The Astrology of Austerity


Here is the birth chart of British austerity, as announced by David Cameron in Cheltenham in April 2009. (26/04/09 22:00 Cheltenham, UK) The chart contains several outstanding markers for difficulty. The austerity chart evinces two tee-squares, a Grand Trine and a few other remarkable features.

The first tee-square then:

  • Venus, archetype of the good times is in detriment, precisely conjunct the Aries’ point, conjunct Mars in his sign and square Pluto. This is a Venus under maximal stress, and unable to make any headway against a supercharged Mars who:
  • Is much better able to cope with a Pluto square, because Mars is in a sympathy with Pluto, where Venus is not. Furthermore a planet exalted or otherwise strengthened is better able to endure stressful aspect.
  • Although not a mainstream marker, the transneptunian Kronos is at 3° Cancer, and represents lofty ideals, expertise and intellectual authority. Kronos opposes Pluto, and in general terms economic experts (Kronos in the 8th) argue that austerity doesn’t work. Pluto in the 2nd, the agenda characterised by the more simplistic ‘money in the hand’ narrative of the Conservative government, holds sway.

Why should this be?

  • Pluto is working for Saturn (by rulership). Saturn is in the Midheaven, so therefore it’s all anyone can “see”. Pluto also rules the chart. Note the language that presaged the advent of this new policy: “The age of irresponsibility is giving way to the age of austerity.” David Cameron has perfectly leveraged the style of Saturn (responsibility) in Virgo (accounting) in the zenith.
  • And bear in mind that the current Pluto-Kronos cycle began with the American War of Independence where Britain lost huge revenues over a tax dispute with its American colonies. Since planetary cycles – no matter how antediluvian in nature – retain a common thread, we can suggest a learning process that involves an element of hubris, and the challenging consequences thereof. Any ruling class (British or other) that seeks to impose austerity through taxation, removal of direct or indirect supporting measures, or through simple authoritarian diktat, is going to tweak this planetary cycle.
  • Saturn is also peregrine, or singleton. This has a tendency to overshadow all other considerations. Saturn squares Ixion, a Plutino in the Hadean triumvirate with Orcus and Pluto, forming a matrix of drives and compulsions that give the raw domination material of the human ego. The great challenge for the adept to overcome. Ixion is the basest of the three Hadean styles, but also the most covert. When Saturn squares Ixion there’s an uncomfortable compulsion to impose harsh, authoritarian measures and thereby get one’s own needs met. Those needs are usually quite unsophisticated too.

But wait! There’s a second tee-square:

  • At its apex we have a Moon that is strong by sign but is at the anaretic degree of Taurus. The 30th degree of any sign creates a great sense of urgency, and here the stressing nature of the critical degree is informed by the most material sign of the zodiac. Great pressure in economic matters.
  • Further the Moon is square to Neptune (also Jupiter and Chiron) This narrow stellium has the flavour of what I would call “flawed idealism” and in Aquarius has a humanitarian, universal application. So it represents quite clearly the ideals of social care, of providing support and benefits (Jupiter) for the unfortunate (Neptune) and disabled (Chiron). This is creating a stress for the Moon’s urgent concern (money). The Aquarius stellium is opposed by Orcus who has just moved into the anaretic degree of Leo. So there’s an implacable force at work, opposed to the ideals of social care, and it’s a privileged force too, Orcus is conjunct Regulus, one of the four Royal Stars, whose interests align with kings, rulers and elites.
  • Moon is also conjunct Mercury who is precisely conjunct Algol, the most unfortunate star in the heavens. Here it gives a tendency to strategisation and stealthy enactment of agendas. It gives an amoral cast to Mercury, who is already innately ambiguous.
  • Overall the Tee-Square to Moon/Mercury/Algol is quite potent. It describes a struggle between an elite and the prevailing social policy of our time.
David Cameron: tough times ahead.

David Cameron: tough times ahead.

