Monthly Archives: June 2013

“Astrological” twins: do they exist ?

Linda’s Question:

Submitted on 2013/06/27 at 5:43 pm
I’ve always found twins fascinating. What’s even more fascinating is the kind of relationship that develops between people who aren’t blood relatives of any sort, yet seem to be “cut from the same cloth”. We talk about being “simpatico” – has anyone ever done any studies on such people to see if there are similarities in their charts?

My Answer:

Well, most regular practitioners of astrology do this kind of research at least informally as part of both their work and their own lives.

For example, I used to wonder why most of my close friends and associates, work colleagues and bosses were Sun Virgos, Pisceans and Aquarians. Then I had my horoscope drawn up.

I found that a key axis in the horoscope, ie the Ascendant/Descendant which describes how you meet the world, the persona you present to that world, and key relationships you draw to you – was in the signs of Virgo and Pisces. Thus quite unconsciously I was drawing to me relationships with people whose solar energies symbolically complemented my own….

Furthermore, the sign opposite to Leo in the zodiac wheel is Aquarius, and you know the old saw about opposites attracting!

Anne W Horoscope

Anne W Horoscope

(click on image to enlarge)

Time and again I have known marriage/relationship partnerships where one person is Sun Leo and the other Aquarius, or vice versa.  Or Sun Taurus and Sun Scorpio. Or Sun Capricorn and Sun Cancer. And so on, all round the opposite pairs in the Zodiac circle. I am married to an Aquarian, and his Aquarian brother also has a Sun Leo wife – so we are one small illustration of this!

Also, when I got around to drawing family horoscopes, I discovered my father and mother both had Virgo as their Ascending signs. My brother and sister both have the sign of Virgo strongly emphasised in their horoscopes. My husband has a Virgo Ascendant, as does my (Sun in Pisces) stepson, and my stepson’s stepfather, who used to be married to my sister (work that one out….)

Any set of family horoscopes has similar variations on key themes, where the planetary placements and the zodiac signs in which they fall symbolically tell a vivid story of interweaving energy patterns, both clashing, compulsive and harmonious – as in life lived out.

Furthermore, in nearly twenty years of teaching astrology classes to a very wide range of students ranging in occupation from bus drivers to consultant psychiatrists (who both turned up in the same class one year) I found over and over again that the planetary pattern of the horoscope which I always drew up for the date, time and place of the start of the class was reflected in striking ways in the horoscopes of the students who turned up.

One year stands out in my memory. I began the class when there was a line-up of several planets in the dark, intense and powerful sign of Scorpio. The class composition that year was like no other before or since: all ten of the students had a preponderance of planets in Scorpio and/or strong emphases on the planet Pluto, ruler of the sign Scorpio.

I enjoyed teaching the class , an intense and powerful bunch of people who absorbed every word I said ( I think….!) but said very little. It was exhausting though. Like teaching a black hole!

On a totally contrasting note, there was another year where the dominant energies of the horoscope for that class were much, much lighter and “buzzier”.

The sun and other planets (as I recall) were concentrated in the signs of Virgo and Libra, with the planet Mercury dominant. This symbolism was expressed in a hardworking, charming and co-operative, and highly communicative  group of students who were very easy to work with.

Two students from that group, Doreen and Sheilagh ( just in case they happen to read this – I know they will not mind being mentioned! ) had such similar horoscopes that I asked them to sit beside each other, commenting that they would find a great deal in common. Nearly a quarter of a century later, they are still very good friends…..astrological twins in spirit…..

I hope this gives you a flavour of what it is like observing through the lens of astrological symbolism the shifting dance of interconnected energy comprising our small earthly world.

The great thing about astrology ‘beyond the sun signs‘ is its ability to illustrate – to those of us whose imaginative range is not constrained by reductionism – that there is not only meaning but also teleology embedded in our small lives as they unfold within the vast cosmic dance….



800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

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

How does it work when you do a horoscope for twins?

Helene’s question:

By email: 16.6.13
How does it work when you do a birth chart for twins? Or two babies born the same minute at the same hospital?  Can two people have the same horoscope!?


My Answer:

During nearly twenty years of teaching astrology classes, I found that the above questions came up very frequently.

It is important at this point to emphasise to readers who are familiar only with Sun Signs that to get ‘beyond the Sun Signs’ requires an individual’s horoscope to be drawn up for the date, place AND time of birth. Human beings are complex and contradictory. It’s not possible to approach any satisfying symbolic exploration of that complexity through the Sun or Star Sign alone.

A number of years ago, I decided to address the typical questions students asked about twins (summed up by Helene’s questions here) via one of the tutorial classes I ran for my more advanced students, all of whom had a good grasp of the basics of astrology, and some of whom were already practitioners in their own right.

