Saturday, February 28, 2009

San Base: Art in the 21st Century

Where is left for art to go in the 21st century? Hasn't it been just about everywhere it could possibly venture? It has evolved from cave paintings to beautifully crafted portraits and landscapes, to imaginative impressionist scenes, abstract canvases, surreal impressions of reality, fantasy...where else could it possibly go?


San Base, a Russian-born artist who now lives in Canada, has developed a way to combine artistic talent with computer skills to produce pieces of ever moving artwork using a technique known as known as dynamic painting. I take the liberty of copying a simple explanation of this from here:

"Dynamic Painting is a form of digital generative art that is truly the original creation of the artist - a new kind of art -created by human, and developed endlessly by a computer. It is based on an original idea described in a precise mathematical way that governs the shape, color and dimension of the generated image, converting brush strokes into algorithms. The algorithms of a dynamic painting represent the DNA of the picture, mutating to generate a series of distinct images that follow the style and concept of the original painting."

Examples of San Base's mobile works are available on-line, at San Base's site. One example is on the Main Page here, and another in the "Demo" section. YouTube has a selection of samples - one is embedded at the end of this post, though I fear the size of the screen may be too small to display the work properly.

I can imagine his artwork hanging in a VIP lounge at an airport, for example. Visuals are never repeated exactly, each moment is unique - for ever - rather as in a natal chart!
"Sometimes the images are glamorous, sometimes they seem psychedelic. At times, they may even seem to momentarily fall asleep, but only to regenerate their power, and strike once again with a new mesmerizing recombination -- luring the viewer into a parallel, Nirvana-like universe of art... It's like you keep watching for a comet to streak across the sky but, in this case, a possibility of discovering a new wonderful event on your screen is immeasurably higher."

"San Base was born in 1956 in Russia of the former USSR. As a little boy, San displayed remarkable skills in arts and science. At the age of 12, on his own initiative San began studies at an Fine Arts School. All the same time, he indulged in his other passion – mathematics. After completing the high school programme, San had a difficult choice before him. If he continues his studies in Arts, he’d be a subject to military conscription. To avoid the conscription he joined a post-secondary institution with a profile in applied science, specifically Cybernetics ......."
I was curious to see San Base's natal chart. His date of birth is 1 December 1956, born in Russia, but I can find no detail of exactly where. In order to get some idea of planetary placements I set up a chart for Moscow on his birth date.

Skills needed to produce such complicated art works must include a strong placing of Saturn for the mathematical component, Uranus for the inventiveness of it all, and Neptune for creativity and imagination, also, of course, Venus for the very necessary artistic talent.

Guided by a chart for Moscow on 1 December 1956 , which will show planets in signs, though not house positions, ascendant sign or exact Moon position:

Ha! Sun and Saturn are conjunct in Sagittarius - the strong Saturn placing, close to sun (self). Mercury 10 degrees beyond Sun, also in Sagittarius, and Moon in either late Scorpio or early Sagittarius depending on whether birth was before or after 5pm.

Uranus, planet of invention and the avant garde is at 6 Leo, in harmonious trine with the Sun/Saturn conjunction - here is drive enough to invent something new based on mathematical formulae.

Neptune and Venus, creativity, imagination and art are conjunct within 6 degrees in Scorpio, semi-sextile the conjunction of Sun/Saturn, a mildly harmonious but definite link. Here's where the artistic talent meets the mathematical skills.

Mars in late Pisces opposes Jupiter (his Sun's ruler) in late Virgo: this aspect indicates someone who looks for challenges, may on occasion go too far in seeking to be competitive - but it's a dynamic aspect to find in the chart of a person pioneering something new.

So yes, his natal chart does describe San Base's unique blend of talent: the old art of using pencil and paint creatively, in tandem with mathematics and new technology of the digital age.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cause and Effect ~ Part 2

Still chewing on the issue I mentioned a few days ago at "Cause and Effect", regarding a disruption in sleep pattern, perhaps caused by Mars transit of natal Sun, I remembered something in a book, "Blinded by Starlight" by Frank McGillion. It resides in a prominent place on my bookshelves. There's a post about the book from my early blogging days HERE.
From that post, an extract from Garry Phillipson's review:
"The book's central thesis is as follows -

The pineal gland is an important factor in the way we perceive the world and act in it; the pineal produces its effects by secreting melatonin; it has been demonstrated in laboratory conditions that magnetic fields and exposure to light affect the production of melatonin; therefore anything which affects light levels or changes magnetic fields on Earth (which of course includes some celestial phenomena) may be linked to human character and behaviour; if scientists were less blinkered they would pursue research into correlations between celestial and terrestrial influences; the pineal gland is a promising place to start such research, because by examining responses in the pineal to celestial phenomena we could, so to speak, cut out the middleman - avoiding the need to isolate significant behaviour patterns in large groups by going directly to (some of the) causes of that behaviour - light and magnetic fields, and their effects on the pineal..........................."

