The Sagittarius New Moon – how was it for you?

I woke early this morning to a clear sky, deep blue turning light, and a lovely sight: the bright, waning crescent of the Sagittarius New Moon, born on 22nd November, Full on 6th December, now preparing to fade into Moondark in anticipation of a new birth. The Capricorn New Moon arrives with the Winter Solstice on 22nd December this year…thus the weave of our tiny solar system  unfolds within the vastness of the Universe, challenging each of us to find our place, our sense of meaning, our purpose…

waning crescent Moon

waning crescent Moon

Cycles govern all our lives, from the vast unfolding of the life and death of stars to the tiny monthly dance of Sun and Moon with our beautiful blue planet Earth.  The same basic stages apply to all cycles: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new, into that three day period of seclusion the Ancients knew as Moondark. Any New Moon represents the emerging energy of possibility from Moondark’s womb. The first fragile, beautiful waxing crescent appears in the night sky 2-3 days into a new cycle, indicating that fresh potential is taking form.

This image is especially appropriate in evoking the Sagittarian New Moon, which in the unfolding cycle of the Sun and Moon’s yearly journey through the twelve signs of the zodiac emerges from the unfathomable depths of watery Scorpio into the fiery, mutable brightness of Sagittarius, that restless seeker after wisdom, truth, and above all ultimate MEANING.

Visionary poet and painter William Blake – himself a Sagittarius Sun -  describes Sagittarius’ reckless, abundant courage, openness to experience of all kinds across all beliefs and cultures, and great capacity to distil joy and meaning from even life’s worst adventures, so well:

“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”.

This most recent New Moon in Sagittarius on 22nd November 2014  carried a particularly powerful creative and exploratory ‘charge’ since the Sun and Moon met at 0 degrees 07 minutes of Sagittarius that day. Planets at zero degrees are highly potent! So – this was a great month for bathing in the abundantly rising energy of inspiration, and for working to give it form across continents and cultures…

Foreground energies : Uranus square Pluto

However, it is important to recognise that life on planet Earth is complex. Contemplating the core meaning of each month’s New Moon can only ever provide broad brush strokes. In order to form a more detailed symbolic picture of the energies of any given month, we have to take the whole planetary picture into account. For example, the 13th December 2014 saw the sixth exact square of the explosive, disruptive and tempestuous Uranus/ Pluto combination, its first major encounter since the turbulent 1960s and an increasingly dominant major planetary pattern since it began its journey towards exactitude way back in 2010/11.

Here are some of its immediate mundane effects: in Australia, a cafe siege resulting in the deaths of three people including the gunman. In USA, a family tragedy involving a deranged man shooting dead six members of his ex wife’s family. And most ghastly of all, today’s breaking news is of a revenge attack by the Pakistan Taliban on a Peshawar military school, leaving 132 youngsters and 11 of their teachers murdered. Truly horrific.

In Russia, meanwhile, tumbling oil prices are taking a devastating toll of the economy, with the rouble falling to almost half its value against the U.S. Dollar amid rising panic.

And on a brighter note my own small nation, Scotland, is once again a world leader. Today gay marriage became legal here, with the backing of an estimated 68% of the Scottish public. 

From the Big Picture to individual lives: creating meaning

The inter-relationship between the Big Picture of our collective lives and the tiny individual lives of humans, as explicated by planetary symbolism, has been a source of enduring fascination for me right from the beginning of my astrological studies. In this short article I have chosen only to focus on one planetary combination and its impact, set within the context of the Sagittarius New Moon.

There is of course Saturn preparing to move into Sagittarius, thereby beginning a year-long square to Neptune, whose ancient ruler was Jupiter – modern ruler of Sagittarius. And exuberant Jupiter himself is placed in fiery Leo, spending much of 2014/5 in a dynamic trine to the great disrupter and techno-futurist of  the zodiac, Uranus.

