Tag Archives: Liz Greene

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

 

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

Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned?

Whilst my head is down getting three columns done by the end of this month ( aaargh!) , I thought I’d repost some of my thoughts on how astrology is best learned, inspired by astrologer Fernanda Paiva’s thoughtful recent post Saturnian Sobriety:

Thanks once more to Judith Burke for her searching question, and please feel free to post your own thoughts.

“Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned? Through books, lectures, classes, or ?”

Talking astrology, mediaeval style!

Learning astrology, mediaeval style!

I received this message from Judith on this blog’s Facebook Page several days ago, replying to say I’d deal with it when I had time. But it’s a good, BIG question, more deserving of a thought-out answer than merely via a Facebook comment. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought; there are dozens of ways to respond!

My astrological colleagues will have their own way of replying – I’d be happy to hear their views, and those of current students or folk who are thinking about studying. I spent a happy half hour with one such person on Thursday 30th November 2017, responding to his question about Mercury Retrograde. His fascination with the whole subject was a joy to be around…

In the meantime, here are my thoughts…

My husband Ian, who in his earlier life was a professional actor, once asked a seasoned professional what it took to be a serious member of the profession. The older man replied rather grandly : ” My boy, all you need to be an actor is three boards – and passion…”

Passion

So let’s start with the passion.

Picture this scene. There I am, sitting at a cramped old desk in the bedroom of our new house, having just moved, acquired a husband (not ever part of my life plan, by the way!) a half share in his two children, his elderly cat, and his ex wife who at that time lived round the corner from us. Oh yes, and having just changed  jobs.

In front of me is an astrology text book: Margaret Hone’s Modern Text Book of Astrology (most recent imprint 1954 or thereabouts). I am already scared stiff by Margaret, although I have never met her. I am at Chapter Six: Computation. It’s a struggle to understand the maths, never my strong point to put it mildly.

There are mascara stains half way down the page. Mine. “I’ll never ever get this!” I wail to the new husband, who is looking bemused. Less than a year later, having sat a whole week of exams in May 1983, I discover that I have gained my Certificate of the UK’s Faculty of Astrological Studies – with a Distinction in the Calculation paper.

That’s where passion, allied with her much less glamorous but more useful sister persistence, can get you. So that’s where you start, if you really want seriously to engage with the art of astrology. You need to be passionately attracted to those seductive, mysterious, elusive symbols whose sliver of meaningful light cast on your life – very often, first of all,  through the Sun Signs – compels you to engage with a landscape whose depth and richness becomes increasingly evident the further you venture within.

Finding the way 

It’s fascinating to find out how well-known astrologers found their way: HERE are some of their stories, including my own, which is set in a launderette in Bath, Somerset, England; a very long time ago. Then, I thought ( based on the usual total ignorance of the subject) that astrology was a load of old rubbish. How wrong could a person be…

People vary greatly in how they arrive at a reasonable degree of competence and fluency in interpreting astrological charts. This is where persistence and discipline come in. Without those, you are going to remain on the margins: a dilettante, “into” astrology but with no real grasp of the subject. That’s fine, if that’s where you wish to remain. But you won’t get to the heart of the subject without persistent application.

I think my own pattern was fairly typical. First, I had an unexpected encounter with astrologers the accuracy of whose reading of my horoscope stunned me. It came at a time when I was seriously questioning what my life was FOR – and whether life itself was intrinsically meaningful, or not. If strangers could describe my inner world and external life patterns so accurately, I thought, that certainly suggested the likelihood of something meaningful going on in the grand scale ….but the challenge provided to my agnostic resistance wasn’t at that point ripe enough to propel me into exploratory action.

Then seven years later, a friend thrust Alan Oken’s The Horoscope, the Road and its Travellers into my hand saying “I think you should read this.” In order not to offend him, I did, and was instantly compelled to begin studying first of all symbols, planets, signs, houses, aspects. I still have that old, battered notebook with all my handwritten notes in it – and the book with my name in it “Anne Whitaker 1981”.

Next, feeling lonely as a self-directed solo student, I decided to attend a local astrology group.Great,” I thought. “At least here I can get away from everyone who knows me but doesn’t know I’m interested in this weirdo stuff…”

“Hello, Anne, fancy meeting you here!” said the woman collecting entrance fees. It was a colleague from psychiatric social work. My cover was blown from day one. Attending the group led me to joining a class run by Carole Wilson (are you reading this, Carole?!) who held the Diploma from the Faculty of Astrological Studies.After that I just told people I was studying astrology, eliciting the usual mixture of responses from the incredulous to the dismissive, with a very liberal dollop of ” Wow, great – can you do my chart?”