Using the book's index, searching under "Mars", I came upon a few interesting points.

In alchemy, Mars traditionally links to iron, silver to the Moon. In chemical experiments, when solutions of silver salts are mixed with solutions of iron salts, iron displaces the silver from solution because it is more active chemically. However, when Moon and Mars come into certain degrees of angular contact the reaction appears to slow down.......the author writes:
" what are we to make of this. If these experiments are accurate, and the planets are in some way altering the chemistry of metals in 'sympathetic' manner, it would quite literally transform our view of things.......Many have reported positive results that appear to justify the claim that there's some mechanism whereby planets can seemingly influence the chemical activity of metals in solution, be it subtle planetary rays, an unconventional, or hitherto unknown form of electromagnetism, some sort of symbolic correspondence, or wishful thinking."

So ...... because iron is one of the major factors required for the production of melatonin, and melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, supposing Mars can, in a subtle way, influence the chemical activity of iron, could there be a knock-on effect in the control of the pineal gland function ?

Then.... from Wikipedia's page on the subject of melatonin, it appears that this is a significant ingredient in the regulation of sleep cycles.

Treatment of circadian rhythm disorders
Exogenous melatonin taken in the evening is, together with light therapy upon awakening, the standard treatment for delayed sleep phase syndrome and non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome. It appears to have some use against other circadian rhythm sleep disorders as well, such as jet lag and the problems of people who work rotating or night shifts.
Taken 30 to 90 minutes before bedtime, melatonin is put into the blood earlier than the brain's own production and acts as a mild hypnotic.
A very small dose taken several hours before bedtime in accordance with the phase response curve for melatonin in humans (PRC) doesn't cause sleepiness but, acting as a chronobiotic, does advance the phase slightly and is additive to the effect of using light therapy upon awakening."

I'm not certain exactly where all this has taken me. There are pieces of a puzzle here that are capable of being put together in such a way as to give a reason for my wakefulness when Mars is around natal Sun. I might well be open to ridicule here. Never mind. A bit of ridicule never did anyone any harm!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Playlist, Zodiac, Angels: Fallen and Otherwise.

Desmond Carrington, a BBC DJ, in his show "The Music Goes Round" on 17 February chose for his theme "The Signs of the Zodiac". He commented, at the top of the show, that the zodiac is mentioned in the New Testament's Book of Revelations. I doubted the accuracy of this, did a little research. The best I could find on the topic was that twelve angels mentioned in the Book of Revelations, or elsewhere in the Bible, have been linked to the signs of the zodiac, and, it seems, used in Cabalistic Magic. A quick check via Google brought up :
Aries: Machidiel
Taurus: Asmodel
Gemini: Ambriel
Cancer: Muriel
Leo: Verchiel
Virgo: Hamaliel
Libra: Uriel
Scorpio: Barbiel
Sagittarius: Adnachie
Capricorn: Hanael
Aquarius: Gabriel
Pisces: Barchiel

The brief spurt of research jogged my memory about something in The Book of Enoch. This is one of a group of ancient religious scripts known as The Apocrypha, excluded from most official versions of The Bible. In The Book of Enoch, as translated (and translations and interpretations vary) a story goes:
(from website HERE)
"Originally the angels, or Sons of God, all surveyed the world and its beings from on high, and among them were those called the Grigori or Watchers. "The Watchers" can be translated with several shades of meaning, and depending on the translator means "observers" or "sentinels, sleepless ones"; whether they are vigilant or simply curious, they watch. Some texts say they were tempted by the beauty of human women ("the Sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair..."), while others grant them a compassionate Promethean urge to guide and teach or a touching desire for family and companionship; there were, we're told, no female Watchers. Whatever their motive, two hundred of the Watchers, led by the great angel Semjaza-Azazel, defied divine direction, descended to Earth and took a personal hand in humankind's education. Crafts and sciences, arts and letters, and the many skills of magic - all of which are described as "secrets...made in heaven", intended only for the Celestials to know - were shared with our distant ancestors. "And Azazel taught men to make swords and daggers and shields and breastplates...bracelets, and ornaments, and the metals of the earth, and the art of making up the eyes and beautifying the eyelids (...angels invent eye shadow...) ...Amezarak taught all those who cast spells and cut roots; Armaros the release of charms, spells, and magical skills; Baraqiel, astrology...Asradel, the path of the moon...Penemue: this one showed the sons of men the bitter and the sweet; he taught men the art of writing with ink and paper, and through this many have gone astray." Even reproductive choice was granted: "Kasdeyae: this one showed the sons of men the blows which attack the embryo in the womb so that it miscarries."