Jupiter in Leo

Jupiter in Leo

In sum, there is a huge charge of Jupiterian energy in our Sun/Moon/Earth system at present, both for good and ill – as is always the case. The challenge for all of us this soli-lunar month has very much been this: HOW do we take whatever inspiration has come our way and create meaning from it? What are our truths, and how do they shape our lives?

We have seen some of the appalling effects this month of deluded people living out in our world what they see as the truth  - with devastating inhumanity. In this we see Sagittarian energy’s dark and deadly shadow. We struggle with the idea that such ghastly events might have any meaning whatsoever…

So – what have we done this month, even in small ways, to bring some light and inspiration into our personal world? What positive energies have come our way, no matter how difficult things may be, to give us heart and make us feel that life is worth living? 

I do hope some of my readers will respond to this by leaving some comments with personal examples. Let me start you off by sharing some of mine. There are some dark and difficult things going on in our overall family life (Saturn is on my IC…) but I have had some great feedback over the last three weeks regarding my writing, return to teaching, and the astrological work I do.

And the inspiration for this post? A new writer and artist friend who lives in Hawaii (she contacted me, having read an article of mine in The Mountain Astrologer this summer) needed an astrological perspective on the Sagittarian New Moon. On the day of that new moon, she had embarked on an artistic venture linking writing, art and poetry with a new friend of hers – also met via the Internet. I was happy to write a short astrological piece for her. That has formed the core of this post…

“As above, so below” . How profound. how TRUE!

Zodiac

Zodiac

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1100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Boundaries and power issues in astrological practice: what are your thoughts?

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had a former career as a social worker – including five years in psychiatric work – before I discovered astrology, shortly after which I set up a private counselling practice which ran alongside, but separate from, my practice as an astrologer.

This Wonderful Universe

This Wonderful Universe

When I embarked on my Diploma in Psychological Astrology with Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London between 1995-8, all students were obliged to undertake at least a year of their own therapy as a condition of entry into the Diploma Course. All the work we did with clients was thoroughly supervised.

On my return to part-time practice in 2012 after a very long sabbatical, the first thing I did was to re-connect with my former supervisor, a very experienced astrologer and psychodynamic psychotherapist: I find this kind of challenge and support essential in keeping an eye on my own current issues in relation to the work I do with clients. Invariably astrology (and counselling) clients bring us our own issues very often, and we need to be aware of this. 

Power and boundary issues need to be discussed more than they are in astrological circles. It’s not sufficient to believe that generalised good will and a desire to help other people will automatically bestow wisdom, good judgement, humility and appropriate restraint on astrologers – or confer automatic protection on their clients. There is much more to it than that!

Master astrologer Donna Cunningham has therefore done us all a big favour by raising the topic of boundaries, power issues, and the awful things some astrologers say to their clients, on her blog Sky Writer. Have a read HERE to enjoy the benefits of  Donna’s wisdom and experience – and do come back to let me know what your views and experiences are, either as an astrologer or as a client – both positive and negative.

Astrology, since it is practised by fallible humans, can wound practitioners and clients as well as offering perspective and healing. It is as well for us to be aware of this…

Zodiac

Zodiac

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350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

The art and practice of astrology: educating the dismissers!

As those of you who follow both this blog and Writing from the Twelfth House will know, I returned in May 2012 to my astrology practice after a very long sabbatical. It is great to be back. And even better to be back teaching, after a small group of my former students asked me – so persuasively that I could not refuse – to set up a ‘refresher’ class for them. We began in late August 2014 ( just as my progressed Moon moved into Aquarius: how literal is that?! ) and are all loving the experience.

It’s been challenging and satisfying to bring many of the insights gained from those ‘retreat’ years of  reading and reflection, into my renewed astrology practice and teaching. I have greatly benefitted from the work of open-minded contemporary scientists, and the developing discipline of archetypal cosmology into which archetypal astrology neatly fits, in conveying to both clients and students at least some of the excitement I feel in realising that there is a new paradigm emerging.

