Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughts on Patterns and Benjamin Button's Life in Retrograde

During the week immediately post-Christmas running up to New Year there's always a flurry of new movies released just in time to provide talking points at New Year parties. This year we had "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (re-make), "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", "Valkyrie", "Doubt", and a few others.

During the same week snooping reporters will pursue whomever they see as the best prey on their Holiday vacation. This year P/e Obama was trailed to Hawaii, photographed a) shirtless, b) with baseball cap on back to front, c) licking some kind of iced treat.

Another yearly phenomenon, of course, is the emergence of a selection of predictions for the coming year from astrologers, psychics, financial experts, media hacks, and (it sometimes seems like) nextdoor's dog!

All these recurring events can be alternately entertaining and irritating - but one thing the week's pattern underlines, year on year, is that we humans do live largely by habit. Starting from the days when we begged to hear the same bed time story over and over again, the patterns continue to the days we bemoan having to eat yet another turkey dinner at Thanksgiving, and undergo another round of present-buying for Yuletide/Christmas/Hanukkah (etc.)

As below, so above, to reverse a well-worn astrologer's epithet. Sun, Moon, and planets exist in patterned motion also, albeit at very different rates. Motion is always in the same general direction, in spite of retrograde periods, which only seem to represent backward motion to human observers. Motion, above, is actually more akin to a helix, always moving in circular or eliptical cycles while not following exactly the same ground each time.

Which brings me back to "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - we saw this film a few days ago. It certainly has a curious plot-line, taken from a short story of F.Scott Fitzgerald from the 1920s. I haven't read the story, but understand that the only similarity between it and the movie is the basic premise. A man lives his life backwards, starting in old age, heading towards babyhood.

We enjoyed the movie, though the husband declared it a wee bit depressing. There was a veil of sadness around it for sure, but looking deeper there was also a valuable message, or maybe two, to be gleaned. I shall say no more than that for fear of spoiling the story for anyone else.

Brad Pitt plays the leading character, with Cate Blanchett as love interest. Makeup and special effects are excellent, acting is average to good - not great. The movie is 2 hours 48 mins long. I think it should have either been 12 minutes longer or thirty minutes shorter. There are parts which needed and would benefit from more explanation, and parts which seemed repetitive.

Astrologically, Benjamin Button was living his life from Pisces to Aries, rather than the other way around. I cannot get my head around what his natal chart would have looked like.

Some reviewers saw similarities to "Forest Gump" in the Benjamin movie. These could no doubt be found if one were to go over the screenplay with a finetooth comb. I saw in it more similarity to another story, not yet mentioned as far as I have noticed, to a novel called "The Time Traveller's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger, also in production as a movie by the way. While there's no time travel involved in Benjamin Button's life story, there are similar encounters with the vagaries of time.

At the very least, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is thought provoking, and it's likely that different age groups of thoughtful viewers will extract different messages from it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Will 2010 be Annus Horribilis for the USA?

It's traditional for astrologers to make predictions at the start of a new year, but now we have a Russian academic, a Professor Igor Panarin, getting in on the act.

In a Wall Street Journal article by Andrew Osborn (read it HERE) we are told that the good professor expects that in mid-2010 the United States will disintegrate, eventually becoming four separate countries. He puts a 55%-45% likelihood on his prediction - which is, if you think about it no prediction at all. I could say "I predict that in April 2010 alien beings from another galaxy will make contact with Earth, it's a 55% to 45% chance!" That would be just as valid as the prof's visions.

I've borrowed the professor's USA map. Passing readers can see what the future, Panarin-style might hold for them.

"There's a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur," he says. "One could rejoice in that process," he adds, poker-faced. "But if we're talking reasonably, it's not the best scenario -- for Russia." Though Russia would become more powerful on the global stage, he says, its economy would suffer because it currently depends heavily on the dollar and on trade with the U.S.

Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

The Professor doesn't detail exactly how he comes to this conclusion. I wonder if he's a closet astrologer. 2010 has been pinpointed by several astrologers as a "bad year", but hardly bad enough for the complete disintegration of the USA. The professor might have carried more credibility had he stated that his prediction could occur, say, "within the next 50 years" - but 2010? No. Too soon.

Do Russians do irony? I suspect they do.

Professor Panarin is looking for some quick, cheap publicity, in my opinion. Many in Russia would gloat over the thought of his prediction coming true, it will stir up interest, enough perhaps for a soon to be written book?

Here's an astrologer's take on the 2010 situation from Astrobarry at his blog dated 25 November 2008, HERE :


Meanwhile, by the middle of 2010, Uranus finds his way to the Pisces-Aries cusp… crossing over it while under the sway of his square with Pluto, a mega-astro-affair that stays within 5-degree orb through 2017. And as if that weren't enough, Jupiter also ends up in Aries by mid-2010—just in time to add extra electrifying energy to the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto t-square.