The lore they taught, however, takes a secondary role to the result of their sexual unions with womankind. (And considering the unrecorded difficulty of carrying a half-human fetus to term, Kasdeyae's may have been the wisest and kindest gift of all.) This was of course the birth of the Nephilim, sometimes called Naphalim or Naphidim, the "giants in the earth" of Genesis: "a monstrous race of giants with spiritual powers and earthly appetites". Some were indeed heroes, like the Biblical "mighty hunter before the Lord," Nimrod. Others were less noble. From I Enoch: "And they [the Watchers] took wives to themselves...and they taught them charms and spells...and [their wives] became pregnant and bore large giants... These devoured all the toil of men, until men were unable to sustain them. And the giants turned against them in order to devour men, and they began to sin against birds and against animals...and they devoured one another's flesh and drank the blood from it. Then the earth complained against the lawless ones."

The Aramaic Greek translation complicates matters further: "And they bore to them three kinds: first large giants, and to the giants were born the Naphalim, and the Naphalim begot the Elioud. And they grew according to their greatness, and they taught themselves and their wives charms and spells." Jubilees agrees, adding that "They were all unalike.." Thus we can imagine three successive generations of angel-progeny co-existing on the earth, all skilled in magickal arts and all apparently peaceable - at least for a time. This correlates with traditions quoted by Davidson and Huson that the Nephilim - not the Watchers - can be credited with works as diverse as the forging, in Beowulf, of King Hrothgar's magical sword, and the building of the Tower of Babel; if the Nephilim existed long enough to master some creative arts, perhaps they also had time to reproduce. Sadly, it was not to last: Jubilees goes on to say, "and they devoured each other; the giant killed the Naphil, the Naphil killed the Eljo [Elioud], and the Eljo humankind, and one man another man..."

The loyal archangels Michael, Gabriel, Sariel and Uriel, who had not followed Azazel and were still faithfully observing Earthly affairs, saw all this and protested to God. It's highly interesting to note the tone of their complaint. "See then what Azazel has done," they say ( I Enoch IX), "how he has taught all iniquity on the earth, and revealed the eternal secrets which were made in heaven...and has made known spells, and has brought knowledge to men...and the sons of men practice his practices in order to know the secrets..." This is not simple righteous wrath toward violence and sorcery; these things were private property, and the archangels are jealously angry at their revelation to mankind. I Enoch (LXV:6-7, quoting the even more ancient Book of Noah) is explicit: "...they [humans] have learnt all the secrets of the angels...and all their secret power, and all the power of those who practice magic arts, and the power of enchantments and...of those who cast molten images for all the earth..." (Could this be one reason for the suppression of the Apocrypha? The chance that no condemnation of divination, astrology, spells, etc., as Devil-inspired would stand if these chapters, plainly claiming them as heavenly lore, remained in the Old Testament? The whole history of the Middle Ages might have been different... maybe. More likely, of course, it would have been asserted that the gift of heaven's wisdom was corrupted and diabolized by the givers' rebellion. Interesting notion at least.)"

Sounds like a present-day fantasy author's work doesn't it? Yet it originates from, at least, several centuries before the time of Christ. Whether the author was the Enoch who was great grandfather of Noah remains in doubt.

I find the story a source of fascination, a tale which could be interpreted in more than one way. It could hold grains of truth within its detail. Even in today's cynical world, some like myself, who look upon most Bible stories as nebulous fables, or at best, mangled history, still stop and wonder about this one.

The BBC DJ's programme of songs, representing the signs of the zodiac, led me far off course from my original intention for this post!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tracey Ullman & "State of the Union"

Last night's State of the Union-ish speech by President Obama was inspiring, I thought. Have we got a President or have we got a President!! At last!..... What follows is quite unrelated to last night's speech, apart from the title. We missed Tracey Ullman's series, "State of the Union" on Showtime channel last year, but coincidentally had rented a DVD of the series last weekend. It turned out to be one of our best ever choices.

Tracey Ullman is nothing short of genius when it comes to impersonation, her makeup artist is top notch too. In this series of shows she impersonates a collection of well-known American personalities, along with some fictional stereotypical American characters. Each segment forms "A Day of Life in America" for people such as Arianna Huffington, Renee Zellweger, Laurie David, Campbell Brown, a woman from Nebraska, a loopy prison visitor, sports coach from Oklahoma, and many more. There's a review of the series at USA Today, HERE.

I found her humor particularly appealing because, as a fellow Brit, I see the funny side of the same things as she seems to do. She's clever but never cruel, honest without being crude. Her versatility is impressive.

I have written a little about Tracey in ther past, when I compared her chart with that of the late Gilda Radner (see here). Using Tracey's time of birth as stated at Astrotheme, I've re-set her natal chart to take another look.

