Monthly Archives: January 2019

Capricorn New Moons, Eclipses and the power of collective memory…the Iolaire Disaster

It was Moondark, just before a Capricorn New Moon on New Year’s morning 1919. HMY Iolaire, an overcrowded naval yacht, under-equipped with lifesaving equipment, had set sail from the Scottish West Highland seaport of Kyle of Lochalsh on the 31st December 1918, carrying 283 war-weary sailors.

Iolaire Commemoration 2019: Poppy Pin

Iolaire Commemoration 2019: Poppy Pin

“…The Isle of Lewis had a hard war. Some 6,200 men joined up and nearly 1,000 had died. Every family on the island had lost fathers, sons, brothers or uncles. So, the night of 31 December 1918 was tense with expectation. The war was finally over, the world was at peace and after four long years the men who had served king and country were on their way home…’ (i)

1.55am, 1st January 1919:

As they approached the town of Stornoway on Lewis – where their families were waiting on the pier –the Iolaire struck the rocks known as the Beasts of Holm. Stormy weather made it almost impossible to reach the shore only 50 yards away. 201 of those on board died: literally within sight of home. There were 82 survivors. Around one third of the bodies of those who perished were never recovered.

‘…As New Year’s Day broke across the islands, families waiting for the arrival of their loved ones heard rumours of a terrible disaster. Men walked miles from villages to Stornoway searching for news. What they found was devastating. The Scotsman of 6 January (1919) reported the tragedy, soberly noting: “The villages of Lewis are like places of the dead. The homes of the island are full of lamentation – grief that cannot be comforted. Scarcely a family has escaped the loss of a near blood relative. Many have had sorrow heaped upon sorrow…’ (i)

Apart from the loss of the Titanic in 2012, this disaster represents the second greatest loss of life at sea in the UK during peacetime.

So devastating was the impact of this tragedy that once the dead had been buried, a great silence of profound grief descended on Lewis. It was too hard to talk about. It took forty years for the public silence to be broken:

‘…In 1959 Donald Macphail, speaking on Gaelic radio, recalled the moment his friend found the body of his son. ‘The man’s son was there, and I remember he was so handsome that I could have said he was not dead at all. His father went on his knees beside him and began to take letters from his son’s pockets. And the tears were splashing on the body of his son. And I think it is the most heart-rending sight I have ever seen.’…’ (i)

Having grown up on the island of Lewis, I was aware of this terrible tragedy from a very young age. The most telling detail I can recall, from my mother’s accounts of what she had heard from her parents’ generation, was this: the local undertaker at the time was my late grandfather’s best friend. Following the harrowing circumstances with which he had to deal in January 1919, he had a nervous breakdown…

Commemorations 2019

I had known for some time that there would be many moving ways in which those terrible events of  New Year’s Day 1919 would be commemorated at the centenary. If any form of redemption was possible, then the generations arising – and especially those relatives whose lives had been marked directly or indirectly down the subsequent years – would enable it through their public events, their poetry, their music, their art.

I became very conscious of the momentum towards commemoration building during a recent visit to Lewis in September 2018, and was moved by what I saw.

The Iolaire Disaster’s Horoscope

However, I was unprepared by how deeply folk memory would affect me personally as 2018 drew to a close. By New Year’s Eve, I was feeling very emotional, almost tearful, despite our family’s Festive Season having been relaxing and peaceful. My spirits were invaded by a darkness and melancholy that I simply could not shake off.

With five Twelfth House planets, I have always been mediumistic, although it has taken me a very long time to face and make peace with this facet of my makeup. I recognised that what I was feeling was only partly personal…

Then, on reading through some material on the Iolaire Disaster on the Web on New Year’s Day, I came across the precise time at which the Iolaire had struck the rocks. 1.55am. I put up the chart: stunning details struck me immediately.

Iolaire disaster 1.1.1919

Iolaire disaster 1.1.1919 (click on image to enlarge)

The Midheaven ( MC) of this event  – its direction – is in the sign of Cancer, described in my previous post as ‘…centring on the relationship with home and family, the pursuit of emotional security and a sense of belonging…’ With poignant aptness, Vesta, the asteroid of home and hearth, is exactly conjunct the Cancer MC. However, both MC and Vesta are in the very last minutes of Cancer. It is nearly the end of the matter. The IC ( point of home, roots, origins) is in the opposite sign of Capricorn, a facet of which is.‘..facing the pain of inevitable times of separation and loss…’ 

These men perished within sight of home. As the chart so tellingly points out, they never quite got there. As the minutes ticked by on that devastating night,  Neptune, god of the sea, reached the MC of this horoscope, gradually claiming most of the lives of those on board by drowning. The next planet to come to the MC was Saturn, ruler of the IC.  Grim Reaper Saturn’s message at its bleakest.

