Orcus in Leo and the 5th house – a beginning


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.

Planets Unaspected, Feral, Peregrine.


(An excerpt from my forthcoming book.)

The term peregrine is much misunderstood in astrological practice. Nicholas DeVore in his Encyclopaedia of Astrology defines it as being “Foreign, alien. Said of a planet posited in a sign where it possesses no essential dignity: where it is neither dignified nor debilitated. … However, no planet is reckoned peregrine if it be in mutual reception with another.” Essentially, this traditional understanding of the term derives from its literal Latin root, pelegrinus, meaning an outcast, wanderer or outsider. Clearly the term implies a being who is not at home, with all the resultant discomfort such a condition confers. Astrologically then, here is a planet that is not in any sign of dignity or debility, nor is it in its own triplicity, term or face, nor is it in mutual reception by ruler, exaltation, triplicity, term or face. It has no natural connection, good or bad, with the position which it occupies.

If you imagine this placement as a person, then clearly, he is going to struggle to get anything done. If you were suddenly transported into an environment where you knew nobody, you were considered out of place, strange or undesirable, you were unable to speak the same language as others, you had no home, no shelter, and no means of making yourself secure then you would find yourself in a fairly threatened state. Indeed, you would be catapulted into a very real struggle for survival.

This is exactly what happens when a planet is found to be traditionally peregrine. It is considered a very unfortunate situation, because there is no support, the planet is homeless and vulnerable and it cannot therefore project itself because it has no secure base from which to operate.

Noel Tyl extended this concept to include the incidence of unaspected planets, those which have previously been termed ‘feral’. He has received some criticism for this from various astrological students who cite the potential for confusion: they claim that he is using a previously earmarked term for a new concept, which of course is confusing. Fundamentally however, this view fails to comprehend that Tyl is not referring to a new concept at all, because an unaspected planet is unable to project itself since it has no secure base from which to operate, in exactly the same way as a planet without essential dignity. It too is pelegrinus. Indeed, I would argue that a feral planet is in the majority of cases much more peregrine than a planet without essential dignity. Our understanding then must not be limited to a specific rendering of ferity or essential dignity or debility, but we simply have to gauge: how peregrine is this archetype?

When we understand the depth of peregrination, for whatever reason, then we begin to understand how desperate – if you like – is the situation for that archetype. If we again liken the peregrinated planetary energy to a person placed in an alien environment then we can quickly grasp some of the very urgent and compelling contingencies of that situation. The person with no home, no security, no means of making themselves understood will be forced to muster enormous focus and energy simply to stay alive. Starvation or hostility are real threats that must be countered, the person that is outcast has to work astoundingly hard just to operate at the level that everyone else simply takes for granted; it is that or perish.

Granted, some do perish. Severely peregrinated nativities are very often tragedies in the making.

Before we move along further let us consider the technical arrangement of peregrination by aspect. In my work I generally use an orb of 6 degrees for the conjunction, opposition, square and trine and an orb of 3 degrees for the sextile to determine whether a particular planet is peregrine. I consider no other aspects at this stage.

This does not mean that we discount wider Ptolemaic aspects, nor do we ignore the influence of minor aspects. We are simply making a determination at this juncture about the ease of expression of a given planet: a planet that does not have access to an ‘obvious’ aspectual outlet will struggle to express its quality, therefore the native will overcompensate or alternately carry on with life seemingly oblivious of that facet of their nature. So a chart with peregrine Moon might, for example, evince a quincunx between Sun and Moon which ought to be quite urgent, but it is not an aspect which expresses itself powerfully, even if it is quite intense; the major aspects alone have this effect; so whilst we can say that there is an innate dissatisfaction with the results of expressing his needs, this in itself is not a ‘big enough channel’ for the lunar quality. It does not have the required bandwidth. Only the major aspects within this fairly tight orb structure have the requisite bandwidth for proper archetypal expression.