Reaching well beyond the reductionist limitations of materialism, that ancient tenet “As above, so below” is being reframed for our contemporary world – to include astrological symbolism as a valid model for explaining in non-material terms how our world works.

However, in the meantime, in the ‘real’ world, what do we do to counter the Skeptics (sadly, that excellent word “sceptical” has in recent years acquired a very narrow meaning) who dismiss astrology as rubbish? As an aside, I returned very happily to work with my former supervisor, whom I have now known for over 20 years. She remarked to me “Well, Anne, we were regarded as weird before you went into your retreat period. I can assure you that we are regarded as even more weird now!”  

Personally, I have never had much of a problem with this. If challenged, I make a clear distinction between the entertainment wing of our art to which Sun Sign astrology belongs, and the in-depth stuff astrologers practice which crucially depends on date, place and precise time of birth.

If the dismisser persists, I then very politely but persistently enquire for how long that person has actually studied the astrology about which I am talking. When they either directly or by evasion/omission admit that they are dismissing that of which they know nothing, I then suggest –with continuing politeness, since this is crucial – that they go away, do some in-depth study for a few years and then by all means return to the discussion.

This approach has always worked very well for me. Perhaps having my ruling planet Mercury in close conjunction with an exact Saturn/Pluto conjunction, all squared by a third house Jupiter, has something to do with it!

I would be very interested to have some feedback from my readers and Followers regarding their experience of this situation. Do leave a comment with your stories!

Whatever our experience or length of immersion in astrology and its practice, we all need a bit of help in presenting our great subject in an informed and well-thought out way to the world at large, which is often either ignorant, hostile or both. And  brilliant new book has just appeared which will help us to do just that. Here to introduce the book is Armand Diaz, books and articles editor for the Astrological News Service, a joint project of NCGR, ISAR, and AFAN:

Astrology Considered

Astrology Considered

“…Enter Astrology Considered: A Thinking Person’s Guide, a compilation of articles from the Astrology News Service (ANS), an organization devoted to publicizing the true value of astrology. Astrology Considered offers a variety of perspectives on contemporary astrology that show astrology is not a simplistic system but a sophisticated way of viewing intrapersonal, interpersonal, and global dynamics. Happily, it is also an easy read for those who do not speak the sometimes-complex astrological language….”

I have immediately put this book on my Christmas Wish List, and will be sharing the details with my students when I meet with them next week. I do hope lots of you reading this post will follow the link above, and take advantage of a very special offer! And on a practical note, for UK readers the book is available now on Amazon UK, both as Paperback and Kindle Editions.  And many, many thanks to ANS for producing this wonderful-looking collection.

Zodiac

Zodiac

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700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

As Neptune turns direct, some thoughts on interconnectedness…

One of the many intriguing things I have found about astrology is this: even when you are not being particularly attentive to exactly what is going on with the planets, you are still living out the energy patterns they describe in symbolic terms.

During my long 2001-8 retreat, when I simply did not have the physical energy to engage with astrology’s power ( does this sound strange? That’s exactly what it felt like ) I did not practice as an astrologer and rarely looked at an Ephemeris, although I maintained an interest in the subject in which I had been immersed for the preceding twenty years.

Nevertheless, there were certain days when I would feel energies which I could only express in planetary terms, would check the Ephemeris, and sure enough my felt sense of eg Mars crossing my Descendant (stay out of my way today, friends and partner!), or the Moon triggering my Saturn/Pluto conjunction (ouch!) would prove to be correct. This used to make me smile wryly and say to myself : ‘Well, you may take the girl out of Astrology, but taking Astrology out of the girl is another matter altogether!’

Today I have had a similar experience. It has felt right in the last couple of days to begin to move forward in promoting my memoir and analysis of thirty years’ paranormal experiences, ‘Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness’; I have begun asking Friends and colleagues as well as astrology students past and current, for some help in PR which I am not best at doing.