(There are other significant pointers to what happened appearing in this horoscope’s symbolism. I have presented only those which struck me most forcefully.)

Links with the 2019 commemorations

In view of the Nodal axis’ having shifted into Cancer/Capricorn in November 2018, it’s most apt that the commemorations have been taking place with the transiting Nodes crossing the MC/IC axis of the Iolaire Disaster’s horoscope.

Two weeks before the tragedy occurred on 1st January 1919, there was a 9th house lunar eclipse at 25 Gemini, opposite the horoscope’s 3rd house Moon at 25 Sagittarius, emphasising the theme of travelling both far and near, . The Ascendant of the Iolaire Disaster’s horoscope, progressed to New Year’s Day 2019, is exactly conjunct the Disaster chart’s natal Moon ( MC ruler) and opposite that fateful eclipse degree.

The 2019 commemorations took place just before the eclipsed New Moon in Capricorn, approaching Moondark, with transiting Saturn conjunct the Sun of the Disaster’s horoscope, emphasising the solemnity and also the respectful nature of those events.

Chiron in the Iolaire Disaster’s chart is at 29 Pisces, closely conjunct Eris, Goddess of Strife at 27 Pisces. The commemorations are occuring exactly two 50-year Chiron Returns from the tragedy, Chiron currently being at 28 Pisces. Perhaps that indicates the healing which will hopefully arise in time from the creativity, dignity and eloquence with which the people of the Western Isles, and Lewis especially, have marked the most devastating tragedy ever to strike their shores. One can but hope so….

Endnotes

i) Read more at:

https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/the-iolaire-disaster-where-200-men-died-yards-from-shore-1-465122

1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

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

The Moon’s Nodes – what will their Cancer/Capricorn transit bring?

The Moon’s Nodal axis shifted into Cancer/Capricorn early in November 2018, and will remain there until early May 2020, bringing with it some ‘interesting times’ indeed for us both personally and collectively through the Cancer/Capricorn eclipse season and strong links with both Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn.

Various astrologers are now writing on our collective Wall (mostly the Internet, these days!) about what looks to be an especially interesting, turbulent, radically changeful period. No doubt I will be adding to all that in due course!

Moon's Nodes

Moon’s Nodes

 

(I’ve written a book on the Moon’s Nodes, an original research study called The Moon’s Nodes in Action, which you can download for free HERE if you want to refresh yourself regarding their significance. Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for me to re-read it myself…) 

However, in keeping with the reflective mood which affects many of us as we struggle to emerge from the Festive Fug, my thoughts are currently more focused on personal themes.

With the Nodes exactly conjunct my MC/IC axis at 28 Taurus/Scorpio, I always feel their transiting shift strongly, see themes arising in my personal life which bear the stamp of the prevailing Nodal energies, and prepare to work as best I can with the challenges arising.

These challenges invariably bring to the fore issues of vocation/life direction ( NNode conjunct MC) which need to be balanced with the pull of domestic life ( SNode conjunct IC.) I now realise, with a Twelfth House Leo Sun squaring both ends of this heavily weighted axis, that channelling whatever understanding and insight has emerged from the tough lifelong challenges presented has been major fuel for my less than straightforward vocational path…

Anne W's Horoscope

Anne W’s Horoscope

Cancer/Capricorn energies at a personal level concern our feelings and experiences centring on the relationship with home and family, the pursuit of emotional security and a sense of belonging. They also describe the responsibilities which we need to face and take on in those areas of life, as well as facing the pain of inevitable times of separation and loss, or the realisation that we may be looking for security in the wrong places, or with the wrong people. 

The main goal is to arrive at what we need both for ourselves and for the nurturing of those we love and value, whilst being realistic about what life may withhold from us, no matter how hard we try to acquire what we think we need. In short, when this polarity is being transited by the Nodes, the challenge is for us, whatever stage we may be in life, to grow up emotionally a bit more. 

Because the Nodal axis returns every 18-19 years, it’s usually productive to look back at where you were in life the last time it journeyed through Cancer/Capricorn, taking note of which pair of houses was involved. The axis last travelled through Cancer/Capricorn from early April 2000 to early October 2001. What were you doing then? What challenges of the nature of Cancer/Capricorn did Life throw up? What did you gain from dealing with them? And – what issues can you identify already which those planetary energies have begun to bring your way?

These are all questions upon which I am pondering at present. At the end of 2018/ start of 2019 I found myself being unexpectedly affected by a powerful emotional response which arose in me regarding an event centring on the place of my birth. It’s a deeply moving story.

But that’s for the next post…

Moon's Nodes

Moon’s Nodes

 

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

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