One student – let’s call her Anna – was the devoted aunt to a set of twins in their mid teens, a boy and a girl –  let’s call them Angus and Miriam. These two had been born less than fifteen minutes apart and had almost identical horoscopes.

I had formulated a theory about twins and astrology which I wanted to test out, so I obtained permission via Anna from Angus and Miriam’ s parents as well as the twins themselves, to calculate their horoscopes and discuss them anonymously in class.

My method was to put up on the board only one horoscope since there was so little difference between the twins’ horoscopes, and ask the students to take an hour to prepare along with me a basic outline of the key characteristics revealed by this one horoscope. We did the preparation as though we were preparing a birth chart for just one person.

The class knew nothing about either of the twins, and I asked Anna to observe us, but not to make any comments at all.

Once we had written up the outline, we spent the next hour discussing our findings with Anna, who knew her nephew and niece well.

I am writing this after a gap of about twenty years and no longer have the notes for detailed reference, so can only give a summary of the essence of what emerged from our discussion.

Anna found our summary from the one horoscope of the basic characteristics of both her nephew and niece to be very accurate. What was very clear was that certain traits were held in common, but that the rest were, as it were, divided up between the twins. To put it very simply, looking at a range of traits: 1,2,3 and 4 were recognisable in both; Miriam manifested traits 5,6 and 10 whilst Angus lived out traits 7, 8 and 9.

This very interesting and enlightening experiment does not of course constitute any kind of proof: but it bore out my impressions from reading about the similarities and differences in the lives of twins about whom I had read, as well as my own observations of twins I had come across from my own experience, as well as the few horoscope readings I had done for individuals who were twins.

What was this impression? Coming back to the analogy of the horoscope revealing the characters poised on life’s stage, waiting for the moment of birth to kick start the action of the play, it seemed that twins unconsciously chose which characters on their joint stage they were going to live out jointly – and the ones which they were going to live out separately.

The experiment which I did all those years ago with my students, Anna and her nephew and niece certainly bore out my theory….

After writing this piece I googled ‘astrology and twins’ to see what came up, and was pleased to find on my favourite astrology site, Astrodienst, that other astrologers including Dr Liz Greene had come to much the same conclusion.

As far as two people born at the same time in the same place is concerned, yes, they would in effect have the same horoscopes.  You would certainly see considerable similarities if you studied both their lives over time. But each character on the stage at a given moment in time has a range of possible modes of expression. Thus the influence of different family circumstances and different opportunities, etc, would call forth a range of possible responses from the same basic character.

To read much more on this topic, do go over to master astrologer Donna Cunningham’s excellent blog Sky Writer, where she has an excellent piece on the astrology of  twins.

Then come back and let me know what YOU think!



800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

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

Astrology: Questions and Answers – Sun, Moon, and ‘planetary gravel’….

Linda’s Question:

This isn’t directly related to the Saturn Return, but your post raised another question for me. If the earth’s moon is treated for symbolic purposes as a planet, what about the moons of other planets, like Saturn? After all, Saturn has 62 moons (although not all are named and some are quite small). Still – that’s a lot of stuff whirling around out there!

My Answer:

The essential point to make is that astrological symbolism first arose and was consolidated at a stage way back in history when humans could only inform themselves of what was going on in the heavens via the naked eye.

By an astronomical quirk, the Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun, but 400 times nearer the Earth, so we see them as the same size. Thus they were given equal significance in symbolic terms by our ancient ancestors.

The sheer majestic visual power of the regular cycles of solar and lunar eclipses, when Sun, Moon and Earth are precisely aligned in the heavens, amplified and added awe and significance – affirming the symbolic power of the Earth’s Moon in the eyes of the ancient peoples of the world.

This sense of significance continues to this day. Do you recall the enormous fuss that was made of the 11 August 1999 eclipse, as we all awaited the Millennium with the dreaded Millennium Bug hanging over us?  Here is just one of the predictive articles which appeared at the time:

Needless to say, Paris did not go up in flames, and we are all still here, as far as we know!

Huge advances in space exploration and observation in recent years have certainly brought a vast amount of planetary gravel of varying sizes and significance to our attention – including the 62 moons of Saturn –  as well as many exo-planets unknown until fairly recently. Many astrologers now include, for example, a variety of asteroids and other bodies in their astrological research and horoscope interpretation.

Maybe I’m just lazy – but I tend to think that basic astrological symbolism is complex enough to produce very accurate, useful interpretations for my clients and students and that the more complexity one introduces, the less clarity one achieves.

But I am open to conversion, as always…..well, depends on what it is!

AND – New visitors and Followers out there! Do drop by with your observations….. and, of course,  your Questions….on any astrological topic.



400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

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

15.6.13 Next Question: Answer coming up soon!

Ophiuchus – is there a thirteenth sign?

