Pluto and Me: the Two Great Invisibles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps an example will help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More soon.

A Change of Perspective

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With the inconjunct and semi-sextile, you have aspects that are vaguely out of tune with one another. Planets that are 150° apart are awkward, and whilst the aspect creates a desire for connection, there is an discomfort, and a vague clumsiness surrounding the association. They’re like strangers thrown together on a blind date, both hoping it will work out, but a little anxious and uneasy with the process. The semi-sextile is a little easier, it’s a superficially harmonious aspect that still suffers from some awkwardness because in both cases, these measures of astrological association don’t have much in common. Planets in these aspects are inherently self-conscious.

This ought to be self-evident, and I’m writing today about awkward sign combinations not because I want to explore the dynamics of basic aspectual complexes, but rather I want to explore a phenomenon that is relatively unaddressed in astrology, but which is of almost critical importance in understanding the arc of human life, and the subjective experience of ‘beingness.’ Sounds pretty dramatic, right? Well, it is, and it affects every person in profound ways, and indeed, it is the cause of much difficulty in life, so it deserves considerably more attention in the astrological press than it currently receives.

What I’m referring to is the phenomenon of progressed sign change. This is the principle whereby every planet moves on the day for a year system, and gradually moves through the extremes of its birth placement until it finds itself in new territory. It is my firm belief that this shift of core astrological principle is rather profound and has undoubtedly far-reaching consequences. This shift is also entirely under-emphasised in the contemplation of inner drives and motivations, and an exploration of these ‘shifts’ is essential to the good understanding of oneself, and of one’s study subjects.

The most easily accessed of all sign-shifts is that of the Sun. And because the progressed system operates on a day for a year ratio, it’s also the easiest to gauge, since you can assume that your progressed Sun moves about a degree every year. That’s not 100% reliable because the earth’s transit about the Sun isn’t perfectly circular, it is vaguely elliptical, so the progressed Sun may move fractionally faster or slower than the mean, but even so, a degree for a year is a good rule of thumb. So if you’re born on July 1st and you’re 30 years old, you can rely on the estimation that your progressed Sun will be in the region of 10° Leo.

Which means that at around the age of 20, (give or take a year or two), your Sun began to shift from a lunar-focused paradigm, to an entirely solar outlook. The implications are many and diverse. Not least because the Sun gains enormous power at age 20, but also because one’s entire way of being undergoes a radical change of focus. If the Cancer Sun is ruled by a second house Moon, then sentimentality around items from one’s past are incorporated into one’s identity. There is material connection to the past, both personal and historical. Security is found in the tangible, and you portray that worldview in your self-expression, such that you might become known for what you own, or what you value. And then at age 20, that changes. The shift of emphasis begins tentatively and slowly at around the age of 17, and ramps up exponentially until you find that you are somehow inwardly ‘replaced’ with new priorities, and it becomes like the shedding of a skin, or the post-larval emergence. You might feel bewildered by your former views and values and there is a period of adjustment. Fortunately, as the Sun moves gradually into the final degrees of the preceding sign, this process does occur by shades, and your consciousness is shaped gently until it is ready to emerge into the new paradigm, but it is this very gentleness which masks the often profound measure of the inner change.

And this in part is the reason why it is so interesting to contemplate the awkwardness of adjacent signs. A soul born into a Cancerian solar consciousness has to undergo a near incongruous change of perspective to accommodate an all-new Leonine identity. And when you contemplate this principle, it is easy to appreciate that there is no sign-change which is straightforward, since all adjacent signs are inherently contradictory.

The move from insular, private Cancer to attention seeking Leo is self-evidently discordant, but every shift contains these same vague antagonisms. Think of the shift from Jupiter ruled Sagittarius, to Saturn ruled Capricorn for example. Or from Mars ruled Aries, to Venus ruled Taurus. The movement is usually inherently revolutionary.

And as an addendum to these principles we should not lose sight of the fact that even after the shift, your essential nature still describes your ‘baseline’ of personal expression. A Cancerian will never abandon his or her lunar nature entirely in favour of the new exciting Leo dynamic. Rather it is incorporated into the totality of one’s personality, adding a new dimension to one’s individual nature. It is as though the lunar way alone is fully explored, it has run its course and something extra is desired. So the new Leonine ingredient is added to create a more serviceable (to oneself) melange.

