For all enquiries, including tuition and booking astrology consultations, my email address is info@anne-whitaker.com

Please note: as from 2018 I will be continuing to offer appointments to former and existing clients, mentorees and students. I will not, however, be offering any appointments meantime for new astrology readings. Students studying with reputable courses seeking mentoring as support for their studies are however still welcome to contact me.

This blog has its own Facebook Page, where I publish all kinds of astrological stuff – blogs, videos and articles from leading astrologers for instance  – in fact anything astrological which takes my fancy and I think might interest YOU, dear reader. Do go over, visit for a while, leave a Like or even better, a comment. See you there!

Some thoughts on the Astrological Houses: Placidus, Equal – or what ?

Sooner or later, it dawns on the student or budding astrologer that the method of dividing the inner space in a horoscope into twelve sectors or spheres of life, known as Houses, poses some problems.

Astrological Houses

Astrological Houses

Firstly, since there are a number of different house systems – click HERE for more detail on this – which should you choose?

Secondly, to a varying degree depending on your chart, planets can move house. In my chart, for instance, by Equal House I have no less than SIX planets in the Twelfth House. When I first saw my horoscope in  Placidus houses, one planet, my ruler Mercury, had migrated to the Eleventh. O joy! I need all the help I can get here, I thought then. But, as you will soon see, it’s not as simple as that…

Then there is a further problem. In Placidus, the MC/IC axis always defines the cusp of the Tenth/ Fourth Houses. If you use Equal House, the MC/IC axis can fall through any pair of houses from the 8th/2nd to the 11th/5th. How do you deal with that?

I have worked with only two systems over the years, i.e. the most commonly used ones in the UK – Equal House and Placidus. I used Equal House from the early 1980s perfectly happily, finding that the system worked well for me. Then I changed to Placidus in 1995. I didn’t choose it for any carefully thought through philosophical or practice reasons; it was simply the system used on the Diploma course I was doing. Now, in 2015, I am moving back to using Equal again. For philosophical reasons this time, as you will see shortly.

A class experiment

Ever since a small group of my ‘old’ students persuaded me to run a refresher class for them starting last August 2014, I have really enjoyed returning to astrology teaching. Those students were all very rusty, and wanted to cover the basics again. Inevitably, the question of house division came up. Having covered the core meanings of the houses in an introductory class, we recently spent a whole tutorial looking in more detail at the issue of house division.

The methods I adopted on this occasion were twofold: firstly, I gave the class copies of their charts in Equal House to compare with their existing Placidus charts. Then I drew up a grid, of which we all had a copy. This listed all the planets, Chiron and the North Node as well as the pair of houses through which the Equal House MC/I C axis ran. Thus we could see at a glance those features which stayed the same in both systems, and which ones changed. In some charts many features changed. In others eg mine, there was very little difference.

I have always taught astrology with every student having a copy of everyone else’s horoscopes, including mine. With permissions always asked and given before the start of a course, and appropriate emphasis on confidentiality, this way of working has been very effective. It creates each class as a kind of mini qualitative research laboratory, where astrological theory can be tested out there and then, observing to what extent it manifests accurately in the nuts and bolts of the everyday lives of those present. It is a model which makes for very lively teaching…

We worked our way round everyone in the small group, including me, discussing how interpretations might change, and most importantly, how much that mattered by potentially altering the emphasis on key horoscope themes.

For instance, the Moon in one student’s horoscope changed from the Placidus Ninth house (a location she really liked for her Moon, being both a teacher and an education junkie!) to the Tenth by Equal House, which emphasised the importance of her vocational/career life but not the dimensions of teaching and learning which are both Ninth House concerns. However, we pointed out to her that this didn’t really matter in terms of overall accuracy of interpretation; she really was very well endowed with Jupiterian energy anyway, given her Moon’s trine to Jupiter in Aries, as well as her Sun’s square to Jupiter.

This was just one example in which, whatever shift we saw of planets from one house to another, there was invariably an underlying strong theme in the birth chart, so that the emphasis being slightly shifted in one context made little if any difference to the overall accuracy of interpretation of the whole horoscope. Interestingly, more than half of our small group, despite my having worked with all students with Placidus from 1995, said that they preferred the relative simplicity of the Equal House system.

In my own case, although ruling planet Mercury moved from the sociable, group-oriented Placidus 11th House to join five other planets in the reclusive Twelfth by Equal House, I have an exact semi- square from Mercury to 10th House Uranus in both systems, Uranus also strongly aspecting the Sun and Moon, so the Aquarian/Uranian/11th house ‘tone’ remains strongly emphasised. That Mercury energy also flows from the Twelfth House to an exact sextile to Neptune, and a square to Third House Jupiter in both systems. So any reclusive tendencies brought by the move are well and truly restrained by other horoscope factors!