If we use the example of peregrine Moon, one of the key qualities of the lunar archetype is a sense of emotional attachment to the myriad rhythms of life: a severely peregrinated Moon in its detriment or fall, very often creates a life that is characterised by disconnection, a separateness that in a difficult sign, such as Scorpio can become deeply uncomfortable. Contrast this with peregrine Moon in the opposite sign of Taurus: there is a disconnection with life, but it is entirely comfortable, safe and protective, the native has no desire to connect; indeed, it is in making the connection that insecurity is felt, life is better inside the bubble.

So, herein lays the nub of the peregrination issue. When the energy cannot be easily expressed due to some severe friction, due to a lack of bandwidth then the themes of that placement are writ large on the life arc, either through being over-experienced or utterly absent. In the former case, the quality of that experience becomes paramount; if the placement is inherently uncomfortable then inevitably it will colour the entire life-situation with discomfort.

It is with this in mind that I would consider ferine planets to be in serious difficulty, which will be subjectively experienced most especially according to the conditioning of the sign in which they are found. In a sympathetic sign the sense of experiential discomfort for an unaspected placement would be far less than a planet in its detriment or fall, however, the drive or impetus to inclusion of that archetype would be intense in the extreme. A person with a feral Moon in Taurus would be compelled to express and integrate lunar themes just as powerfully as the person with Moon in Scorpio, but they would feel a great variance of discomfort in the condition accordingly.

This is where the concept of polarity becomes powerfully important, because it is time and again proved unhelpful to view opposite signs as separate, or even as opposed! Consider instead that they are a single entity, concerned with identical issues and themes, but approaching a shared objective from different ends of a spectrum. Both Taurus and Scorpio are concerned with security and safety, but while Taurus seeks material comfort (more is more, I will be safe in the physical world), Scorpio operates from an emotional perspective (less is more; the best things in life are free). Since the lunar principle is primarily one of comfort, security, safety and sustenance, there is no question that it is easier to realise those objectives through the physical and material route of Taurus than the protectively emotional route of Scorpio. The Moon in Taurus eats for comfort, the Moon in Scorpio finds comfort in not needing to eat; that’s a tough route to security by comparison.

Thus an unaspected planet looms large in the unconscious, becomes a kind of psychic collapse with an enormous event horizon, sucking everything around into itself in an attempt to be fulfilled. It can completely devour the entire life-direction in this manner, subjugating all other drives to its own fulfilment. For this reason, an unaspected planet experiences a major adjustment in terms of dignity and debility evaluation. If a planet is in a sympathetic sign, so the discomfort of it is not so keenly felt, you will of course have to moderate your analysis accordingly, but it will not prevent that energy from being equally as dominant in seeking its own fulfilment as a placement in an unsympathetic sign, but in the latter case the subjective sense of that archetypal energy might feel considerably more difficult and therefore that person will no doubt be experienced by others as more difficult.

This is the nub then of peregrination. It does not matter which condition qualifies any given archetype as peregrine, rather, the key understanding is that the archetype is out of place, struggling, in dire difficulty and the native’s experience of it will reflect that selfsame difficulty.

Therefore, and if you follow this philosophy, you will be able to grasp the emergent reality which it hints at: within the greatest weakness and difficulty lies our greatest potential strength and peregrination – in whatever guise – prompts the soul to create an imperative, as though it were laid out thus from the instant of birth: a great, wondrous arc leading tentatively to emancipation, if only we have the necessary quality to strike out for its marvellous conclusion.

Look at those cases where peregrination was not at all in evidence; by essential dignity alone, Muhammad Ali’s ‘weakest’ planet is Mars, and yet, here is the greatest fighter the modern world has seen. The same condition is found in the nativity of Mark Spitz.  Julie Andrews’ weakest planet? Venus! And Albrecht Durer, whilst primarily an artist, influenced art theory, mathematics and Renaissance thought profoundly and Jupiter was his weakest placement. The list goes on.