Taking it further

Saying “Yes” and embarking on short, limited chart readings  very quickly revealed two things. One, that I too could study marks on pieces of paper and feed back accurate information to their owners. Two, that there was a great deal of power, and responsibility for using it, vested in the process of reading horoscopes and the person who took on that task. Feeling committed but daunted, needing some consistent high-quality teaching to take me on from Carole’s excellent introductory class, I signed up as a  Faculty of Astrological Studies correspondence student and in due course obtained my Certificate.

But you never can get to the end of  astrological knowledge: it’s too wide, and too deep. I was to further my studies much later on, at the Centre for Psychological Astrology,  by commuting by plane from Glasgow to London from 1995-1998 to complete a three-year Diploma in Psychological Astrology with renowned teacher writer and astrologer Dr Liz Greene and the late great mundane astrologer, teacher and writer Charles Harvey.

I consider myself most fortunate to have spent most of my twenties as a college lecturer, and most of my thirties as a generic and psychiatric social worker and counsellor, since both those strands wove into and greatly supported my work as an astrologer. I was also used to having my professional work supervised: thus, when I went freelance with writing, teaching, counselling and the practice of astrology – on the first Saturn square after my Saturn Return – it was a natural step for me to set up regular supervision for my astrological work.

So – returning to Judith’s question by way of conclusion: Judith, as you can see from this post, you answered your own question in the way you posed it!

Passionate interest, for whatever reason, kicks the whole thing off. Then it’s as you say: books, lectures, classes … and preferably some disciplined study with a reputable, recommended school, leading to a qualification which is recognised in the astrological world – that’s if you wish to establish some credibility as a practitioner and teacher.

There is a great deal more to be said on this topic, including the fact that many well-respected astrologers have no formal qualifications. You can find some of what I have previously discussed HERE if you want some food for thought regarding the professional and ethical dimensions of being an astrologer. I’d like to put on record here my appreciation of the work of the late, great master astrologer Donna Cunningham, who as you will see features very much in the first post in the series you will find by going through the above link.

Enjoy the browse – and many thanks, Judith, for inspiring this post!.


Zodiac

Zodiac

1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017/18

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

 

 

 

What happens when Uranus, Neptune and Pluto cross the I.C?

I’m often asked about what clients/students can expect when the biggies, ie Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, cross the Imum Coeli or I.C. Well, here is an account of one person’s experiences, ie mine! Do not worry, those of you in the throes of one of those heavy duty, life changing transits. I’ve had all of them cross my I.C and I’m still here…( as far as I know…)

Although this article was written and published in the mid/late 1990s I thought it was worth posting again on “Astrology: Questions and Answers”.. for my new readers. It’s been the most-read-ever article both here, and on my other blog, now an archive,  ‘Writing from the Twelfth House‘.

It would be most interesting, and educational for other readers, if any of you felt like sharing YOUR experiences regarding any of those great collective planets crossing the I.C. point.

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Liz Greene once wryly observed in one of her seminars that, if you wanted a relatively quiet and peaceful life, you should arrange to be born when the outer planets were as far away from the personal planets and Angles as possible. I wish! say many of you reading this, as indeed does the writer, who has all the outer planets bolted onto all the personal planets and has had anything BUT a quiet life. (Encouraging note for the similarly challenged – I’m not young any more,  but I’m still here –more or less! – and pretty happy with what I have been able to make of my time on this earth to date).

In similar vein, many people – depending on the horoscope yielded by their particular date, time, and place of birth – will never even experience one of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto crossing their IC ( for non-astrologers reading this, the IC symbolises the point of origin, roots and core of a person’s life).

However, I have had the lot – and am still here to tell the tale. Here it is….

The Underworld - Ancient Egypt

In the Underworld, Ancient Egyptian style…

In my horoscope the IC is conjunct the South Node at 28 degrees of Scorpio. Pluto, its ruler, is placed in the twelfth house conjunct Mercury, Saturn, Venus, Moon and Sun in Leo. As a child I would lie in bed watching the roses on the wallpaper turn into malevolent  faces as daylight faded; I had to make bargains with them before they would let me sleep.