The Moon moves relatively quickly, and every two and a half years there is similar shift of emphasis in the inner life that is usually quite simple to accommodate and discern: the Moon is by nature tidal, plastic, osmotic. The Sun, Mercury and Venus all follow a generally similar annual pattern, and so their progressed cycles are often analogous in terms of duration, although the action of retrogrades complicates their effects. As we move further out, the progression of planetary cycles becomes ever more ponderous and shifts are rare. But you can be sure they are quite profound when they do occur. Think how much weight Saturn will accrue when shifting from Sagittarius to Capricorn.

But these changes are often accrued gradually enough that they are not entirely noticeable, even if – with hindsight – it is possible to appreciate how fundamentally a person (yourself, someone else) has changed over a span of years. What is more drastic, and often shocking is the progressed retrogradation of an outer planet moving through the beginning degree of a sign and falling back into the preceding sign.

MLKThis is especially true for those born with Pluto retrograde in the early degrees of Libra, where Pluto is supremely potent. The subsequent shift into Virgo equates to an almost complete loss of Hadean force, virtually overnight. Technically there is some small overlap, but the first degree of a sign is so self-contained that very little of the preceding sign’s energy can infect it. This is certainly not true for the final degree of the sign, whose power is waning fast (both reasons why these are ‘critical degrees’). And since astrology does not operate in a vacuum, there is usually some corresponding loss of power (or a paradigm shift in the sense of personal control at least), to accompany the event.

Consider the Bee Gees. That’s not a joke, but Andy Gibb, died aged 30 – of a heart problem, as Pluto retrograded to within 5 minutes of the sign boundary with heart-centred Leo. The enormous and relatively sudden increase in Plutonic force could not be processed by his soul in a timely fashion, so that energy found its way out through the body, as any overwhelming Hadean energy is wont to do eventually, if not catharsised in some way. Or consider Martin Luther King who became a martyr just as Neptune retrograded out of Virgo (where Neptune struggles immensely) and into Leo (where Neptune is astonishingly strong). And furthermore, King delivered his seminal “I have a dream” speech within 6 weeks of the sign change. But while these cases are dramatic, and far from the norm, nonetheless, the shift of sign by progression cannot be underestimated. It will in every case have powerful effects upon the inner life, and almost certainly have some influence on behaviour and motivation, thus affecting the outer life also.

Orcus in Leo and the 5th house – a beginning

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Here, among other effects, Orcus complicates issues of identity and creativity. Rudyard Kipling, with Orcus conjunct Sun in Capricorn and the 5th house, squaring Neptune, was perplexed by who he was, where he came from, and what he would become, from the age of 7 and on. It became an obsession to him after he was sent away to England for schooling, leaving his parents behind in India. The woman of the boarding house was a merciless bully who determined that the young Rudyard be “made to read without explanation, under the usual fear of punishment. And on a day that I remember it came to me that ‘reading’ was not ‘the Cat lay on the Mat,’ but a means to everything that would make me happy. So I read all that came within my reach. As soon as my pleasure in this was known, deprivation from reading was added to my punishments.” The simple enjoyment of reading (5th) became a means of punishment (Orcus). For Thomas Hardy, who shared this placement, demonstrating his erudition in his novels became something of an obsession for a man who was not considered to be of the right class to require a university place. Mary Shelley, another famous writer with Orcus in the 5th wrote of Frankenstein’s monster, a true rendering of Orcus if ever one existed in all literature. But these examples aside, Orcus in the 5th is not an easy placement for this uncompromising entity. The all-or-nothing nature of Orcus creates great artists and writers for sure (Leo Tolstoy, Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh all share Orcus in the 5th), but that obsession with self-expression and too, with leadership can become a great burden to those whose motives are at all egotistical.

Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman all share Orcus in the 5th. There is this difficult potential that an obsession with being in the spotlight, taking the king role is in the DNA somehow, but with sufficient deepening and authenticity, it is possible for this placement to come good. Leo and the 5th are not the easiest places for solitary Orcus to operate, Orcus transformed needs no audience after all.