But the gloss over all of this is a Grand Trine between Sun, Pluto and Orcus.

  • Yikes! Yes, that’s right. Yikes indeed.
  • Bear in mind that the Sun is the public face of any chart, and here we have a Sun applying to the cusp of the 6th in Taurus. And don’t hardworking people deserve to enjoy the rewards of their hard work? Well, don’t they? You’d have to be some kind of leftie lunatic to disagree with that!
  • A Grand Trine is a ‘safe place’ in the chart, a place that one can fall back into when the going gets tough – for better or worse. So here there’s a sense of being in easy control, a single-minded determination to get things done to one’s satisfaction. It’s smooth and very determined.
  • And the Grand Trine lies in the 2nd the 6th, and the 9th Money, philosophy and the working public.

Looking forward, we can say that 2016 is a critical year for austerity. Since Saturn has run away with the chart we look with interest to February 2016 as the first Saturn square for austerity. The first Saturn square is always a time of profound testing, where motives, usefulness and reliability are all under serious scrutiny. Ten days later, the Conservative Party chart experiences the first of three Pluto – Moon oppositions.

This is even more noteworthy because on 12th January, David Cameron weathers the middle pass of Pluto square Sun. A profound challenge to leadership and personal authority. Since his Sun squares Orcus natally, his integrity is also undergoing a withering examination at this time. The Conservative Party chart (18/12/1834, 00:00 Tamworth, UK) undergoes a Uranus square to natal Moon two days beforehand and then Pluto opposes the Tory Mars in April, which when viewed together, constitute one of the most fundamental challenges to Conservative politics, probably for many years. Pluto squares the UK’s lunar axis for the last time in ten days from now. The destiny of this nation is being forged as we speak.


The Not-So-Grand Trine…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here, for the purpose of edification is an example:


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relationships and the Davison Composite

Today I would like to revisit the theme of relationship astrology, and explore another method of determining compatibility between two individuals by the analysis of their astrological combination. Typically this is achieved through synastry: the application of one nativity to another wherein the aspects between each party’s placements are studied. Of course, even before any synastry is considered, a study of the individuals’ horoscopes will expose considerable insight, about the conditions of the marriage, the probability of marital breakdown and the manner of it, clues about the character and disposition of the marriage partner and so forth. I discussed this method previously in my article on the astrology of marriage. Another approach is to use a midpoint calculator and to combine the mundane placements of every discrete shared point in the respective nativities to produce a third nativity. This is an interesting and insightful method that I have discussed before, however, it fails in one very key context which in some ways is difficult to reconcile with the underpinning theory of the stars: namely that the mundane midpoint composite is an entirely academic horoscope: it simply cannot exist in nature. That is to say it is a mathematical construct and is not therefore a nativity that has ever existed in time and space.

This does not discount its relevance and valuable insights can be gleaned from the midpoint composite. What might be more intriguing however is to take an absolute midpoint of two nativities in time and space: thus by finding the exact point in time between two births and the exact geographical location which lies at the midpoint of the two individuals and from that point create an entirely new astrology; and crucially one that does exist in space and time. This is a complex method of combination known as the Davison Composite and named after its creator Ronald Davison.

Therefore, and to utilise a simple example, if you were born at midday on the 1st of January in London and your partner at midday on the 3rd of January in Glasgow, then you would create a nativity for January 2nd at midday, somewhere near Manchester to realise the Davison composite.

Previously I used the example of Prince Charles and Princess Diana as a midpoint combination to study the extant themes. Here then is the Davison Composite for their partnership:

Davison Composite

Charles and Diana: Davison Composite

This chart is not nearly so comfortable and easy as the mundane midpoint combination. There is of course a wonderful emotional power in the grand water trine, an easy sense of outward responsibility across the earth houses. This evidently creates a sense of emotional security derived from those themes of status, easy living and easy money. Jupiter on the midheaven and in Cancer, the sign of tradition, family and all matters clannish really tells a story of royal good fortune and benefit. The good news is decidedly thin on the ground after this point however.