The students could see from our small experiment something which is fundamental to the accurate reading of any horoscope: strong themes will shine through, whatever way you divide up the circle. As U.K astrologer Robin Heath so memorably observed a number of years ago: “…astrology appears more and more to behave like a hologram. You can perform almost any technique with the data, turn the chart inside out or slice it up, and still the symbolic pictures remain….” (i) Both this statement and our class experiment bore out the conclusion at which I had  arrived some time ago. It doesn’t really matter much what system you use. What you get is the same overall picture…

Horses (Houses!) for courses…

I went on to outline the way some astrologers use different house systems for different purposes. Since the Equal House system is based on the Ascendant/Descendant axis which is the axis of “… here I am in relation to you… “, this system can be used when the client in their reading wishes specifically to address matters pertaining to relationship.

Since the IC /MC axis can be seen as an arrow flowing from the person’s deepest self and origins (IC) to their future direction (MC), then issues of roots, vocation and life direction are most appropriately contemplated, some astrologers think, via the Placidus lens since that system can be seen to emphasise the MC/IC.

Also, although I have never worked with the Koch system myself, I know that some astrologers swear by the accuracy of its house cusps in plotting transits and progressions.

The Equal House MC/IC “problem”

The placing of inverted commas above gives you a clue that I do not see the shifting placement of the MC/IC axis in the Equal House system as a problem at all. Quite the opposite. I think that working with the MC/IC axis against the backdrop of either the 2nd/8th, 3rd/9th, 4th/10th, or the 5th/11th adds a layer of richness to the interpretation of the MC/IC which of course should remain just as focal and important in the Equal House system as in any other where the MC/IC  is always the cusp of the 10th/4th Houses.

For example, I have often encountered clients or students with 2nd/8th backdrops in professions involving finance and collective money, those with 4th/10th backdrops have their strong life focus on career/vocation emphasised. With 5th/11th emphasised, you often find “creative” types who work co-operatively and collaboratively in the pursuit of their careers. And in my own case, the 3rd/9th backdrop is highly appropriate since writing and higher education have been central to all the diverse vocational paths I have pursued throughout my working life.

Equal House: the return

In conclusion, the students were very keen to know why I had decided to return to working with Equal House.  For giving me the final shove in that direction I have to thank Phoebe Wyss and her excellent recent book “Inside the Cosmic Mind” . I  would urge any astrology student or practitioner to read this book if they are inclined, as I am, to perceive astrology as a ‘top down’ art whose practice and interpretation reveals us as expressing in micro form, the shifting macro patterns of the whole cosmos.

In Phoebe Wyss’ own words:

“ Archetypal astrology is an approach to astrological chart interpretation that is based on this cosmological view. The meanings of the chart factors such as  zodiac signs, houses, and planets are then seen to derive from the twelve basic categories of meaning associated with the astrological archetypes. These fundamental cosmic principles and their inter-relationships are symbolised in the geometry of the zodiac…”(ii)

Wyss’ book – which builds on the recent work of Richard Tarnas, Kieron Le Grice and other pioneers in the field of archetypal cosmology – has taken me back and re-grounded me in the basic geometry of sacred numbers, whose symbolism reflects the core shaping principles or archetypes governing the movement of energy throughout the whole cosmos. The number twelve is one of those sacred numbers.

From that symbolic, geometric perspective, dividing the inner space of the horoscope symbolically into twelve equal parts seems more appropriate than using any other house system, including Placidus, whose devising arises purely from measurements limited by the view from planet Earth in relation to the solar system in our tiny corner of space/time 

Endnotes:

(i) The Mountain Astrologer, Issue 78, April/May 1998, Letters p 11

(ii) Inside the Cosmic Mind, Phoebe Wyss, Floris Books 2014, p 93

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Zodiac

  • 1600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015/2018

    Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

‘Dancing on the Edge’ as the Aries New Moon dawns…

‘Dancing on the Edge’. That’s what it feels like at present. Astrologers have a double-edged tool: access to the ever-shifting energy patterns of our tiny corner of the cosmos via an ancient symbolic art which has long drawn meaning, both collective and personal, from those patterns. Double-edged especially in times of crisis, ie NOW.

These times are volatile, unstable, dangerous. We can examine the horoscopes eg of Trump, Putin, Assad in relation to the latest escalation of the dreadful events in Syria. We can scare ourselves and our readers, students and clients witless if we choose to do so. The Web is full of  fevered speculation regarding what the upcoming 16.4.18 Aries New Moon, with its dramatic, tempestuous pattern, could bring to our troubled world. It feels at present as though we are ‘dancing on the edge’(i). Of what, no-one knows…

Aries New Moon 2018

Aries New Moon 2018

As I write today, uk time, Mercury has just turned direct at 4 degrees Aries. Monday’s Aries New Moon at 26 Aries triggers off the Eris/Uranus conjunction, square Pluto. Mars is on the Saturn/Pluto midpoint in Capricorn. On Tuesday Chiron enters Aries for the first time since 1968 – think Vietnam War protests, students rioting in the streets of Paris – and Saturn turns retrograde. As though all of that weren’t more than enough, Pluto also turns retrograde on Sunday next.

Looks like it’s going to be quite a week!

However, I will leave those more inclined and probably more knowledgeable than I am to get on with the speculating, and go off on a different tack.

