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

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!

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It’s New Moon tomorrow: we’re still in the Dark Moon…

Today I had a most interesting encounter with a 37 year old client in the last year of the Moondark phase of her Progressed New Moon which began nearly thirty years ago when she was nine years old. She and her family relocated then. A year from now, with her Progressed New Moon in Sagittarius, it is likely that she will relocate again.

Being able to place the unfolding pattern of her life in this cyclic context felt supportive and comforting to my client…’…To every thing there is a season...’, as the old biblical saying goes. The encounter has inspired me to share a post from my archives, not only talking about our monthly Moondark, where we are now, but also that powerfully descriptive symbolic cycle of the Progressed New Moon.

Enjoy! 

The web is full of articles about the upcoming  New Moon. New Moons always attract our attention, which indeed they merit. However – the Balsamic lunar phase, where we are now, does not attract nearly as much upfront focus. It should, in my view…and I am not alone here!

The Sun/Moon Month

The Sun/Moon Month

That fine, poetic astrological writer Dana Gerhardt has this to say: ‘As the final phase in the lunation cycle, the Balsamic Moon is the monthly “sleep time”. During the three to four days of this phase, vitality and spirit are replenished, fueling your start at the next New Moon….if you could observe just one Moon phase per cycle, this should be the one… ‘ (my emphasis)

Our increasingly frenetic 24/7 culture, revved up in recent years as it has been by the arrival and increasing dominance of social media, does not encourage us to build a few days of rest and recovery into each month. Can you imagine the average boss’s reaction to the statement “I’m having retreat time now. It’s Moondark. Bye!!”  And yet: we all know what happens if we run ourselves too hard without adequate rest, for too long. For some of us – and I speak from hard personal experience here, folks! – the price can be very high.

So – what is this Balsamic lunar phase, and what is Moondark? Why should we pay it attention? As can be seen from the above image, there are eight key phases in the monthly lunar cycle, flowing from the New to the Balsamic Moon. A good summary of each and what they mean can be found HERE.

The Balsamic lunar phase begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun –  that beautiful, fragile, slender waning crescent moon which we may see each month if the skies are clear. Then it disappears. We are in Moondark now, the latter part of the Balsamic phase, the last couple of days of the dying energy of the previous month’s New Moon.

waning crescent Moon

waning crescent Moon

My aim in this short post is to give you a flavour of three key facets pertaining to the Balsamic phase, and Moondark in particular. Hopefully that will stimulate you enough to do your own reflection/research. Those facets are:  the Balsamic phase of each monthly lunar cycle throughout the year; those people born on the Balsamic Moon; and the thirty-year progressed Sun/Moon cycle, where the final, Balsamic phase lasts 3-4 years.

The Monthly cycle – Balsamic phase

Having been born in the Balsamic phase, in Moondark just before a Leo New Moon, I have long been aware of the few days before any New Moon as a special time, a contemplative time: a time to take stock both collectively and personally. Those of us who wish and need to retreat regularly to preserve our balance and well-being tend to be regarded as odd by mainstream society, where ‘time out’ is increasingly hard to find, and is not supported by the culture as a whole.

But humans have always benefited from times of quiet contemplation, in whatever way suits them best: listening to music, doing yoga/meditation, praying to whatever Higher Power sustains them, making or contemplating art, walking in Nature –especially by the sea, that great universal symbol of dissolution and emergence.

Even half an hour a day of retreat time on a regular basis is nourishing for the spirit. In ancient times, women used to retreat together monthly during menstruation time which was seen as a period of potency, and hidden power – a liminal time to link through dreams and ritual to worlds unseen.

It would be good if individually we could get into the habit of using the Balsamic moon time to find some retreat space in whatever way suited us. I certainly find myself feeling more ‘scratchy’ and irritable than usual during Balsamic times, if Life demands that I put myself under more pressure than my spirit wants or needs. It would be interesting to know if other folk feel like this too, at the end of the lunar cycle, before New Moon energy comes in and takes form.