The chart ruler is profoundly stressed most distressingly from Mars and if you consider this in tandem with Saturn in Scorpio, tee-squared from inflexibly autocratic Pluto in Leo and abruptly plain-spoken Mercury in Aquarius then you have a genuine difficulty that will no doubt manifest most especially in the bedroom. Saturn in Scorpio creates an early sexual difficulty: eventually there might be respite, but the lifetime arc of relationships creates pressure to normalise relations early on: a theme of discomfort or dissatisfaction in the sex-life will not long be tolerated in a marriage, at best it will become a major theme of anguish for both parties. Mars in Taurus too creates an astoundingly slow-fuse, here anger and resentment can build over months and that slow-pressure manifests out into the 8th: where sex is a matter of biological necessity.

Therefore, in outward appearance, with Libra rising and a grand trine in water, Charles and Diana would have appeared to be blissfully content, but with the passage of time and the pressure of so much unusual public scrutiny, the lack of any real chemistry and passion would eventually take its toll. Venus conjunct Chiron is very much the pain of love, and in the 4th and Aquarius, it is a behind-closed-doors woundedness that comes of feeling the pressure of convention and expectation; the expectation of needing to be exceptionally in love.

Venus, the ruler, squared (albeit widely) to Neptune rising, most especially speaks to this difficulty. Here is a longing for purity and refinement in the love experience but one that cannot be realised and thus grates and wears down the optimism. The dreamy perfection of matrimonial appearance that is hinted at by Neptune rising in Libra cannot live up to expectations and like a piece of grit in the shoe it niggles.

Another intriguing aspect not included in the chart depiction is Venus quindecile Jupiter. Venus Jupiter always denotes the joy of love, expanding and improving the underpinning themes of relationship; however, with the quindecile it becomes an obsession, and invariably a difficulty is realised as a result. It is of course difficult to derive too much darkness from any combination of Venus and Jupiter, most likely the problem is one of too much of a good thing rather than any constriction or agony, but here the obsession might manifest as an expectation of love that becomes a compulsion of simply having to look good for the cameras.

Lastly, Pluto is supremely difficult. In Leo, he is not an easy power to transform and again the idea that all must appear perfect even when there are severe difficulties in the foundations is mooted. Mercury – Pluto creates a very peculiar communicative tendency within the relationship where what is not said becomes more important than what is said. There is always a sense between these two people that something is being hidden and that more than any other factor is creating the sexual tension as evinced by the Me/Pl tee square to Saturn in Scorpio. Mercury squared to Saturn is the closest major aspect in the chart too, so here is a real brake on easy communication, Saturn in Scorpio creates a test of secrecy among other things and the square creates distrust and too much conservatism, especially for Mercury in Aquarius which really wants to be a little provocative and outrageous at times.

In summation, had I been consulted about this particular relationship, I would have been concerned that whilst there was much potential for an outwardly successful partnership, the appearance of happiness and contentment would very quickly belie a deeper malaise. A very real incompatibility in sexual relations would need some committed work and profound honesty to overcome in the longer term and the tendency for resentment to fester would eventually poison the initial ease inherent in the union. This was a relationship, that according to the Davison composite at least, was always going to struggle.

Feminist Astrology and Germaine Greer

As a work that is traditionally hailed as being antithetic to male comfort, I find that Germaine Greer’s “Female Eunuch” probably says more about the negative stereotyping of women by women than it does about men. Of course, she argues (throughout her writing) that this is merely the extension of a patriarchal tyranny, that culturally we accept some pretty astonishing subtexts as normal – when they are anything but – and our ingrained themes of sexual interaction, both inter and intra-sexually are pretty weird. That is as much as I can say easily because I am not a scholar of feminism, I have not read her works exhaustively and I am a man (I guess) and I have been told (by more than one radical feminist I have known) that I lack the insight of subjectivity, so I can comment, but I cannot truly experience.