But then, when peregrination is brought to its logical extreme, and we seek examples to underpin our suspicion, the circle becomes complete:

  • Sylvia Plath who dedicated her short life to expressing her inner emotional life through poetry has unaspected Moon.
  • John F. Kennedy, perhaps the archetypal leader of the free world, had unaspected Sun!
  • Agatha Christie, the best selling writer of all time, has unaspected Mercury.
  • Brigitte Bardot: unaspected Venus.
  • Sylvester Stallone, the action hero: unaspected Mars.
  • Germaine Greer, feminist philosopher and writer: Jupiter!
  • Ted Kennedy, the most respected senator of modern times in the USA, had peregrine Saturn.
  • Alan Watts, a thinker, writer and speaker of profound insight and unmistakable genius, had peregrine Uranus (as does Gary Kasparov and Barack Obama).
  • For the ruler of film and fantasy, Neptune, how about Walt Disney?
  • Peregrine Pluto is a difficult energy, and it is easy to spot the common theme in the list of those whose nativities evinced the unaspected placement: Buddy Holly, John F. Kennedy, his wife Jackie, Marilyn Monroe and Natasha Richardson.

What we see then is that where a planet is weak or lacking in dignity it creates a struggle which is felt experientially by the native, and this condition is enormously exacerbated through a lack of aspects. For the most part we will never comprehend the destinies of millions, who struggle through lives marred by the imperatives of such conditioning, but occasionally, prominence is thrust upon individuals and the themes of peregrination are writ large upon the world stage for all to see.

The Astrology of the Mayan End Date


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.

November 2012’s Solar Eclipse

I have given it some thought and I have determined that it might be useful to say a few words about the current Solar Eclipse at (close to) 22 Scorpio. Of course you can read plenty of commentary on this from various astrologers who will all tell you that this eclipse will signify a time of deepening responses, the beginning of new cycles of difficult but ultimately rewarding emotional change and a feeling that it is time to get serious or real about life, most especially about the affairs of the house with Scorpio on its cusp, the house where the eclipse falls, and to some extent, as a kind of moderating influence, the houses containing and ruled by the Sun and Moon.

As an example, the eclipse falls for me in the 6th house, and with Sun in the 6th too, ruling the 3rd, and Moon on the Descendant, I am starting my new astrology school. That will change the way that I work (6th) in a profound way (Scorpio) through teaching my skills (3rd) to others (Dsc). It is very simple when you look at it that way. Of course, you will have to look at these factors as they apply to your own nativity and transpose that onto your subjective reality to have it make sense.

What most astrologers fail to mention about this eclipse , or any other lunation for that matter, is that understanding the effect for you and your life depends – and hugely – on where you are in the world when the eclipse (or any lunar phase) occurs.

For example, in the UK this eclipse has been a very curious phenomenon. The Sun and Moon are perfectly balanced, as are Venus and Mars, and too Jupiter and Saturn. These pairs of planets form polarised partnerships in astrology and therefore the fact that each pair is equally potent in the UK eclipse chart is quite fascinating. This suggests to me that there is a getting back to balance imperative arising from the event.

But despite this, in the UK at least, the strongest planet, by some considerable degree, is Neptune. This means that Neptune sets the tone for the eclipse, so the new emotional changes that are called for are to do with getting back to a place of reality, of rebalancing one’s spiritual energy and either fixing, or killing off difficult relationships.

Because that is the other foundation stone of the lunation cycle: every phase is concerned with relating. So if the eclipse falls in your 10th house, it’s the way in which your relationships make you appear to the world at large which needs rebalancing. Have you held onto people in your life because they make you look good, in spite of the fact that perhaps they don’t really nurture you in any meaningful way? Or conversely, have you shut somebody out of your life because of shame, or because they don’t really suit your image and lifestyle somehow? Now is the time to examine how appearances and relationships go together in your life.

