Tag Archives: horoscope

An astrologer’s job description…

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!

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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. 

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650 words © Anne Whitaker 2019

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

A tale of Saturn, Capricorn, Nodes, and family history….

 My Aquarian husband loves mountains. His ruling planet Mercury, and Mars, reside resolutely in Capricorn. He has climbed all 284 mountains in Scotland over 3000 feet –– named Munros, after the first person to map them, Sir Hugh Munro, born with Saturn, Capricorn’s ruler, square his Aries North Node. 

Reader, here is a clue regarding this column: it’s about the long reach of family fate, centred on the signs of Aries and Capricorn.

Jungfrau and Munch, Switzerland

Jungfrau and Munch, Switzerland

photo: Anne Whitaker

Picture this scene. My maternal grandfather Calum, with Capricorn Sun square the tenth house North Node in Aries, was a true adventurer. In his young days he was employed as a sheep herder in the Cascade Mountains in Canada. Dropping in on Patagonia, he fetched up eventually as a cattle rancher in Argentina, South America. Returning briefly home to marry the comely, dark-haired Mary Ann, he left her to bring up their first child in her parents’ home in a remote village on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

At last he returned, bursting with excitement. “Mary Ann, Mary Ann, we have a wonderful opportunity to make our fortune!”

“And what would that be, Calum?” she enquired.

“I have done so well with the cattle ranching that my employer has offered me a senior position on his ranch, with my own land and a herd of cattle thrown in. You and our son will love Argentina! What do you say?”

There was a long pause before my grandmother Mary Ann finally spoke. “ I will come with you, Calum” she said slowly and deliberately, “ as long as we bring my coffin along too.”

That was the end of our South American connection…

My mother, their last child, was born with the Sun in Aries, exactly square her Capricorn Moon. For most of us, drawing up family charts is a compelling early step in the astrological adventure. When I saw my mother’s chart my heart turned over,  the vivid family story I’ve just related leaping out of the symbolism. Calum saying “Yes!!”  and Mary Ann saying a mournful “No”: clearly encoded in that Sun/Moon square.

My father had an Aries Sun too, trine Saturn: he combined a responsible professional life as a senior local government officer with being the most notorious poacher our island community had seen for many years.  My mother’s attitude to his exploits was summed up in her Capricorn Moon square both their Aries Suns…

Eventually, I married…with my family history, and a fiery Sun/Moon conjunction linked with Saturn, I was in no hurry. When husband Ian’s progressed Sun entered Aries, he took up serious mountaineering, and I took up serious worrying about him – I’ve alluded to this in a previous column.

However, I don’t have a tenth house Mars/Uranus conjunction for nothing. He went up North to do mountains, I went down South to study astrology with Liz Greene. This kept everything in balance for years; not everyone’s solution, but it worked for us.

Fast forward to April 11th 2018. Most of us that week were feeling pressured one way or another, as Mars separated from Saturn, advancing toward Pluto in Capricorn. Saturn retrograding, Chiron entering Aries, and the Aries New Moon would all occur the following week. Not very relaxing…

We were due to set off to Switzerland on 22nd April, the day Pluto would turn retrograde in Capricorn. Mars would be transiting Pluto for the whole trip. Our goal? My husband loves trains and mountains; venturing to the highest railway station in Europe near the top of the Jungfrau mountain had been his aim for many years.

The previous autumn, he’d been knocked down by a cyclist in our local park and struck his head. Dealing with the consequences of this had taken up the whole winter and spring. He was probably well enough now to withstand all the rail travel involved from Scotland, via London and Strasbourg, until we eventually got to Switzerland. But I was seriously worried. Then, on Wednesday 11th April, he injured his back, always a weak point.

Sitting at our kitchen table in tears, I now wanted to cancel the trip but knew how devastated he would be. Then something dawned.This day was my late mother’s birthday. Her Sun was at 21 Aries, her Moon at 21 Capricorn. Pluto, sitting by transit exactly on her Moon, was being triggered by the Sun at 21 Aries.

I was being faced, in essence, by my grandparents’ life-changing dilemma. Ian desperately wanted to go on a longed-for adventure. Being fearful, I wanted to stop him. The power of this realisation was astonishing.  Would I repeat family history, whose consequences had profoundly shaped my grandparents’, then my parents’ marriages? Or would I let go of intense fear – trusting to Fate that Ian would fulfil his dream, and we would be ok?

