Category Archives: ” 01: Astrological Journal UK: Not the Astrology Column ” (4 articles)

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.

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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

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The Aquarian Age: are we there yet?

“When the Moon is in the Seventh House

and Jupiter aligns with Mars

Then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”

As predictions go, this one is not impressive. Offered in 1967 via the smash hit rock musical ‘Hair’,  it suffers from it own internal contradictions. For a start, the Seventh House can sometimes be the ‘house of open enemies’. Moreover, if you think an alignment of Mars and Jupiter augurs peace in our time, check our former UK  Prime Minister Tony Blair’s horoscope, with Mars rising, conjunct Jupiter…

There is furthermore the annoying problem that contemporary evidence doesn’t quite support the theory that the Aquarian Age is ushering in an era of peace and love. As we settle in to a new millennium, it is rather noticeable that a maniacal death cult, whose avowed aim is to bring down western civilisation and hasten the Apocalypse, has arisen and spread with frightening speed in the last few years. 

Also, opinion regarding the fate of Planet Earth is divided. For example, in 2013, the thinkprogress.org website produced impressive statistics appearing to demonstrate that life is getting better globally, despite the foreground picture of wars and global warming. On the other hand, many scientists think that we are already in the period of the Sixth Mass Extinction, human agency being largely culpable this time.

Moreover, the former Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, stated a few years ago in relation to the self-oriented culture which is rising worldwide as traditional religious belief is declining, that we humans are engaging in the largest experiment in mass selfishness that the world has ever seen…

Respected astrologer and historian Dr Nicholas Campion, in his fascinating book ‘Astrology, History and Apocalypse’ (CPA Press, 2000) describes belief in the Age of Aquarius as “…one of the great cliches of modern astrology…” (p131).

His having collected a list of  almost one hundred dates from around 1260 AD to around 3000 AD “…at which the Age of Aquarius can begin…” (p127) lends weight to Campion’s view that the Age of Aquarius is a myth, reflecting our ancient human need to believe that the corrupted old order is collapsing, a wonderful Golden Age being just around the corner. The technical term for this is millenarianism; do read Nicholas Campion’s erudite ‘take’ on that vast and complex subject.

Campion (p83) refers to an essay of Carl Jung’s called ‘The Sign of the Fish(from vol 9, Part 2 of Jung’s Collected Works) – a must-read for anyone with more than a passing interest in what the Aquarian Age may be, and what it might signify.  In essence, Jung concludes that “…the course of our religious history as well as an essential part of our psychic development could have been predicted…from the precession of the equinoxes through the constellation of Pisces…”.

The first point of Aries precesses backwards through a whole constellation during a period of roughly 2,000 years. It is currently somewhere between the first star in the constellation of Pisces and the last star of the constellation of Aquarius.

When the Aries point shifts from one constellation to the next, according to Jung, our image of the Divine changes. I was bowled over by this idea, first encountered in a Liz Greene seminar during the 1990s, and have been reflecting on it ever since, watching the wider world to see if there is evidence of this shift taking place.

I think there is. We are going through a vast technological revolution. Science has made fast strides in recent decades: mapping the human genome, beginning to alter the very genetics of life on earth.The magnificently durable Hubble telescope has hugely expanded our view of the Cosmos. And – much of the population of the Earth is now linked to the Internet, via mobile phone technology.

We even have a new religion: Scientism, which has risen to prominence in recent times complete with our local UK High Priests: Aquarius’ old ruler Saturn as Richard Dawkins, and its new ruler Uranus as Brian Cox. The new paradigm emerging carries with it, as has been the case throughout history, the arrogance of new beliefs: superior – of course! – to what went before. Fifty years ago, to be called ‘unChristian’ was a pretty hefty challenge. Today, being called ‘unScientific’ has largely taken its place.

Caught on the cusp of crumbling old world beliefs and the new world order arising, we are a liminal population, projecting the Divine onto enticing promises of a better future offered by scientific progress. This new future needs a name. Why not just call it the Age of Aquarius?

Exciting, revolutionary, disruptive – certainly. Ushering in a new era of love and peace? I don’t think so…what do YOU think?