As another example, what if this eclipse falls in your 7th house? An eclipse in the 7th is always especially powerful because not only is it an angular position, it’s also a relating house even without the confluence of solar and lunar energies. Here you are being asked to examine the ways in which you relate to partners, especially marital partners (past and present!) Have you let any ‘bad habits’ creep into your primary relationship over the last few months or years? Now is the time to set things straight again, to get some balance back into the relationship. Maybe that means that rather than opting for an easy life, you finally just say what’s been on your mind and get it out into the open, or alternatively, maybe it’s time you were honest with your partner about that situation that you’ve been brooding on for all this time. You know. That situation.

This advice always comes with a caveat though. Neptune is extremely strong and Mercury is weak through this eclipse, so the danger is that you struggle to speak authentically. With strong Scorpio energy the natural predilection is to speak to the heart of any matter, but where Mercury is weak one’s reasoning powers are unlikely to be terribly incisive, and as Mercury squares a very strong Neptune it is extremely tempting to put things in such a way that it glamorises your own part in the proceedings. Indeed, it’s almost impossible not to do this under this influence.

There is a solution to the problem of Mercury – Neptune though, and it goes like this:

  1. Hold in your mind an image of the person that you love (or loved, if they are gone) most in the world and really experience your feelings as you “look” at them.
  2. As you picture that beloved soul in front of you, become aware of your eyes and how they feel soft and caring.
  3. Now, as you relate to others at this time, look at them through these same eyes.

It is such a simple trick, and it is powerfully effective. This completely catharsises negative Neptune energy right at the source and you will find that you can relate to anyone in this way and speak the truth without evasion or unconscious malice.


Of course the situation is going to be different wherever you might be in the world. In New York for instance, Neptune is still strong, but so is Mars. This means that the tone of the eclipse for those living in New York is going to be subtly, but experientially quite different from anyone in London. There’s more sexual energy at work, so it’s useful to go with the current lessons of Saturn in Scorpio and ask yourself where you’ve been avoiding intimacy in your life. As an aside, if you’re looking for more insight about this, try Mandi Lockley’s in-depth but highly accessible Saturn in Scorpio. The other side of the New York eclipse lies in the use and abuse of energy in your relationships, here are a few questions that might get you thinking along useful and self-edifying lines at this time:

  • Is it fair for me to be angry at someone who’s sick, helpless or a victim?
  • Is it fair for that person to be angry with me when it’s not my fault?
  • How does passive and covert aggression block me from relating to others meaningfully?
  • Does being tired prevent me from getting the most out of my relationships?
  • What dreams, desires and fantasies am I keeping hidden from my significant other?

As a final observation for New York, Orcus energy is quite ferocious for this eclipse in your part of the world, so loneliness is part of this picture! If you’re not intimate then you are likely lonesome, right? Time to put your energy into a relationship that can work, and get shot of what’s too broken to be worth rescuing! Yes, plenty of Neptune here. For some instant therapy try reading The Shipping News.

As a final illustration, if you are in Sydney Australia, then the eclipse is going to be even more powerful and profound because it’s visible. But here Saturn is the heavyweight in the eclipse chart, in more ways than one! Mars is also flexing his muscles so the energy here is about a real blockage. What is it you’re not doing out of fear or because of a lack of confidence? Your relationships with friends are highlighted, but this eclipse also focuses inner resources on the way in which your primary relationship fits into your social life. How does your primary relationship stop you being free with your friends? How do your friends stop you from being intimate with your loved ones?

So you see, the tone of an eclipse has a basic quality, but you cannot gauge its specific quality independently of your location. When you apply the locality of this eclipse to your nativity you can begin to formulate some very clear observations about how it will affect you.

If you want to learn how to understand these matters for yourself, then sign up for my 2013 Astrology School. I can show you how it’s done, and much more besides.

And do let me know how the eclipse applies to you: all war stories are gratefully received!