The exaggerated effect of Jupiter conjunct Uranus near the Aries Point (the first degree of Aries, and the beginning of a new zodiac cycle) is like the turbo-charged icing on the cake that ensures 2010 will be a memorable year. The addition of Jupiter, an expansive presence, to Uranus's side of the delicate Saturn-Uranus balance can't help but tip the scales away from Saturn-in-Libra's steady moderating influence…and toward the sudden, irrational, explosive 'power to the people' movement birthed by Uranus in Aries. Jupiter also boosts Uranus's liberating ferocity in his square-off with Pluto, fueling the fire of its 'war of independence' against the overlords of global capitalism that seek to keep the underclasses in their place.

2010 might well manifest as Annus Horribilis for some - especially for the USA's Fat Cats Inc., but for the rank and file of us, it'll likely pass much like any other year. There'll a few lightning strikes, a lot of hot air, both natural and man-made, the Sun will continue to rise and the Moon make her monthly cycles. To borrow from T.S. Eliot, who borrowed from English 14th century female mystic Julian of Norwich: "All will be well, and all manner of things will be well".

(Note: Annus Horribilis = Horrible Year. It is derived from the Latin phrase 'annus mirabilis' - year of wonders (or miracles). Recorded since the mid 1980's but brought into popular use after Queen Elizabeth II used it to describe 1992 - the year that the marriages of her two sons Charles and Andrew broke down and Windsor Castle caught fire.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rahm Emanuel ~Tarot ~ An Experiment

First, a tarot reading, for details of an experiment, please scroll down.

I'd never heard the name Rahm Emanuel before it came under media spotlight a few weeks ago when President-elect Obama chose Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. To be honest, I didn't even know what a Chief of Staff's job entailed, but I researched a little and found out.

After Robert Phoenix suggested I consult the tarot about how Emanuel's influence might affect Barack Obama in the future, I resisted the temptation to read around and form an opinion. Only after I'd drawn the cards and written an interpretation did I find an article to include here for those as ignorant as myself on the matter. I wanted to keep my mind clear of prejudice - and hope it worked. The article I chose to link is from "TIME" magazine.

I asked the tarot: "How will Rahm Emanuel influence Obama in the future?" I shuffled the full deck, cut the cards then drew these three in the following order:

9 Swords
7 Rods/Wands

9 of Swords is a nasty card to draw in a personal reading, it connects to an agony of mind, worry, opression, loss. In this context however it describes a situation involving Mr Emanuel and P/e Obama. A period of self-torture, worry, introspection, dread of potential bad outcome. Some interpreters have called it the "oh shit!" card, or "a total mindfuck": paralyzing fear of failure. The suit of Swords connects to astrological Air, the mental element.

Strength, a card from the Major Arcana - it almost speaks for itself! First and foremost it's a positive card. Connects to Leo in astrology. The picture on many decks shows a female struggling with a lion, but not aggressively, she has courage, inner power, she controls him with compassion and understanding. In this context, it's interesting to recall that Obama's Sun is in Leo - but I don't see Obama as the lion, I see him as the feminine influence on a more robustly aggressive Emanuel, controlling his need for overt power. It just doesn't work the other way around.

7 of Rods/Wands - Rods connect to the element of Fire in astrology. Here the 7 denotes challenge and struggle, but the challenge is being confronted. It's essential that the challenger keeps his nerve, remains steadfast in confronting opposition and supporting his cause.

The three cards together then, in the context of the question posed:

Obama/Emanuel will have had some inner worry about the potential for a highly unfortunate outcome, either to specific events (e.g. the Blagojevich scandal) or the coming adminstrative challenges awaiting them in the White House - and who wouldn't worry about those? But they both have strength of mind and strength of purpose, their types of strength complement one another - together they have a complete strength: Obama with the compassionate compromising feminine-type strength, Emanuel with a more overtly aggressive type. Symbolically, this could be likened to "good cop/bad cop". Struggles and challenges are just beginning. Mental torment will soon be relaced by actual challenge, but together they can produce the fortitude and valour contained in the 2nd and 3rd cards.

I see nothing terrible here, nothing for P/e Obama and his Chief of Staff which they cannot confront and overcome. Influence will be travelling two ways.


At astrologer Robert Phoenix's blog "Astrology For the Now Age", Robert has an experiment coming up which might be of interest to passing readers here. It's to take place on 31 December at 6am Pacific time (that's 7am Mountain time, 8am Central, and 9am Eastern; in Britain and western Europe it'd be 2pm). He suggests that for 30 mins those taking part should meditate, and later report back. He says:

"As we have previously noted, the very transformation of time as we know it is now taking place in Pluto in Capricorn and synchronicities are one way of gauging the malleability of time and space.