I wondered why this felt like the right time to be embarking on the task of promoting this piece of work: I wrote the book from my conviction that it is important for all of us who know we live in a multi-levelled, interconnected Universe to speak out against the stance Scientism, and its offshoot Skepticism takes, ie that anything which cannot be explained in reductionist terms not only does not exist, but cannot exist.

“I wonder when Neptune turns direct?” I thought this morning. “It feels like that kind of energy right now.” Neptune has been transiting my Sixth house of work, health and service for a very long time and is due to cross into the upper hemisphere of my horoscope over the next couple of years. So I checked the Ephemeris: Neptune moves so slowly that I don’t check its daily position very often.

Sure enough, Neptune turns direct tomorrow…..and Neptune as we all know is the planet which connects us to the mysterious, ineffable, spiritual and symbolic dimensions of our existence.

Have any of my readers had similar experiences which they would like to share? I would be most interested to hear from you!

Zodiac

Zodiac

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

Honouring the Scorpio Solar Eclipse…

“……A poet very strongly rooted in the sign of  Scorpio, Dylan Thomas, talks about ‘deaths and entrances’. If we can face and grapple with our deepest attractions, compulsions, power drives, fears and repulsions, then we can experience – through staying with the struggle, seeking support where we can, having faith in the transformative dimensions of life – the symbolic death of aspects of the ‘old order’ holding us back from entry into a more complete and authentic expression of who it is we actually are…..”

Season of Scorpio

To read the rest of this post, click below:

http://anne-whitaker.com/2012/11/11/scorpios-season-a-meditation-on-darkness-power-and-poetry/

Zodiac

Zodiac

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100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

What are astrologers for?

Every so often, someone – usually an open-minded member of the public who has just found out what I do – asks me what my job as an astrologer is, and what the values and perspectives are are which I bring to my practice.  Here is my response. 

(Other astrologers may well have a different take on this topic. So – any practitioners, clients or students of astrology – or open-minded members of the public reading this – are most welcome to add their comments!)

Astrologer at Work

Astrologer at Work

My  job as an astrologer is to help other people understand themselves more clearly, in order to assist them in leading lives which they experience as being both fulfilling and useful. I don’t know what the balance is between fate and free will any more than any one else does. But the Birth Chart or Horoscope suggests strongly that we come into this world, not as tabulae rasae  (blank slates)  but with certain characters on the stage poised to live out a complex drama as the process of our life unfolds from birth to death.

Both astrologers and astronomers, via planetary observation, can look at and correctly plot the unfolding pattern of energies through space-time. After that, as an astrologer I step into a different realm than that of observation of the external, material, planetary world.

By looking at an individual’s horoscope, I can examine the essence of that moment in terms of its meaning, and then speculate with moderate accuracy about what some of the branches manifesting in that person’s life may be. Identifying the exact branches through which the energies symbolically represented by the planets in a horoscope may play out in the everyday world, is much more hit and miss.

Personally this cheers me, since it appears to suggest a creative balance between fate and free will in the universe; chaos theory in contemporary physics also has strong parallels with the astrological paradigm. Both the language of astrology and the language of quantum physics tells us that not everything  is pinned down.

Indeed, a view and a model are slowly emerging, despite considerable resistance from the diehard defenders of reductionism, which can demonstrate convincingly that the lenses of astrology and quantum physics are focusing on the same underlying, all encompassing Reality.

The perspectives offered by contemporary writers, astrologers, depth psychologists, and scientists, such as Richard Tarnas, Liz Greene, the late Charles Harvey, Stanislav Grof, Brian Swimme, Rupert Sheldrake, and others — including recent books by astrologers of the quality of , for example, Armand Diaz and Kieron Le Grice — have been of inestimable value to me in the last few years. I urge any readers of this blog who are keen to expand their own perspectives to explore those writers’ work.