The Astrology of the Mayan End Date

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Much has been written about the astrology of the Mayan end-date tomorrow, with particular reference being made to the Yod formed from a Saturn Pluto sextile to Jupiter, retrograde in Gemini. For me, this Yod holds no especial promise. Indeed, it has some intimation of a fixation with communicating a glib set of values to mask an authoritarian agenda. I do not believe that the chart of the heavens for the solstice here on earth has much to do with the Mayan calendar and its implications.

Since the Mayans worked with a cosmic perspective, it might make more sense to look at the heliocentric chart for the Solstice. At the point where the Sun crosses into Capricorn, from the Sun’s perspective, the Earth crosses the opposite point into Cancer.

The helio chart for the solstice has much more power and spiritual potential than the geocentric map. In this chart there is a Grand Water trine, signifying the potential for emotional abundance, and deep connection to the feeling realm. Since this is very much a birth chart for the new Golden Age, then its portents are nothing short of excellent, at least for those able to respond to them appropriately.

Venus is closely conjunct Saturn in Scorpio which tells us something about deep inner balancing and responsibility of relating. The trine to Neptune spiritualises, and the trine to Earth grounds these energies into our reality for the coming period.

When we dig a little deeper we see that Orcus opposes Neptune and makes a Kite from this configuration. This tells us that our emotional security is won at the behest of experiencing the undermining and disingenuous illusions of those who seek to control, rather than to share. In a way therefore, this gives us a line of interconnection with the geocentric chart.

In fact, dear friends, if you are aware of these subtleties of connection, you will see that the geocentric chart and the heliocentric chart reflect their implicit natures through this bridge. My friend Michael Erlewine has a better grasp of these matters than I do, but he will tell you that these two charts are a synergy between the ego and the spirit. They are not a duality, but they represent different, and at the same time, interlocking objectives for the human soul. Your choice at this time, and this is the same for all humans alive today, is whether you are going with the ego or the spirit. Of course to choose one or the other is not truly possible – we cannot choose wealth or poverty after all, but you must set your intention to one or be condemned to drift within the consciousness of your field and of those around you.

Are you going to be represented by the Yod to glib, superficial Jupiter, seeking to mask compulsive control agendas under a barrage of rhetoric and expedience? Or are you going to open your eyes to the illusion of our world today, of your own certainty and make the commitment to love, truth and absolute, unwavering spiritual integrity?

Whatever you decide, I wish you happiness.

November 2012’s Lunar Eclipse

Something remarkable is going on in the heavens right now, but it’s not generally known about.

There’s the eclipse of course, at 6 Gemini – Sagittarius, but this actually forms a Grand Cross with Chiron’s current opposition to Orcus. Chiron – Orcus is the wound of integrity of course, and in the Virgo and Pisces polarity, it manifests through criticism and distortion. If you are being criticised by somebody just now you are probably handling that just fine, the problem is that their criticism is unjustified. It’s based upon a distortion, and there’s probably a sleight of hand, mouth or intention in the picture which is designed to wrong-foot you. The wound is based in the fact that one of the parties is being set up to take the fall, and they’re not the villain of the piece. “It was a fit-up your honour!” And it was.

Of course, it’s possible that you’re the one doing the criticising, and no doubt you feel justified in telling that person why you think they’re a fraud, a victim or a drunk, but even if you are justified (I mean, is that ever justified?) then tread carefully.

The reason that care is required is because this opposition, which is designed to hit a person’s most sensitive spot, is squaring the eclipse. On top of that Mars is transiting Pluto, (so partly this is coming about to serve a domination agenda) and Venus is on Saturn (and there’s a feeling of rejection, or of not being loved which is adding to the pressure.)

All in all, there is an enormous amount of pressure in the heavens just now.

Bear in mind that this eclipse is about how you relate to others (all eclipses are that), but most especially partners, parents and the like. The Gemini to Sagittarius polarity is ruled by Mercury and Jupiter respectively, so the danger here is that you shoot your mouth off, give somebody a big slice of your opinion and get to repent about it at your leisure.