Born on the Balsamic Moon

I have found both from my own life and the lives of clients and students with whom I have worked over the years, that being born in the Balsamic moon phase, and especially during Moondark, the very end of the old cycle, brings with it a contemplative nature, an ‘inner’ orientation, a need to give oneself more space and retreat than most people seem to need. Whilst doing some reading around this topic today, I found this quote which certainly spoke to me, and which may speak to some of you who were born in the Balsamic phase:

‘…This time is essentially one of transition, a chance to contemplate what has passed, tie up loose ends, journey inwards, and prepare for new beginnings ahead.  You have inherited the meditative and introspective characteristics of this phase and yours is a dreamy, contemplative personality. Intuitive and far-sighted, you have innate wisdom and a mystical understanding of the workings of Mother Nature and of the human condition.  For you, activity is spiritual and intellectual rather than physical.  Your experiences involve endings and passings, so you are likely to live through many changes.  Later life, rather than the earlier years, holds the key to your happiness and success...’

TransAngeles – thanks for this sensitive and perceptive comment!

The 30-year Progressed Sun/Moon cycle

I use this cycle as a very helpful guide to the stage of their life phase clients are in when they come for a consultation. When a cycle is coming to an end, when the 3-4 year Balsamic period of life is upon us, then the wisest course to take is that of stepping back, turning inwards, taking stock…and waiting – until the Progressed New Moon arrives, and forward motion, the gradual taking shape of a new life phase, gradually begins. Just as farmers do not plant new crops in winter, so we are wise not to begin a new project during the Balsamic moon phase or its end phase, Moondark.

Here is Dana Gerhardt again, with her words of wisdom:

“When will it end?” is everybody’s first question on learning they’ve entered a progressed Balsamic phase. No matter how colorfully I paint its virtues, they peer beyond to a bleaker landscape, to a three-to-four-year sentence of all loss and no gain. I can see it in their eyes…. I tell them this is the richest spiritual time. I tell them when my own progressed Balsamic phase was over, I had nostalgia for it. I cheer: “You will too!” But it’s a tough sell….”

I would certainly endorse this from my own experience of beginning a new journey when I was approaching the end of a whole 30-year cycle. The result was a long period of enforced retreat until the Progressed New Moon told me it was time to emerge and begin again. It was an enriching and deepening time. But very tough whilst it was happening. I should have taken astrology’s advice, not that of my own ego!

There is a great deal more to be said about this fascinating and important life phase which lies behind the New Moon. I do hope this short post piques your interest sufficiently to devote more attention to it in future!

Zodiac

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

1450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

What is my job as an astrologer?

Every so often, someone asks me what I think my job as an astrologer is. It’s a good question – it makes me ‘return to base’, as it were, and set out the basics again, both for the questioner – and for my own benefit.

Here goes!.

Anne W 2017

Anne W 2017

My  job as an astrologer is to help other people understand themselves more clearly. 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. 

What astrologers cannot do is describe the whole range of possibilities of expression which arise from each core character on the stage.

There appears to be a dynamic relationship between what you have been given through family physical and psychological inheritance ( the Old Norse word for fate also means genitals!), location, social status, and your own choices in what you do with those givens.

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 and writer. She has known me, my foibles, my weaknesses and my strengths over a very long period of time.

I  look at the relationship between the patterns present in clients’ natal horoscopes and how that relates to the here-and-now patterns of the planets in the heavens. I’m also very interested in setting clients’ lives in the context of the unfolding stages of the 11-12 year Jupiter cycles and the 29-30 year Saturn cycles, as well as the progressed New Moons, which also occur in thirty-year periods. My experience is that setting their lives in the context of the bigger pictures, and taking guidance from that, is both comforting, supportive and helpful to people who consult me.

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 is 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. 

Zodiac

Zodiac

650 words copyright Anne Whitaker

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

 

Do you find astrology – or does it find you?

Continuing the theme of how we came to astrology, stimulated by Frank Clifford’s brilliant guest post last week, here as promised are edited extracts from some of the varied and interesting stories my readers kindly shared. I’ve also included a couple of my own replies, the latter of which should leave you with no doubt regarding my misspent youth!  I love the  variety of these stories, and really appreciate readers’ having taken the trouble to share them. Space precludes me from sharing them all here  – but you can find some more intriguing tales on my  Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook Page.

The post concludes with a five-minute interview I did a few weeks ago with Lush Radio’s Andrew Paine, confessing that I too was an ignorant astrology dismisser – until the day I encountered the real thing, a day which was to change my life, although I didn’t realise that at the time! 

Talking astrology, mediaeval style!

Talking astrology, mediaeval style!