I’d like to push the envelope just a little with this realization.

I would like to connect with as many people as possible on the morning of the 31st, in meditation. The time would be 6 am PDT for thirty minutes. The intention would be to notice thoughts, feelings and names during that half hour and write down whatever comes to you during that half hour. If there are names, jot them down. If you have images, write them down as well. This is not an exercise in sending light and love, it’s an experiment in noticing, awareness and non-local communication. The idea would be to come back to this site later in the day and add your comments to a dedicated post that I will write. Then, we’ll simply compare notes and see what we come up with. My gut says that we will have some very unique connections.

12/31/08, 6 AM, PDT is “The Gathering In The Void” where we will meditate, observe and notate our experience together and report back, here on this site (linked above). I looked at the Mayan calendar for that day and it is indeed auspicious, FIVE CABAN, “Commanding synchronicity.” "

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Favourite Articles, Elusive Authors.

The shank of year usually finds me dusting down my Favourites File, disposing of any items which no longer serve a purpose. In doing so yesterday I once again came upon three of my favourite pieces which have graced Favourites for several years, avoiding all past purges. These articles are, for me, the most engrossing I've read, yet the two authors, William D. Tallman and Ken Gillman, remain elusive. Why nothing further from them in astrology circles? Perhaps I'm not looking in the right places. Google comes up empty, that's a clue that perhaps one or both of these gentlemen have either retired, died or simply grown frustrated with astrology, and closed the door on it.

Here are links to the three favourite articles - highly recommended for a long slow read - not recommended for those in a hurry! I'm usually impatient with long dense articles myself, so it's even more amazing that I found these so valuable - a sign of true quality, I guess.

Twelve Gods and Seven Planets by Ken Gillman dates from 1997

A Rational Basis for Astrology and
Another Approach to Astrology by William D. Tallman these date from 1996 and 1998.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

RALPH LAUREN - American Dreamer

High fashion doesn't interest me, but if I had to identify a fashion archetype I admire, what immediately springs to mind is the style of Ralph Lauren. This is not to imply that I'm a regular Lauren customer, though I do own a couple of Lauren jackets bought at reasonable cost on E-bay, and just one acquired direct, at great anguish to the bank account.

I suppose it's not surprising that I relate to the Lauren style, it is, after all, based on classic English tailoring and fabrics. What I've found sorely missing in low to mid-priced clothes here in America is good cut, tailoring and fabric.

Heck - that sounds really "elite"and snobby - but I don't mean it that way. I just hate wearing stuff that doesn't fit properly, fabric that sags after a couple of wearings. In England the luxury of good fit and decent fabric is far more easily accessible to the Great Unwashed than it is here.

Lauren designs for both sexes, and as well as the signature English style he often incorporates western themes into his casual wear echoing farm or ranch life, and "sons of the soil". His famous "Polo" brand incorporates more sporty gear (not my thing!)

So, the astrology: Ralph Lauren. Born 14 October, 1939 in The Bronx, New York. No time of birth known, so in the chart below, set for 12 noon, Moon position is not exact, it will, though, remain in Scorpio whatever the time of birth - but ascending sign is likely to be inaccurate.

I searched various biographies of Ralph Lauren, on-line, but found they mainly concentrate on his career achievements. Those, of course, are quite extraordinary, considering he was a lad from the Bronx, a working class area of New York back in the 1940s, he enjoyed no fancy education or fashion training other than working in clothing stores. Before he'd reached middle age he'd built a veritable fashion empire. American Dream? You bet!

"People ask how can a Jewish kid from the Bronx do preppy clothes? Does it have to do with class and money? It has to do with dreams"

I wanted to get a better feel of the man though, so I dug a little deeper and found him in an interesting hour-long Charlie Rose interview from 1993, on YouTube. Interview is linked at the end of this post.

Ralph Lauren came over to me as an attractive, relaxed and charming guy, more than that though - he seems totally without affectation. The interviewer commented on this, but I had already mentally noted it long before it was mentioned. Among fashion designers a lack of affectation has to be a pretty rare characteristic, and quite endearing.

Ralph Lauren's basic astrology has already been interpreted at a blog called "Brightstarlights". I shall attempt to avoid repetition, and start looking for some extra factors.

He does embody very well the stereotypical Libran charm and good looks. I wondered where all that Scorpio-ness in the chart would fit in, and how the Grand Cross manifests in his life, and where is the usual Grand Trine in Earth found in charts of many War Babies like him (Lennon, and me, for example).

A potential Grand Trine in Earth in Lauren's chart is missing a planet at one point, the trine between Neptune and Uranus is clear enough, but at the third point lies the Part of Fortune in Capricorn. While this is symbolically very appropriate, being the sign of business, I'm not sure that Part of Fortune, which is a mathematically derived point in the chart, is a legitimate inclusion in a Grand Trine - but if it is, then so much the the better.