I read voraciously, and particularly recall the works of Victorian novelist H Rider Haggard whose myth-steeped descriptions of his characters’ adventures in Africa last century fascinated me. But da Silva, the Dutch explorer whose frozen body was found centuries after his death in a cave high up Mt. Kilimanjaro, transferred himself from “King Solomon’s Mines” to the wardrobe in my bedroom, on and off, for a couple of years. Getting to sleep was no mean feat with an imagination like mine!

King Solomon's Mines First Edition

King Solomon’s Mines

My ‘real’ life – eating, sleeping, going to school – was incidental to my inner life which was full of what I felt were the really interesting questions : why are we alive, where do we go after death, do we live on several planes of existence at once, what is happening in other galaxies, if there are x million Catholics and even more Buddhists and Hindus, how come they are all Wrong and Damned and a few thousand members of the Free Church of Scotland are Right and Saved ?

And what would happen if you unwrapped an Egyptian mummy and I wonder if I could make a shrunken head like the Jivaro Indians and why did people paint pictures on cave walls thousands of years ago?

These were the issues which preoccupied me for years. No-one knew about them except my maternal grandfather. He had spent time taming wild horses alone in the middle of Argentina before World War 1, and in later life was the only Church of Scotland missionary to visit ill or injured foreign sailors of all religions in the local island hospital, despite the disapproval of the Free Church. “We are all God’s children”, he would say firmly to his critics – and to me. He died when I was eleven, after which I spoke to no-one until I grew up and left home about anything which really mattered.

As Pluto squared 12th house Venus, Moon and Sun, then crossed the IC conjunct South Node from 93-95, what was left of my family of origin fell apart in a particularly painful and tragic way. I had to make choices in order to protect myself from the destructive urges of other family members which involved separation from loved ones which is probably permanent. The major decision I made during those years was that the blood tie does not give others the right to destroy your life. I was indeed fortunate in having an astrological framework, which helped to provide a meaningful context for the pain.

As part of trying to process what was happening, I decided to compile a family history, returning to my native island to collect some oral material from old people who knew my family back a couple of generations. The day I sat down to write it up, transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct the South Node, within half a degree of the IC.  During the same week, I looked back through some old writings of my own, finding two unpublished pieces.

The first was written in July 1970, six months after the start of Neptune transiting the IC. I had no knowledge of astrology then…….

“…….My sister and I decided to take the dog and walk from our house, just outside the  town, to a beach very exposed to the sea, well beyond the harbour. It would be a long walk, but it was a beautiful briskly windy sunny day – snatched from the usual bleak incessant rains of  a Hebridean July.

We took a curving route through the town, then via an outlying district overlooking the navigation beacon. This landmark had winked its electric eye reassuringly at the mouth of the harbour for as long as I could remember. Approaching the district cemetery, my sister walked on by, but I slowed down, never having passed through its gates. Only men attended funerals in the Outer Hebrides when I was growing up.

“The sun is shining on the dead today!” I called to my sister. “Let’s go and pay our respects.” She wasn’t too keen. “Have you ever visited Granddad and Granny’s grave?” I asked.

“No,” she said. ” I suppose we could do that.”
We pushed open the heavy creaking gate. The graveyard, beautifully tended, sloped gently down to within a few hundred yards of the sea. I realised that I did not know where my father’s parents lay.

” I remember where Daddy said it was,” my sister said. “Follow me. With our English name, it shouldn’t be difficult to find.”

Our  paternal grandfather had been posted to the Outer Hebrides before the First World War, meeting our grandmother on his first trip ashore. English gentlemen were a great rarity in these parts; very desirable “catches” to aspiring island girls like Granny, who had by all accounts been a handsome, strong and wilful young woman. He was well and truly caught; apart from a period of war service he remained in the Outer Isles for the rest of his long life.

His death devastated my grandmother. They had been married for fifty two years. I remember sitting with her in her bedroom, she who had always turned herself out so elegantly propped up in bed, an old singlet of my grandfather’s failing to conceal her droopy, withered breasts from my young eyes. Up to then I had never known the desolation of not being able to console another human being – or that old people ever cried. She wept and wailed and moaned, repeating:
“I don’t want to live any more. What’s the use, what’s the use now he’s away? “

Live on she did, doggedly, for nine years, lightened only by a late addition to the family. I was fifteen when my brother was born. Granny was eighty two, and half way senile. The child was called Frederick, after Granddad; as the novelty wore off Granny slipped into senility, a querulous fractious husk, and finally just a husk, and a medical miracle, carried off at eighty six with her fourth bout of pneumonia.