I have witnessed this happen over the last few days with several people I know. And I say to them that “telling it like it is” is still subjective. And because Mars and Pluto are together in this, it’s entirely possible that you’re pushing your perspective and not even open to any other. Mars always has this problem, he just isn’t interested in anyone else’s point of view. So the Mercury-Jupiter quality of today’s eclipse can cause a real problem with people who think they have an opinion to share. The square to Chiron ensures that somebody will be wounded and the square to Orcus means that somebody is not being honest about their motives.

Once again, the only way to get through this unscathed is to say as little as possible, keep respectful, be honest and most of all, be prepared to be called the bad guy. It doesn’t really matter what you’re called if it’s not true does it?

Bear in mind that Orcus is out there, and Ixion is itching to emerge as well. Along with the action of Saturn in Scorpio, the bullies are gonna be outed. So let them rant and rave. Now that Orcus is in the world you cannot get away with it any longer. Orcus says, if you’re a game player you’re going to lose the game.

Today’s eclipse has a powerfully ruthless edge to it. Healthy boundaries are the key to weathering this one successfully: and that means having good boundaries for yourself, and respecting others’ boundaries too!

On the whole, Venus is the powerhouse of this eclipse, but as ever the eclipse changes quality dependent on where you are in the world as it happens.

LONDON: The eclipse falls across the 7th and 1st houses, so other parts of the UK may experience the eclipse in the 2nd and 8th. Venus dominates the chart and is conjunct Saturn in the 6th house and in Scorpio. That’s a very unhappy Venus. In the conflict of the eclipse responsible, reserved, gracious behaviour is the winner. Remember that Venus ruled by Pluto has a tendency to be very hot and cold, and here it’s exacerbated by a difficulty with showing (and in fact receiving) affection. The same is true of money. Be sensible with it, but don’t be miserly. And don’t spend your money (Venus) to serve a domination agenda (ruled by Pluto conjunct Mars). If you’re on the other foot, and somebody is spending money to dominate you, don’t rise to it. They’re way more transparent than they think they are. Saturn in Scorpio combined with Orcus squaring the luminaries isn’t having a grain of it.

NEW YORK: The same themes apply, Venus is dominant but in the New York chart the Moon is exceptionally weak. Mars is also considerably more powerful than in the London chart. The Moon’s weakness unbalances the New York chart considerably, and there is a strong pressure to end a bad relationship and seek solitude from one’s troubles. As ever, any action taken in integrity cannot really go wrong.

LOS ANGELES: The LA chart is especially compelling because the eclipse falls across the horizon, but even so Mars is the chart powerhouse, and conjunct Pluto on the cusp of the 2nd, this eclipse will bring a financial struggle to a close for this part of the world. Of course it might not be solely about money, but it certainly has a material bias. There is plenty of financial ruthlessness in this chart, it’s easy to push too far for monetary gain or indeed to get pushed around, perhaps quite brutally (Mars – Pluto trines Orcus) so if you’re after something, go steady, and if you’re being pushed, shore up those boundaries!

DELHI: Venus rules the chart, but now from the 4th, so formal family relationships are running the show. Power struggles within families are often the most difficult to cope with, because they can be subtle and effectively invisible to the rest of the world. Remember that respect should be a universal commodity. If somebody cannot treat you with respect then it shouldn’t matter that you’re related to them: it’s not your problem, it’s theirs!

And WHEREVER YOU ARE at this time, think on this:

What is the quality of your intent?

Certain people have a way of saying things that shake us at the core. Even when the words do not seem harsh or offensive, the impact is shattering. What we could be experiencing is the intent behind the words. When we intend to do good, we do. When we intend to do harm, it happens. What each of us must come to realize is that our intent always comes through. We cannot sugarcoat the feelings in our heart of hearts. The emotion is the energy that motivates. We cannot ignore what we really want to create. We should be honest and do it the way we feel it. What we owe to ourselves and everyone around is to examine the reasons of our true intent.

My intent will be evident in the results.”

Thurgood Marshall, from Acts of Faith: Meditations For People of Color – Page 27.

The Astrology of Oblivion

Last week, we explored some of the broad themes of Neptune. What a delight Neptune is, with his glorious, undermining illusions.