Stopping crying, I offered the situation up to the Divine: Jupiter, who rises at 18 Virgo in our composite chart, was linking both our natal charts to currently transiting Jupiter at 21.5 Scorpio, sextile Pluto at 21 Capricorn. Amidst all the really challenging energies of this time, my core feeling, beneath the fear, was that Ian would be fine. He was. We had a fantastic trip.

Being able to decode and confront a significant piece of my family inheritance via the medium of astrological symbolism, was deeply moving and awe-inspiring. For those of us who have been given both challenging horoscopes and a willingness to examine ourselves and our motives with as much honesty as we dare to muster, I have long felt that a significant task in this life is to try to redeem some of the pain and limitation which our ancestors have unwittingly handed on to us, along with their gifts, talents and strengths.

By saying “Yes” to my husband, despite the fear, I like to think that, in a small way, a painful part of that family past was honoured – and partly redeemed.

Endnotes

This post is a slightly edited version of my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine  ‘The astro-view from Scotland’  from the November/December 2018 Issue.

Jungfrau and Munch, Switzerland

Jungfrau and Munch, Switzerland

1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dell Horoscope Magazine 2019

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

 

Pluto, the Nodes – and a Black Hole revealed…

‘…the combination of Nodal activity with the foreground presence of outer planets, especially Pluto, points out that something really special is going on…’ (i)

Today, the 10th of April, 2019, that something really special was a giant leap forward in our understanding of our magnificent cosmos: the first ever image of a black hole, from the galaxy Messier 87.

From the New York Times today:

‘…At the center of our galaxy lies Sagittarius A*, a black hole as massive as four million suns: The black hole is obscured by thick dust and a bright haze of superheated gases. A network of eight telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope tried to use radio waves to peer through the dust cloud and glimpse the edge of the black hole. After years of analyzing data, the team did not release an image of Sagittarius A* on Wednesday. But it did catch a glimpse of something else: An even larger black hole, nearly 7 billion times the mass of the sun, sits at the heart of the nearby galaxy Messier 87…’

From an astrologer’s perspective:

The astrology of this event is stunning, as you see from the horoscope here, set  for the time the updated image was released to the public from Washington DC this morning.

Black Hole Revealed

Black Hole Revealed (click on image to enlarge) 

There is much to be commented on in this remarkable chart, but I will confine myself for now to the major factors which leapt out on first sight.

First off, we see the Moon’s South Node straddled by Pluto on one side, Saturn on the other in the eighth house of  life’s deepest and darkest mysteries. The Nodal axis forms a dynamic T-Square from the eleventh house of the human collective, with the pioneering Aries Sun conjunct Eris, the battle goddess, and widely conjunct Uranus. To me this speaks of the vast destructive power of the energies involved, expressed vividly thus:

“…The images released today bolster the notion of violence perpetrated over cosmic scales,” said Sera Markoff, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam, and a member of the Event Horizon team. “Black holes must be the most exotic major disrupters of cosmic order,” she said.(ii)

Next up, just look at that Moon rising in the twelfth house at 22.5 degrees of Gemini, opposite Jupiter in Sagittarius, straddling the Ascendant/Descendant axis at 25.5 degrees Gemini/Sagittarius. Not only  does this pattern lie in the pair of signs connected to our endless quest for knowledge, but is closely plugged in to the planet Uranus’ discovery degree, ie  24 degrees 27 minutes Gemini, (which I wrote about in a recent post)

Furthermore, the chart’s ruling planet Mercury in the tenth house conjoins today’s beautiful, ethereal Venus /Neptune conjunction  – with Neptune ruling the horoscope’s Pisces Midheaven, this line-up forming another T-Square with the Moon/Asc/Jupiter/Desc pattern.

I associate Pisces here on the MC, and its co-rulers Jupiter and Neptune, with our ancient human yearning to connect with those only dimly understood great forces of the universe which have held us in awe and stimulated our need to explore the farthest regions of both inner and outer space since the very beginning of human culture all those millennia ago.

Through the best efforts of human co-operation and pooling of knowledge shown by the tenth house placement of the Mercury/Venus/Neptune line-up, and the eleventh house placement of the Sun, we have arrived at – so far – the deepest place of understanding of the immensity of forces at work in our cosmos. This arrival is summed up in today’s vivid visual image, a picture worth more than a thousand words:

our first ever actual picture of one of the cosmos’ most powerful, destructive and mysterious objects: a Black Hole.