I was at university when she died, having become so distant from her by then that  I felt nothing but a vague sense of relief ….

“I’ve found it !”
I had fallen behind my sister in my reverie. She was standing about twenty yards away; I hurried to the spot. It was a plain, simple grave. A low railing ran round it. The headstone was in sandstone, with only the facts of their births and deaths etched on it in gold lettering. Noting with satisfaction, which my grandmother would have shared, the absence of ‘fancy versification’, I stood and looked at the grave.

Without any warning, for I had felt quiet and composed, there was a rush and a roar in a deep silent centre of my being; a torrent of desolation and grief swept through me. I wept and wept and wept, quite uncontrolled.

There they were, half my being. Where had it all gone: the passion of their early love; the conception of their children; her sweat and blood and pain as she thrust my father into the world; their quarrels, silences, love, laughter, loneliness and grief; their shared and separate lives? And this was it. On a hot beautiful day with the sea lapping on the shore and the seabirds wheeling and diving, a few bits of cloth and bone under the earth, an iron railing and a stone above.

I was not weeping just for them. Overwhelmed by  total awareness of my own mortality and that of all human beings before and after me, I had never felt so stricken, so vulnerable, so alone.” (i)

The second piece, however, written in the autumn of 1971, at the end of the Neptune transit to the IC, whilst Neptune was 0 Sagittarius, shows that something else was now emerging from the underworld which would offer me inspiration and support :

(The ‘pibroch’ referred to is the music of lament played on the Scottish bagpipes)

“ It was a clear autumn evening. Peter called just after seven; he was going out to practice some pibroch. Would I like to come along? It was a rare time of balance – in the weather, in the satisfaction of work which was still new enough to be stimulating, in the fact that Peter and I were falling in love.

Peter drove several miles out of town, winding slowly up deserted country roads to a hill above a small village. Taking out the pipes he began to blow them up, and after much tinkering began to play. To avoid distracting him, I strolled slowly down the road. Peter was standing on a bank of grass at the top of the hill; on his left was a little wood. On the other side of the road was a ditch thick with whin bushes.

Beyond the ditch was a rusty, sagging fence; on the far side of the fence, smooth, mossy moorland dotted with whins, their vivid yellow colour fading into the deepening dusk. In the distance I could just see the  Highland hills, purple and rust, gathering shadows in the autumnal twilight.

Venus Rising

Venus Rising

A myriad of stars, taking their lead from Venus, was growing bright with increasing intensity. A mellow harvest moon was slowly rising, casting a glow on the hills. The air held a hint of cold. I could feel the melancholy music of the bagpipes flowing through me like a magical current.

Reaching the foot of the hill, surrendering myself completely to the intensity of the moment, I lay down in the middle of the road. Spreading out my arms, I gazed up at the stars.

A gentle breeze blew over my body, soughing through the reedy grass. Drifting with the music through the night sky, slipping away from awareness of myself or the present, I was a timeless spirit of the air, travelling the vastness of space on the notes of the pibroch. An unobtrusive rhythm, a pulse, began to beat; growing more and more steady, it became a whispering message in my mind :

‘ There is nothing to fear,’  it said. ‘ There is nothing to fear.’

An image of my lying dead, under the earth, came to me. Such images, occurring at other times, had filled me with panic and disgust. Now, there was none of that. I could gladly have died at that moment; my flesh would return to the earth and nourish it, my spirit would soar to infinity. The pulse continued, flooding me with its light :

‘ There is nothing to fear, nothing to fear, nothing to fear….’

At that point of spiritual ecstasy, I felt the absolute reality of my soul.

Such a moment might have lasted a second, an hour, or a hundred thousand years; but the music ceased, and the chill which was gradually taking over my body drew me back gently into the present…….” (ii)

The knowledge that such a vitalizing sense of connectedness was possible, glimpsed during the above experience, kept me going through the long struggle to believe that  life had an overall meaning, and to find my own way of offering my energy creatively in the years which were to follow.

When Uranus crossed the South Node/IC in 1980/81, I began to study astrology,thereby fulfilling a prediction made by an astrologer I had casually encountered in a laundrette in Bath in England in the early 1970s. I also met, moved in with and later married my partner – his Scorpio Moon is conjunct my IC and South Node, and he has an Aquarian Sun and Venus. All very appropriate symbolism for the timing of the Uranus IC transit !