Having been born in Moondark, ie the very end of the monthly Sun/Moon cycle, I am very sensitive to the need periodically to retreat, contemplate, take stock – a fundamental aspect of human experience which has increasingly been squeezed out by the 24/7 freneticism of contemporary living, to the increasing detriment of our collective mental and physical wellbeing.

We tend to think of the annual 20th March equinox, the day the Sun enters Aries, as the symbolic beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. But you could argue that the true beginning takes place with a New Moon in that sign. This year we have been in Moondark since the 27 Pisces New Moon on the 17th March – anticipating the fresh energy upsurge of the 26 Aries New Moon on 16th April 2018.

Today, at the very end not only of the lunar month’s Moondark, but also the whole zodiacal year’s Moondark, I am in a deeply withdrawn, sensitive, pensive state, feeling very open to our collective vulnerability and suffering as fragile creatures on a tiny planet.

I’m very aware that Chiron, the planetoid which concerns both our suffering and our healing, is at 29 degrees 53 minutes of Pisces, about to move into 0 degrees Aries after his seven year sojourn in that sign of the zodiac which most concerns our unity with the One, the Ground of our being.  Liz Greene points out re the centaur Chiron’s unhealable wound, that “….the wound exists in the collective and is ancestral..” (ii) With Chiron poised at the edge of Pisces, along with so many of us right now I am feeling deeply connected to our world’s pain, and wondering what his shift to fiery, Mars-ruled Aries may mean.

Will it be more brutality towards the vulnerable and the innocent, orchestrated by powerful men whose humanity has become debased? Or will it signify a new generation arising, whose values are not rooted in accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of our mother planet? Thankfully, we are seeing evidence of the latter option arising already…

The Big Why?

The Big Why?

In contemplative moments such as this, poised in the stillness of a whole year’s Moondark, being temperamentally inclined to brood on questions most sensible folk prefer to avoid much of the time, I tend to return to The Big Why, and its attendant questions: Why are we here at all? What does it all mean? What am I to do with my small life?

It would appear from numerous surveys one tends to come across both in print and social media, that despite conventional religions losing ground, most people are just as inclined as they have ever been toward some sort of faith, some belief that despite its painful, turbulent dimensions life has meaning.

In times of suffering and turbulence, one of the great offerings of astrological knowledge, despite its being a double-edged gift with just as much capacity to scare us as to offer enlightenment, is a pointing through its symbols to something both collectively and personally meaningful going on. Looking through an astrological lens reveals patterns, not randomness.

Astrology is not a religion or a belief system – but it offers a clear lens through which to look out at the vastness of Mystery in which we exist, inviting us toward some form of belief that there is a Bigger Picture of  which we are all part, however small. Personally, I have found that lens to have been a vitally important tool on my own journey toward a deep faith that we are all part of the One, and that even the dreadful things in life which afflict us both collectively and individually at times are woven into a tapestry of meaning, at some level which we are too ill-equipped to comprehend.

I find it supportive and comforting to centre myself in that faith when times are tough for the world – as they certainly are right now – and for those to whom I am personally connected with bonds of friendship and of love.

I’ve spent this morning reading a contemplative book by one of my favourite writers, Richard Holloway, in which he considers the challenging question of faith from the perspective of those, like himself, who are ‘dancing on the edge’.

I leave him with the last word:

“…the persistence of belief…could be a valid response to reality.That is why it is important to offer faith the compliment of a respectful hearing and to afford it the status of a reasonable response to the mystery of life…even if we ourselves find it personally elusive …”

Endnotes:

(i) Richard Holloway Dancing on the Edge, 1997, Fount Paperbacks, p12

(ii) Liz Greene ‘Wounding and the will to live’ in Issue 3 of Apollon, the Journal of Psychological Astrology (1999). This article is now available on Astrodienst, and I would strongly suggest that any readers interested in exploring Chiron’s meaning at profound depth should read it.

Zodiac

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

110 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

Revisiting Pluto as he dredges through Capricorn …

We all have stand-out moments. For me – as for many astrologers – hearing that Pluto, symbolic Lord of the Underworld, had been demoted to a mere ‘dwarf planet’ was one of those. I felt a deep shiver of apprehension. Did those scientists on 24th August 2006 understand at more than a material level what they were doing? The ancient Greeks knew all too well about the sin of hubris. It does not do AT ALL to disrespect the gods…

Pluto - Lord of the Underworld

Pluto – Lord of the Underworld

Shortly afterwards, Pluto abandoned his season of blithe excess during his traverse of ‘leap first, look later’ Sagittarius from 1995, and entered sombre Capricorn, settling in from 2007/8 until 2023/4 to the long job of ruthlessly dredging up and showing us the consequences of institutionalised greed, political short-termism – and disregard for the very Earth on which we depend for our survival. We are having to face all that now…

All a column can do is offer brief engagement with this hugely complex topic. However, with transiting Pluto in Capricorn currently sextiling my third house Jupiter, I have been revisiting my fascination with Pluto’s profound power.

The Big Collective Picture

Pluto’s cycle is nearly 250 years long; he last occupied Capricorn from 1762-1778, the time when the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions were gaining traction. As that cycle ends, we are seeing another revolution beginning with the shift from an Earth-based global economy to one which is increasingly being run from cyber-space. Pluto enters the air sign of Aquarius in 2023/4, following the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 0 Aquarius at the end of 2020. We are turning away slowly from exploiting the body of the planet for our energy sources.