Sheilagh’s Question: Who the heck is Ophiuchus?

I’m surprised you’ve never heard of the constellation of Ophiuchus, Sheilagh. Ever since I’ve been an astrologer, every few years when they have nothing better to do, the media decide to indulge in a bit of Sun Sign astrology-bashing.They announce that astrology has been totally discredited by the existence of a thirteenth sign, ie Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer.

Here is a fairly mild offering: ( note the misspelling of Sagittarius….)

Now, here are some astronomical facts:

Ophiuchus is one of thirteen constellations that cross the ecliptic. It has therefore been called the ’13th sign of the zodiac’. However, this confuses sign with constellation.

The signs of the zodiac are a twelve-fold division of the ecliptic , ie the 360 degree great circle in the heavens against which the planets are plotted in their orbital paths.Each sign spans 30° of that great circle, approximately the distance the Sun travels in a month, and (in the Western tradition) is aligned with the seasons so that the March equinox falls on the boundary between Aries and Pisces.

Constellations, on the other hand, are unequal in size and are based on the positions of the stars. The constellations of the zodiac have only a loose association with the signs of the zodiac, and do not in general coincide with them. In Western astrology the constellation of Aquarius, for example, largely corresponds to the sign of Pisces. Similarly, the constellation of Ophiuchus occupies most of the sign of Sagittarius.

 So now you know!

AND – New visitors and Followers out there! Do drop by with your observations….. and, of course,  your Questions….on any astrological topic.



250 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

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


Emily’s Question: What is the Saturn Return? Part 2

 Part Two: here we move from astronomical description to a discussion of the astrological symbolism, core meanings and varying levels of manifestation of the Saturn principle; ending with some concrete examples of people’s actual experiences at the Saturn Return point. And, of course, inviting YOU to offer some examples from your own experience.

Dark side of Saturn backlit by the Sun (NASA)

Dark side of Saturn backlit by the Sun (NASA)

Staying with the astronomy reveals to us where the symbolic meaning of the planet Saturn comes from. Until the 1780s when Uranus was discovered with the aid of modern technology, ie the telescope, only seven planets were visible to the naked eye: Sun, Moon (which is treated for symbolic purposes as a planet) Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Saturn thus for most of astrology’s history defined the farthest limits and the boundary of the known solar system. It was the ring-pass-not.

The astronomy passed into the mythologies of various cultures, in the West appearing as Saturn in Roman myth, Chronos in Greek myth. The figure of the stern old man, carrying a scythe with which to cut down humans who had reached the outer limits of mortality, long ago passed into popular culture where it still pops up in various guises.

In astrological symbolism, which has very strong ties with myth as can be inferred from the names of the planets in our solar system, Saturn became, in essence, the drawer of boundaries and setter of limits and definitions.

Thus everything in our world which does this: walls, bones(which hold us up), skin (which holds us in!), structures of all kinds, worldly status and position, all outer forms of restriction, are part of Saturn’s external portfolio of manifestation.

At an inner level, fears (which bring psychological limits and restrictions), the ability to set necessary psychological boundaries, determined refusal to be ground down by the world’s and other people’s restrictions, willingness to shoulder responsibility, having a grounded outlook based on realism, all belong to the wide range of characteristics and qualities which arise from the core meaning of astrological Saturn.

Even without knowing much astrology, you can probably already see from this the fraught nature of prediction!

In my view arising from long experience, a view shared by many other astrologers, it is more constructive first of all to describe to our astrology clients the core meaning of all the planetary symbols and their interactions. In this way they can get an essential grasp of what is taking place on their life’s stage, before we proceed together to explore the range of possibilities which can and do arise from each core meaning, and how the client may be able to move to more positive modes of expression.

The  return cycle of Saturn completes four key stages of development: age 7/8 years, 14/15, then 21/2, then 28-30.

The first stage represents the first steps towards more autonomy and independence from parents and family. The second takes this further, tying in with puberty and all the challenges accompanying it, including defining oneself more via the peer group and less with family of origin. The third should represent a further stage of developing autonomy via completing one’s education and entering the world of work and perhaps more committed relationships.

I hope, as we approach the end of this article, that you can now see why the fourth stage, ie the first Saturn Return at 28-30, is a major turning point in the process of becoming an adult: still (ideally….) connected by bonds of love and responsibility to parents and family, but having established an adequate degree of personal autonomy. It symbolises the completion of the first cycle of growth and maturation.

The determinants of the Saturn Return apply not just to human beings, the focus of this discussion, but to anything born in a moment in time and completing its first cycle of formation and definition.

Partnerships of a personal and business nature, marriages (does the seven-year itch now make more sense?!), friendships, educational institutions, Facebook, restaurants, yoga studios, banks, chain stores, you name it, all face the same essential challenges at each stage within the cycle as well as at its completion.