His steadfast support, combined with the deep awareness of teleology which many years’ practice of astrology brings, have been vital for my personal and professional growth and development from the time Uranus crossed the IC until now, (ie end 1995-early 1996) as Pluto moves off that point.

When Pluto was still transiting the IC, but from Sagittarius, I applied and was accepted for a major astrological study course. The very day that Pluto was exactly on the South Node and about to cross the IC for the last time saw me beginning the first year of study. I felt a powerful sense of standing on firm inner ground after the turbulence and trauma of the last few years – of being in the right place at the right time, of having done what I could, for now, with my family inheritance – of being ready to move on to the next growth cycle.

Now that the outer planets have crossed the IC and moved into the Western hemisphere of my Horoscope, I feel liberated from much of the pathology of the past, and  more able to use directly in the world the undoubted creativity inherited with it. Nor do I need any longer to make bargains with the shadowy figures who emerge when the light of day is dimming….

Endnotes:

This article was most recently published on Astrodienst in 2017

i & ii : Both extracts have been published both together and separately  in several articles in the USA, the UK and  Australia, eg in “Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” which appeared in the UK’s Astrological Journal, 1996,  and was then reprinted in Considerations magazine (USA) in the same year.

and –

“Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” is a quote from ‘L’Allegro’ by the English poet John Milton

Zodiac

Zodiac

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2600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014/17/18

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

Reflecting on Chiron as the Pisces New Moon dawns…

What does Chiron mean to you? Have you experienced his symbolic energy as healing? Wounding? As the ‘inconvenient benefic’, kicking open doors to places you’d never have thought to go? Does he simply not register as any kind of recognisable influence in your life or those around you? Or have you simply not given him much thought as you work with your horoscope in relation to your life?

Lots of questions. In this meditative 12th house time just before the Pisces New Moon tomorrow, I am very much engaged with them, being all too aware of Chiron’s approaching the end of his long 2010-18 sojourn in Pisces.

A liminal time

Any time just before an important heavenly body shifts from one sign to another is a liminal time – a threshold time, a 12th house time of final dissolution of the old cycle  without the energies of the new yet being clearly evident. Chiron moves into Aries on 17th April 2018, dipping back into Pisces for a few months in the autumn of that year, settling into his journey through Aries on February 18th 2019, remaining there until 2026/7 when he shifts into Taurus.

Chiron’s orbit is very irregular, and if you’d like to go into the detail of this, Cafe Astrology is the place to go for some very clear tables. However, his return cycle is a steady 50 years: we all have a Chiron Return at that age. This return is especially significant since it represents the end of a whole 50 year period from 1968/9 when Chiron was last in Aries. A cycle is completing at the present time, and the shift from Pisces the last sign of the zodiac to Aries the first is always more radical than any other – and fierier, more disruptive and far-reaching at a collective level.

Chiron in Aries – 20th Century

50 years back from 1968/9 takes us to 1918/19 and the turbulent aftermath of the First World War. Some of us still vividly remember 1968/9 with the student riots in Europe, the protests in the USA against the Vietnam war, and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King against the turbulent backdrop of the Civil Rights movement. We also remember that wonderfully pioneering event of the Moon landing, a stunning example of humanity’s kicking open a door to a place no-one throughout our whole history until that moment thought we would go.

…and 21st…

Early on in Chiron’s transit through Aries, ruled by the red planet Mars, preparations for the first human mission there envisaged for the 2030s are well under way. The upcoming Mars 2020 rover will study the availability of Martian resources, including oxygen. This is a major step forward in the preparation process. Some of us baby-boomers, if we live a long life, may well see the first blast-off taking humans in Shakespeare’s famous words about death, to “…The undiscovered country from whose bournNo traveler returns…” 1   The Mars explorers know they will not return to their home planet…

No doubt there will be much more speculation across our various media outlets regarding what this shift may mean both collectively and individually. It has already begun, as a quick google search will testify!

Back to first principles

However, I have found my reflections returning me to contemplation of first principles: the questions at the start of this post are in fact my own interrogations both of my experience of Chiron’s symbolic energies in my personal life and my professional practice.