Without having seen her chart I'd have expected Gemini to feature strongly, but there are no planets in that sign. What we have is a cluster split between Sagittarius and Capricorn; it includes all personal planets except Venus, which is in Scorpio. If this birth time is accurate, then Neptune is slap bang on a Scorpio ascendant. Methinks this is a little convenient, and makes me wonder whether this time of birth is a rectification. Maybe not though, Neptune right on the ascendant angle, the strongest position in the chart, does account for her vivid imagination and creative talent. Whatever her birth time though, Sun and Saturn sextile Neptune in Scorpio, which though not as intense as Neptune on the ascendant, would still provide a harmonious link between her more serious, business-like self and Neptune's imagination and creativity.

In a report of an interview conducted back in 1989 (HERE) Tracey is described as:
"a serious workaholic, a relentless craftsman out to create the best television the world has ever seen."

Sun, Moon and Saturn in Capricorn reflect what was said: Capricorn is a workhorse, ruled by Saturn and that planet joins the Sun and Moon in its home sign. I'm not a bit surprised to see her described as "workaholic".
QUOTE: Work is important to me. I want to do things for principle, not just for the sake of doing them.
(Tracey Ullman)

The other set of planets in neighbouring Sagittarius bring in the lightness Capricorn can lack. Mars and Jupiter are exactly conjoined with Mercury just 4 degrees away, all in Sagittarius - a mutable, happy-go-lucky sort of sign, ruled by Jupiter (so here's another planet in its home sign).

If birth time is correct, Uranus would lie at mid-heaven, the area of the chart relating to career and public standing. Uranus is inventive and a bit off-the-wall, which well describes her on-stage presence.

Again, if time of birth is correct, five of the six clustered planets are squeezed into 2nd house of earnings, possessions and property. Tracey's fortune was assessed at $75 million, some years ago. Emphasis on 2nd house seems appropriate. Her natal blend of Sagittarius and Capricorn reflects so well the talented creative yet business savvy lady Tracey so clearly is.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cause and Effect

I realise that most astrologers nowadays reject the idea that the planets exert direct "energy" upon humans on Earth. Cause-and-effect astrology is terribly unfashionable. In books written around a century ago though, it was common to see descriptions of "planetary rays" affecting life on Earth. I suppose that vitriolic criticism from the skeptical brigade put paid to all that. Modern astrologers use other ways, less open to ridicule, to try to explain why astrology works. Resonance with, or reflection of planetary movement and cycles, sychronicity, or plain "don't know" are now the responses astrologers seem to favour.

I don't mind being ridiculed, so will declare that I have suspicions that the movement of certain celestial bodies might have some direct physical effect on humans - well, on this human anyway.

When Mars is traversing in Aquarius within around 5 or 6 degrees of my natal Sun, it seems to affect my sleeping pattern. I'll go to bed tired, fall asleep quickly but wake again after about 90 minutes or 2 hours, only to toss and turn, wide awake for most of the early hours. It has happened during the current transit, and has seemed very noticeable. I'm just starting to come out of a week to ten days of the effect. It's one for which I can find no other explanation.

Hand on heart - I hadn't been waiting for this pattern to recur. I'd forgotten all about it. It hadn't crossed my mind until several nights' lack of sleep started irritating me. Was I being disturbed by noise? Then, after a while, the penny dropped. I checked the current position of Mars - it was close to my natal Sun in early Aquarius. This same "syndrome" has happened before. In 2003 when I was still in the UK, I recall contributing to a conversation about it on a message board. There has been just one earlier incidence of the problem since I've been in the USA, and though I can't be absolutely certain, I suspect it was in 2005, when Mars was in Aquarius again. Mars takes approximately 2 years to complete its orbit around the Sun and return to the same place in the zodiac where it lay in a natal chart.

What happens in my case is not just a random bad night or two, the effect continues with peculiar regularity for at least a week, in the same pattern for several days, then gradually wearing off until, as in the the last couple of nights, I wake briefly around 3 am and go back to sleep. Very odd!

I've also noticed that when the Moon is full.....yes.... I can already hear Himself chuckling, I get over-emotional. He has noticed, so it's not just me! My natal ascendant is in Cancer, ruled by the Moon, which might be significant. I don't actually keep tabs on where the Moon is day by day, so this effect is not not one of those self-fulfilling prophecies. It has happened lots of times, not at every single Full Moon, but enough times for me to have noted it.

So, if these two instances mean anything, it's that there might be some physical effect somehow exerted upon us, or some of us, by the movement/position of some celestial bodies, some of the time. I did say "might" and "some"!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Comets, Prophecies, Mother Shipton, William Lilly.