My view, based on my personal experience as well as those of clients and students over more than 30 years, as well as extensive reading and study, is that the key dimension in determining how a particular planetary pattern will play out in a person’s life is the level of consciousness at which they are operating at the time the inevitable challenges of life come their way.

Most astrologers have had the humbling experience of looking at the horoscope of a client which looks so difficult that the impending consultation feels very stressful, but upon encountering the client, they meet someone who has faced, dealt with, and grown through hard experiences that would have flattened a less aware person.

Anne W: Example Horoscope

Anne W: Example Horoscope

We can never predict the level of awareness of a client we have never met, although we can have a pretty good idea that, e.g., Mars conjunct Saturn conjunct Pluto square the Moon is going to be no walk in the park.

I am personally very hesitant about both the accuracy and the wisdom of predicting at all, especially for individuals, in any more than a “describing the core and speculating about the branches” kind of way. Predicting that a specific branch will manifest may well close down possibilities rather than open them up, which also takes us into the realm of self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, when Uranus was about to cross my Pisces Descendant in 2005, beginning its seven or so years’ traverse of my 7th house, I became concerned about what this might mean for my marriage. The rather problematic implications of Uranus’ impact on the relationship realm that practising astrologers see every day in their students’ and clients’ lives, as well as their own, worried me.

However, a profound, totally unexpected spiritual experience on my husband’s part linked both our spiritual journeys into walking the same path at the same time. This has had a supportive, deepening effect on our marriage and not one I could possibly have envisaged before Uranus crossed my Descendant.

I think that effective astrologers in consultation are poised on the interface between fate and free will – on the one hand helping clients to confirm who they are, which they probably already know, if they are honest with themselves; but on the other hand helping them to see, and to broaden, the range of possible expression of the energies with which they have been born.

The astrologer’s ego should have a minimal influence on the process of reading another person’s Horoscope. It’s impossible to keep ego completely out of it. It’s impossible to be completely objective, to avoid making mistakes; but what the person takes away should be as much theirs, and as little the astrologers, as is possible.

To maximise this outcome I feel it is very important to have my work regularly supervised by an experienced and well-qualified colleague. I am fortunate in this to have  the support of a very experienced astrologer who is also a psychodynamic psychotherapist.

The main focus of my astrological work now is in vocational guidance, and in helping people who feel themselves to be on a developmental path which is rooted in whatever their sense of meaning may be, to gain an enhanced sense of clarity and perspective. Having been very much influenced by Buddhist philosophy in the last decade, in my own life I try to practice living in the present as effectively and mindfully as possible. ( Not easy…but well worth the effort!)

I’m only interested in working with clients who are prepared to take responsibility for themselves in relation to the way in which their inner world is connected to the unfolding of their outer life. Astrology appropriately used should enhance the sense of personal responsibility – not take it away and hang it on the planets, or even worse, on the astrologer !

In my view it is important for people not to become too dependent on a symbolic context – astrology and astrologers like relationships, drugs, sex, alcohol or the national lottery can become highly addictive. The great symbolic arts, eg astrology, tarot, palmistry , I Ching, should be consulted with deep respect, and with considerable restraint.

                    In sum – I think it is my job to send people away feeling more able to operate constructively and honestly in their world than when they came in, by supporting their courage and confidence to lead their own lives using their own judgement. 

However, I also consider it important to have a refer-on list of reputable therapeutic practitioners of varying disciplines, if it becomes apparent from our reading that the person consulting me needs some form of ongoing help. In assessing this, a long background as a counsellor as well as an astrologer I regard as being of immense help to me – and therefore, I hope, to my clients….

Zodiac

Zodiac

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1300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

What happens when Uranus, Neptune and Pluto cross the I.C?

I’m often asked about what clients/students can expect when the biggies, ie Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, cross the Imum Coeli or I.C. Well, here is an account of one person’s experiences, ie mine! Do not worry, those of you in the throes of one of those heavy duty, life changing transits. I’ve had all of them cross my I.C and I’m still here…( as far as I know…)

Although this article was written and published in the mid/late 1990s I thought it was worth posting on “Astrology: Questions and Answers”.. It’s been the most-read-ever article on my other blog ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’.