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.

The Dream Dealer

It’s a time of reflection, do you feel that?

Saturn in Scorpio is really starting to work his magic. Except it doesn’t really feel like magic. Or if it is magic then it’s some old-school thaumaturgy, or one of those terrifyingly savage shamanic rituals that unfortunate sailors would get caught up in, far from home, in the South Seas in the 1700s. It isn’t fun at all.

When the Moon hit Saturn in Scorpio, the energetic landscape changed. What I really became aware of was the way in which Jupiter in Gemini was suddenly, through an act of contrast, laid bare, and he looked kind of ridiculous. Suddenly that boundless frivolity started to seem dumb. It was, in true Saturn style, a reality check. The fact is that Jupiter is appalling in Gemini. Arguably not as appalling as in Virgo, but appalling nonetheless. Jupiter, who likes depth and substance has nowhere to go except to spread himself further on the surface, because Gemini gives no natural depth. Saturn in Scorpio gets seriously deep and suddenly Jupiter looks like a second hand car salesman arguing life perspectives with Alan Watts. In many ways I am far more comfortable with Saturn in Scorpio – as ridiculous as that sounds – than I am with Jupiter in Gemini.

In part that’s a generational problem. Having pondered the conundrum for some time I believe that Neptune is partly to blame (blame? Neptune?) for this. Allow me to explain.

Neptune always gets cast as the good guy; if I may quote myself (from “Orcus” p. 202):

“I believe that Neptune is given a fabulously good press by contemporary astrology, and one that is scarcely deserved. Certainly, Neptune’s reputation is enormously positive compared to his brother Pluto’s, and yet I am endlessly sceptical about how deserving of his many generous epithets Neptune truly is. Like the ocean, Neptune seems beautiful, yearning and restive, a vastness of potential and a personification of a gentle eternity, but it seems that way from the perspective of the safe shore. Anyone who has been beyond sight of land in a black and angry sea understands that Neptune’s power is just as dread as his brother’s; equally as alien and inhumane. Pluto’s realm is buried, however; unknown to the living, whereas Neptune’s treacherous tides and currents are glamorised by his glittering waves and gentle breezes. Neptune’s dreams, poetries and symphonies are spin-doctors par excellence.”

Neptune’s wonderful trick is that he flatters to deceive by presenting us with an image of the ideal that we cannot possibly hope to realise. Then, unattained, the dream becomes a goad to our discontent.

And, when you get to grips with it, Neptune describes your dream. With Neptune in Scorpio, the basic premise is a kind of unencumbered Spartanism. You dream of a life of purity, of minimalism, of spiritual depth. If that Neptune is in the 6th house then you will have a dream about starting your day by donning your robe, walking into the clean air as the day breaks, up to the dojo under the mountain and beginning your meditation. If the 7th house, then instead, you awake in your remote cabin to find sunlight streaming through the trees. Your beautiful, funny, successful wife has made a pot of rich Columbian coffee and you join her on the porch to listen to the birdsong. In the 8th, you wake up in the presidential suite of the Waldorf Astoria. The Swedish women’s volleyball team are staying on the same floor…

Okay, I’m joking, mostly.

But you get the idea. Neptune has a dream. It is highly personal and always alluring because it is purpose-made for you. With a Scorpio placement, the quality of that dream is always going to be characterised by depth and richness. It is not a case of bigger and better; rather it is a case of finding something pure and valuable, like a rich seam of gold deep in the black earth. Imagine that for a moment, it shines in the darkness and promises so much.

The placement of Pluto and aspects to Neptune are going to have a profound influence on the themes of your dream. If you have Scorpio Neptune in the 7th and Pluto in the 10th, then after you have drunk coffee with your wife, you climb into your Porsche and drive into the city to make big-money deals.  If Neptune trines Mars then of course, all the girls flirt with you, you’re so charming after all, but they all know that you’re happily married and can’t wait to get home to see your wife.