A few months ago, somebody asked me to look at the case of an aging relative who was becoming ‘confused and forgetful’. We talked about it for a while, science, in the form of a kindly, but ultimately noncommittal doctor had no answer to the problem, nor any advice it seemed, except to “monitor the situation”. The fear was, naturally enough, Alzheimer’s.

It is tempting to assume that Alzheimer’s falls within the purview of Neptune. After all, the key energetic qualities have much common-ground. There is confusion, a gradual drifting away, an encroaching sense of loss and eventually, oblivion. It is not for nothing that it is called “the long goodbye”. I researched the matter, and – in an attempt to better grasp the genesis of the disease and its implications – I looked at the history and origins of the disease, then at several case studies and in that process I discovered something new and remarkable.

As is often the case with disease, we are looking at the ‘last resort’ of astrology. I have written extensively on this subject before, as for example with the “Cascade Effect”, and it is worth revisiting the central premise:

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. Now, you might argue that you did not decide to drink the lead-poisoned water and that it was all the wicked power-company’s fault, but really, you did decide to drink it, because it was an esoteric response to a profound unconscious requirement that you apprehend some vanishingly precise and unique expression of human experience and the only way you could manage it was to move into an area where the water was poisoned by an unscrupulous corporate entity.

This posits a fundamental truth of the cascade from psychic pressure, which is itself predicated upon your karma and your innate level of consciousness, the totality of which I would call ‘spiritual energy’, through the emotional body and then into the physical body. If you cannot respond at the spiritual level to your karma then it will begin to have emotional effects. If you cannot purge the ‘dark matter’ then it begins to bring a pressure to bear upon the physical body. Louise Hay writes extensively on the subject without the benefit of astrology, but even so, her observations, with few exceptions, were remarkably cogent. If you have no love in your life then your heart will suffer. If you are fearful then you will have a digestive problem. Problems with the liver and pancreas relate to an inability to feel joy. As can be seen, all of these difficulties are preceded by an emotional trauma, acute or chronic in nature, usually between one and three years before the problem begins to manifest into the body. In that interim, the spiritual problem has begun to poison the emotional system.

Of course, as Wayne Dyer espoused: there is a spiritual solution to every problem, and this is true, but it takes an unusual soul to manage the great leap of faith and love to expedite it. Inevitably, even the most enlightened beings struggle to some extent with anger and woundedness, and these emotional symptoms of a non-spiritual response to conflict and difficulty, if not themselves ‘solved’ with a change of heart (and how apt is that phrase in this context!) will manifest into the mind or body as disease.

So when somebody approaches me with a concern about Alzheimer’s, we look first of all at the background to the problem itself, if we can, and try to build a framework within which we might put the problems in context. We hold in our minds the probability that Neptune is at work, but we can make no assumptions. Herein lies a meandering conundrum about the process of astrology too, which bears examination.

Here is what happens when your 6th house is ruled by Mercury opposition Neptune.

When we consider any disease, or even any broad situation in life, we see that there is a result. The result however, is not the cause. The result might therefore be Neptune in one sense or another, but the cause is not Neptune. Neptune may be part of the cause, but there is no one cause in the nativity. Causes are manifold. In fact, the more causes there are, the greater the likelihood of a particular placement manifesting the result. Sometimes this is a straightforward identification process, the apex of a Yod or tee-square, the debilitating and pernicious black energy of a Mars-Saturn-Pluto stellium, or a series of contacts that are within the same vibrational framework: consider Ronald Reagan’s Mercury opposition Neptune – ruled by Saturn in the 4th – Orcus in a Neptune ruled 3rd house, Pluto peregrine. At birth, Reagan’s Venus was his strongest planet, closely outpacing Mars and Moon, and this set the tone for his life mission, to bring order and harmony to the world (according to his own vision (Mars rises in Capricorn) and traditional, homespun values (Moon is in Taurus)) but crucially, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in August 1994, Neptune had assumed supremacy by his progression onto the IC. He therefore needed to express the quality of Neptune, could not manage it spiritually, nor emotionally, and so the force of Neptune made its way into his mind. The point though is not so much that he was compelled to vibrate at a Neptunian frequency, because that is itself only a result of some other set of prevailing conditions. Thus, if the wind blows from the East, your boat will drift to the West.