Endnotes:

This post was first published as my fifth Not the Astrology Column in the March/April 2015 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.

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850 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

My desert island books…with a nod to Jupiter/Uranus

Were I allowed three books on my Desert Island, next to Carpentry for Dummies would nestle two astrology books. One, Michelsen’s 21st Century Ephemeris, the other, Michelsen’s Tables of Planetary Phenomena.

My fascination with planetary cycles began in the early 1980s – during a lecture by the late Charles Harvey. Until that time Mundane astrology was unknown to me. I was still grappling to develop fluency with the absolute basics.

The idea that energy tides running through the cosmos could be mapped and explicated simultaneously both in terms of individuals’ lives and wider socio- political processes gripped me immediately. Long before studying astrology I had spent far too much time wondering about, and reading around ‘What are we tiny specks of sentient matter doing here amidst the Vastness?’ : a question most sensible folk prefer to ignore if possible. 

After discovering Mundane, I kept an eye on what was going on in the world with an Ephemeris in one hand – Michelsen’s, of course!

Having begun teaching astrology classes in the mid 1980s, I attempted to infect even my most solipsistic students with enthusiasm for Mundane. One approach was to collect press cuttings and pictures on those special occasions of planetary ingresses into new signs.

Saturn’s entry into Pisces in May 1993 yielded a stunning front page image of a cargo ship grounded on a sandbank in the English Channel. The day Pluto went into Sagittarius in January 1995 saw the Japanese city of Kobe go up in flames, struck by a huge earthquake. That same week, a photo appeared of Pope John Paul the Second preaching to over a million people in Manila.

By the late 1990s I had built up an extensive file. Unfortunately it is now somewhere in Belgrade (…another story…!)

However, the best was yet to come. In 1996 I became obsessed with the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in Aquarius due on 16th February 1997. Jupiter and Uranus meet every fourteen years. When they do, revolution and innovation join forces with restless exploration and the quest for knowledge.The result is always exciting, educational and unpredictable. Or is it?

I set about testing astrological theory against events in individual and collective life, ending up writing a whole book, eventually published in 2009. The big event of the 1997 conjunction was, of course, the announcement to the world of Dolly, the first cloned sheep.

I collected volunteers whose horoscopes would be ‘zapped’ by that conjunction, setting the research into their personal lives during 1997-8 in the context of world affairs. I then had the bright and slightly mad idea of following the pulse beat of this conjunction throughout chunks of history.

My time periods were 500 BC-0 AD; 0-500 AD; 500-1000 AD; 1000-1500 AD; 1500-2000 AD; then 2000-2050. Those arbitrary ‘chunks’ roughly followed the pattern of the mighty 500 year Neptune/Pluto conjunctions, whose last two meetings took place in Gemini in 1398/9 and 1891/2.

None of this research would have been possible, of course, without Michelsen’s Tables of Planetary Phenomena. 

Tables of Planetary Phenomena

Using this brilliant reference book, I was able to construct tables of the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction’s travels: through the four elements of fire, air, earth, and water from 500 BC to 2000 AD, through an overview of its journey via the four elements by century 1700-2100. With specific reference purely to Jupiter/Uranus conjunctions in Aquarius, I plotted their movements from 500 BC right through to 2500 AD, focusing more narrowly on their progress through the four elements during the 20th Century.

This research, validating astrological theory, gave me a tremendous ‘buzz’, since it provided startling perspectives on human technological development during very long periods.

For example, there are two time blocks with more Jupiter/Uranus conjunctions in Aquarius than any other. One is during 0-500 AD, roughly coinciding with the rise, dominance and fall of the Roman Empire from the first Emperor, Augustus. The other is 1500-2000 AD, the beginning of the Renaissance and the great European voyages of discovery: the most rapid period of technological advance the human race has ever known.

Thank you, Neil F.Michelsen!

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Endnotes:

This post was first published as my first Not the Astrology Column in the July/August 2014 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver, under the title “For love of Mundane astrology…and in praise of Neil F.Michelsen…”

My two research studies “Jupiter Meets Uranus”(second edition) and “The Moon’s Nodes in Action” can be downloaded as free e-books from this site.