In response to those questions, on looking back I can say that I have seen Chiron, in his  popular ‘wounded healer’ mode, most notably in colleagues and acquaintances with Chiron prominent in their charts eg 2nd, 6th or 10th Houses and/or strongly linked with planets, Nodes and Angles. They have found their way into caring, alternative healing or medical/nursing contexts, usually propelled there by family and/or personal wounding they were consciously or unconsciously seeking to assuage.

I have also seen situations where the wounding dimension was well to the fore and people struggled to see any healing in what they were experiencing – quite often at the Chiron Return point, when the whole horoscope’s Chiron aspects are triggered. This is where as an astrologer it is so vital to tread carefully in seeking to offer a context to deep pain and suffering which may offer some comfort and hope without raising unrealistic expectations – and to know when we are coming up against our own limitations eg in lack of specific expertise in dealing with questions of health and healing.

Here, it is important to have a network of  reputable and experienced practitioners in various healing modalities who might be able to offer some support which builds on what one has hopefully been able to clarify for the client.

Inconvenient…but beneficial

It was the late astrologer A.L. Morrison who coined the term ‘inconvenient benefic’ as a facet of Chiron’s actions – I can see on considering the placement of Chiron in our solar system, his source for this interpretation. Chiron appeared in 1977 between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. He can be seen as the one who unlocked the door between the safe boundaries of the known system contained by Saturn, lord of form and structure, security and stability and the outer planetary realm of Uranus –lord of misrule, breaker of custom, known code and convention. It is very threatening to be kicked out of safe territory into the unpredictable and unknown. But often it is just what we need although we don’t appreciate it at the time.

I have certainly seen this Chironian dimension in action by transit or progression with clients who turn up for readings after a long process where life has given them a good kicking (sound familiar, anyone?!) but who emerge out the other end realising that the kicking was necessary to get them to move in a direction they would not have been brave (or foolish!) enough to see held considerable positive benefits for them.

An amusing (in retrospect…) and quite significant example of this ‘inconvenient benefic’ aspect of Chiron in action can be offered from my own life a long time ago. My husband developed mumps, and had such a sore throat for several days that he could neither speak nor eat anything that wasn’t liquidised, and certainly could not bear to smoke. Chiron was then transiting his Gemini Midheaven. He quit for good… 

Chiron’s Return at Midlife

It makes sense that Chiron doesn’t feature very strongly in a person’s life if not prominent by horoscope placement or by aspect. However, even in such cases, if Chiron directly transits any of the personal planets or Angles, it is very unusual for there to be a ‘dumb note’ struck. It also seems to me that the Chiron Return at age 50 registers with everyone, but especially strongly when Chiron is a powerfully placed and aspected symbol.

A long time ago – I no longer have the chart or notes for reference but still remember the situation – a woman with Chiron conjunct her Moon consulted me not long after her 50th birthday. Chiron had recently returned to that natal conjunction. I recall that Saturn by transit was also probably involved. I asked her whether there was a difficult issue currently involving a key female in her life, and she said yes, that her mother-in-law to whom she had been very close had recently died and she was having difficulty getting over this loss; her deep grief seemed to her to be out of proportion.

I then asked if she had had a similar loss in the first year of her life. It turned out that her own mother had died when she was less than a year old, and that she had felt bereft of mothering until her mother-in -law came into her life, hence her great difficulty with the current situation. Both the client and I were deeply moved by how powerfully the Moon/Chiron symbolism had spoken on Chiron’s return to its natal position. But realising this also helped the client to make more sense of the depth of her grief, and hopefully to process it more consciously.

Chiron and our deep ancestral wound…

In approaching what Chiron’s symbolic action may bring in our own and clients’ horoscopes, it seems to me to make sense to hold those several facets I have described in this post in mind as we reflect.

However, there is a deep layer which has meant more to me than any other, which I first came across in an article by Liz Greene called ‘Wounding and the will to live’ in Issue 3 of Apollon, the Journal of Psychological Astrology (1999). This article is now available on Astrodienst, and I would strongly suggest that any readers interested in exploring Chiron’s meaning at profound depth should read it.

Here, Liz Greene points out re the centaur Chiron’s unhealable wound, that “….the wound exists in the collective and is ancestral..”

My understanding of what she is saying is that where Chiron appears in our birth charts represents our ‘chip’ of the accumulated woundedness of humanity over the ages. It is not our fault that we have this particular ‘chip’ allocated to us, any more than it was the centaur Chiron’s fault to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in the centaurs’ battle with the Lapiths during which he was grazed in the thigh by a poisoned arrow which would not heal because it was dipped in the blood of the Hydra. 