00), Melbourne, Australia

Germaine Greer, feminist author. 29 Jan 1939 06:00 (-10:00), Melbourne, Australia

Fair enough. I have no issue, but neither am I apologising; I do the best that I can, I treat women as absolute equals (insofar as I am able with a lifetime of cultural programming in tow) and in fact I much prefer the company of women as a generalisation than I do of men. I also found that in circa 1987 when I first read large swathes of The Female Eunuch that it seemed fundamentally out of date in parts even then. The book belonged to my dear friend Vicki who is a (somewhat) radical feminist; at least she never shaves any part of her anatomy and neither does she wear a bra although I cannot attest to whether or not she has physically burned it. I also spent one summer acting as an observer for CND in the late 1980s, a job which required me to sit outside of RAF Greenham Common from 4am until midday in a car and watch for any missile transports. I eventually got to know several of the women on that camp and they of course had built a community which more or less excluded men completely. One of those women, Pippa, a slightly loony ex-midwife at least twice my age became a good friend and although I lost touch with her a few years hence. I talked to her once about psychology, which I studied at University and beyond, and she quoted Germaine Greer to me during that discussion, she said: “Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It has no mother.”

Eris forms part of a grand trine with Mars and Pluto, no surprise there then...

Germaine Greer: Eris forms part of a grand trine with Mars and Pluto, no surprise there then...

It has since occurred to me that the same sentiments are found in the study of astrology, with Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto all being essentially male energies; Mercury is possibly male but at best androgynous, leaving (traditionally) only Moon and Venus to speak for the feminine. How patently ridiculous that is, but also, and thankfully, it is a situation that is gradually being addressed with the inclusion of Pallas, Ceres, Vesta and Juno into the mainstream of astrological thinking. In terms of psychoanalysis I often think of Freud as Saturn, Jung as Uranus, but there are no essential feminine powers because (as Pippa told me) even psychology is fundamentally masculine. In my view, psychology falls down in all sorts of places, but astrology does not have to fall into the same trap. Traditionalists will disagree of course, but that to me is resonant of the self-same dichotomy between psychoanalysis and behaviourism in psychology; they are utterly incompatible systems that are mixed through long habit, not through best practise.

It is for this reason that I believe a whole new avenue of astrological research is opening up. It will evolve into something meaningful in step with the onward march toward acceptance of the divine feminine in human society, and even at a personal level as someone with a peregrine Moon I am doubly compressed, by my innate astrological dissociation complex, and by a society that can only accept my male sexuality as a narrow spectrum of aggression that identifies with cars, jobs, bunny girls and team sports.

Back to the (very brief) astrology of Germaine Greer then. I have not included Eris, but of course she sits at the trined midpoint of Ma/Pl. A near fanatic mischief-maker? Undoubtedly! With Scorpio Midheaven, there is a calling to deal with sexuality, and with Mars in the anaretic degree of Scorpio the impetus to tip over from sex and control to freedom and equality is self-evident. Mercury opposes Pluto, which explains her need to tell it unadorned (just like good old blood and guts Patton remember?) but here a trine to Neptune softens, refines and takes all the edges off. Moon is conjunct Uranus too: and that alone says “radical feminism” right?

So, Germaine Greer: with a grand trine to the Midheaven and peregrine Saturn in Aries in the 3rd, may you keep going it alone and telling it like it is until your last breath, because whilst you’re quite clearly a nutjob, you’re also brilliant, beautiful and absolutely, undeniably genuine.

The Grand Trine explored…

physical power

Ali: physical power

The Grand Trine: even the moniker creates a regal ambience; if you could buy and sell aspect patterns on Ebay then there’s little doubt that the beautifully equilateral one would conjure as much interest as any possible configuration, excepting possibly the Golden Yod (which everyone in the know would want but would have no clue how to use). Even astrologers get drawn in to this self-same conclusion, but my experience (which is very often at odds with the received wisdom of astrology) continually hit a bum note wherever the Grand Trine was in evidence; I do not doubt for a moment that the Grand Trine is subjectively fantastic; but for everyone else, it’s probably only just short of infuriating, although not necessarily for entirely negative reasons. The grand trine can give enormous benefit which everyone but the owner of the pattern can see clearly.