It would be most interesting, and educational for other readers, if any of you felt like sharing YOUR experiences regarding any of those great collective planets crossing the I.C. point.

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Liz Greene once wryly observed in one of her seminars that, if you wanted a relatively quiet and peaceful life, you should arrange to be born when the outer planets were as far away from the personal planets and Angles as possible. I wish! say many of you reading this, as indeed does the writer, who has all the outer planets bolted onto all the personal planets and has had anything BUT a quiet life. (Encouraging note for the similarly challenged – I’m not young any more,  but I’m still here –more or less! – and pretty happy with what I have been able to make of my time on this earth to date).

In similar vein, many people – depending on the horoscope yielded by their particular date, time, and place of birth – will never even experience one of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto crossing their IC ( for non-astrologers reading this, the IC symbolises the point of origin, roots and core of a person’s life).

However, I have had the lot – and am still here to tell the tale. Here it is….

The Underworld - Ancient Egypt

In my horoscope the IC is conjunct the South Node at 28 degrees of Scorpio. Pluto, its ruler, is placed in the twelfth house conjunct Mercury, Saturn, Venus, Moon and Sun in Leo. As a child I would lie in bed watching the roses on the wallpaper turn into malevolent  faces as daylight faded; I had to make bargains with them before they would let me sleep.

I read voraciously, and particularly recall the works of Victorian novelist H Rider Haggard whose myth-steeped descriptions of his characters’ adventures in Africa last century fascinated me. But da Silva, the Dutch explorer whose frozen body was found centuries after his death in a cave high up Mt. Kilimanjaro, transferred himself from “King Solomon’s Mines” to the wardrobe in my bedroom, on and off, for a couple of years. Getting to sleep was no mean feat with an imagination like mine!

King Solomon's Mines First Edition

My ‘real’ life – eating, sleeping, going to school – was incidental to my inner life which was full of what I felt were the really interesting questions : why are we alive, where do we go after death, do we live on several planes of existence at once, what is happening in other galaxies, if there are x million Catholics and even more Buddhists and Hindus, how come they are all Wrong and Damned and a few thousand members of the Free Church of Scotland are Right and Saved ?

And what would happen if you unwrapped an Egyptian mummy and I wonder if I could make a shrunken head like the Jivaro Indians and why did people paint pictures on cave walls thousands of years ago?

These were the issues which preoccupied me for years. No-one knew about them except my maternal grandfather. He had spent time taming wild horses alone in the middle of Argentina before World War 1, and in later life was the only Church of Scotland missionary to visit ill or injured foreign sailors of all religions in the local island hospital, despite the disapproval of the Free Church. “We are all God’s children”, he would say firmly to his critics – and to me. He died when I was eleven, after which I spoke to no-one until I grew up and left home about anything which really mattered.

As Pluto squared 12th house Venus, Moon and Sun, then crossed the IC conjunct South Node from 93-95, what was left of my family of origin fell apart in a particularly painful and tragic way. I had to make choices in order to protect myself from the destructive urges of other family members which involved separation from loved ones which is probably permanent. The major decision I made during those years was that the blood tie does not give others the right to destroy your life. I was indeed fortunate in having an astrological framework, which helped to provide a meaningful context for the pain.

As part of trying to process what was happening, I decided to compile a family history, returning to my native island to collect some oral material from old people who knew my family back a couple of generations. The day I sat down to write it up, transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct the South Node, within half a degree of the IC.  During the same week, I looked back through some old writings of my own, finding two unpublished pieces.

The first was written in July 1970, six months after the start of Neptune transiting the IC. I had no knowledge of astrology then…….