We are not directly responsible for our personal share of humanity’s wounding. But if we can work with as much honesty and humility, and as little bitterness as possible with that share as indicated by Chiron’s placement in our natal chart, then we can begin to transform that woundedness into something which can be offered for the healing of others. This process can ultimately help us to grow enough for our personal wound to become an increasingly smaller part of who it is we are able to become.

I have used this understanding of Chiron in many client readings now, and have found that it offers inspiration and consolation. Much of that healing flows from helping clients to accept that the wound is not our fault – but it is our responsibility to choose how we deal with it. No doubt the fact that I have found this deep message a consolation in my own work with ancestral wounding, also communicates itself to clients without my having to say a single word about my own process…

________

Endnote:

 1 Hamlet: Act 3 Scene 1

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1800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

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

1800 words

Why is the zodiac sign of Virgo called the virgin?

Why is the sign of  Virgo called the virgin?

Virgo

Virgo

This question raises the interesting issue of how the usage and meaning of words changes from one historical period/cultural phase to another. Within our current culture the word virgin when applied to humans generally means sexually intact. However, in ancient times when matriarchal religions were practised, the word virgin and the astrological sign of Virgo held a deeper and more complex set of meanings.

For example, the priestesses who served the ancient virgin goddesses Atargatis and Artemis were anything but virgin in our contemporary sense of the word. They were women who belonged to themselves and the goddess(es), whose duties to the temple were paramount and who owed allegiance to no particular male partner. Indeed, it was commonplace with those priestesses who had children to foster them out. They were too busy with their sacred duties to have much time for motherhood.

(Virgo’s contemporary association with perfectionism, attention to detail, and devotion to work began a very long time ago!)

The eminent astrologer, writer and teacher Dr Liz Greene expresses the essence of what the sign Virgo is about in her “Astrology of Fate” p 215:

“….this issue does not deal solely with sexual matters, but embodies an entire view of life….I would understand it more as an openness to the flow of life, a willingness to trust the natural order, an acceptance of penetration and change….”

In the chapter “Myth and the Zodiac”, pp 211-220, Liz Greene offers a very full account of the complex, paradoxical mythology and symbolism connected to the sign of Virgo. I commend it to you!

If you’d like to read some more factual aspects of this topic, try this Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgo_(astrology).

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

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

Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned?

Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned? Through books, lectures, classes, or ?

I received this message from Judith on this blog’s Facebook Page several days ago, replying to say I’d deal with it when I had time. But it’s a good, BIG question, more deserving of a thought-out answer than merely via a Facebook comment. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought; there are dozens of ways to respond!

My astrological colleagues will have their own way of replying – I’d be happy to hear their views, and those of current students or folk who are thinking about studying. I spent a happy half hour with one such person on Thursday 30th November 2017, responding to his question about Mercury Retrograde. His fascination with the whole subject was a joy to be around…

In the meantime, here are my thoughts…

My husband Ian, who in his earlier life was a professional actor, once asked a seasoned professional what it took to be a serious member of the profession. The older man replied rather grandly : ” My boy, all you need to be an actor is three boards – and passion…”

Passion

So let’s start with the passion.

Picture this scene. There I am, sitting at a cramped old desk in the bedroom of our new house, having just moved, acquired a husband (not ever part of my life plan, by the way!) a half share in his two children, his elderly cat, and his ex wife who at that time lived round the corner from us. Oh yes, and having just changed  jobs.

In front of me is an astrology text book: Margaret Hone’s Modern Text Book of Astrology (most recent imprint 1954 or thereabouts). I am already scared stiff by Margaret, although I have never met her. I am at Chapter Six: Computation. It’s a struggle to understand the maths, never my strong point to put it mildly.

There are mascara stains half way down the page. Mine. “I’ll never ever get this!” I wail to the new husband, who is looking bemused. Less than a year later, having sat a whole week of exams in May 1983, I discover that I have gained my Certificate of the UK’s Faculty of Astrological Studies – with a Distinction in the Calculation paper.

That’s where passion, allied with her much less glamorous but more useful sister persistence, can get you. So that’s where you start, if you really want seriously to engage with the art of astrology. You need to be passionately attracted to those seductive, mysterious, elusive symbols whose sliver of meaningful light cast on your life – very often, first of all,  through the Sun Signs – compels you to engage with a landscape whose depth and richness becomes increasingly evident the further you venture within.