Endnotes:

(i)...from The Moon’s Nodes in Action by Anne Whitaker, p157

(ii)…from The New York Times 10.4.19

650 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

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

 

As the Pisces New Moon dawns…what are we waiting for?

Every year, the time from the New Moon in Pisces to the New Moon in Aries can be seen as the 12th House phase, the Balsamic phase: Moondark of the entire zodiacal year. I was born at the very end of Moondark, with the Moon only three degrees behind the Sun, and both those Lights plus three other planets in the twelfth house of my horoscope.

So – twelfth house/Balsamic/Moondark phases of any month, year or indeed planetary cycle whether progressed or by transit affect me very deeply and interest me profoundly. I have learned over decades to live with those complex stages reasonably productively, so I hope that my musings in this post during the approaching Moondark of the whole year of 2019 will  provide productive food for thought and appropriate contemplation!

Pisces New Moon 2019

Pisces New Moon 2019 (click on image to enlarge)

Moondark describes the end of any cycle – the 12th house phase – whether we are contemplating the monthly Sun/Moon one or the epoch-defining 500 year long Neptune/Pluto cycle. It is the time of withdrawal and dissolution of energy think of wintertime, the stripped trees, the cold, barren earth – a time of dark power in which the old order dies at a number of different levels, so that fertile energy can emerge from the womb of the night.

It occurred to me some years ago that this ancient astronomical pattern of the yearly phases of the Sun/Moon relationship and its attendant meaning in the yearly cycle had been taken up and overlaid – as with so many of the old pagan yearly traditions – by Christianity. Easter and Christ’s Resurrection could be roughly mapped onto the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere around the 20th of March each year, followed by the Aries New Moon and the beginning of Spring.

In Christianity, the forty days preceding Easter when Christ retreated into the wilderness to wrestle with various temptations, to fast and to pray, is known as Lent: a time of watching, waiting, self-denial, contemplation and prayer.

The March/April period each year is also observed at various times by other religious traditions including Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Judaism. The  ancient longing, waiting for the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere and with it the renewal of Spring has deep roots: to a time when our ancestors’ whole existence was predicated closely upon the path of the Sun and the Sun/Moon relationship.

Thus, despite all the sophisticated technological trappings of 21st Century living, my feeling – based on observation of my own, my clients’ and students’ lives over several decades – is that at a deep psychological level these ancient patterns still affect us whether we are consciously aware of them or not.

That wonderfully poetic astrological writer Dana Gerhardt puts it beautifully:

“…Balsamic begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun…Our physical energy is necessarily as low as our psychic energy is high. We’re at a threshold, ending one cycle while anticipating a new one round the corner. We might want to get into motion, but our bodies are tired. Our clarity and focus wane, like the Balsamic Moon herself, rising thinner and fainter each morning until she eventually disappears altogether, lost in the Sun’s glare. This is the Dark Moon.

Much of the time we won’t know whether we’re finishing up or leaning toward the future, whether we’re being truly psychic or simply dreaming – which is why this is a better period for introspection than for action. Without the dormancy of winter, spring’s (or the New Moon’s) seeds cannot mature…”(i)

Personally, I am experiencing a triple dose of what Dana so aptly summarises! My progressed Moon shifts into Aries in June 2019, thus ushering in a new 27 year cycle, the last of which started in the Spring of 1992 with the early beginnings of my travel from Glasgow to London by air to study with Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey at the Centre for Psychological Astrology. I can still remember the excitement and stimulus of those early years.

For the last year especially, as this whole 27 year cycle draws to a close, I have been feeling that ennui, listlessness and need for new stimulus which is so characteristic of the Moondark phase of any cycle. So, if you add in this being the Moondark phase of the whole year about to begin with the Pisces New Moon,  plus its being the Moondark phase of the whole month from the New Moon in Aquarius on 4th February 2019, I feel pretty amazed that I am able to get out of bed these days, never mind write a blog post!

So – it might be productive for you to think of those major cycles which we all share: the 11-12 year cycle of Jupiter, the 18-19 year cycle of the Moon’s Nodes, the 27-year cycle of the progressed Moon, the 29-30 year cycle of Saturn, and the 50 year cycle of Chiron.

What were you doing in the last year or so of each of those cycles? What had changed by the time the new cycle had begun to take shape after 1-2 years? Depending on your age, you may by now be able to look back through eg three or four or more cycles of Jupiter, or eg two cycles of Saturn? What themes can you detect which have unfolded through these cycles and repeats? I really enjoy working in this way with my clients, my students and mentorees – and myself. There is much understanding and learning to be gained therefrom.

