I determined that I really ought to be taking notice of this, because obviously, I’d been ignoring a problem all the way down the line, so I needed to find clues. I thought about it for a few days and went to see the doctor. The shoulder had become so bad by this point that I was practically paralysed, I could hardly move and my every waking moment involved severe pain. The doctor told me that I had a nerve trapped between two vertebrae in my spine and prescribed me powerful painkillers and a muscle relaxant which helped but did not ‘fix’ the problem. I was therefore tasked with translating the problem into the universal language of astrology in order that I find a solution. So, I had: a nerve (Mercury) that was trapped, compressed between two bones (Saturn), which resulted in muscular pain (Mars) for which the doctor (Hygeia) prescribed drugs (Neptune).

So, the trapped nerve immediately made me take notice of Mercury quincunx Saturn. But other events started to make themselves felt.

During the recent Mercury retrograde my car overheated (Mars) and all the water exploded out from a burst pipe in the engine (Neptune and specifically: Mars-Neptune, the explosion of liquids). The next day the temperature dropped and there was heavy snowfall so the water in the engine froze (Saturn), I hadn’t had a chance to put antifreeze in. This resulted in repeated problems with the car; it kept breaking down (Mercury-Saturn). I’ve actually become quite good friends with my mechanic as a result, because he’s had to fix the car (Hygeia) so many times!

So, all the clues are here: we have a Mercury Saturn problem, with elements of Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and Hygeia thrown in for good measure. Now here is my nativity:

As you will see, all of the aforementioned planets are involved in a complicated matrix of hard aspects in my nativity. I was born with this problem. Evidently, I’d managed to ignore the reminder letters, and the phone calls, and now the bailiffs were knocking on my door.

So, what’s the story here? I included the Sun in this picture because it’s relevant.

When I was three months old my father left and I never saw him again (Sun opp. Saturn Rx). My mother remarried when I was 4 and I had never been especially interested in my biological father but through a long course of synchronicities I had finally got to the point where I’d decided to contact him, which I did: just before Christmas. So, for the first time in my life since the age of 3 months, I communicated (Mercury) with my father (Saturn). Shall we call that another coincidence?

So what then is the fundamental problem? As I said before, Mercury – Saturn aspects are all about feeling intellectually inadequate. That would probably seem quite laughable to anyone who knows me well, and indeed, if anyone had told me a year ago that I had a lack of confidence in my intellect I’d probably have found it quite laughable myself, but the more I examined the issue, the more it made sense.

The chakras are the primary energy centres of the human body

My stepfather, whom I love dearly, has always told me how incredibly bright I am, as has my mother. In my stepfather’s case that was all very well, but he is a Cambridge University professor and one of the most supremely intelligent, wise and self-possessed human beings alive on this earth today (which really is no exaggeration). That’s a real legacy to live up to. Upon serious reflection then, I now realise that this first became a problem for me at the age of 14 (when I had my first Saturn opposition, thus triggering the Sun opposition to radix Saturn and the quincunx to Mercury). I fell behind at school after being the highest achieving pupil in my year: and this at one of the best schools in the country. I essentially flunked my exams. Still, my parents persuaded me to go back and take A’ levels, but I lasted almost until the point of taking the exams and I dropped out again. Even still, I went back to school many years later and took A’ levels, this time at 29! The Saturn return: and I got into University as a mature student. I started taking History with Archaeology (how Saturnian is that?) but then decided that it wasn’t for me and switched courses: supremely late, to Computing with Psychology. I got two years through my course and became so discontented that I basically flunked out again.

I am quite sure you are seeing a pattern here.

Sun-Saturn connotes somebody who is not so much motivated by a desire for success as they are paralysed by a fear of failure. They can do quite well in life, but crucially, their efforts are fuelled primarily by not wanting to fail.

Now, the Mercury – Saturn connection provokes a test as does any Saturn connection, there is a looming qualm, an innate inadequacy which the native struggles to overcome, usually through persistent hard work. When connected with Mercury, that test relates to intelligence, one’s ability to learn and communicate knowledge, and it relates very precisely to academic matters, so Saturn here says: are you academically able? The aspect is quincunx, so there is a seeking after perfection, things have to be just right or the aspect nags, like grit in your shoe, demanding that you get it right. But then Sun-Saturn is paralysed by a fear of failure and the primary role-model for success in a man’s life are these exact male archetypes, Sun and Saturn, the living embodiment of which is found in the father or father figure.

So, when your primary father figure is one of the most well-qualified human beings on the planet (and he really is: you could count on one hand the number of people alive today with his credentials in his field, he has taught at Harvard, UCLA and held a professorship at Cambridge) then really, to say that’s a tough act to follow, is an astounding understatement. My younger brother summed it up rather astutely when I saw him a couple of weeks ago when he asked: “what actually is the point in trying to distinguish yourself academically in our family?”