Reagan’s first job as a pro-rescuer – and a good one, he saved 77 lives. Neptune only got stronger from here on in…

In Reagan’s case, there is a fascinating stormy petrel in the form of White House correspondent Lesley Stahl who recounts her final meeting with the president, in 1986: “Reagan didn’t seem to know who I was. … Oh, my, he’s gonzo, I thought. I have to go out on the lawn tonight and tell my countrymen that the president of the United States is a doddering space cadet.” But then, at the end, he regained his alertness. As she described it, “I had come that close to reporting that Reagan was senile.”

This meeting took place precisely as Orcus fell conjunct Reagan’s Ascendant by progression.

There is one other important factor to consider in the case of Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s affliction, one final cause, but we must digress further to make it accessible.

When we look at the history of the disease, we find that it was named for Aloysius Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist whose life obsession became a single 51 year old patient, August Deter, who exhibited all of the, now classic, symptoms of the disease: withdrawal and confusion being most prevalent. After the patient’s death, Alzheimer studied the chemical structures of Deter’s brain and discovered that when studied under a microscope, the patient’s neuron structures were deformed, having a ‘tangled appearance’. These tangles cause the proteins to become insoluble, and thus normal brain function is impaired, albeit in a way that science does not understand. The result is Alzheimer’s disease. Doctor Alzheimer presented his research on November 3rd 1906 (at the 37th meeting of the Southwest German psychiatrists in Tübingen, the first order of the day’s discussions, after breakfast), wherein he first described the characteristic neurofibrillary tangle. Alzheimer’s disease was ‘born’.

The birth chart is interesting because Mercury rises and is precisely parallel Arachne on the Ascendant at 22 Scorpio. Mercury trines Orcus. The neurofibrillary ‘tangle’ looks, under the microscope, like a cobweb, and Orcus makes a prison from the mind as a result.

As I researched Arachne further I came to see that this little-known point loomed large where dementia was found. It was a ‘marker’.

Now, when we return to our study of Ronald Reagan’s nativity, we see that Arachne was trine Orcus at birth and had progressed precisely to his Midheaven on the day he was shot by John Hinckley in Washington DC on 30th March 1981. Remarkably, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994, Orcus has covered one third of his nativity, and replicated the birth trine to Arachne, albeit now from Leo, rather than Aries.

A seriously bad choice of mug-ee…

Further research bears out. Charles Bronson, another Alzheimer’s sufferer (and Orcan personification) experiences a Grand Trine of (Sun/Mercury) = (Pluto/Arachne) = Uranus, and these form the basis of Kite when Orcus is included: via his opposition to Mercury!

Iris Murdoch too, with Orcus on the Midheaven opposing Arachne on the IC died 9 days after the all-powerful middle-pass of Orcus = Ascendant; her Alzheimer’s was diagnosed as Orcus transited in opposition to her Moon and Mercury. At the middle pass, quite naturally.

By 1965, Neptune was really making himself felt…

Numerous case studies affirm that Arachne and Orcus are the major markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the nativity. But it bears repeating that it makes no sense to rush off and look up one’s own susceptibility. These are merely the routes to a result that your soul needs to manifest. If Neptune becomes your strongest power then you are simply letting go of control in your life, and you can resist that need to let go if you like. As Louise Hay writes of dementia: what is it that you need to forget?

For Ronald Reagan, it is my view that he could not face the ultimate powerlessness of his own mortality on the fateful Washington morning in 1981, exactly as Reagan’s Arachne progressed onto his Midheaven! The sheer randomness of that dreadful threat must have shaken him to his core. Hinckley, his would-be assassin was declared insane and quite rightly, after all, he decided to kill the President in order that he might impress Jodie Foster.

Jodie Foster incidentally has a one-degree opposition between Orcus and Arachne.

And Hinckley? Orcus conjunct Node, Mars and Mercury, square Moon, sesquisqaure Saturn, parallel Jupiter, Uranus and Arachne, semisquare Arachne.

We are all connected, even when sometimes; we really don’t wish to be.