I understand that round about now Comet Lulin (or is it Lu Lin?) is travelling at its nearest point to Earth, close to Saturn in Virgo, and close to the ecliptic. Nobody has any clear idea what astrological significance comets have; as each one passes we watch and wait, and hope a pattern emerges.

Traditionally comets have had a somewhat doomy reputation, often connected to the death of kings or leaders. I wonder whether this came about coincidentally, because it just so happened that a king once died while a comet was observable in the skies. Perhaps on more than one occasion someone prominent in public life shuffled off this mortal coil along with a comet's passing. Well, there are and were lots of kings and leaders in the world at any one time, many in their senior years. It doesn't take much imagination to see how that idea might have been born.

A medieval painting (1456 AD) shows a comet and ill-effects quite clearly: weather disruption, death, sickness. Again, whether connected to the comet or some other (astrological or different) reason isn't known.

Medieval Painting Dated 1456 AD, Near A Pass Of Halley's Comet.

Prophets and mediums throughout the years have come up with visions and predictions of doom and gloom; on occasion they, or their listeners have sometimes linked these to asteroids or comets striking the Earth, setting off all manner of disaster. It's not out of the question that this did happen in the very distant past, and could one day happen again. I don't, though, think that any prophet's proposed dates for the events are to be relied upon.

For the strong of constitution there's a website on the subject of predictions of disaster-by-comet HERE. I was particularly interested in the chapter on Mother Shipton (1488 - 1561) and her prophecies which some would try to say can be linked to disasters still to happen. She was a prophetess (some called her a witch) who lived in Yorkshire - my home county in England.

Mother Shipton's real name was Agatha Southeil, Shipton after marriage. There's a memorial place - Mother Shipton's Cave and Dripping Well or Petrifying Well, in a town called Knaresborough, on the banks of River Nidd.

People, over time have left small objects (children's shoes, hat, gloves, etc.) hanging under dripping water near the cave, and due to a heavy dose of minerals in the water, the objects have turned to stone. I visited the cave several times, long ago with my parents.
I recall that my grandmother, also a Yorkshire woman, had an old postcard with some of the Shipton prophecies printed on it. She kept it carefully preserved in her dressing table drawer. A few lines from the card I still remember

"Around the world thoughts shall fly,
in the twinkling of an eye....
Iron in the water shall float
As easy as a wooden boat;
Gold shall be found, and found,
In a land that's not now known"....
there was more.

Some sources on the net propose that the whole thing, including Mother Shipton's existence, is a hoax. That, I believe is untrue. I do think though that additions have been made to her original prophecies in more modern times - there lies the hoax.

At a website presenting information from a detailed investigation of the Shipton story, carried out in 1881, here a name familiar to astrologers crops up: William Lilly. He "makes no question that Mother Shipton existed, and says that in his time the authenticity of her prophecies was undisputed. He had means, which we in modern times have not, of drawing a conclusion, and altogether it is tolerably certain that Mother Shipton had an actual existence."

The conclusion, from study of unimpeachable sources, available in in the British Museum, was that Mother Shipton's prophecies were fulfilled before the middle of the 17th Century. That tends to cancel out any present-day doom-mongers' attempts to place events Mother Shipton had prophesied into the 21st century or later, and relate them to comet or asteroid strikes still to come. She did say that the world would end in 1881, so her prophecies, in common with those of all prophets through the years, were not infallible.

There's an interesting article on Mother Shipton's life at a section of the Knaresborough tourist website. It's an easy, but long, read, with serious historical detail included about her parents and background. (Left: Mother Shipton's Cave in Knaresborough, Yorkshire.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009


The Oscars, with customary razzamatazz, are to be awarded tonight. I'm rolling with the flow, and as much razzamatazz as I can muster. Below are my personal blogland awards, based on ....what else? The Planets! Hugh Jackman offered to come and present these, but then, sadly for me, found he had a prior engagement.

I'll avoid allocating Sun and Moon Awards - too contentious by far. I will say that ELSA deserves a strong nomination for both, for her stirling and on-going efforts on Astro Dispatch, throwing light on all our work.
See widget in sidebar.

My Mercury Award for enabling communication and learning at no cost to us goes to Blogger and Google both of whom we often take for granted. Without their continuing efforts we'd be much the poorer.

My Venus Award for beautiful writing style:

The Other Side of Sixty (Wisewebwoman) Link
Crow's Feet (Michelle) Link

My Mars Award for fighting spirit and unflinching opposition to the wrongs of this world:

Sparrow Chat (R.J. Adams) Link

My Jupiter Award for volume, quality, and quantity of excellent, thought-provoking content:

Beyond the Blog (Anthony North) Link

My Saturn Award for limiting the risk of virus and spyware contamination to our computers goes to all Anti-virus and Anti-spyware software developers.
Without the safeguards they provide, we'd be a mess!