“…….My sister and I decided to take the dog and walk from our house, just outside the  town, to a beach very exposed to the sea, well beyond the harbour. It would be a long walk, but it was a beautiful briskly windy sunny day – snatched from the usual bleak incessant rains of  a Hebridean July.

We took a curving route through the town, then via an outlying district overlooking the navigation beacon. This landmark had winked its electric eye reassuringly at the mouth of the harbour for as long as I could remember. Approaching the district cemetery, my sister walked on by, but I slowed down, never having passed through its gates. Only men attended funerals in the Outer Hebrides when I was growing up.

“The sun is shining on the dead today!” I called to my sister. “Let’s go and pay our respects.” She wasn’t too keen. “Have you ever visited Granddad and Granny’s grave?” I asked.

“No,” she said. ” I suppose we could do that.”
We pushed open the heavy creaking gate. The graveyard, beautifully tended, sloped gently down to within a few hundred yards of the sea. I realised that I did not know where my father’s parents lay.

” I remember where Daddy said it was,” my sister said. “Follow me. With our English name, it shouldn’t be difficult to find.”

Our  paternal grandfather had been posted to the Outer Hebrides before the First World War, meeting our grandmother on his first trip ashore. English gentlemen were a great rarity in these parts; very desirable “catches” to aspiring island girls like Granny, who had by all accounts been a handsome, strong and wilful young woman. He was well and truly caught; apart from a period of war service he remained in the Outer Isles for the rest of his long life.

His death devastated my grandmother. They had been married for fifty two years. I remember sitting with her in her bedroom, she who had always turned herself out so elegantly propped up in bed, an old singlet of my grandfather’s failing to conceal her droopy, withered breasts from my young eyes. Up to then I had never known the desolation of not being able to console another human being – or that old people ever cried. She wept and wailed and moaned, repeating:
“I don’t want to live any more. What’s the use, what’s the use now he’s away? “

Live on she did, doggedly, for nine years, lightened only by a late addition to the family. I was fifteen when my brother was born. Granny was eighty two, and half way senile. The child was called Frederick, after Granddad; as the novelty wore off Granny slipped into senility, a querulous fractious husk, and finally just a husk, and a medical miracle, carried off at eighty six with her fourth bout of pneumonia.

I was at university when she died, having become so distant from her by then that  I felt nothing but a vague sense of relief ….

“I’ve found it !”
I had fallen behind my sister in my reverie. She was standing about twenty yards away; I hurried to the spot. It was a plain, simple grave. A low railing ran round it. The headstone was in sandstone, with only the facts of their births and deaths etched on it in gold lettering. Noting with satisfaction, which my grandmother would have shared, the absence of ‘fancy versification’, I stood and looked at the grave.

Without any warning, for I had felt quiet and composed, there was a rush and a roar in a deep silent centre of my being; a torrent of desolation and grief swept through me. I wept and wept and wept, quite uncontrolled.

There they were, half my being. Where had it all gone: the passion of their early love; the conception of their children; her sweat and blood and pain as she thrust my father into the world; their quarrels, silences, love, laughter, loneliness and grief; their shared and separate lives? And this was it. On a hot beautiful day with the sea lapping on the shore and the seabirds wheeling and diving, a few bits of cloth and bone under the earth, an iron railing and a stone above.

I was not weeping just for them. Overwhelmed by  total awareness of my own mortality and that of all human beings before and after me, I had never felt so stricken, so vulnerable, so alone.” (i)

The second piece, however, written in the autumn of 1971, at the end of the Neptune transit to the IC, whilst Neptune was 0 Sagittarius, shows that something else was now emerging from the underworld which would offer me inspiration and support :

(The ‘pibroch’ referred to is the music of lament played on the Scottish bagpipes)

“ It was a clear autumn evening. Peter called just after seven; he was going out to practice some pibroch. Would I like to come along? It was a rare time of balance – in the weather, in the satisfaction of work which was still new enough to be stimulating, in the fact that Peter and I were falling in love.