Carole Bone, from Glasgow, Scotland, UK:

‘…It was great to read Frank’s story and so amazing that it is illustrated so beautifully in his chart. My path was first stimulated by that wonderfully ostentatious icon of popular “Sun Sign astrology”, UK’s Russell Grant. Having acquired a small book of his that described planets, signs, houses, rising signs, nodes etc I was intrigued to find that my Virgo Rising Sign and Cancer Moon sign was soooo accurate. I had never resonated with Sagittarius, my Sun sign, though that did irk me somewhat for some reason… it all makes perfect sense now I’ve “grown in to my Sun sign”… as you do…’

Brenda Lee Johnson:

‘…My early childhood was in northern Canada, in the province of Manitoba. My parents had what would almost be considered a trading post. I found it very difficult to be inside the house and spent much time outside looking at the sky, the magic of it, the darkness, the mystery. We had many animals around, domesticated and otherwise. A very elemental upbringing. Considered to be “unorganized territory” yet so rich in texture. Not “organized” or ” civilized”. In other words it had a “wildness”, a freedom. To find out later, in shamanic Astrology training that my moon was in Scorpio and that indicated a shamanic past, made so much sense. My orientation thus, was to be the explorer of the cosmos and live in the world using those early developed senses to try to understand how people and the world worked.

I first began with the Linda Goodman versions then proceeded to go deeply into Astro psychology with Liz Greene, Dane Rudyar, Reinhold Ebertin, etc. All filled a gap in thinking at different times. I studied shamanic Astrology near my Chiron return, realizing Chiron was conjunct my Moon but in Sagittarius rather than Scorpio. I am continuously in awe and wonder of this powerful symbolic system, much of which to me is unexplainable – although eg James Hillman, Stanislav Grof, Richard Tarnas certainly bridge understandings…’

Lunar Cycle

Lunar Cycle

Lindel Barker-Revell:

‘…I was fascinated to read Frank’s astrological journey too. I admire his work and have attended a few of his lectures here in Oz. It’s strange how we are led to our path. I grew up in Tasmania where a dim view was taken of anything outside of a fairly rigid religious norm. However, the 60s did even reach Hobart and we had an influx of different thinking and beliefs. I met my first palm reader in 1969 and I began to learn what I could. I moved to Sydney in 1974 and after a few years I began to learn astrology at the first “school” in Paddington. What a journey!…’

Anne: Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving this interesting feedback, Lindel. I, too, grew up in a part of the world where there was a strong fundamentalist (protestant) ethos: but the wildness of the landscape and weather, and the clarity of the night skies and stars, invoked in me from early on a decidedly pagan sensibility which has never left me, leaving me open to all kinds of perspectives on interconnectedness. So I guess it was inevitable that astrology would eventually find me…

Rena Hdesign:

‘…Reading these, I feel I must share my story too! After spending the bulk of my life fighting my way through the challenges of the particular archetypal energies indicated by my birth chart, it is no big surprise that astrology finally claimed me heavily about 5 years ago. My 1st big step into the “occult”, (as it was known in the bookshop’s section back then) was to have an astrological reading. Although I don’t remember much – the astrologer’s reaction to my chart scared me a bit – I was fascinated and tried to begin studies. But it wasn’t time and there were too many fears dogging my mind to be able to maintain the type of objectivity necessary to do justice to the symbolism – so I went into massage and energy work.

Working with people at that level forced me out of the mental/intellectual and I spent many years learning to hold internal silence/space for others as witness to their processes as I gradually got through the personal challenges. Twenty five years later, being in a good place in life, there was obvious need for a further challenge – and that is where I finally found Dane Rudhyar, Liz Greene, Bil Tierny, Stephen Arroyo and many others through people like Anne Whitaker, Dawn Bodrogi and Frank Clifford’s guidance & stellar example…’

Questions, cosmic questions!

Questions, cosmic questions!

 David A Jones:

‘…My parents had my chart done when I was born, but I never got much of an interpretation. When I was 16 I took my first pay check from my first “real” job and bought half a dozen astrology books; from there I taught myself, math and all…’

Anne:That’s impressive, David. What a good way of spending your first wages…much better than booze, clothes and cigs which I seem dimly to recall was mostly what I did with mine in my early days!