Saturn in Scorpio: Time to Get Real…

While Saturn travelled through Libra, we were tasked with new learning. Saturn is always about learning as evidenced by the fact that wherever he resides in your chart is a place where you are especially under-prepared. If you have Saturn in Libra therefore, you start out with a difficulty in relating in a mature and balanced manner. Life seems to throw lessons at you which force you to grow-up in that area of human endeavour. The hope is that as a result of Saturn’s stern erudition, you grow and mature to become an especially thoughtful example of the principle in question. With a Libra Saturn therefore, you become a role model of careful, mature and respectful relating. If you have worked consciously with your Saturnine taskmaster, later in life you will be held up as an example to others of what a decent and supportive partner should be, whether that’s in marriage, business or in the law firm. How it works in your life is dependent upon the matrix of aspects and expositions, but, provided that you do Saturn’s work diligently, you will be seen as a role model in the way in which Venus, her house and the house containing Saturn, and ruled by him, are configured in your chart.

When Saturn moves into Scorpio, the energy shifts. Saturn feels rather comfortable in Libra because they have a shared familiarity with principles of reason. Venus is genuinely cooperative, and Saturn is mature and they both enjoy doing things properly, in a seemly and just manner. It might be that with Saturn in Libra there is an early difficulty with seeing the other person’s point of view, but that is the lesson. Just as with Saturn in Libra’s opposite sign Aries, there is an early difficulty with going it alone. This is why it is usually at the Saturn return that Saturn in Libra gets serious about relationship. Saturn also rules separation, so if you think back over the last two years you will see that the people who could not relate to you with respect are gone from your life.

But with Scorpio, the energy is not nearly so mutually compatible. While Libra’s domicile causes Saturn to, rather sympathetically, learn to be reasonable, Saturn in Scorpio has no such concern. Here Mars’ night rulership, and Pluto’s domain are under the spotlight of Saturn’s harsh lessons, and this means that we have to learn to grow-up in a way that is almost diametrically opposed to Libra’s benign pressures. Libra is about appearances and the niceties of life, about relating and about being considerate toward others. With Scorpio, the growing up required by Saturn is all under the surface.

It is in part for this reason that Saturn is not nearly so comfortable in Scorpio as it is in Libra. With Libra we do not have to dig deep to grow because we can formalise instead. When we put Venus (in her Libra guise) together with Saturn we create various new forms: marriage contracts, polite conversation, business law, financial regulation, older lovers, business functions. When we put Saturn together with ‘dark Mars’ and Pluto, the energy shift is bound to be uncomfortable, because we cannot formalise our deepest self in the same way that we can formalise aspects of relating. With Libra Saturn it is enough to learn to communicate with maturity in your primary relationship: that is an important lesson for any successful union between two people, but with Scorpio Saturn the work is very personal and very deep. You will be tasked over the next two and a half years with growing up in the very depth of your being. In a way this complements Saturn’s transit through Libra which has forced us to grow up on the outside, because now we have to walk the walk too.

And there is an added dimension here because for the first time since 1776, Saturn and Pluto are in mutual reception. “1776!” I hear you ask. “That rings a bell!” you say. Because 1776 was the year that the United States declared independence from Britain, so this particular transit is especially pertinent for America (and Britain actually); the energy signature is a repeat of that time. In truth it is arguable that in many ways it is more potent because Pluto was not fully revealed in human consciousness as it is now. When the Declaration of Independence was written by Jefferson it contained some truly reasonable ideals and aspirations, and at the time of its signing, Saturn was in Libra and the 10th house, that is a public statement of reason for sure. But by December of that year, Saturn had moved into Scorpio, and it came time to actually deliver on those high-minded ideals, and that is where the truly difficult work was begun.

For the United States of old, as for us today, the challenge remains the same. We have worked hard to become more reasonable, more fair-minded and more cooperative during Saturn’s sojourn in the scales, but now it is time to get beneath the polite veneer and see if we are capable of delivering that maturity from a place of deep truth. We can’t just talk the talk any more, people are beginning to see through it and we are being tested to see if that outer maturity comes from the inside, or if it is just a veneer.

It is for this reason that Saturn in Scorpio is truly tough. We can’t fake it till we make it any more: it’s time to grow up on the inside.