It has dawned on me since that the reason I had always dropped out of education before I really got finished was because then I didn’t have to fail (Sun-Saturn) which meant that I wouldn’t therefore have to feel stupid (Mercury-Saturn). What else was there? Any child only wants to individuate and exceed their parents’ expectation, so what was I going to do, become a double professor?

And that’s when I realised that I had an intellectual inferiority complex. It’s not remotely my stepfather’s fault of course, he is as humble, gentle and kind as the day is long, he would never crow about his achievements – indeed, the only reason I even know that he is a professor, or where he taught is because I’ve read his biography in the numerous books he has had published. It hit me with a kind of kaleidoscopic rush. I can now sense the inner tension that builds as soon as I feel pressured to learn something, and it resonates dissonantly, at the same time, with an inner pressure to achieve that learning goal; to prove myself.

And do you know what happened as soon as I realised this?

The pain began to subside. Well, I have a lot of work to do and it will probably take many weeks to fix myself for good, but I feel as though I am on the mend.

Understanding this, let us revisit the story of my car:

During the recent Mercury retrograde my car went through numerous cycles of overheating and freezing (Mars – Saturn: Saturn is in Aries thus ruled by Mars), Mercury was retrograde (breakdowns) and in Capricorn (thus ruled by Saturn). The Sun – Saturn opposition points to a congenital weakness, my mechanic tells me that I bought the car with this problem (on Ebay), and of course, the mechanic himself is represented by Hygeia which is the apex point of a tee square from the Sun – Saturn opposition.

It was when I looked at my Secondary Progressed chart that I decided to just buy a new car, I had already thrown away a small fortune on trying to get the old one fixed.

There are a number of remarkable features here. Before I explain though let me tell you a little about progressed Mercury. I was born with Mercury at 7 Scorpio, unaspected. Mercury continued to progress direct through Scorpio until 1984 – the year I first took my high school exams – when it turned retrograde. It moved back through Scorpio until it had returned to its birth position, when I decided to go back to school and get the exams I needed to go to University. When Mercury was in perfect quincunx to SP Saturn I actually made the decision that I would give up work and go back to school (although it took a while to realise that plan fully). When I experienced my Saturn Return I started University. Mercury continued to retrograde until it reached 1 Scorpio, in 2004. When Mercury came within a degree of the natal quincunx to Saturn (for the 3rd time now) I started to experience pain in my shoulder and the car started to break down.

Quite apart from the rather remarkable fact that SP Mercury has been in Scorpio my entire adult life: and will be until I am well into my 60s, what you will see is that just now, there is a Mars – Hygeia conjunction at the exact midpoint (all midpoints express the two aspecting points) of the Mercury – Saturn quincunx. Hygeia is indeed in exact squile (half-way between the sextile and the square) aspect (75°) to both Mercury and Saturn (don’t laugh, it’s an important and neglected aspect, especially for progressions – as is the squine: 105°). So, the mechanic, the doctor, my health are receiving the tension of needing to fix my intellectual insecurity complex. Mars (overheating, muscles) is manifesting in both the car and my own physical body.

Esoterically I have been reading an interesting book about chakra healing. I meditate most days so I am fairly comfortable with the idea of moving energy around my body, and it’s no coincidence that I’ve always experienced a sluggishness around the meridians in my right shoulder that run up into my neck. I’ve also suffered with a long-standing gallbladder problem (Pluto is on the degree for the gallbladder) and the gallbladder meridian runs up over the right shoulder blade, up the right-side of the neck and on upward through the throat chakra.

Mercury-Saturn of course certainly highlights the throat chakra as an area of potential concern and difficulty (Mercury: communication / Saturn: block). I have had to learn to moderate my communication over the last couple of years, the fallout from my divorce have made that necessary, and in the last few days I am beginning to find the requisite peacefulness of heart to speak my truth without recrimination. The heart chakra, precedes the throat chakra as energy travels up the spine, so the neck problem can only be cured with love and understanding.

What I have learned is this:

I do not need to prove myself to anyone. I am what I am and I live my life with integrity. I try to help people, for no other reason than that it brings peace to my heart to feel their pain easing. Those people who cannot hear me, I forgive, but until they too are able to set aside recrimination and blame I must remove them from my life, in order that I properly protect my sensitive emotional body and the wellbeing of my loved ones. I am learning to say only words which reflect my needs, but without bitterness or anger, balanced with the needs of those around me.

Over the coming days and weeks I will be writing to all those people that I have blamed so that I can express my regret and forgiveness.

That is the path to healing.