AND – here is my five minutes of fame on Lush Radio:

http://player.lush.com/radio/turning-point-anne-whitaker

Zodiac

Zodiac

1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker

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

Guest post: How I became an astrologer…by Frank Clifford

I run an occasional series here in which well-known astrologers tell the always intriguing tale of how they became involved in astrology. I’m delighted this week to be featuring a distinguished guest, a star of the astrology world, on my blog: the UK’s very own Frank Clifford, prolific author, editor and world-wide teacher, who has run the London School of Astrology for the last fifteen years. 

Enjoy Frank’s story!

Frank Clifford

Frank Clifford

Anne invited me last year to write a brief ‘How I became an Astrologer’ piece and it’s taken me all this time to sit down, ignore the other deadlines on my desk, and think of something I haven’t said before in an interview. I’m not quite sure I’ve succeeded in that last aim, but here goes.

I grew up in the 1970s and 80s with a very political, Pluto-type father who was a respected and feared personal injury solicitor (long before they were unlikely stars of ambulance-chasing adverts). My dad was so contrary and difficult that, even if the legal system had interested me (and I did study Law at A Level), I was never going to follow in his footsteps. Instead, I wanted to teach, be an architect, or write TV drama (I later did a degree in media studies, and my first extra-curricular job was writing comedy at the local BBC Radio York).

My mum has Sun–Mars in Aries and Moon-Jupiter in Libra and she eventually went into the legal system, too, but in my adolescence I shared her fascination with psychics and anyone who might predict the future. By fifteen I’d chosen to immerse myself in the more interesting world of the unknown. Or perhaps it chose me. I had grown up hearing mum’s stories of psychics that she and her friends visited. There were fascinating tales of predictions of moves abroad, foreign marriages and even a car accident. I had also loved the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and longed to have his special talent of reading symbols and predicting the future!

I didn’t seem much like an Aries at fifteen – much more like my Virgo Moon and Saturn rising. I was a shy, good boy who appeared overly serious to others. But when reading Linda Goodman, Teri King and Bernard Fitzwalter (Eccles), I aspired to be the Aries they described in their books.

In mid August 1989, on the day of a lunar eclipse in Aquarius (I write this now at the lunar eclipse in Aquarius some 28 years later), my mum and I visited Tad Mann, who was based in London at the time, and we both had readings with him. Tad’s Life*Time Astrology is fascinating but not the easiest introduction to the subject for a sixteen year old. Nevertheless, I took my chart home that afternoon with one of his books and taught myself the glyphs and began self-study. (I took a correspondence course with one astrology school but the assignments were so formulaic and the approach so rigid, I wasn’t inspired.)

One of my great discoveries around that time was the Electric Ephemeris shop in Caledonian Road, run at the time by Brian and Ananda. I bought a copy of the programme and picked up Lois Rodden’s Profiles of Women, which was a treasure trove of charts, biographies and observations. Soon after, Paul Wright’s book Astrology in Action entered my life. Thanks to these books and working with people like Lois, much of my astrology developed by reading a biography in one hand and looking for ‘why’ and ‘where’ in the horoscope in my other hand.

Thanks to my mother’s masseuse, I was introduced to Amrito (Derek Hawkins) and visited his place in Sheldon Avenue, NW London, to explore his floor chart with his students. The Astrology Shop had just opened, too, and I spent many an hour browsing and buying books there. The end of the 1980s/early 1990s was a burgeoning time for astrology – lots of classes, talks, conferences and new students. In fact, many of the people I now work alongside began astrology during these years.

As I taught myself ‘real astrology’ (a regrettable term to suggest going beyond Sun signs), it was easy to be embarrassed by Russell Grant’s camp, over-the-top TV appearances or snooty when watching Cainer’s limp defence of the subject when challenged by sceptics like James Randi. But on TV, it was harder than it looked. I never took up the challenge of defending astrology on TV or radio, although writing about my other subject of palmistry meant I was often asked on TV or radio to read hands and defend that subject.

I also steered clear of lecturing on either subject until around my Saturn return. I was too shy and probably a bit fearful of ‘who does he think he is?’ comments. Having Mars (conjunct Jupiter) on the Midheaven, it would have been easy to appear like a young upstart, which no doubt I did to some. Funnily enough, just before I gave my first lecture for the Lodge, the German woman introducing me said, rather cattily, ‘Your bio says you wrote your first book at 24. My friends and I all agree that no one knows anything about astrology until after their Saturn return.’ I asked if she knew that Liz Greene had written Saturn at the age of 28.