Peter drove several miles out of town, winding slowly up deserted country roads to a hill above a small village. Taking out the pipes he began to blow them up, and after much tinkering began to play. To avoid distracting him, I strolled slowly down the road. Peter was standing on a bank of grass at the top of the hill; on his left was a little wood. On the other side of the road was a ditch thick with whin bushes.

Beyond the ditch was a rusty, sagging fence; on the far side of the fence, smooth, mossy moorland dotted with whins, their vivid yellow colour fading into the deepening dusk. In the distance I could just see the  Highland hills, purple and rust, gathering shadows in the autumnal twilight.

Venus Rising

A myriad of stars, taking their lead from Venus, was growing bright with increasing intensity. A mellow harvest moon was slowly rising, casting a glow on the hills. The air held a hint of cold. I could feel the melancholy music of the bagpipes flowing through me like a magical current.

Reaching the foot of the hill, surrendering myself completely to the intensity of the moment, I lay down in the middle of the road. Spreading out my arms, I gazed up at the stars.

A gentle breeze blew over my body, soughing through the reedy grass. Drifting with the music through the night sky, slipping away from awareness of myself or the present, I was a timeless spirit of the air, travelling the vastness of space on the notes of the pibroch. An unobtrusive rhythm, a pulse, began to beat; growing more and more steady, it became a whispering message in my mind :

‘ There is nothing to fear,’  it said. ‘ There is nothing to fear.’

An image of my lying dead, under the earth, came to me. Such images, occurring at other times, had filled me with panic and disgust. Now, there was none of that. I could gladly have died at that moment; my flesh would return to the earth and nourish it, my spirit would soar to infinity. The pulse continued, flooding me with its light :

‘ There is nothing to fear, nothing to fear, nothing to fear….’

At that point of spiritual ecstasy, I felt the absolute reality of my soul.

Such a moment might have lasted a second, an hour, or a hundred thousand years; but the music ceased, and the chill which was gradually taking over my body drew me back gently into the present…….” (ii)

The knowledge that such a vitalizing sense of connectedness was possible, glimpsed during the above experience, kept me going through the long struggle to believe that  life had an overall meaning, and to find my own way of offering my energy creatively in the years which were to follow.

When Uranus crossed the South Node/IC in 1980/81, I began to study astrology,thereby fulfilling a prediction made by an astrologer I had casually encountered in a laundrette in Bath in England in the early 1970s. I also met, moved in with and later married my partner – his Scorpio Moon is conjunct my IC and South Node, and he has an Aquarian Sun and Venus. All very appropriate symbolism for the timing of the Uranus IC transit !

His steadfast support, combined with the deep awareness of teleology which many years’ practice of astrology brings, have been vital for my personal and professional growth and development from the time Uranus crossed the IC until now, (ie end 1995-early 1996) as Pluto moves off that point.

When Pluto was still transiting the IC, but from Sagittarius, I applied and was accepted for a major astrological study course. The very day that Pluto was exactly on the South Node and about to cross the IC for the last time saw me beginning the first year of study. I felt a powerful sense of standing on firm inner ground after the turbulence and trauma of the last few years – of being in the right place at the right time, of having done what I could, for now, with my family inheritance – of being ready to move on to the next growth cycle.

Now that the outer planets have crossed the IC and moved into the Western hemisphere of my Horoscope, I feel liberated from much of the pathology of the past, and  more able to use directly in the world the undoubted creativity inherited with it. Nor do I need any longer to make bargains with the shadowy figures who emerge when the light of day is dimming….

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i & ii : Both extracts have been published both together and separately  in several articles in the USA, the UK and  Australia, eg in “Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” which appeared in the UK’s Astrological Journal, 1996,  and was then reprinted in Considerations magazine (USA) in the same year.

and –

“Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” is a quote from ‘L’Allegro’ by the English poet John Milton

Zodiac

Zodiac

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2500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

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