The Grand Cross, though is clear enough. Two oppositions and four square aspects. Dynamic tension involving Venus (the arts, including design), Saturn (career and business), Mars (energy) & Pluto (intensity) - perhaps this is the engine room of his working life then. The planets in the configuration are in Fixed signs (apart from Saturn, just one degree shy of Taurus, still within limits though). The Fixed quality reflects his loyalty to his original dream of bringing classic timeless English style to America. This was no fly-by-night gimmick he used to make a name for himself, it is etched into his personality, and his dreams. He says as much in the interview linked below.
He also comments on how he is constantly amazed by the "contrasts" in his lifestory - how he came so far in his chosen career, from such humble beginnings, how his choice of style is so foreign to his early background, "impossible things" he calls them. This feeling connects to the oppositions, I suspect.

One more point from the interview. He was asked about his brain tumor, discovered back in 1987, which fortunately turned out to be benign. I checked a further news article to discover the date of his operation, Monday 13 April 1987 - Pluto transited at 9 Scorpio, very close to his natal Mercury, Venus and, probably, Moon. He said that the experience did transform(Pluto) his attitude to life, he said that it's not always easy to fully appreciate something until you almost lose it.

A snippet from my searches which particularly appealed to me was at a right-wing blog which shall remain nameless. The writer and others felt incensed that Ralph Lauren is said to have stated that he has not been proud of America during the past years of the Bush administration. He does, however, have faith in Barack Obama to turn things around. The blogger and some of her commenters vowed never to buy his product again. I, conversely, shall strive to do so - if only via E-bay or, on a very lucky day, @ Goodwill.

Quote from Ralph Lauren
“It's the kind of clothes that mothers and daughters can wear, in terms of concept, ... It's not about age. It's about taste, and it's about lifestyle. I believe women of all ages can wear anything.”

Link to 1993 interview with Charlie Rose.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Lightening & Brightening of Capricorn

We've moved into the zodiac sign of Capricorn now. What's to say about this sign? On the whole it gets a bad rap, probably only second to Scorpio for negative reporting.

Keywords for Capricorn, the sign ruled by planet Saturn, include: serious, disciplined, careful, cautious, thrifty, cold, organised, solid, old-fashioned, conservative, business-like, and even the adjective coined from their ruler's name -"saturnine". Sounds boring, doesn't it?

A handful of well-known Sun Capricorn people who seem to fly against the keyword stereotype: David Bowie, Jim Carrey, Rod Stewart, Janis Joplin, LL CoolJ..........

I draw a blank from personal experience, regarding Sun Capricorn people, but I have this idea at the back of my mind that many of 'em have a wickedly dry sense of humour - I'm not sure from whence that idea springs, its roots are possibly in planets lying in neighbouring signs.

In any case, I suspect that Sun Capricorns do not embody much of the accepted stereotype unless every personal planet lines up in that sign. Sun Capricorns are liable to have two or more personal planets in neighbouring signs Sagittarius and Aquarius, both likely to dilute Capricorn considerably, and bring in a hint of happy-go-lucky Sagittarius flavour, or some whacky Aquarianisms. Conversely, it's quite easy to pick up Capricorn flavour in natives of those two neighbouring signs, where close personal planets are often found doing a turn in Capricorn.

I'd expect to see more typical Capricorn traits in a person with Saturn rising in Capricorn, the ruler rising in its own sign. That's when Capricorn is going to be more easily seen in public, even if that person's natal Sun and Moon are nowhere near the sign of the seagoat. It's unwise to place too much confidence in Sun signs, they are an easy label, a convenient rule of thumb, a fun grouping, but they are liable to be terribly misleading.

(Sir) Anthony Hopkins has Sun and ascendant in Capricorn - perhaps slightly more stereotypical than those people mentioned above. He comes over as fairly serious and disciplined, a little old fashioned. But even here, his Moon in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Aquarius tend to "mix it up and make it nice", added to which, Capricorn's ruler Saturn lay in Pisces as he was born, lightening its heavy influence quite a lot.

Graham Chapman (of Monty Python- shirtless in the photo), with Sun and ascendant in Capricorn, Moon in Taurus, Saturn in Taurus sounds like someone Earthy and sensible - heading closer to the stereotype - but Venus and Mars lay in Sagittarius, which kind of knocks it all smartly on the head.

(Sir)Sean Connery (aka the original James Bond) is the nearest I can find to matching a typical Capricorn stereotype, yet his Sun and Moon are in Virgo, an Earth sign which doesn't tend to smother Capricorn completely. He has Capricorn rising with Saturn in first house very close to the ascending degree. Saturn is his dominant planet and Capricorn shares sign dominance with Virgo. The ususal culprits for messing up Capricorn's serious reputation, Sagittarius and Aquarius, don't get a look in in Connery's chart, by the way.