Yes, some years before, I had published a book on the birth data and biographies of British entertainers and published other people’s books, too. It took a while to even consider writing a ‘proper’, full book on astrology. Writing two on palmistry was much easier because you’d be on the bookshelf with some unscientific twaddle and scary nonsense – a sensible, psychological approach can stand out among them. But with astrology, you’ll be on the shelf with Liz Greene, Rob Hand, Melanie Reinhart and Howard Sasportas – and you need to earn the right to be there!

I used to joke ‘I love astrology but don’t like astrologers’ and what I really meant was that I didn’t want to get wrapped up in the political and ego battles that I watched taking place in our community (even worse now with online forums and Facebook groups). Joining a committee seemed to bring out the worst in people. I used to hear about people plotting and scheming and wondered, ‘What for? To be the president of an association no one inside or outside of astrology cares much about?’ To this day, I’ve avoided committees – it’s guaranteed my survival and sanity. And it suits my Aries nature to do things by myself. I joke that I’m a ‘benevolent dictator’ – I hire people to teach, pay them on time and do my best to treat them with kindness and respect. My dad had a good philosophy that he turned into a song, ‘If you don’t like me, then leave me alone.’ I hang around the people I like being with, and stick to compliments-only when I write on Facebook.

I’ve just published my new website and on there is a chronology of much of what I’ve done over the years (http://frankclifford.co.uk/chronology/). Dozens of books, magazines, around a thousand lectures/talks/seminars, and trips to a dozen countries in the past few years. I’ve written, researched, published, lectured, consulted, and edited books and magazines – almost everything you can do in astrology. Why? Because I wanted to try everything and visit everywhere at least once. It’s been a true labour of love, so it’s never felt like ‘real’ work. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to do it when young and energetic enough.

I compiled the chronology to remind me of what I’ve done when I’m asked to write biographies for books and lectures! There are some crazy, fun things on there like ‘reading Saddam Hussein’s hands’ (not quite, but check it out to see what I mean) and advising Universal Studios, working on television pilots and documentaries, and all sorts of travel adventures. A lot of people have come into my life in these years and some of the brightest people I know are astrologers. For the past fifteen years, I’ve been teaching and running the LSA in a building that overlooks my birthplace in London (University College Hospital). So much for going places in life!

Zodiac

Zodiac

1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Frank Clifford 2017

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

Neptune and that elusive “Elsewhere”…

‘The human comedy doesn’t attract me enough. I am not entirely of this world….I am from elsewhere. And it is worth finding this elsewhere beyond the walls. But where is it?’(i)

the-big-why2 2

The Big Why?

The pull of elsewhere has dominated my life. As a child, lying tucked up cosy and warm in bed, listening to the wind beyond our walls tearing the world apart, I used to luxuriate in the contrast between in here and out there – and wonder where the Power came from to cause the winds to rage, and the sea to beat endlessly against the coastline of my native island.

No doubt my wonder at the waxing and waning of the moon as she sailed the sky at night in her ever-changing rhythm, weaving her way amongst the stars shining in their mysterious patterns in the clear nights of winter, spun a thread deep in my mind and heart, much later to be woven into my passion for the ancient art of astrology.

My ‘real’ life in childhood – eating, sleeping, going to school – was incidental to my inner life which was full of 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?

These issues, fed by reading, preoccupied me for years.

It would take me a long time to understand and accept that my obsession with the big “Why?” , from the moment I opened my eyes to the world,  is not the norm for most of humanity. Sensibly, they just want a quiet uncomplicated life.

Apart from my maternal grandfather, a loving and very broad-minded Christian – ‘remember, child: whatever our race, colour or creed we are all God’s children’– nobody knew what went on in my head and heart throughout my entire childhood.

There is no such thing as one biography of a life.

Your perspective changes with the passage of time and the way life’s inevitable challenges are dealt with. You rewrite your own history in your head all the time, mostly without realising it. For example, I never understood the full extent of elsewhere’s pull until my mid-life descent into and return from the Underworld, a period which lasted seven years – undoubtedly the most difficult and the richest time of my whole life. I feel in better relation now to that mysterious elsewhere than I have ever been !

To me, elsewhere is the vast wave of which everything – universe, cosmos, galaxies, planets, Earth, all life forms – is a droplet. We arise from elsewhere, and that is where we return. Call it the quantum vacuum, the Zero Point Field, God, Buddha, Krishna, the Ground of our being, the Source, the One, the Twelfth House: the name we give it does not matter.