My own suspicion was distilled by the thinking of Noel Tyl who uttered the immortal wisdom that “all aspects are squares” (or somesuch) and that includes trines of course; because a trine that is taken for granted and remains untapped by any driving factor soon breaks down, indulgence follows on, then laziness sets in, and before much longer the aspect has degenerated into something positively hedonistic. In my experience, the Grand Trine configured without some sense of urgency in the form of squares, or outright adversarial impetuses from others in the form of oppositions to any of those self-same loci, can easily devolve into a peculiar form of myopic self-obsession, characterised by the onlooker as aloofness, an unwillingness to participate or just outright arrogance. Without squares there is no self-doubt, without opposition there is no requirement for relating; the native with the Grand Trine can experience these planets exactly however they want and they require no external validation. Thus the native with a grand water trine can be quite comfortable with the notion that their feelings are quite simply the only feelings that matter in the world, and anyone looking in simply could not grasp the subjective sense of it. The grand trine though is innate, asking the native to describe the experience of their grand trine is like asking them to bite their own teeth, it is utterly subjective, especially where personal planets are involved. Of course none of this is to say that they might not be justified in their view that in the affairs of these planets they are beyond reproach, often, the grand trine does give exceptional power in a particular domain, but most especially where there are squares to add drive and oppositions to add perspective. A grand trine that is not treated as though it were a challenge will very quickly deteriorate into a vortex of dissolution.

Let us consider examples from each of the elements.

00) Torquay, England.

Agatha Christie, writer, 15 Sep 1890, 04:00 (+0:00) Torquay, England.

Agatha Christie, the prolific writer of crime novels has reputedly sold upwards of a billion books to date and her astrology evinces a grand air trine between Moon in Libra in the 2nd (instinctively financially fair but competitive), Jupiter in Aquarius on the 5th/6th cusp, (increasingly creative and independent: this placement almost defines the character of Poirot incidentally, having quirky offbeat, but highly intellectual habits that reflect a unique and expansive intelligence) and Neptune – combined with Pluto – in the 10th which certainly speaks to matters of vocation (Gemini thus writing) and being a leader (Jupiter trine Pluto) in her field of work (6th) and career (10th). Note too that the grand air trine falls across the houses of the earth triplicity, which gives the mind a practical outlet and expression. Thus an easy, but near-tangible, exchange of ideas is created, a flow of thought and mental energy that can manifest into matter. The important point though is that this is an untapped potential, it might never actually manifest. Agatha Christie though with Virgo rising has peregrine Mercury in Libra ruling her nativity; which actualises the grand trine, the imperative of a peregrine Mercury then creates an enormous drive to communicate, one that fires up the enormous and sweet potential of the grand air trine to express itself in practical ways (air signs on earth houses), 93 books and several plays later and the rest is history.

00) Philadelphia PA, USA

Grace Kelly, actress, 12 Nov 1929, 05:31 (+5:00) Philadelphia PA, USA

Grace Kelly by contrast evinces a grand water trine, here with intense, controlled Scorpio Sun on the 1st, Moon configured with competent Pallas in dreamy Pisces in the 5th of acting and each of these fuelled with astonishing power and control by Pluto in tenacious, receptive Cancer. This is why she appears to be so poised and graciously cool but there is with it a hint of compassionate depth and a truly dreamy quality that refines the entire self-expression (and if you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of Grace Kelly), and here the water signs are found in the fire houses, thus energising the emotions and giving rise to a need to express the emotions, although with Scorpio rising, it must always be carried out in a controlled and poised manner, no unseemly outbursts thank you very much! But it is the hint at unfathomed passion beneath the surface that lends this power. And the drive? Again, peregrine Mercury in Scorpio, rising creates an overwhelming impetus to express water through fire, thus the feelings through acting.