Hopkins and Connery both happen to have been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II - that in itself is rather Capricornian! However, Hopkins is unimpressed and says he only accepted it to make his (then) wife happy! Connery describes it as one of the proudest days of his life. He had been denied the honour for several years due to his passionate Scottish nationalism, and support for Scottish Independence.

I have to say that I'm with Hopkins on this!

POSTSCRPT: We lost a Sun Capricorn lady yesterday - Eartha Kitt. I wrote about her last year - here: "Carmen Jones, Eartha Kitt and Astrology". I noticed that she died as Jupiter conjoined her natal Sun. RIP.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sing along.........

I guess there'll not be many people wandering around blogland today. Hope y'all are having a good time! A bit of silliness here, first posted two years ago - my Astrology Bloggers' Christmas Song. I've dragged it out of the archive, dusted it down, made a tiny adjustment, and in case the tune has been forgotten, there's a reminder of the music, played by Coool Jazzz.

"The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting by an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.......etc.)With apologies from Twilight to Torme and Wells who composed the original in 1946.

Astrologers telling us what's due next year
Bloggers churning out their prose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks forget their astro woes.

We all know that planets
When well aspected
Help to make the season bright
Hearts send trines to friends far and near,
Love's all around, just for tonight.

We know that Pluto's on his way
He'll bring new rules....
And he'll be here to stay,
And every astro fan is gonna spy
To see predictions coming true by and by.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To bloggers and their readers too
Although it's been said many times, many ways

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas As Life Moves On - Zodiac-wise

Looking back over the years - and I have lots to look back over - Christmas stands as a kind of milepost. It's a focal point when a pattern of change can be identified. In some ways, the pattern could be equated to the cycle of the zodiac, as of course, can our whole life's cycle.

The earliest Christmases I recall, the Aries ones, were spent at my maternal grandparents' home in a tiny village, where I was sent during the worst period of the war years in the UK, safe from the bombing of the city where my parents lived and worked. My parents would make a last minute bus journey the 20 miles or so on Christmas Eve so we could all be together for "the day".

My grandmother (right) was a wonderful cook. With the few facilities she had in those days, I can hardly imagine how she managed to put such delicious meals on her table. She often said that she and I had a "special bond" - it didn't extend to inheriting her culinary prowess though! Water came from a pump in the yard, direct from an underground spring. The only oven she had was at one side of the big black fireplace, powered by coal and wood fires, at the other side, a tank for heating water.
No refrigerator, food was kept out in a building called "the wash-house" where a boiler for boiling water and equipment for washing clothes was also kept. Earliest memories come from a time before the grandparents had electric light, when I went off to bed with a candle, and rooms were lit by oil lamps. I used to be given an early present each Christmas Eve, a book - the "Rupert Book" into which my little head was thrust for hours on end, reading about the adventures of a little bear and his friends, as I waited for Mum and Dad to arrive.

As the cycle moved around to Taurus and Gemini, Christmases evolved into bigger family gatherings, accompanied at times by school friends, both sets of grandparents, occasional aunts and uncles. Sometimes there was carol singing with a group of friends around the town on Christmas Eve, attending midnight service, or a Christmas morning service, then back to Dad's excellent cooking - he was the head cook of our family, after grandma retired from her post. Traditional, sociable, predictable - Christmases then were all those things.

Cancerian Christmases were fewer in number - they involved my retiring into a shell, for a variety of reasons. Working in hotels for a brief period in my life, I'd find that after all the hard work and long hours put in during the run up to Christmas, we staff were often to be found exhausted and alone in lowly staff accommodation, too tired to get together. I remember one particular Christmas evening walking out alone around the city where I worked, gazing longingly into the windows of houses where families celebrated together. I'd be home in the next day or two though, when my parents and I enjoyed a delayed celebration, also in honour of their wedding anniversary on 27 December. Another Christmas day around this period, I clearly recall, was spent alone in a cramped apartment, with a can of chicken breast a loaf of wholemeal bread, and a radio. I remember that much, but have no recollection of how it came about - something connected with my disastrous first marriage I think. Best forgotten!

So.... on to the Leo Christmases which developed as my life changed, accompanied by a new partner, a new job, and an altogether brighter frame of mind. Christmases at the office were fun - always. Some years we'd have a fancy dress party (that's me, under the clock, as Dick Whittington!) Sometimes we'd organize a special quiz or other years just a buffet with plenty of wine. One Christmas a bright spark in the office persuaded the chairmen (well respected lawyers) to act in our version of a pantomime - "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp". A few in-jokes were included in the much-adapted scripts to further engage an already enthusiastic audience of staff and uninvolved charimen. This is one of my favourite treasured Christmas memories. Magical! They were all such good sports. Most have now "gone before" to the great tribunal in the sky, others are High Court Judges.