I have also learned that elsewhere is not somewhere else. It is here, present, now, everywhere – always.

________

Endnotes

(i)  from Eugene Ionesco:quoted in Philip Yancey’s “Reaching for the Invisible God” p25)

Zodiac

Zodiac

********

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

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

 

 

Cheer up: solar eclipses aren’t all doom and gloom…

The writer Ernest Hemingway once memorably observed that all writers need a built-in, shockproof crap detector. Those of us who inhabit the Otherworlds of palmistry, I Ching, tarot, astrology, politics (!) etc need one of these too, in my opinion. An opening gambit of mine during the years of teaching beginners astrology classes was usually this:

“Don’t necessarily believe a word I say, exciting, interesting and persuasive though it might sound  – always test it out in your own experience…”

This has always been, and remains my attitude, probably explaining why I have done so much astrological research. I’ve never taken the word of authority of any kind on trust.

Now – what on earth is the relevance of the above to this week’s topic?

Your days are numbered, pal…

Scroll back thirty years with me. It is the 29th March 1987, London, UK, just before lunch; the final day of a weekend workshop on Esoteric Astrology led by astrologer Alan Oken. I am feeling tired, suffering from information overload, not very receptive to any more new input, much less a new experience. Unbeknownst to me, however, I am poised to have one.

Alan informs us that there is about to be a solar eclipse, at 8 degrees 18 of Aries. I’ve not paid much attention to eclipses yet (that was certainly to change as the years went on!) and am not hugely interested. Nevertheless, it dimly registers that the eclipse opposes my 8 degrees 53 Libra natal Second House Neptune which is closely sextile natal Mercury at 9 degrees 03 Leo in the Twelfth.

He then invites us, having briefly outlined the significance of eclipses, to focus on something in our lives we wish to leave behind – as he leads us through a meditation at the exact time of the eclipse. I have never been keen on guided meditations and am not at all visually oriented where imagining things is concerned. However, it seems churlish not to join in. I duly adopt an appropriate posture: closing my eyes, beginning to breathe slowly and deeply as instructed.

What did I want to leave behind? Smoking, that’s what. I’d been trying and failing on that one for about ten years. As Alan talked us through, I focused on dropping my last fag packet into a bin – forever. The ethereal sceptic permanently resident on my left shoulder – my pet crap detector – was taking the view that I’d tried everything else, so why not?

To my amazement, as I participated with the group, waves of colour began to appear – a wash of sea greens and purples, almost like the Northern Lights – behind my closed eyes. The waves peaked with Alan’s voice, then died away as he gently led us out of the meditation.

I was astounded by this experience, awed – and chastened. Something powerful had clearly occurred, despite my scepticism. As we all filed out for lunch, I had a strong urge to take my cigarettes and drop them in the nearest bin. So I did. “Goodbye, smoking” was my thought. “I’m done with you!”

Half past two the following morning saw me, sleepless, twitchy, and angry, slipping out of my in-laws’ flat into rainy North London. Heading for an all-night grocers, I bought twenty cigarettes, smoking the first one on my way back. My only company for that weekend was Tadzio, my brother-in-law’s ferociously unwelcoming old cat. “Well, Tadzio,” I remarked bitterly to him as he hissed at me on my return. “Don’t ever bother meditating on an eclipse”.

However, dissatisfaction at my inability to break that smoking habit continued to gnaw at me, especially since my husband, an even more dedicated smoker than I, had managed to stop that February, aided by a severe bout of mumps which (fortunately!) only affected his throat. He could barely eat or speak for several days – and could not bear to smoke. (Chiron just happened to be sitting on his MC at the time…inconvenient benefic, indeed!)

On my return from  London, I could see that he was struggling. Suddenly I had a bright idea. “How about this,” I said. “If you can stay off the fags until the Easter weekend, I’ll stop then too.”

“Right,” he said through gritted teeth.

Two weeks after that ‘failed’ meditation, three days before the Easter weekend, I had a lightbulb moment. (Lunar eclipse, anyone?) A Leo one, shot with my usual Leonine melodrama…“I’m going to die as a smoker on Good Friday”, I announced to my rather sceptical Aquarian husband. “And be reborn as a non-smoker by Easter Monday.”

And so, Reader, it duly came to pass. I have not smoked since.