My Uranus Award for reaching out beyond the obvious, putting a new twist on ancient materials goes to:

All those who blog, write, practice or teach astrology in whatever capacity.

From the communal work of these people, I'm confident that Carl Sagan's "something incredible waiting to be discovered" will, one day, emerge. Links to many of these astrologers and bloggers appear in my sidebar; many more are available via the Astro Dispatch widget.

My Neptune Award for imaginative, creative content often linked to photography:
Lost Gallery Link
Thinks Happen Link
(Both are by Anyjazz, who is aka The Husband/Himself )

My Pluto Award for penetrating insight, occasional dips into darkness, a tinge of the mystical:

Robert Phoenix- Astrology For The Now Age Link

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Simon & Garfunkel - So Similar

Art Garfunkel has stated that he and Paul Simon are planning to tour together again, though he didn't reveal in which countries, other than they will not be visiting England this time. (BBC NEWS).

The songs these artists have written and performed together are truly timeless classics. Great poetry, great melodies, simply and beautifully performed. I don't think they have ever been bettered, even by The Beatles. (And I shall not wash my mouth out!)

I'd never looked at their natal charts before, so -

Art Garfunkel born 5 November 1941 at 11pm, forest Hills, NewYork.
Paul Simon born 13 October 1941, Newark Heights, New Jersey.

There are subtle differences in how the planets relate to each other, because of degree variance, but on the whole the two charts are amazingly similar.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Here's a list of the planetary placements for easy reference:

Sun: Art 13 Scorpio Paul 19 Libra
Moon: Art 6 Gemini Paul 17 Cancer
Mercury: Art 26 Libra Paul 11 Scorpio
Venus: Art 29 Sagittarius Paul 2 Sagittarius
Mars: Art 11 Aries Paul 15 Aries
Jupiter: Art20 Gemini Paul21 Gemini
Saturn: Art 26 Taurus Paul 27 Taurus
Uranus: Art 28 Taurus Paul 27 Taurus
Neptune: Art 29 Virgo Paul 28 Virgo
Pluto: Art 5 Leo Paul 5 Leo
ASCENDANT: Art 13 Leo Paul 6 Virgo
MIDHEAVEN: Art 3 Taurus Paul 2 Gemini
(Paul's Uranus/Saturn is closer to Midheaven than Art's, (putting him rather more in front of the public ?)

Their elemental balances are quite similar: Paul has a little more Water, Art a little more Air, but it's a minimal difference.

Although their Suns are in neighbouring signs, note that Mercury in each case is in the other's Sun sign - which kind of balances the differences between Libra and Scorpio. Moons are one of two key differences - Simon's Moon in Cancer reflects a more sensitive nature than Garfunkel's Moon in mentally oriented Gemini - but even here there's a link because Simon's Cancer Moon trines Garfunkel's Sun in Scorpio (both are Water signs).

Their ascendants present the greatest potential for discord: a discerning Virgo rising in Paul Simon's chart and show-bizzy Leo in Garfunkel's. Judging from respective successes since their original breakup, I'd have guessed it would be the other way around, for Paul Simon has been seen on stage far more than Art Garfunkel, whose name has almost sunk into obscurity for the younger generations.

It's not surprising their charts are similar, they were born just 23 days apart, both in eastern states of the USA. Even so, there are more similarities than I'd have expected.

Numerous reports of disagreements between the pair have peppered entertainment columns over the years. It's possibly a case of their being just too similar for comfort. Perhaps the few differences there are between them take on extra importance due to rarity.

Conflicts were enough to cause discord in private life sufficient to merit break-up of the professional partnership.It was a great pity. Perhaps there's a lesson here: too many chart similarities between two people, in any type of relationship, is not necessarily a good thing. Complementary traits, and even opposing traits, could be more easily managed than a situation where each partner has an almost mirror image always beside them.

From the few videos left after the copyright purge on YouTube, here's an old clip from the duo's early days: a live performance of "The Sound of Silence". Simply presented, and all the more beautiful for it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Am I, or are the others crazy?"

After a few nights of TV viewing recently, a quote from the great Einstein springs to mind:
"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy? "

First, a little good news:

On Jay Leno's late night show on Wednesday he interviewed Charlie Sheen. In passing Charlie said, "I'm a Virgo and like to keep things straight, know where everything is". I expected a sarcastic retort about astrology from Leno, but was pleasantly surprised when he responded, "I don't know anything about astrology, but I'm Taurus and I've been connected to five women all born on 5 September. I can tell if a woman's birthday is 5 September, just by looking at her."
Interesting . Maybe it's something to do with both Leno and the women being "well-earthed"!