Big Oil, your days are numbered…

Stepping down to the smaller picture, the USA is moving towards its Pluto Return in 2022/3 at 27 Capricorn. As such, a process of death and transformation of the old order is already under way. The Trump presidency with all that it has brought and threatens, is an excellent example of this process…

Pluto in recent times has also been having his way with the UK’s 9 Capricorn IC,10 Capricorn Sun and 14 Aries/Libra Nodal Axis. There is more to come as he opposes the UK’s 19 Cancer Moon. This has brought ‘Brexit’: the UK’s momentous decision to leave the European Union. My Nodal research (1) has shown that any combination of Pluto with the Moon’s Nodes and the natal, progressed or transiting horoscopes of either nations or individuals, brings with it very significant endings: the old order bulldozed away so that new life can eventually emerge.

My own nation of Scotland illustrates that. Pluto in recent times has combined with Uranus in Aries to dredge and batter the MC, Venus and Sun. As Pluto crossed Scotland’s 15 Capricorn North Node in 2014, we had a referendum in which 84% of the population voted by a decisive majority not to separate from the UK. However, following the UK’s ‘Brexit’ vote, another Scottish referendum may be likely; Uranus is currently on his last transit of Scotland’s 26 Aries Mars, later to be followed by a Pluto square to that incendiary planet…

Pluto’s destructive but deeply transformative power can be witnessed in personal lives too, as astrologers across the world would affirm. Individuals can work with this planet’s awe and fear-inspiring energies in a deeply satisfying way: the radical psychological x-ray of a good reading at the right time can be profoundly alchemical. 

Pluto transits are slow. We have time to work constructively with this life-changing energy. Paradoxically, individuals may thus have more free will in the face of Pluto’s fateful demands than nation states do.

A personal story

I can offer a powerful example. My mother died suddenly, and my husband took up serious mountain climbing, in the summer of 1992. Transiting Pluto was then squaring my natal Sun/Moon conjunction from the third house. I reacted to both those events with a great deal of fear that my husband was going to die in the hills (he didn’t!).This led to much anger, conflict and resentment, mostly on my part, which could have seriously damaged our relationship.

However, some astro-research via the ephemeris showed me that transiting Pluto had last triggered my Sun/Moon conjunction when I was three years old. My father left my mother then, apparently causing me a great deal of distress. I have no conscious recollection of this trauma. It was only acknowledged in my twenties, by which time my parents had long been reconciled.

Old buried pain, grief and separation anxiety was being re-dredged by the Pluto transit in my adult life; I was projecting it onto my husband. That was a hugely powerful, freeing insight. Sharing it enabled him to understand why I was so upset, considerably diminishing his resentment. It also enabled me to own my fears, take back my projections, and work with them – both with my husband and in my journal.

He could then go to his beloved hills without having to struggle with me in order to do so. Meanwhile I channelled my considerable third house Plutonian energy into travelling to London to complete my studies with Liz Greene at the Centre for Psychological Astrology. So – working with Pluto’s tough challenge led gradually to a deepening of our relationship and a win/win situation for both of us.

Without the insights which astrological knowledge offered, and our willingness to work with it, the outcome of that fateful Pluto transit might have been very different: a repeat of my parents’ past, perhaps…

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Endnotes:

(1) see The Moon’s Nodes in Action downloadable for free from my website.

This slightly edited version of my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine first appeared as  ‘The astro-view from Scotland’ in the September 2017 Issue.

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950 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dell Horoscope Magazine 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

Sellieve’s Question: should we mention possible death as a transit’s outcome?

Astrologer Sellieve Neptune has form when it comes to asking me challenging questions! But I appreciate them; it is part of the job of experienced teachers and practitioners, in my opinion, to attempt to guide and support younger members of our profession in the tough but rewarding process of becoming grounded, responsible, effective and compassionate practitioners. A vital part of that evolutionary process is the recognising of both our own limitations – and those of the art of astrology itself.

My last post, on Chiron, produced a considerable amount of reaction and response. At the end of the following extract you will find Sellieve’s question, which I assume was prompted by the following powerful example:

“…A long time ago – I no longer have the chart or notes for reference but still remember the situation – a woman with Chiron conjunct her Moon consulted me not long after her 50th birthday. Chiron had recently returned to that natal conjunction. I recall that Saturn by transit was also probably involved. I asked her whether there was a difficult issue currently involving a key female in her life, and she said yes, that her mother-in-law to whom she had been very close had recently died and she was having difficulty getting over this loss; her deep grief seemed to her to be out of proportion.

I then asked if she had had a similar loss in the first year of her life. It turned out that her own mother had died when she was less than a year old, and that she had felt bereft of mothering until her mother-in -law came into her life, hence her great difficulty with the current situation. Both the client and I were deeply moved by how powerfully the Moon/Chiron symbolism had spoken on Chiron’s return to its natal position. But realising this also helped the client to make more sense of the depth of her grief, and hopefully to process it more consciously…”

From Sellieve: While reading this, it dawned on me that someone I know will have transiting Chiron conjunct their moon after their Chiron return, and their mother might die when this transit happens, not sure if I should tell them or how to counsel them thru this? I’m welcome to hear anyone’s thoughts.