Endnotes:

If you’d like to read some of my recent writings on eclipses, click HERE

This post was first published as my 13th Not the Astrology Column in the July/August 2017  Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.

Zodiac

Zodiac

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800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

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

Reflecting on what astrology is, and revisiting Pluto…

It  has probably not escaped your notice that the trickster planet Mercury, of whom Jude Cowell wrote so eloquently in her recent Guest post, is currently retrograde…I learned a very long time ago that applying the prefix RE to as many activities as possible is a great way to get the best out of that old trickster during retrograde periods!

So, this week, I’m taking readers down my memory lane, re-visiting a post I last published on my Writing from the 12th House blog in 2008, just as Pluto was beginning to create mass mayhem in the structure-loving sign of Capricorn.

Those of you fairly new to astrology will I hope enjoy this reflective introduction to our great art. More seasoned astrologers and astrology students may be interested to see how far my musings at the start of Pluto’s long transit through Capricorn have been borne out by the passage of nearly a decade since then. Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.

Imagine, if you will, a Bushman in the middle of the Kalahari desert  conversing with a visiting Tibetan, in their respective languages, regarding the best way to get to Stornoway in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. One would suspect that the route might not become easily evident !

Speaking symbolic language

It’s rather like this for astrologers, whose view is holistic and whose language is symbolic, living in a culture whose prevailing terms for describing the world have been shaped by scientific rationalism for the last two hundred and fifty years. In our collective efforts to try and make sense out of life on earth there is no ONE language which can possibly describe the whole picture.

We need the description provided by rational science. We also need the description provided by symbolism. We need all the help we can get.

Star Sign astrology as found in the media is too limited to tell us much about personal life or world affairs. It focuses largely on the position of the sun in the heavens on any given day,  equivalent to trying to tell the story of a complex play with the main emphasis on one central character. It can thus never offer much more than entertainment – or a nugget of truth to contemplate on the day in the case of ‘quality’ popular astrology .

This is the form of astrology which is vilified by people who don’t know that there is something much more profound hidden behind the “Star Sign” mask.

Astrologers have noted for several millennia that there are meaningful links between the planets’ movements and the rhythms of earthly life. They plot the position of the planets from the same starting point as astronomers and mariners do: using the 360 degree circle of sky from 0 degrees Aries or the Vernal Equinox (see image); this is where the sun’s path or Ecliptic (see image), in its movement into the Northern hemisphere in the spring, crosses the plane of the celestial equator.

Astrologers divide the 360 degree circle from 0 degrees Aries into twelve sectors of 30 degrees each, called Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and so on.

images

This frame of reference against which the planets are located, known as the tropical Zodiac, should not be confused with the constellations which originally gave the signs (or 30 degree sectors) of the Zodiac their names. By drawing up a map of the heavens (known as a Birth Chart or Horoscope) of a particular moment in time in relation to this tropical Zodiac, astrologers can draw a symbolic picture of anything or anyone born at that moment.

Uses of astrology

Thus astrology has many uses : eg in the business world, to help plot and understand market trends and economic cycles; in medicine, to provide clarification of individuals’ predispositions to particular health problems, and most useful modes of intervention; in analysing the inner meaning and outer manifestation of major events in the affairs of nations and the wider world; in choosing favourable moments to begin new enterprises; in the analysis of personal relationships; and in providing individuals with a clearer understanding of who they are, and why they  do the things they do.

Each of the planets symbolises a different archetypal force, a shaping principle. As the planets move in their ever-changing weave through space and time, so the shape, meaning and manifestation of the pattern of life shifts from minute to minute, day to day, year to year and epoch to epoch.

Along with many modern astrologers, I have come to think of astrology as another form of physics: basically, it charts, maps and times the shifting dance of the energy patterns of our solar system – then offers grave offence to minds of a limited, conventional  cast by ascribing meaning to those patterns!

Most people do not realise, however,  that the association of particular meanings with the movements of  specific planets has been demonstrated through empirical observation and recording of the heavens for over six thousand years – since the astronomer/priests of ancient Babylon first stood on their watch towers, scanning the stars.

Astrology’s symbolic language tells us that everything is connected, materially and spiritually  – we are all part of  the One.

The moving picture – Pluto

To illustrate this, let us choose the action of  the furthest out planet, Pluto, whose status has been downgraded recently. Try telling astrologers who work with deep collective and individual crises, as the energy of Pluto continues its weave in the planetary tapestry, that Pluto is of little consequence now! Continuing empirical observation of Pluto’s symbolic action does not support this view at all….