00) Louisville KY, USA

Muhammad Ali, pugilist. 17 Jan 1942, 18:35 (+6:00) Louisville KY, USA

Ali, undoubtedly the most complete gladiator of modern times is the proud owner of a grand earth trine, which gives a near-perfect interchange of physiological energies; Sun in Capricorn on the 6th creates a methodical, indomitable attainment energy, here is an impetus to get to the peak of physical endurance, power and stamina; think of Leo (Sun) on Capricorn on Virgo (6th house), an enormous push to be a dominant force (Sun), to endure and stay standing (Capricorn) and to be physically as perfect as humanly possible (6th House); and this the chart ruler too!. Configure this with Uranus in Taurus (individuation through being non-negotiable) in the career (10th) and Neptune in Virgo in the 2nd (a dream of financial perfection, no doubt fuelled by considerable financial disappointment in childhood) and you have the perfect conditions for a true fighter to emerge. It lacks only an impetus and I believe that in Ali’s case the drive is provided by Mars square Pluto across the fixed Taurus-Leo axis, slowly building power, the strength of a bull configured with an obsessive need to dominate and demonstrate his power and this expressed through brute force (Martian strength is always supercharged by Pluto, it creates a transcendent physical force where the energy is greater than that provided by the body alone). There is too an element of ruthlessness in Mars – Pluto squares, one that in the fixed element especially will brook no opposition and the grand earth trine creates a physical power to back up that psychic imperative.

00) Omaha NE, USA

Marlon Brando, actor. 3 Apr 1924, 23:00 (+6:00) Omaha NE, USA

Finally then, the grand fire trine, which is shown here in the case of (arguably) the finest actor to have ever lived: Marlon Brando, and it is only required to see his performance in Apocalypse Now to get a feeling for this pattern being played out. The Sun and Moon in Aries and the 4th create a very personal and quite self-centred energy. Immediately we get an impression of somebody who even when expressing some very private sense of self suffers almost no doubt or embarrassment; there is no question of stage-fright here, Brando could make a display of even his most intimate self and be quite perfectly brazen with it! Neptune in Leo in the 9th creates a philosophic and spiritual undertone of acting and with Jupiter rising in its domicile you have astonishing and fortunate power, overwhelming presence and an ability to see further than most. Chiron in the 4th/5th is interesting too, on the cusp it sensitises the private (4th) need for admiration (5th) and creates an outlet into acting. The drive though? I would say that peregrine Venus in Taurus in the 6th tells a story: it creates a true power of being physically compelling, of being habitually resolute and seeking to perfect, almost stubbornly, the habits of his trade (thus acting) and Brando was famed as the quintessential method actor of course; indeed, he probably invented it! In this way he really changed the craft (6th) of acting forever, by simply making every other actor appear shallow and mediocre by comparison.

Saturn in Aries: into the wild…

Chris McCandless in Alaska

Chris McCandless in Alaska

I recently watched Sean Penn’s magnificent biographical drama of the life of Chris McCandless, described as an American wanderer who quite literally went “into the wild” to try and answer some inner impetus. I found the film to be profoundly moving (I don’t care, I cried – a lot!) and I cannot recommend it highly enough; so if you haven’t watched it yet, go rent it or buy it, then watch it, then get back and read the rest of this post.

So, if you’re half way familiar with this young man’s story then you will no doubt wonder what motivated him to feel such an overwhelming need to go “into the wild” at all, after all, he had a good life, good prospects, a future of genuine promise. His demise provokes real polarity in onlookers with the majority thinking that he was tragically driven by a surfeit of feeling and others preferring to consider him at best “an idiot” who got exactly what he deserved. (And who says there’s no compassion left in the world!).