Virgo/Libra/Scopio Christmases cover a long period of very mixed flavours. My parents were growing older, they lived at a distance for much of the period, but my partner and I always spent most of Christmas time with them, as much as my job would allow. Tensions arose sometimes, as they are wont to do among most family groups.

But many years saw beautiful Christmas-times, trouble-free and filled with love and good humour. We'd spend hours singing songs and carols and recording them on a tape machine. I still have a couple of the tapes but I find it difficult to listen to them even now, so many years later. Photographs are fine - but those so familiar, long gone voices always bring on the tears. After my Dad died in 1992, we spent each Christmas with my mother (right), usually at our home. Tensions arose more frequently during these years. There was almost always one passionate argument, where I found myself in the middle, loving them both, trying to appease both sides. Eventually things would calm down to an uneasy peace. After my mother died in 1997, my late partner and I spent quiet times together at Christmas, some gentle and precious memories of his last years remain, his health began to slowly deteriorate. Then death visited once more, not long after my last Scorpio Christmas.

Sagittarius Christmases find me here in the USA - 5000 miles from Christmases of yore, with a new husband and family. Christmases here are bright and happy. A family get together on Christmas Eve, then, weather permitting the husband and I like to take a drive to Mount Scott with a pack of cheese sandwiches, some fruit and soft drinks, and eat our version of Christmas Dinner surveying the Oklahoma countryside from 2000ft up, followed by a leisurely drive home through the wildlife refuge, hoping to greet some buffalo or long horned cattle, or even a colony of prairie dogs. Our new tradition!

Aquarius Christmas? Well, maybe the few Christmases I've been astro-blogging come into this category. Or perhaps my Aquarius, along with Pisces Christmases are still to come.

I hope all your Christmases are as happy as my happiest ones. Know that any less happy ones will give way to joy again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Hallelujah" needs Scorpio like Pasta Sauce needs Garlic

Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" is enjoying something of a re-birth in the UK. Alexandra Burke, winner of TV talent show "The X-Factor" sang it in the final since when it has whizzed up the charts there.
"Alexandra Burke has the #1 song in the UK during Christmas week with her version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Incredibly, a 1994 version of "Hallelujah" by the late Jeff Buckley is ranked #2, marking the first time in more than 50 years that the same song has occupied the top two spots on UK charts." (Here)

I've once or twice approached the natal chart of Leonard Cohen but have been wary of featuring it in a blog post. I enjoy his songs, but the man himself strikes me as a wee bit odd. I was pleased, therefore, when yesterday an astro-blogging colleague posted a piece about his natal chart - at Art and Astrology.

When I first looked at Cohen's chart I was surprised to note that he has no Scorpio planets. Death features often in his songs, which are almost always gloomy, self obsessed and melancholic. Here's an interesting point - two of the best interpretations of "Hallelujah", in my opinion, are by vocalists who do have a good helping of Scorpio in their charts.

kd lang's version is my absolute favourite, her chart appears in my post about her last year . It's interesting that kd has Mercury and Venus in Libra at 18 and 22 degrees, while Cohen's Mercury is at 17 degrees of Libra. Libra is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts including music, so there is linkage here. Perhaps that's why kd lang seems to understand what's really needed in that song - some good old Scorpio passion, to take it from quiet reflection to an anthem-like climax.

Jeff Buckley's version is good. I hadn't realised he was no longer with us. He accidentally drowned in 1997. He had lots of natal Scorpio (Sun, Mercury, Venus and Neptune all conjoined), but no Libra - something was still missing in his rendition, but it was a good attempt to put life into the lyrics. What's missing could be a strong singing voice, I guess, and this is where kd lang triumphs.

I have to say I'm fairly unimpressed by the "X Factor" winner, Alexandra Burke's version. That's just my personal taste though, and I'm obviously out of step with folks in the UK! She was born 25 August 1988 in Islington, London, UK. Sun and Mercury in Virgo, Moon in either Aquarius or Capricorn. No Libra unless it's rising, and only Pluto (generational planet) in Scorpio.

Cohen, lang, Burke and Buckley all have Virgo emphasised in their charts. Interesting. Cohen and lang are both great song writers, I think Buckley wrote too. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, and prominent in the charts of many writers. Perhaps Alexandra Burke will also shine in this area as her career progresses.

Leonard Cohen's own version of this song has to be definitive, but it's not truly musical. The lyrics and music have quality enough to allow many different interpretations to suit all tastes, and that's his genius. Cohen is bound to be interested in how other artists interpret his work.