The planet Pluto represents raw, primal power, taking its name from the much feared mythical god of the Underworld. It  is connected with the processes of death and regeneration which keep the life cycle going at every level.

In Scorpio – plumbing extremes

Pluto was observed against the 30 degree band of sky known as Scorpio from its entry in 1982 until its exit in 1995. Both Scorpio and Pluto are connected to the deepest, darkest and most extreme facets of life: during this time, for example, we had to face the rise of Aids, famine in Africa, and a dredging to the surface of the most taboo issues, especially incest and child abuse. This period also forced us to begin to realise more clearly than ever before that, if we continue to abuse the Earth, we put our collective survival at risk.

In Sagittarius – expansiveness and greed

But things change. In January 1995 Pluto shifted into the 30 degree sector of sky known as Sagittarius. This sector is linked to the planet Jupiter, symbolising the urge to expand – in experience, knowledge, wealth, wisdom, and understanding of what life means. It expresses itself (amongst other related branches) through connections with Higher education, long distance travel, exploration of all kinds at all levels, the law and ethical structures, religious beliefs, the packaging of information to offer a better perspective on a bigger picture, and especially the willingness to gamble and take risks.

In the famous thumbnail description of the money markets being dominated by greed and fear, Sagittarius represents the greed end of that spectrum!

Pluto’s shift into Sagittarius brought us the biggest information packaging and disseminating system ever known to humanity – the Internet. Via stunning images brought back by the Hubble telescope, we have travelled to the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond. Recent advances in science and medicine continue to raise ethical issues on an unprecedented scale, regarding our tampering with the very basis of life itself and what the consequences may be.

The rise and spread of religious fundamentalism has dominated the period, with some devastating consequences most notably 9/11 in the USA. In our own little country the UK, the National Lottery became the focus for our hopes of greater wealth and a better life. The whole period has been characterised by unfettered optimism: from this arose collective and individual fiscal recklessness, with disregard for consequences on an unprecedented scale.

In Capricorn – facing consequences

Pluto traversed Sagittarius from January 1995 until the end of  January 2008 when it dipped into Capricorn for a few months, returning to Sagittarius in the middle of June 2008. As I write, with the money markets still in turmoil, Pluto is due to re-enter Capricorn on 28 November 2008, where it will then remain until 2024.

When the outer planets change signs, the energy patterns dominating our collective life also shift. What does this shift mean, in general terms? It means that the times of expansiveness, excessive optimism and risk-taking are now over. A more sober and cautious view of life must prevail as we face the consequences of our behaviour since the mid-Nineties.

Sagittarius is ruled by expansive Jupiter. Capricorn is ruled by stern and cautious Saturn, the planet of consequences, and represents the fear end of the greed/fear spectrum. Thus it didn’t require brilliantly perceptive astrological observation of this approaching shift, to be able to predict a major collective ice bath of realism at all levels. For example, the rumble of the impending train wreck of our collective financial arrangements could be heard during most of 2007. Then in 2008 came the crunch.

The sign of Capricorn, and its ruling planet Saturn,  is known for its association with prudence, realism and good judgement at one end of the spectrum – and fear, gloom, pessimism and harshness at the other. You cannot escape the consequences of your actions, is the message that this sign and planet bring.

All the help we can get….!

Pluto is about to traverse Capricorn for a very long time. The planet of purging and regeneration, Pluto’s movement is connected to the death of old forms so that something new and more constructive can arise. Knowing this may offer some insights to help us modify our wasteful and destructive ways for the better. As renowned astrologer Liz Greene observed some time ago in one of her seminars:
“ Saturn pushes us to separate out from what we are not – in order to become more fully who we are.”

We human beings urgently need all the help we can get from as many sources as possible to enable us to become more fully who we are: ie one strand, whose presence cannot be allowed to dominate the weave in the web of life. If we approach its wisdom in these turbulent times in an open and thoughtful way, the ancient language of astrology can aid us in developing a perspective appropriate for our times: one grounded in the humility and realism we need in the tough period which lies ahead.

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Endnote:

This is an updated and edited version of an article first published in Scotland’s Glasgow “Herald” as “The Cycles of Heaven and Earth” in November 1996. Copyright remains with the author.

Zodiac

Zodiac

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1800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008, 2017

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