The Sun/Moon Cycle

The Sun/Moon Cycle

There is already plenty of commentary of varying quality across the Web regarding the nature of this upcoming Pisces New Moon, and what we might expect it to bring. I’ll be sharing (on this blog’s Facebook Page) one or two of what I think are the best of those writings as the Pisces New Moon waxes. However, just from a quick glance at the chart, featured at the top of this post: Wow! It is going to be quite a month, with the New Moon conjunct Neptune, semi-square Uranus which re-enters Taurus on the same day ie Wednesday 6th March 2019. Mercury, currently stationary, turns retrograde at the end of Pisces, heading back towards Neptune by the end of March 2019…

You only have to look at the state of the UK, due ( supposedly) to leave the European Union on 29th of March 2019 with none of us from our unbelievably incompetent and divided politicians downwards having the faintest idea yet what’s to happen, to get a vivid picture of the fog of confusion, uncertainty, wishful thinking and unpredictable disruption which is likely to surround us at all levels in the upcoming month.

Uranus’ entry into Taurus is already heralded by a much more severe than usual tornado season gathering momentum in the USA. No doubt this combination of energies will bring floods of one kind or another, as well as other disruptions in the natural world. Will Trump’s USA state of emergency get blown up and swept away by Democratic opposition? I could go on…but will leave that to the many other commentators!

At a personal level, we will need to ‘go with the flow’, disruptive us it may well be, as much as we can. It’s a good time for letting things hang loose, not making any definite plans and expecting if we do, that things may very well not go smoothly. However, good old Saturn in Capricorn makes a calming, anchoring sextile to the New Moon/Neptune combination. So – let’s hope that we can all keep our heads above turbulent waters, and learn a bit more from whatever experiences come our way, as the month unfolds…

As ever, it would be great to have your feedback …this is how we all learn!

Endnotes:

(i) from Dana’s Moonwatching series on Astrodienst: https://www.astro.com/info/in_dg_balsamic_e.htm

Pisces New Moon 2019

Pisces New Moon 2019

1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

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

On the Virgo Full Moon, as Chiron leaves Pisces: a tale of Fate, healing – and the power of stories.

“Tell me a story…” Why do we humans never tire of stories? I have been reflecting on this recently, and on particular stories where Fate seems to weave a powerful cross thread into the pattern of a person’s life, changing that life’s direction forever.

I have also been reflecting yet again on that age-old Fate/Free Will question, probably as a consequence of recently spending a great deal of time reading and reviewing a fascinating book ,‘The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus’ by Dr Liz Greene, well-known and respected Jungian psychologist, astrologer, teacher and writer on the topic of Jung’s deeply personal ‘soul journey’ during the years 1913-1932. In evidence throughout Greene’s account of that journey is Jung’s fascination with heimarmene, or Fate. 

The most striking encounter I have had with Fate intervening and changing my life is one by now familiar to my family, friends, students and many of my readers – so (uncharacteristically!) I am not going to repeat it here, simply leave the link to that story for anyone curious enough to read it.

The most recent encounter I had with a striking tale of Fate’s intervention came, of all places, when I was flat on my face on an osteopath’s couch, having a back problem treated. Being a typical writer, rather than chatting about the weather or what I was doing for the weekend,  I indulged my curiosity about other folks’ endlessly fascinating lives by finding out something about the well- respected osteopath who was treating me, Mr James Sneddon.

His clinic, along with the team of therapists who work with him, is one of the longest established and most highly regarded in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. I found out that Mr Sneddon had taken over the clinic from his father, James Russell Sneddon, who had founded it over 80 years ago.

The poor unsuspecting man then made the mistake of asking me what I did. Taking a deep breath (probably not a bad thing to do under the face-down circumstances!) I summarised my varied, rather wayward career path as briefly as I could. ‘My goodness,’ he commented. ‘That’s so interesting – especially your story about that fated encounter. As a matter of fact, my own father had an encounter like that which certainly changed HIS life.’