With Sagittarius, the dream changes, fundamentally. Now Jupiter is running the show, so it’s not a seam of gold buried deep in the earth any more, rather it’s a bright, hot-air balloon drifting gently in the balmy summer sky. You’re up there in the clouds looking down on the glittering panoply under your feet.

With that Neptune in the 6th house, you want a daily routine that’s filled with fun and laughter and good times. Yes, you can feel that can’t you? You get up and the kids are laughing, the sun is shining, your handsome, jovial husband is cooking breakfast and telling goofy jokes. You sit down to eat and your best friend calls and you arrange to go out for lunch after your yoga class. You see? That is the “more is more and it will all be great fun” style of Neptune in Sagittarius’ dream.

Inevitably though, the dream can become something of a curse. Actually, it invariably does, and when we experience hard transits to that Neptune, we begin to feel just how painfully short of that dream our reality actually is. The Neptune squares are the time in our life when we get the best opportunity to feel how far from that dream we are, and to make necessary adjustments, which invariably require coming to terms with the fact that we are going to have to let go of some things that don’t serve that dream. But that isn’t the only time we can improve the situation.

We are gifted another opportunity when Saturn moves into Neptune’s sign. It rarely feels like an opportunity, because the nature of these two energies are fundamentally dissonant, but for those born with Neptune in Scorpio, now is the time to make the hard and often onerous changes in your life which will help you to make the dream a reality. This is because the planet of reality is bearing down on the planet of fantasy, and when they finally meet, they are going to find a middle ground. It might be that Saturn gives way and you work hard to realise the dream, or it might be that Neptune gives ground and you start to get real about what is possible, and adjust the dream accordingly. Whichever way it goes, and usually there is a combination of both, after this transit, your ideal life, and your actual life will be closer than ever before. The process will not have been easy, or enjoyable, but you’ll be glad of it when it’s done.

With Neptune in Sagittarius, the situation is unique and considerably more compelling. Neptune in Sagittarius’ dreams and aspirations are in many ways bigger than Scorpio’s, and easier to deflate for that reason. But the great cosmic mechanism has ensured that Neptune in Sagittarius gets a double dose of adjustment as Saturn moves into Sagittarius between December 2014, and December 2017. People born in about 1971 are already being given a taste of this problem because – born between 1971 and 1972 they have Neptune in Sagittarius and Saturn in the early degrees of Gemini. They’ve lived with the dissonance of Saturn opposing Neptune their entire lives and as Neptune squares the opposition around now, the reality check can be especially sobering. Neptune is so very idealistic in Sagittarius after all, and the opposition to Saturn really polarises the fantasy with the reality. The dream is extremely positive and the dawning truth at the time of the Neptune squares can feel like a wet blanket the size of the old Soviet Union when it descends.

For those born somewhat after, they will experience Saturn moving into Sagittarius at the same time as their Neptune squares. It’s a double ‘turning of the screw’ on the dream of the perfect life, and for that reason it will feel very tough.

But in both these cases, all is not lost. The adjustment is painful and dissonant, but it also offers a powerful opportunity to make a shift of consciousness, which is always Neptune’s exalting pressure, into a truly spiritual mode of life. Once made, that shift is a panacea for the harshness of Saturnine reality, because it recontextualises material reality, success, status and toil into immaterial terms. Status is no longer being seen as a success, but rather in knowing that one is a good person. The small chores of life are no longer drudgeries, rather they are become meditations. What we call “work” is now “the Work”. Fundamentally, this shift is found in the realisation that the life of contentment and ease that we yearned for is not ‘out there’ but it is inside us, bound up in the distortion of perspective that we are somehow hard done-by, a victim of somebody else, or of God, or that, in fact, because we are good, we deserved better. Saturn teaches our Neptune that nobody gets what they deserve, they get only what they need to let go of the illusion that they deserved better.