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700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Returning to astrology – a lesson in ‘never say never’

In the Spring of 2003 I packed eighteen years worth of astrology teaching notes into a large cardboard box and sent them to Belgrade. It cost me £96( $120) in postage. I still have no idea whether it ever arrived, at a destination whose address I no longer recall. Why did I do this? Because I had decided my career as an astrologer and astrology teacher was over, that there were plenty of astrology teaching notes in English cluttering up the UK, and that I’d find someone in Europe who was keen to have some. I did. That was that. Or so I thought…

Fast forward to December 2011. It had taken me from 2001-8 to recover from severe burnout following a long family crisis which stopped my career in its tracks. During the whole of that period, I had resolutely said “NO” to all requests for astrology consultations or teaching, initially because I barely had the energy to get out of bed, latterly because I must have got into the habit of saying “No”.

However, that December I said “Maybe” to a young woman who had just embarked on a Faculty of Astrological Studies course and emailed me asking for some back-up tuition. I suggested we meet for a coffee and informal chat. After an hour Alicia (not her real name) who is a senior lawyer by profession, fixed me with a very beady eye and said “You cannot possibly keep this knowledge to yourself”.

I went home, somewhat shaken up, to check the Ephemeris for the first time in a while. My astrological career had begun following the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction of 1983. In December 2011 the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction of 2010/11 was separating; transiting Uranus – having gone direct at 0 Aries on the day of our meeting was squaring my natal Mars/Uranus conjunction in the 10th House. Yes, Reader, you’ve guessed it. I gave in, resuming my astrology practice in May 2012 with Alicia as my first client. Saturn was in late Libra – where it had been in 1983, the first time around…

Alicia moved on to explore other esoterica after a while – very Mercurial, that woman! – but we have become friends and every so often, with a chuckle, she reminds me of that kick-ass moment. There was more to follow.

Early in 2014, one of my former students came for an update astrology reading. As she was leaving, she looked at me and said, with a winning smile, 

“There are a few of us who would love an astrology refresher course, starting from the beginning again. Why don’t you think about it?”

“ No, I don’t think so,” was my reply. “I sent all my teaching notes to Belgrade in 2003 – can’t be bothered making up Beginners handouts again. I’m getting on a bit, now, you know…”

“That is no problem”, she retorted, ignoring my attempts to pretend I was a bit past it. “I have all your old notes, filed in order. Why not copy them?”

Our refresher astrology class, an exact Jupiter cycle from the time I posted that cardboard box to Belgrade in March 2003, duly began in August 2014 – the very week my progressed Moon moved into Aquarius in the Sixth House, with transiting Jupiter conjunct Mercury (my ruling planet) in Leo in the Twelfth House.

This October we returned for the 2015-6 session. My students, as usual, were in sparkling form. “Face it, Anne,” one of them said. “You are stuck with us. We can always push you along to class on your zimmer, if you get too decrepit…” They tell it like it is, here in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

It feels great to have been drawn back, albeit in a part-time manner. I am no longer interested in ‘building a career’ – just want to offer out some knowledge, inspiration and of course entertainment for however long Urania (1) decides is long enough.

I find it humbling to contemplate the striking astrological symbolism describing my departure from, and return to the practice and teaching of astrology. Yet again, it would appear, “…To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”(KJV: Ecclesiastes 3:1). I had no conscious intention of returning to my former career. But that former career had other plans, taking the form of those persuasive women who gave me the right push at the right time.

Through one small individual’s experience, then, one can perceive the much bigger reality which those of us versed in astrology’s language are privileged to glimpse: Time – in as far as we are able to grasp it – moves in a vast teleology of patterns and cycles of which we are all part, whether prepared to acknowledge that reality or not…“as above, so below”…

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Endnotes:

(1) Urania: in Greek mythology, the muse of astronomy and a daughter of Zeus by Mnemosyne: also a great granddaughter of Uranus.It is the asteroid associated with astrology: in my First House, exactly sextile Third House Jupiter…

This post was first published as my fourth Not the Astrology Column in the January/February 2016 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.

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850 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017