Mr Sneddon Snr. left school not long after the First World War without much formal education and was sent to sea by his parents. He had bronchial problems; his parents thought sea air might help his condition.  Whilst in China, it was recommended he visited a Chinese doctor in Shanghai, who pierced various parts of his body with sharpened bamboo sticks (Mr S Snr. had never heard of acupuncture at this point), took his various pulses, and said he should not …’ …drink the juice of the cow…’

Giving up milk and dairy products got rid of his bronchial problems; when he returned to Scotland on leave, a Western alternative practitioner gave him the same health advice. Amazed that he should have had the same verdict from both the exotic East and the familiar West, his interest in nutrition and the effects of food on the body was piqued and he began to investigate alternative medicine, more or less beyond the pale in Scotland in the 1920s.

Meanwhile, his mid-twenties found him in Alaska. One day, whilst they were on shore leave, the ship’s captain invited him to come fishing. At that point a humble ship’s engineer, James R Sneddon happily accepted. Both men set off on a rough track with their fishing rods, into ‘…the middle of nowhere…’ where the captain knew of a promising fishing loch.

Mr Sneddon Snr. had some tobacco with him. When he saw an old Native American woman sitting by the track, smoking her pipe, he reached out to give her some.  She grasped his hand, turned it palm up, examined it for a moment, and said...

‘ …“ you will leave the sea and take up a healing art that won’t use knives”.’

In due course, he did exactly that.

J R Sneddon

J R Sneddon (Noon Chart: time of birth unknown) – click image to enlarge

In the absence of a birth time, I have used a symbolic Noon/MC chart for James R Sneddon, since we are considering his vocation and direction through life. This striking horoscope could have a post all to itself! However, I’ll leave you to study it, dear readers, and confine myself to one or two key observations which are valid regardless of his time of birth..

Note that Sun/Jupiter conjunction in Taurus on the Noon Midheaven, opposite Mars in Scorpio conjunct the IC. This reveals an adventurous traveller, a restless seeker after higher knowledge, prepared to plumb the depths as he pursues his quest. The Taurus/Scorpio combination in the signs of physicality and in-depth transformation also speaks to us both of osteopathy and acupuncture as branches of expression from that core pairing.

By a delightful piece of synchronicity, the Ascendant of Mr Sneddon Snr’s chart is at 1 degree Virgo: the exact place where the 19/2/19 Full Moon is due to fall as I share this remarkable story. Also, the Virgo Moon conjunct the North Node, opposite Saturn in Pisces on the South Node, is a very clear signature for working at healing through the body – and for preparedness for hard work and commitment to his future vocation.

In his mid-twenties James R Sneddon  would have begun his third  Jupiter cycle: Jupiter returns by transit to its own place in a birth horoscope every 11-12 years,  at its best opening us up to new possibilities, bringing experiences our way which broaden our horizons. That certainly happened in a startling way to Mr Sneddon Snr. in the middle of nowhere in Alaska.

That encounter with the Chinese doctor when he was aged around 19/20 just after the North Node – the horoscope’s North Star, compelling one towards one’s destiny – returned to its natal position, ‘set the scene’, as it were, for his compelling encounter with the Native American fortune teller. He returned home to Scotland, began studying in earnest, and on his Saturn Return (to the healer’s sign of Pisces) in 1935, aged 30, opened the Buckingham Clinic which has been successfully treating generations of patients ever since.

As an interesting postscript which rounds off the tale nicely, James R Sneddon introduced acupuncture to his clinic in the mid 1960s – during his Second Saturn Return to the healer’s sign of Pisces.. By then, of course, he well understood what those sharpened bamboo sticks in Shanghai, so long ago,  had been all about!

I loved hearing this story, which took the compelling and intriguing ancient idea that Fate intervenes when we need a nudge in the direction in which we are meant to be going, and placed it central stage in the life story of my osteopath’s father.

I’ve never forgotten Dr Liz Greene, in one of her seminars at the Centre for Psychological Astrology during the 1990s, making a remark to the effect that it is truly astounding the lengths to which the Fates seem to be prepared to go to arrange life-changing encounters for people, sometimes right across continents.

Having mentioned Jung at the start of this tale, it seems appropriate to give him the last word here:

Free will is the ability to do gladly that which I must do.

I wonder if you agree?

1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

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

Fate, Uranus – and the astrologers’ degree…

Anyone who has ever written a regular column will know that there are times when inspiration is – not to put too fine a point on it  – notable by its absence. At other times, so many ideas are flying around that catching one by the tail to pin it down is, to say the least, tricky. And – you never know, as the last deadline is met and you can now relax for a few weeks –  which set of conditions is going to prevail the next time.