From Anne: Sellieve, once again you’ve raised an ethical question which deserves a considered reply outwith comment boxes.

That ancient basic guideline which we share with all the caring professions is still: ‘Do no harm’.

Introduction

We can describe clearly to our clients the essence of a planetary combination eg Chiron/Moon by transit: but the branches which arise from that core essence are many and varied although all tie back to the core theme/s. So we are not in any position to select one branch and offer it to the client as a possibility – or even worse, a definite outcome! –  if it is something which may raise fear/be undermining or damaging.

It is another matter when (as in the example I gave in this post) the client brings a branch which for them has manifested as a death. It is then our job to help them explore this event in such a way that they gain some understanding, and are able to go forward feeling empowered rather than undermined. 

Working with a client’s Chiron Return

My recollection, regarding the example quoted above, is that I sketched out a core description of transiting Chiron returning to a Chiron Moon Saturn combination, by saying something to this effect: “Your natal pattern is certainly challenging: it can manifest along a spectrum of possibilities from maternal separation or loss of some kind and the need to heal from that wounding, to having a mother whose disciplined professional work as a healer of some kind –perhaps a medical practitioner – absorbed more of her time than you as a child felt was enough to meet your needs.

This might have had the effect of making you emotionally self-sufficient, or the pattern might indicate that you were drawn to the healing professions yourself. But you will need to tell me how it showed and shows up in your life. I can point the camera at what the shot is, but you will need to do the fine tuning to bring your actual picture into focus. What’s your feedback?”

At that point, she told me that she was in fact a nurse – and that her own mother had died in the first year of her life. I then asked her, looking at Chiron’s return to that pattern, whether anything connecting to that early loss had happened in the last few months. She replied that her mother-in-law, to whom she had grown very close, had died recently, triggering her overwhelming grief which she seemed unable to deal with.

We were then able to look at how this recent death had opened the floodgates, as it were, to very old bewilderment, pain and fear still unresolved from her own mother’s death which she could now begin to see was finding its expression in her adult life through the death of her beloved mother- in-law.

Our discussion helped her to put her current circumstances into a more comprehensible perspective, and I was able to refer her on to a very experienced bereavement counsellor since she felt that she needed to do some old grief work on her past as well as on the present.

What could Sellieve do?

So, Sellieve, I think you could  – assuming that the person you mention is a possible client, coming to consult you formally – sketch out in broad terms what her particular Chiron pattern may be, then ask her for feedback so that you can work together on the information she feeds back to you. You could then find out what her current circumstances are in relation to her mother – or indeed key women in her life, or her own emotional state, and take the Chiron Return discussion from there. In my experience, you follow the client’s lead, and judge what you say – or do not say – according to that.

I would certainly not offer the possibility that the client’s mother might die, and if the client, her mother or any of her female friends have serious health issues at this time, I would not venture to discuss any medical condition but refer the person on to an experienced medical astrologer and/or a medical practitioner. It is so important for us to know our limitations, and work within them. That’s why I consider it essential for practising astrologers to have at the very least some formal counselling training, and professional supervision with an experienced colleague.

I hope, Sellieve, that this necessarily limited discussion has at least opened out some of the issues you presented, and given you some pointers.

Last word to Donna Cunningham

I’d like to give the last word to the late Donna Cunningham, generous friend and mentor to many of us, whose input into the series on ethics I did a few years ago on this blog was very much appreciated:

donnafaintbuddhabtr72-hart

 

 

 

 

“…We live in very difficult times, and the world at large is in turmoil. The transits are difficult ones, too. Many astrology clients are fearful about their future but hope for good news, while astrologers struggle to make helpful predictions. Sometimes, however, the things we say can leave them even more anxious than they were before. What, then, would be a healing and empowering perspective on the concerns they bring to a session?

It’s extremely important that astrologers and their clients both understand astrology’s limitations. Natal chart features and transits to them may suggest what’s going on, but they do not set the outcome in stone. Any given placement or combination has many expressions—some challenging, some positive, yet all related. There’s no way of predicting precisely how people will express those features, for much depends on their character, history, spiritual evolution, and choices. What a consultation can do is to help them become aware of their options.

Most of us work from the heart and do the best we can to help our clients. As in any service field, the better prepared we are to understand their emotional responses—and our own—during the session, the better we can serve…”

Zodiac

Zodiac

1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Donna Cunningham 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

Reflecting on Chiron as the Pisces New Moon dawns…

What does Chiron mean to you? Have you experienced his symbolic energy as healing? Wounding? As the ‘inconvenient benefic’, kicking open doors to places you’d never have thought to go? Does he simply not register as any kind of recognisable influence in your life or those around you? Or have you simply not given him much thought as you work with your horoscope in relation to your life?

Lots of questions. In this meditative 12th house time just before the Pisces New Moon tomorrow, I am very much engaged with them, being all too aware of Chiron’s approaching the end of his long 2010-18 sojourn in Pisces.