I cannot find his birth time, but actually it does not really matter, because there is one overwhelming factor in his astrology that simply cannot be understated; let us consider his chart:

Astrologers beware! I know that tee-square to Neptune looks enticing, and how can we gloss over the grand water trine, which actually forms a kite to Uranus for Pete’s sake! and then too there’s the opposing near partile conjunction of Mars with Chiron to consider; but all of these are mere appetisers when compared to the main event, peregrine Saturn in Aries.

Not for nothing is Saturn in Aries called the lone ranger position (by me mostly), and “the loneliness of the long-distance runner” has some ring of authenticity to it, but if ever there was an “into the wild” placement then people, this is it. The sign of Aries is all about adventure, solitude, strength and character, and wherever Saturn is found it makes a test. Peregrination, as you should understand if you want to help your clients whose charts evince it, creates an extreme polarity, it is like having only two volume settings on your stereo: totally silent or really forkin’ loud! Or only having two speeds in your car, standstill or a thousand miles an hour! Now it stands to reason that if your car behaved like that you either would never go anywhere in your life or you’d create complete havoc when you did decide to take a trip to the shops. That is peregrination, trust me, it works every time.

So, for Chris McCandless he never really had any choice. Here then is not actually “an idiot who deserved everything that happened to him” but someone with an almost soul-destroying burden of astrology; Saturn peregrine is really tough, hey guys, Saturn is pretty tough even when it gets trines, so imagine not having anything to moderate that entire influence and having to express that exacting energy with every fibre of your being! In Chris’ case he was switched into a particular mode of Saturnine/Arian expression, that of survival and going it alone, and this was motivated by a need to transform himself into a non-materialist free-spirit (tee-square to Neptune in Scorpio) and the grand water trine creates an emotional self-sufficiency and introversion that allowed him to feel secure within himself and which requires no external validation (a great insight into the grand trine experience by the way). If you watch the film and consider the manner of the ending too then it really speaks, does it not, to those themes of Mars/Chiron opposing Uranus/Pluto across the Virgo Pisces axis. Here are themes of recklessness in regard to nutrition and sustenance, with giving up on the world and trying to trust in something less tangible, with a need to very abruptly transform the self whilst simultaneously rejecting the pain of confused emotions.

These factors though only describe the mode of expression of the peregrination. Far more common, where Saturn is Aries is concerned, is the “fountain of youth” effect. Consider two further examples of peregrine Saturn in Aries, Twiggy and Kylie, both who have made a considerable career from their vivacious and youthful good-looks. Even to this day Twiggy is considered a role-model for ageing women wishing to retain some measure of youthful vitality. Here then is another expression of Aries (youth) configured with Saturn (old age). With Saturn in Aries this impetus is prevalent: no matter how you achieve it: it is either “forever young” or “into the wild”. This is exactly why Saturn in Aries speaks to the loneliness of the long-distance runner, because it neatly encapsulates both principles to near perfection; you can actually don your running shoes and go into the wild, all the time fighting the signs of premature ageing by keeping your body in top condition. It is so good a rule that one of the first questions I ask anyone with Saturn Aries is: “did you start running yet?” They always do.

And before you wonder, I do have Saturn in Aries and I’m all signed up for the Hastings half marathon next spring, so I have to get out there and do my 5 miles, right now.

Rhona Cameron: A Thumbnail Portrait

Rhona Cameron Comedienne

Rhona Cameron is a relatively little known comedienne, certainly beyond Britain’s shores; I must confess that I am not especially familiar with her work, although I have seen a few snippets of her on television from time to time and I must say that I like her style. That’s about as much as I can reliably report about Rhona Cameron as an observer. As an astrologer, I find her to be a very interesting case, with many fascinating facets to her nativity that bear examination, and her astrology is doubly informative since it combines a case of Cazimi Mercury in Libra – by a mere 1 minute and 47 seconds – configured in a grand trine with Pallas rising in Aquarius. Notably her chart evinces a second grand-trine upon inclusion of Vesta and a near-peregrine Mars in its traditional rulership of Scorpio.