YouTube has versions of "Hallelujah" by all those mentioned here, several others too.

kd lang's version

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why Such Agitation Over Rick Warren ?

There has been much complaint coming from American Democrats and others during last week. They don't like our President-elect's choice of Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration ceremony in January. The unease stems mainly from Pastor Warren's stances on gay marriage, pro-life and his generally conservative leanings. PE Obama has said from the start that he will be inclusive, a President of "all America". He warned his supporters on this long ago, supporters who now, at an early hint that he will keep his word, choose turn on him. This is not loyalty! Don't Liberals understand loyalty? Yes, I know Americans have been let down before by their presidents. We've all, American or not, experienced let-downs in both personal and political spheres. Must we remain forever bitter and paranoid though? If Obama supporters cannot handle this, very minor, eventuality they are in for some serious shocks in the future.

I've only seen Rick Warren once, when he moderated a presidential debate on TV. He came over as a nice enough guy. His stances, as mentioned above, are opposite to my own - but that doesn't make him a bad person ! The issues are open to argument, in both directions. Surely part of the Christian message is tolerance of views different from one's own? Argument and debate can be had at a later date. I admire Obama for what he's doing here. After all Pastor Warren is simply leading a short prayer, he's not dictating policy or advising the president. The person chosen to lead the benediction comes from the other side of the US dichotomy: Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, a civil rights leader whose stances are more in line with those of PE Obama.

Let's have a quick look at Rick Warren's natal chart. A 12 noon version will have to suffice as I don't know his time of birth. He was born 28 January 1954 in San Jose California. Ha! He's an early Aquarian, like me! And that still doesn't make him a bad person (wink).

Sun and Venus conjoined, with Mercury 10 degrees away - a hearty helping of Aquarian humanitarianism and social concern. At 12 noon Moon was in Scorpio, a late-ish time of birth, after 7pm, would put Moon in Sagittarius, and link to his pull towards religion, but Scorpio moon with its intensity could fit too - in any case there's also Mars and Saturn in Scorpio, dishing out a good dose of passion.

Jupiter in Gemini trines Mercury in Aquarius and Neptune in Libra forming a Grand Trine in Air. This configuration could aid a writer, or as in Pastor Warren's case a direct communicator - Mercury (communication), Jupiter (religion and/or publishing) and Neptune (creativity and mysticism). A helpful circuit in his chosen lifestyle.

Two oddities I'll note here - North Node of the Moon is conjunct Chiron - The Wounded Healer, South Node is just 3 degrees from Uranus. The two Nodes form a sensitive axis, planets conjoining the two points have extra significance. Chiron's reputation as Healer seems very apt for a Pastor, and the Uranus proximity to South Node links to his three Aquarian planets - Uranus being ruler of Aquarius.

Mercury and Pluto are in opposition (Aquarius/Leo), and linked by two squares (90 degree aspects) to Mars in Scorpio (a T-square). This looks to me as though his passionate intensity is challenged at times by a cooler Aquarian pull towards a more logical, less dramatic and emotional approach. He obviously has deeply seated opinions, but I'd guess that even he questions them, and himself, at times. Which, in my book, would make him an honorable man.

Well, there he is! A complex individual, and, as I see it, a man of good intention. The opinions he holds come about via his own unique experiences in life. Those who hold opposite views are not entitled to question or dictate about them. It is to PE Obama's credit that he is open minded enough to appreciate this and refuse to treat people of differing views as pariahs. Haven't we seen enough of divisive cronyism from the outgoing president and his men? Aren't Americans sick to the back teeth of it all? Then why so unwilling to try a different tack with their new president?

Sunday, December 21, 2008


We've reached one of the year's four cardinal points, a seasonal shift. Nights will not grow longer now. It's downhill from here! More cold and damp weather to come though, at least in the northern hemisphere. Our friends down south experience the opposite and are getting out their summer gear, while we bundle up for a few more months, but always in the knowledge that we're heading for the next shift - into spring. The lights of Hanukkah and Christmas brighten the nights and our spirits. Those lucky enough to live near an ancient site of solstice celebration will have seen the season turn, in slow motion, before their eyes.

Winter Solstice - it's a romantic, magical time, its echo travels back thousands of years, beyond Christianity, beyond the Roman and Greek Empires, beyond anything we have recorded - and therein lies magic. The theme has inspired at least two novels in recent years - both titled simply "Winter Solstice", one by Irish author Lucy Costigan, the other by novelist Rosamunde Pilcher. The opening chapter of Lucy Costigan's "Winter Solstice" can be read at a pdf HERE

Lucy Costigan's book begins as the heroine leaves home on a short journey to see the Sun rise on 21 December at Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland. A 5,000 year old site where, in a passage under a large burial mound, the Sun, as it rises at Winter Solstice shines through an opening in the roof to illuminate the pathway. Entrance to the site is strictly controlled, only a few observers are allowed to actually witness Solstice there nowadays. The tomb is said to be more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, and 1,000 years more ancient than Stonehenge.