A liminal time

Any time just before an important heavenly body shifts from one sign to another is a liminal time – a threshold time, a 12th house time of final dissolution of the old cycle  without the energies of the new yet being clearly evident. Chiron moves into Aries on 17th April 2018, dipping back into Pisces for a few months in the autumn of that year, settling into his journey through Aries on February 18th 2019, remaining there until 2026/7 when he shifts into Taurus.

Chiron’s orbit is very irregular, and if you’d like to go into the detail of this, Cafe Astrology is the place to go for some very clear tables. However, his return cycle is a steady 50 years: we all have a Chiron Return at that age. This return is especially significant since it represents the end of a whole 50 year period from 1968/9 when Chiron was last in Aries. A cycle is completing at the present time, and the shift from Pisces the last sign of the zodiac to Aries the first is always more radical than any other – and fierier, more disruptive and far-reaching at a collective level.

Chiron in Aries – 20th Century

50 years back from 1968/9 takes us to 1918/19 and the turbulent aftermath of the First World War. Some of us still vividly remember 1968/9 with the student riots in Europe, the protests in the USA against the Vietnam war, and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King against the turbulent backdrop of the Civil Rights movement. We also remember that wonderfully pioneering event of the Moon landing, a stunning example of humanity’s kicking open a door to a place no-one throughout our whole history until that moment thought we would go.

…and 21st…

Early on in Chiron’s transit through Aries, ruled by the red planet Mars, preparations for the first human mission there envisaged for the 2030s are well under way. The upcoming Mars 2020 rover will study the availability of Martian resources, including oxygen. This is a major step forward in the preparation process. Some of us baby-boomers, if we live a long life, may well see the first blast-off taking humans in Shakespeare’s famous words about death, to “…The undiscovered country from whose bournNo traveler returns…” 1   The Mars explorers know they will not return to their home planet…

No doubt there will be much more speculation across our various media outlets regarding what this shift may mean both collectively and individually. It has already begun, as a quick google search will testify!

Back to first principles

However, I have found my reflections returning me to contemplation of first principles: the questions at the start of this post are in fact my own interrogations both of my experience of Chiron’s symbolic energies in my personal life and my professional practice.

In response to those questions, on looking back I can say that I have seen Chiron, in his  popular ‘wounded healer’ mode, most notably in colleagues and acquaintances with Chiron prominent in their charts eg 2nd, 6th or 10th Houses and/or strongly linked with planets, Nodes and Angles. They have found their way into caring, alternative healing or medical/nursing contexts, usually propelled there by family and/or personal wounding they were consciously or unconsciously seeking to assuage.

I have also seen situations where the wounding dimension was well to the fore and people struggled to see any healing in what they were experiencing – quite often at the Chiron Return point, when the whole horoscope’s Chiron aspects are triggered. This is where as an astrologer it is so vital to tread carefully in seeking to offer a context to deep pain and suffering which may offer some comfort and hope without raising unrealistic expectations – and to know when we are coming up against our own limitations eg in lack of specific expertise in dealing with questions of health and healing.

Here, it is important to have a network of  reputable and experienced practitioners in various healing modalities who might be able to offer some support which builds on what one has hopefully been able to clarify for the client.

Inconvenient…but beneficial

It was the late astrologer A.L. Morrison who coined the term ‘inconvenient benefic’ as a facet of Chiron’s actions – I can see on considering the placement of Chiron in our solar system, his source for this interpretation. Chiron appeared in 1977 between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. He can be seen as the one who unlocked the door between the safe boundaries of the known system contained by Saturn, lord of form and structure, security and stability and the outer planetary realm of Uranus –lord of misrule, breaker of custom, known code and convention. It is very threatening to be kicked out of safe territory into the unpredictable and unknown. But often it is just what we need although we don’t appreciate it at the time.

I have certainly seen this Chironian dimension in action by transit or progression with clients who turn up for readings after a long process where life has given them a good kicking (sound familiar, anyone?!) but who emerge out the other end realising that the kicking was necessary to get them to move in a direction they would not have been brave (or foolish!) enough to see held considerable positive benefits for them.

An amusing (in retrospect…) and quite significant example of this ‘inconvenient benefic’ aspect of Chiron in action can be offered from my own life a long time ago. My husband developed mumps, and had such a sore throat for several days that he could neither speak nor eat anything that wasn’t liquidised, and certainly could not bear to smoke. Chiron was then transiting his Gemini Midheaven. He quit for good… 

Chiron’s Return at Midlife

It makes sense that Chiron doesn’t feature very strongly in a person’s life if not prominent by horoscope placement or by aspect. However, even in such cases, if Chiron directly transits any of the personal planets or Angles, it is very unusual for there to be a ‘dumb note’ struck. It also seems to me that the Chiron Return at age 50 registers with everyone, but especially strongly when Chiron is a powerfully placed and aspected symbol.