It is not possible amid the messes, fudges and failures of an average human life to achieve  perfect completion of any life stage. The point is to have made a good enough job of the Saturn Return transition to find yourself standing on a firmer and more realistic foundation to your life after the Return, than you had before it.

Coming back to the point I made that many branches can and do arise from the same core of any astrological symbol, people make changes or have changes thrust upon them which on the surface seem very different.

Here are some from my experiences of observing students’ and clients’ lives over the years: career changes, marriage/committed partnering, divorce, birth of a child, relocation to other countries, retraining, going back to education, religious conversion, loss of religious faith/atheism, retreat from the world for a period of time in different contexts, taking on promotions or greater responsibility. No doubt you can think of some more yourselves as you read this and think about the people you know.

In writing this article I have focused purely on the core features of the Saturn Return, which apply to everyone and everything born or begun. A great deal of individual fine tuning can of course be done with a properly drawn and calculated horoscope which needs the date, place, and vitally important TIME of birth.

You readers out there will, I hope, have your own variation on this core theme of separating out from what you are not in order to become more fully who you are. It would be great if you felt willing and able to share your experiences with this new learning community at Astrology: Questions and Answers.

AND – New visitors and Followers out there! Do drop by with your observations….. and, of course,  your Questions….on any astrological topic.



700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

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

Emily’s Question: What is the Saturn Return?

Most people know their Star Sign – ie the position of the Sun on their birthday against the 360 degrees Zodiac band when viewed from Earth.

However, that’s usually as far as it goes. This simplistic and very widespread public face of pop astrology is what the reductionists attack so virulently, without taking the trouble to find out whether our six thousand plus year old tradition might just have more to offer than that.

A bridge of knowledge between pop astrology and the deep and fascinating waters of what lies beyond is the Saturn Return, which in my experience is a term which an increasing number of people know about ‘ beyond the Sun Signs’. Films have been made in which this  famous event features  – an intriguing fact which I discovered on an interesting site called loveyoursaturnreturn for which I wrote a short article last year. You can also find links there to quality articles by a range of astrologers giving their take on the Saturn return, as well as media references to it.

So – what is the Saturn Return?

Symbolically, it is a major turning point in the process of becoming an adult: a critical step on that lifelong rocky road of separating out from what we are not, in order to become more fully who we are. This turning point occurs around the ages of 28-30.

Where does the symbolism come from?

It comes from astronomical observation of the 28-30 year long cycle of the planet Saturn.

It’s important in developing an understanding of astrological symbolism to realise that it doesn’t just leap fully formed out of someone working on a tabloid newspaper’s vivid imagination. It arises from thousands of years of careful observation and recording of the movements of the planets in our solar system and the correspondences which occur with both the outer and inner lives of the inhabitants of Earth – both collectively and individually.

All the planets move in regular, predictable cyclic orbits. These orbits range in time from the vast, epoch-changing scope of the planet Pluto which takes 248 years to return to its starting point, to the tiny dance of the Sun and Moon which take a mere 29.5 days to complete their cycle.

Saturn’s orbit takes an average of 28-30 years.

Let’s say Charlotte (fictitious) is 35 years old, born in the Spring of 1978.  The  example chart here is set for midnight GMT (1 am UK Summer Time) on 1st April 1978. In this chart (some detective work here for those of you who know no astrology – yet!) the planet Saturn sits at 24 degrees of the sign of Leo.

(click on image to enlarge)

Charlotte X

Charlotte X

Moving from The American Ephemeris for the 20th Century at Midnight (my essential book for that desert island. Yes, I’m mad….) where I looked up her birth date, to its equivalent for the 21st Century, I find that Saturn returned to 24 degrees of Leo in late October, November and December 2006, January 2007, and finally in July 2007. Thus Saturn describes in astronomical terms a period of 9 -10 months in Charlotte’s life between the ages of 28 and 29.

I have measured this precisely for Charlotte. However, since Saturn moves relatively slowly, taking 2-3 years to travel through the 30 degrees of each sign, in this case Leo, everyone who is now 35 years old will have gone through their Saturn return  in 2006-7.

And everyone now in their mid-60s will have completed their second Saturn Return during the same time period, at the ages of around 59-60. And if you live long enough, you have the exciting prospect of a third Saturn Return in your late eighties. I can hardly wait…..

To be continued – Part Two of this article follows shortly: moving from astronomical description to a discussion of the astrological symbolism, core meaning and varying levels of manifestation of the Saturn principle; ending with some concrete examples of people’s actual experiences at the Saturn Return point. And, of course, inviting YOU to offer some examples from your own experience.

In the meantime, you new visitors and Followers out there! Do drop by with your observations….. and, of course,  your Questions….



700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

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