So, Reader, there I was, new deadline appearing over the horizon, and…nada. Nix. No–thing. At all. Braincell dry as an old chewed-up bone. In this situation there are generally two options: blind panic – or blind faith. I have six fiery planets. This is often a curse, let me tell you, but in the matter of column deadlines, it is a blessing. So, armed with nothing but blind faith, I headed for the office.

To pass time sitting on the bus, I check my phone. Ahah – there’s a message on Messenger. A colleague is beginning a new project for the international company he works for, an unusual company where his boss is an astrology appreciator. He is making a podcast series on Turning Points:  asking people to talk for five minutes on the one decision which changed their lives forever. He is inviting me to contribute. ( To listen to the resulting 5 minute interview, click HERE)

“Ping!!” went the braincell, hit by a mini bolt of inspiration. I had my topic. I’d ruminate on what it was that inspired me to take up, and continue, the long-term study and practice of astrology. That decision certainly changed MY life forever.

So – what was it ?

Was it my youthful awe as I watched the Northern Lights enacting their glorious colourful dance, just above the skyline near our house? Perhaps it was lying cosy in bed, listening to the roaring gales of January tearing the world apart – wondering what the Power was behind that raging wind. Was it the growing excitement, as I grew up, of being able to spot familiar constellations in the clear, unpolluted night skies of my native island?

Or – maybe the Fates had already decided, leaving me a clue to be decoded many years later, via the placement of Uranus, the astrologers’ planet, at 25 Degrees of Gemini,  in the tenth house of my natal horoscope?

I have recently been revisiting the significance of the placement of Uranus’ discovery degree, ie  24 degrees 27 minutes Gemini,(i) in the horoscopes of those drawn to the practice of astrology. A dip into my horoscope collection, lifting out three male and three female birth charts, found that all six prominent astrologers chosen have this degree either conjunct, square or opposite natal planets, Nodes or Angles: the lately deceased and much-missed Donna Cunningham, Michel Gauquelin, Liz Greene, Isabel Hickey, Johannes Kepler and Noel Tyl. (ii)

Johannes Kepler Asc 24deg 25 mins Gemini

Johannes Kepler Asc 24 deg 25 mins Gemini

Furthermore, when I was 27 years old, progressed Sun crossed asteroid Urania, placed at 19 degrees of Virgo in my first house, square tenth house Uranus. That year, as mentioned in an earlier column, I had a totally random encounter with a pair of astrologers who predicted my future astrological career.

So – did I choose that career or did I come in with it already chosen? Was it Fate, or free will? We will, of course, never be able to answer that question. MY conclusion, hardly stunningly original, is that we dance to the tune of both. There are times when the power of Fate feels strongly present. Other times, the unglamorous wrestle with inertia, poor judgement, and other ills to haul our lives into a reasonably satisfying shape feels very strongly to be determined mainly by our own conscious efforts.

In the latter case, a major ingredient in the shaping process, in my opinion, is the power of inspiration. At twenty-four years of age I was fortunate enough to have what I later realised was a mystical experience, something which has continued to inspire me. This may well have created a spiritual backdrop for the subsequent encounter with astrology as foreground; when I met those astrologers I was going through a crisis involving wondering what, after all, my life was FOR…not an uncommon state for one’s late twenties!

Their accurate reading inspired me to investigate astrology further, initially via the UK’s Faculty of Astrological Studies. On discovering that I, too, could produce accurate and affirming feedback from those strange marks on a piece of paper which seemed helpful to people trying to understand themselves better, I was hooked. For the rest of my life.

Astrology has continued to inspire because it continues to challenge me. It challenges me because we are working with living energies, patterns whose essential meanings we have established over millennia, but whose manifestations are endless and only partly predictable. Despite decades of experience, I still get that tight anxious feeling before every new client I see, being very aware of my responsibility at least to do no harm, at best to help the person before me see their life in a more constructive, bigger context.

I am, of course, always curious to find out what inspires people to engage with astrology – and to keep going once they get there. There is an occasional series running on my blog, in which astrologers tell their interesting, unusual tales of inspiration and  – of course! – an inevitable amount of perspiration…

Want to share your story? Go on…

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Endnotes:

(i) and (ii) : all charts available free from Astrodienst: http://www.astro.com

This post is a slightly edited version of my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine  ‘The astro-view from Scotland’  from the January/February 2018 Issue.

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950 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dell Horoscope Magazine 2019

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

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