Finding the way 

It’s fascinating to find out how well-known astrologers found their way: HERE are some of their stories, including my own, which is set in a launderette in Bath, Somerset, England; a very long time ago. Then, I thought ( based on the usual total ignorance of the subject) that astrology was a load of old rubbish. How wrong could a person be…

People vary greatly in how they arrive at a reasonable degree of competence and fluency in interpreting astrological charts. This is where persistence and discipline come in. Without those, you are going to remain on the margins: a dilettante, “into” astrology but with no real grasp of the subject. That’s fine, if that’s where you wish to remain. But you won’t get to the heart of the subject without persistent application.

I think my own pattern was fairly typical. First, I had an unexpected encounter with astrologers the accuracy of whose reading of my horoscope stunned me. It came at a time when I was seriously questioning what my life was FOR – and whether life itself was intrinsically meaningful, or not. If strangers could describe my inner world and external life patterns so accurately, I thought, that certainly suggested the likelihood of something meaningful going on in the grand scale ….but the challenge provided to my agnostic resistance wasn’t at that point ripe enough to propel me into exploratory action.

Then seven years later, a friend thrust Alan Oken’s The Horoscope, the Road and its Travellers into my hand saying “I think you should read this.” In order not to offend him, I did, and was instantly compelled to begin studying first of all symbols, planets, signs, houses, aspects. I still have that old, battered notebook with all my handwritten notes in it – and the book with my name in it “Anne Whitaker 1981”.

Next, feeling lonely as a self-directed solo student, I decided to attend a local astrology group.Great,” I thought. “At least here I can get away from everyone who knows me but doesn’t know I’m interested in this weirdo stuff…”

“Hello, Anne, fancy meeting you here!” said the woman collecting entrance fees. It was a colleague from psychiatric social work. My cover was blown from day one. Attending the group led me to joining a class run by Carole Wilson (are you reading this, Carole?!) who held the Diploma from the Faculty of Astrological Studies.After that I just told people I was studying astrology, eliciting the usual mixture of responses from the incredulous to the dismissive, with a very liberal dollop of ” Wow, great – can you do my chart?”

Taking it further

Saying “Yes” and embarking on short, limited chart readings  very quickly revealed two things. One, that I too could study marks on pieces of paper and feed back accurate information to their owners. Two, that there was a great deal of power, and responsibility for using it, vested in the process of reading horoscopes and the person who took on that task. Feeling committed but daunted, needing some consistent high-quality teaching to take me on from Carole’s excellent introductory class, I signed up as a  Faculty of Astrological Studies correspondence student and in due course obtained my Certificate.

But you never can get to the end of  astrological knowledge: it’s too wide, and too deep. I was to further my studies much later on, at the Centre for Psychological Astrology,  by commuting by plane from Glasgow to London from 1995-1998 to complete a three-year Diploma in Psychological Astrology with renowned teacher writer and astrologer Dr Liz Greene and the late great mundane astrologer, teacher and writer Charles Harvey.

I consider myself most fortunate to have spent most of my twenties as a college lecturer, and most of my thirties as a generic and psychiatric social worker and counsellor, since both those strands wove into and greatly supported my work as an astrologer. I was also used to having my professional work supervised: thus, when I went freelance with writing, teaching, counselling and the practice of astrology – on the first Saturn square after my Saturn Return – it was a natural step for me to set up regular supervision for my astrological work.

So – returning to Judith’s question by way of conclusion: Judith, as you can see from this post, you answered your own question in the way you posed it!

Passionate interest, for whatever reason, kicks the whole thing off. Then it’s as you say: books, lectures, classes … and preferably some disciplined study with a reputable, recommended school, leading to a qualification which is recognised in the astrological world – that’s if you wish to establish some credibility as a practitioner and teacher.

There is a great deal more to be said on this topic, including the fact that many well-respected astrologers have no formal qualifications. You can find some of what I have previously discussed HERE if you want some food for thought regarding the professional and ethical dimensions of being an astrologer. I’d like to put on record here my appreciation of the work of the late, great master astrologer Donna Cunningham, who as you will see features very much in the first post in the series you will find by going through the above link.

Enjoy the browse – and many thanks, Judith, for inspiring this post!.


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Zodiac

1350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

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