The Winter Solstice inspires poets too - here's an example from

Toward the Winter Solstice
by Timothy Steele

Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.

Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.

Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.

And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Caroline Kennedy

A couple of commenters this week wondered about my thoughts on Caroline Kennedy's natal chart. This lady, though no doubt very worthy and capable in her chosen sphere, hasn't so far grabbed my attention. I tend to have an instant block on the Kennedys in general. The curse said to hover over the family is uncomfortably close to reality, as one ill after another has befallen them. Perhaps this is what has fostered my uneasy reticence.

I'll take a look at Caroline's natal chart though.

Born New York, NY on 27 November 1957 at 8.15am.

If I'd been handed this chart without knowing the identity if its owner I'd have said it was likely the chart of a professional writer - perhaps not a fiction writer because Neptune isn't closely connected to Mercury, but Mercury, the writer's planet close to the ascendant, and the 12th house Sun almost yells "author!" Writers spend much time alone, closed off from the rest of the world, which is pure 12th house stuff. I note that Ms Kennedy has done some writing and editing, though not enough to mark her as a professional author.

Sign emphasis is on the autumn/winter group, Sagittarius/Scorpio/Aquarius/Capricorn -these signs bear the symbolism of learned wisdom, experience bearing fruit. We have the passionate one, the philosophical one, the knowledgeable humanitarian one and the wise cautious one, blended into a single personality.

Saturn is close to the ascendant, in 12th house, with the Sun. Saturn relates strongly to the law, as does Jupiter high in her chart, and in Libra, not too far from mid-heaven. She's an attorney, so this is an excellent fit.

Speaking of Jupiter in Libra - this planet is conjunct two Fixed Stars, Spica and Arcturus:

SPICA - [23 degrees of Libra]
Riches and honors, fortune and fame, gives ability in the sciences, art, writing, music, creativity, sociable. Great benefactor to any planet it is conjunct.

ARCTURUS - [23 degrees of Libra]
Renown through self determination, fortune through travel, lasting success, hot tempered. (HERE)

Conjoining Jupiter, planet of luck, the philosophy of law, travel, this fortunate conjunction might even afford protection from that dreaded Kennedy curse!

Ms Kennedy's Moon in Aquarius clearly connects to her interest in humanitarian and civil rights matters. Moon and Aquarius's ruler Uranus are in opposition, which could reflect a tug of war between her humanitarian instincts and a Leo pull towards the spotlight, from which her 12th house planets seem to shy away. She's a natural back-room person - that's clear from her chart. I wonder whether she is being persuaded to come more to the fore in public life by her uncle Ted Kennedy, whose own career is drawing to a close, due to his health issues.

The opposition of Moon and Uranus links via two square (90*) aspects to Mars in Scorpio, forming what astrologers call a T-square. Scorpio is home ground for Mars - it's in 11th house of hopes and wishes, groups and friends, the home house of Aquarius. This is a dynamic but challenging configuration, linking the intensity and drive of Mars to her emotional pull towards humanitarian issues, but being constantly challenged by that problem she has with the limelight.

I notice too that both Aquarius and Leo are intercepted signs within 8th and 2nd houses using Placidus house system. I'm not sure how much this signifies, I'm wary of most things connected to house systems. Intercepted signs are said to be somehow "muffled", their characteristics find difficulty surfacing, encased by two other signs on the cusps of the houses in question. If of any significance at all, this interception of Leo/Aquarius could be said to relate to Caroline's penchant for privacy and remaining in the background, content for others to take center stage.

Transiting Saturn in Virgo is coming up to trine (120*) her natal Venus in Capricorn in 1st house of self. This probably connects to her bid for Hillary Clinton's vacant New York senate seat. Trines are the most helpful aspect there is, so it could signify success for her. On the other hand, if she is really doing this against her own better judgement in order to please her uncle, it might mean she will fail, and grant her true inner wish. I think we can say that if she does succeed in her bid for the senate seat, that she has been proceeding from her own sincere wishes, and not those of her well-meaning relative. If she fails in her bid - then it'll be in her own best interest, in spite of outside influence. Saturn trining natal Venus is helpful, whichever way the cookie crumbles.

Transiting Pluto is coming up to trine her natal Pluto in Virgo too. This will be the same for her whole age group, many of whom will face some helpful transformation of one kind or another in the next year or two. Whether she becomes Senator Kennedy or not, we will probably be hearing more about her from now on, if not in relation to a senate seat, then regarding something more in line with her "back-room" nature.