Then the bad news:

I watched Alexandra Pelosi's documentary "Right America: Feeling Wronged" featuring Republicans in the USA, their views and beliefs. Alexandra is Nancy Pelosi's daugher. She has Sun in Libra. This is a nice example of Libra seeking balance. Alexandra, with her documentary, tried to right a perceived wrong, in that Republicans felt they were short-changed during the election season. They considered that Democrats were favoured by most TV channels and newspapers - "the media is too far left" was their cry. As my cry is "they're not far enough left", it's no surprise that I found comments by some of America's "ordinary" Republicans quite incredible, and pretty scary. There's an article about the documentary at Salon, here. We live in a town "on the buckle of the Bible Belt", in a state where not one single precinct polled a majority of votes for Barack Obama in the 2008 General Election. I ought not to have been surprised by some of what was said during interviews, but I was shocked!

Next evening we watched a DVD of Bill Maher's movie "Religulous". Seeing the DVD so soon after Alexandra Pelosi's movie, I truly felt as though I'd last year become a citizen of Bizarro Land.

Bill Maher seems to me to be eminently sane though. He has Sun in early Aquarius, a zodiac sign with the (I think) mistaken reputation of being eccentric. Being an early Aquarius Sun myself, I draw comfort from Bill's sanity, at least on the topics of religion and politics. I fell out with him briefly last year due to his sneers about Hillary Clinton. In "Religulous" though he speaks strongly, on several occasions, about the rights of women. So he's forgiven. My post about Bill's chart and "Religulous" from last September is HERE.
A review of "Religulous" from the LA Times is a fair assessment. Bill does go primarily for laughs, and interviews those people most likely to bring them forth. Underneath it all though, there's a very serious issue. As the reviewer says:
"The most interesting thing about “Religulous” is the sobering reservations Maher expresses about organized faith. When he talks about humanity figuring out nuclear weapons before we figured out how to be rational and peaceful, when he mentions religion’s power to direct men to destructive courses, even when he groans and says, “It’s so shamelessly invented,” he raises issues that could stand some genuine thought."

Speaking of sneers about Hillary Clinton - Chris Matthews was one of the worst offenders last year during the primaries. This week I happened to surf past MSNBC's "Hardball" and heard Chris declare how much he admires her, and that he has awarded Hillary Clinton a Hardball Award for "putting service to the country before self, being fearless...." etc. I don't remember the exact words. With three planets in mutable Sagittarius, I guess he's allowed to change his mind. Last year's post on Chris Matthews' natal chart is HERE.

It's a funny old world, here in the USA - funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pisces In The Astro-Salad

We now prepare to perform a pleasant polka through Pisces, heading jauntily for a welcome Spring in the northern hemisphere and, after the disasters in Australia recently, an equally welcome Autumn in the southern half of our planet. I'm searching for facets of this, the 12th and last sign of the zodiacal cycle, upon which to concentrate for my post on Pisces.

The more posts I write, and the more natal charts I inspect, the less I feel able to put a clear label on any single zodiac sign. There are clearly defined labels, of course - available in any astrology text book. These are labels, keywords handed down through the centuries, modified to take account of lifestyle changes and new developments. Still though, I realise more and more that the characteristics of any given sign are always modified by planet(s) inhabiting the sign, as well as by chart emphasis on other signs by planet or position. Other than the reasonably small proportion of people who have all personal planets and ascendant in one zodiac sign, the text book description for any sign is going to seem to be anywhere from a touch off course to miles adrift in a sea of confusion.

A touch more confusion arises too, because Pisces, like Aquarius has two potential rulers: the traditional ruler is Jupiter, but modern astrologers hold that Neptune rules Pisces. I haven't known many people with Sun and several planets in Pisces, so can't judge whether Jupiter or Neptune fits better. I do think though that definite Neptunian traits can be reflected in any sign or in tandem with any other planet if strongly placed, as can traits of Uranus, modern ruler of Aquarius. I hope that I'd hesitate to apply Neptunian traits (e.g. love of the sea, potentially addictive personality, highly creative, dreamy, foggy, links to film/photography etc.) automatically to any one born with a strong showing of Pisces on their chart. That's just a personal view, arrived at through association with many Aquarians who do not display Uranian traits.

Due to its element, Water, and its place in the zodiac - the 12th sign, Pisces is thought to represent gentleness, sensitivity, an emotional nature, empathy, possible psychic ability, prone to shyness etc. These are fine descriptions for the essence of the sign, but once it's thrown into the natal mix it becomes part and parcel of something else -the natal chart: more than "the sum of its parts". The chart's configuration modifies each of those parts in subtle or not so subtle ways as they are tossed together.