A long time ago – I no longer have the chart or notes for reference but still remember the situation – a woman with Chiron conjunct her Moon consulted me not long after her 50th birthday. Chiron had recently returned to that natal conjunction. I recall that Saturn by transit was also probably involved. I asked her whether there was a difficult issue currently involving a key female in her life, and she said yes, that her mother-in-law to whom she had been very close had recently died and she was having difficulty getting over this loss; her deep grief seemed to her to be out of proportion.

I then asked if she had had a similar loss in the first year of her life. It turned out that her own mother had died when she was less than a year old, and that she had felt bereft of mothering until her mother-in -law came into her life, hence her great difficulty with the current situation. Both the client and I were deeply moved by how powerfully the Moon/Chiron symbolism had spoken on Chiron’s return to its natal position. But realising this also helped the client to make more sense of the depth of her grief, and hopefully to process it more consciously.

Chiron and our deep ancestral wound…

In approaching what Chiron’s symbolic action may bring in our own and clients’ horoscopes, it seems to me to make sense to hold those several facets I have described in this post in mind as we reflect.

However, there is a deep layer which has meant more to me than any other, which I first came across in an article by Liz Greene called ‘Wounding and the will to live’ in Issue 3 of Apollon, the Journal of Psychological Astrology (1999). This article is now available on Astrodienst, and I would strongly suggest that any readers interested in exploring Chiron’s meaning at profound depth should read it.

Here, Liz Greene points out re the centaur Chiron’s unhealable wound, that “….the wound exists in the collective and is ancestral..”

My understanding of what she is saying is that where Chiron appears in our birth charts represents our ‘chip’ of the accumulated woundedness of humanity over the ages. It is not our fault that we have this particular ‘chip’ allocated to us, any more than it was the centaur Chiron’s fault to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in the centaurs’ battle with the Lapiths during which he was grazed in the thigh by a poisoned arrow which would not heal because it was dipped in the blood of the Hydra. 

We are not directly responsible for our personal share of humanity’s wounding. But if we can work with as much honesty and humility, and as little bitterness as possible with that share as indicated by Chiron’s placement in our natal chart, then we can begin to transform that woundedness into something which can be offered for the healing of others. This process can ultimately help us to grow enough for our personal wound to become an increasingly smaller part of who it is we are able to become.

I have used this understanding of Chiron in many client readings now, and have found that it offers inspiration and consolation. Much of that healing flows from helping clients to accept that the wound is not our fault – but it is our responsibility to choose how we deal with it. No doubt the fact that I have found this deep message a consolation in my own work with ancestral wounding, also communicates itself to clients without my having to say a single word about my own process…

________

Endnote:

 1 Hamlet: Act 3 Scene 1

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1800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

1800 words

Why is the zodiac sign of Virgo called the virgin?

Why is the sign of  Virgo called the virgin?

Virgo

Virgo

This question raises the interesting issue of how the usage and meaning of words changes from one historical period/cultural phase to another. Within our current culture the word virgin when applied to humans generally means sexually intact. However, in ancient times when matriarchal religions were practised, the word virgin and the astrological sign of Virgo held a deeper and more complex set of meanings.

For example, the priestesses who served the ancient virgin goddesses Atargatis and Artemis were anything but virgin in our contemporary sense of the word. They were women who belonged to themselves and the goddess(es), whose duties to the temple were paramount and who owed allegiance to no particular male partner. Indeed, it was commonplace with those priestesses who had children to foster them out. They were too busy with their sacred duties to have much time for motherhood.

(Virgo’s contemporary association with perfectionism, attention to detail, and devotion to work began a very long time ago!)

The eminent astrologer, writer and teacher Dr Liz Greene expresses the essence of what the sign Virgo is about in her “Astrology of Fate” p 215:

“….this issue does not deal solely with sexual matters, but embodies an entire view of life….I would understand it more as an openness to the flow of life, a willingness to trust the natural order, an acceptance of penetration and change….”

In the chapter “Myth and the Zodiac”, pp 211-220, Liz Greene offers a very full account of the complex, paradoxical mythology and symbolism connected to the sign of Virgo. I commend it to you!

If you’d like to read some more factual aspects of this topic, try this Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgo_(astrology).

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

The Leo/Aquarius eclipse season 2017-2019: setting the bigger context…

The Nodal axis travels backwards through the zodiac at 18 months per sign, pulling twice yearly solar and lunar eclipses with it as it goes.

The final eclipse of the Virgo/Pisces season fell on 26th February 2017 at 8.12 Pisces. That season began on 20.3.2015 with a solar eclipse at 29.27 Pisces.

The new Leo/Aquarius eclipse season started just after midnight (GMT) on 11 February 2017 with a lunar eclipse at 22.28 Leo – running right through to the last in the season, another lunar eclipse at 0.52 Leo on 21.01.2019.

Solar Eclipse 9.3.16, Indonesia

Solar Eclipse 9.3.16, Indonesia

What does it all MEAN, though? A quick trawl through google will reveal dozens and dozens of astrology sites offering all kinds of opinion. It seems that we humans still get excited by eclipses, which have been dredging up fear, excitement, anticipation and predictions since the earliest days of civilisation if not earlier.