Rhona Cameron Nativity

If you listen to a few of the key themes discussed in her autobiography, you get a very clear idea of somebody who feels a need to discuss eighth house issues; unquestionably, the trine from her Cazimi Mercury in the 8th to Pallas rising gives her a great ability to express herself, she is quirky, offbeat and with Pallas rising, no doubt feisty too, but that need to express her comfortable self-awareness of forthright Aquarian difference is moderated by her powerful intellect and Libran impetus to harmony; so she will always mask her confusion and anguish, not for her own sake, but for everyone else’s. Intriguingly, with Sun in LIbra and Moon in Scorpio, there is a distinct lack of power in her luminaries and it is ever a difficult combination (I know, because I share it) not least because at heart she is incisive, self-reliant and deeply passionate, but this must be suppressed under a graceful, near-indifferent persona. Moon in Scorpio is intensely emotional, while Sun in Libra dictates that we must appear anything but.

The Cazimi Mercury is remarkable because it is so very tight, while her Pallas rising gives her truly Palladian looks and a confident almost Martial and competent demeanour, and with both of these trining her North Node there is an easy ability to catch the Zeitgeist, to be in the way of things, to tap along comfortably with the tunes of the moment. Here then is a grand trine that combines dazzling intellect, harmonious selfhood, a pleasing and able self-expression and a real insight into the mood of society at large, that in the air triplicity and with Pallas in wacky Aquarius gives a real comedic competence (Robin Williams too has Pallas in Aquarius). The grand trine is always informative; it represents a pattern of behaviour that flows so easily that we become self-sufficient, in that triplicity and energy structure we no longer require external validation or approval; this is why a grand trine is both a blessing and a curse. It allows us to capitalise on the positive benefits subjectively although from the point of view of personal evolution there is not much incentive to progress in those areas. With Rhona’s grand air trine falling across the first, fourth and eighth houses there is clearly an emphasis on intensely personal experience, on deep and often uncomfortable areas of one’s innermost being, but Rhona finds it so natural and easy to make these issues light, airy and mentally endearing that she may therefore avoid the more serious implications of such a configuration. This dark-side is neatly encapsulated in the partile conjunction of Uranus – Pluto in Virgo riding on the cusp of the 8th; an aspect that speaks to transformative revolution, the science, if you like, of self-realisation. This opposes the Saturn conjunction to Chiron, thus she “farms out” the pain that has wounded her when her father died of Cancer (circa 1979), with this configuration stressing the 2nd and 8th axis I don’t doubt that her father’s death made a serious financial impact on her formative years too and this speaks fundamentally to values, about money, about a Spartan attitude to life but she will probably not fully address the fallout from that scenario until she learns to go past the easygoing, flighty allure of her grand air trine; something that she is probably doing right about now, with Uranus transiting her radix Chiron and Pluto grinding menacingly through the 12th. No need to mention that the death of her father, when Saturn opposed itself and tipped over into her 8th house as she approached 14 years of age, is the key theme of her nativity in my view.

With all the 9th house placements lending a bubbly, fun-loving and deceptively philosophical slant to her outlook on the world, Rhona’s positivity is not an act, and her Mars, peregrine – although configured to Chiron – is significant so close to the Midheaven. She may well switch on to her power, providing she can integrate the painful lesson of her father’s tragic death, and discover a real determined power in her career as a result.

Evidently, Rhona’s career is in something of a hiatus, and with Pluto still 5 years from her Ascendant I don’t expect her to be making much headway until it surfaces in the first and starts to make its way to her Pallas placement sometime thereafter.

One last point of interest; Jupiter in Cancer in the 6th falls on the (Cardinal) Aries Point. This I believe to be the source of her modest fame; it falls in the 6th house of occupation and she has achieved a measure of success as a comedienne, and with the sign of Cancer being so prominent, it is small wonder that one her best known routines, concerns her breasts and her “home-baking” accent. And very funny it is too.