I can still clearly recall the fuss, during the last Leo/Aquarius eclipse season, over the Big Solar Eclipse of August 1999, which picked up on a great deal of collective fear as the Millennium approached. Predictions, from the end of the world as we knew it to Paris going up in flames, ran rampant. As you may have noticed, the world is still here, and we still have Paris. If you’d like to read what I wrote about it all then, just click HERE.

Making sense of eclipses

How, then, do we make sense of eclipses and relate them to our own lives in ways which are going to be useful? There are choices to be made regarding this question. My own view, for what it’s worth, is that getting worked up about individual eclipses is all very well, but we need to put some kind of context in place for the information we extract to be of much value.

The biggest possible context is that of placing the 2017-9 Leo/Aquarius eclipses  in the context of the Saros Series of eclipses, which run in vast energy waves from North to South across the globe, repeating every 19 years, for varying periods of up to a thousand years or more.

Each eclipse belongs to one of the Saros Series families of eclipses, each of which has a specific core meaning rooted in the very first eclipse of that particular series. If you want some in-depth research by Dr Bernadette Brady, the book to acquire is “Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark . A free 17 page download introducing the Saros Series is also available from her website HERE.

If you don’t quite have the time, energy or inclination to pursue this truly fascinating context, then the next one to consider in which to set this  Leo/Aquarius season, is the 18.6 year returning cycle of the Moon’s Nodes, which governs the appearance of both solar and lunar eclipses.

(For readers who need to be brought up to speed regarding Nodal basics, check out Wikipedia on The Lunar Nodes for the astronomy, and Cafe Astrology for a typical explanation of the Nodes’ symbolic meanings.)

As the Nodal axis regresses through the chart, identifying via the highlighted houses the overall territory up for change, the transiting eclipses function as “battery chargers”, gradually building up the energies of our lives in preparation to receive major change.

An image  comes to mind here from the female menstrual cycle, of the egg gradually being primed and prepared until it is at its maximum point of readiness to receive the male sperm, conceive and begin new life. I think the eclipses begin their work of charging-up as soon as the relevant eclipse season begins, which may be as long as eighteen months before the turning point(s) in  life appear.

Life changing times

The really powerful “major” times in life are characterised by not just one or two, but a cluster of transits and/or progressions involving the natal, and/or progressed, and/or transiting Nodes.The outer planets, especially Pluto with its strong “fated” feel,  stand out. To read the research on which I based those conclusions, you can download my book The Moon’s Nodes in Action for free.

A powerful recent example of this can be seen from the the Virgo/Pisces season, which began on 20.3.2015 with a solar eclipse at 29.27 Pisces, and ended with another solar eclipse on  26th February 2017 at 8.12 Pisces.

As the Moon’s North Node retrograded through Virgo, pulling the eclipses with it,and connecting with the Saturn/Neptune square which transited 10-15 degrees of  Sagittarius/Pisces from November 2015 to its last exact square in September 2016, those powerful, difficult energies triggered the natal Uranus conjunct Pluto in Virgo opposite Chiron in Pisces natal configurations of people born from 1963/4 right through to 1968.

Many people had a particularly difficult time during 2016 as a consequence of being ‘plugged-in’ to this energy pattern combining natal planets, Nodes, eclipses and Pluto and producing events of a life-changing nature in many cases. I saw this in a number of clients’ charts and lives, in members of my own family – and their challenges directly impacted on me, since I have 9 Virgo/Pisces as my Ascendant/Descendant degrees.

The dominant transiting pattern for 2016 was Saturn in Sagittarius, squaring Neptune in Pisces. Everyone with planets/Asc/MC/ Nodes/Chiron in the early to middle degrees of the mutable signs triggered by this Saturn/Neptune square would have found 2016 tougher than usual, with family of origin pain, loss, low energy, confusion re life direction, and often, health issues in the mix.

What lies ahead for this 2017-9 Leo/Aquarius eclipse season?

Leo Lunar Eclipse 11-2-17

Leo Lunar Eclipse 11-2-17

(click on image to enlarge) 

Overall, the birth chart for the starting eclipse of this season looks altogether more buoyant than the preceding Virgo/Pisces one. For starters, Nodal/eclipse energies are moving from earth and water to fire and air, lightening things up and bringing in greater potential for moving forward as a result of creative opportunities coming our way through group contacts, if we are ‘plugged-in’ to the Leo/Aquarius axis via planets in our birth charts.

As can be seen from the above chart, there is a Grand Kite pattern draped around a Jupiter/Uranus opposition.  As the Nodes and eclipses regress through Leo/Aquarius, they will be picking up that opposition, and Uranus’ trine to Saturn, sextile Jupiter, for much of 2017.

So – a combination of restless desire to break new ground via the Jupiter/Uranus opposition, held in check by Saturn and offered fruition by the Jupiter/Saturn sextile,was the prevailing Nodal/eclipse pattern for 2017. Since the North Node always pushes us to be the best we can be, and this North Node is in Leo, have a good look at the pair of houses which will be highlighted in your horoscope by the North and South Nodes and their attendant solar and lunar eclipses.

These are the areas continuing to be up for major change as 2018 unfolds.

Good luck with it all! And feel free to leave feedback. That’s how we go on learning…

Zodiac

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1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page