Let's use the metaphor of a natal chart as .....a salad. Lettuce (or any leafy vegetable), the base of many salads, remains lettuce or leafy vegetable whatever else is tossed into the bowl - but its flavor blends differently when taken as a mouthful of lettuce and walnut, or lettuce and olive , or lettuce and strawberry, with a delicate vinaigrette ...or.....well, you get the idea. Lettuce is still lettuce, but it takes on a different characteristic depending on accompaniments. Unless you ate a bowl of lettuce, unadorned by dressing, you'd never experience the true flavor and texture of lettuce.

Likewise, unless a natal chart is composed purely of personal planets and ascendant in a single sign, you'll never see unadulterated Pisces (or any other sign) in a personality. So what's the value in writing still more words about that essence, which hardly ever exists in pure form in real life?

I'd like to write about a purely Pisces person, but I don't know one. I know one with Sun at 1 Aries, Mercury at 29 Pisces, and Saturn at 26 Pisces: Himself - the husband! He's very "cuspy" - but proper astrologers don't often give "cuspiness" much credence. I can "feel" his Pisces parts (he doesn't allow just anyone to do this!) They are, however, always being frog-marched into hiding by Aries, not to mention being accasionally outshone by Moon and ascendant in Leo.

So here we have Pisces manifesting as someone with artistic talent, love of photography; with a rather quieter nature than is often found in Aries Sun with Leo Moon and rising - yet with a background in management; impulsive and sponatneous, but can't remember what day it is or what he had for breakfast, or even if he did in fact have breakfast. It's all rolled up into one....Aries modifies Pisces, Pisces modifies Aries, and Leo modifies both and is, at the same time, itself modified. As it happens, in the husband's chart Neptune trines Jupiter - so the two rulers of Pisces are in harmony with each other, and Neptune semi-sextiles Moon, so Neptune's link to photography is relevant here.

What I'm trying to say in convoluted fashion is that although every sign has it's intrinsic meaning, it's unwise to assume that the sign's text book meaning will always show up clearly, in pure form, in the flesh and blood human being.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Henry Selick - Animator Extraordinaire

Pondering again on yesterday's post, Neil Gaiman and "Coraline", I decided that I hadn't given sufficient mention to the movie's stop motion animation director, Henry Selick (on right of photograph).
His earlier work on previous animated movies, including "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach" is discussed at Wikipedia HERE, also in an article at Digital Media FX: "Layers: A Look at Henry Selick"

Henry Selick was born on 30 November 1952 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. I've included a 12 noon chart for that date in the absence of time of birth. His natal chart describes quite clearly what Wikipedia has to say about his "Style and Creative Temperament".
A quote from Wikipedia follows, with my notes in red as to how the comments relate so well to Selick's natal chart.

"Joe Ranft, a friend and collaborator of Selick's, once stated in an interview that Selick had a "rock 'n' roll-meets-Da Vinci temperament" -Venus opposite Uranus or vice-versa! In Ranft's words "He'll still go off to his office to play guitar or electric piano to ease off and think", but at the same time Selick operates scientifically. "He gets an outrageous premise-something that comes from a real dream place - Neptune- then approaches the aesthetics of it like a mechanical engineer Saturn. (= Neptune conjunct Saturn). What can we build on this foundation, how do we buttress it? If we have a mechanical shark, how does it kill? Will it shoot things from its snout?" Ranft thinks Selick has an uncanny gift: "He can articulate things through animation that people couldn't say otherwise." Sun conjunct Mercury sextile Mars in Aquarius.

Selick's natal Moon would have been in Taurus before 3pm, Gemini if he was born after that. I'd go for early Gemini, in trine with Mars in Aquarius. A Gemini /Aquarius trine would reflect the high level of mental acuity needed for the skills he so obviously possesses.

The magic in this chart lies in the way the key planets and signs are so closely linked harmoniously or dynamically: Neptune (imagination, creativity); Uranus (innovation); Sun/Mercury (self & communication); Venus (art); Saturn (the mechanics of it all); Aquarius and possibly Gemini (mental acuity); Cancer (the sensitivity to understand how put it all together in an appealing way); Capricorn (the common sense and business sense to be successful in what he does); Sagittarius - the expansive and risk-taking element needed in many of his ideas which have ventured further into the realms of animation than most others in the field.

The process of stop-motion animation is as follows:
Position a model by hand, take a picture and reposition it — repeating, ad infinitum, in tiny increments, to create the illusion of motion. Selick says the process combines all of his favorite things —sculpture, drawing, photography, music and physics. With the help of 30 animators, Selick produced about two minutes of finished footage a week over the course of almost two years. One technique, called "replacement animation," called for thousands of heads, each with different expressions, and the services of both a "face librarian" and an "assistant face librarian" to help keep track. (Information from NPR).

A couple of coincidences in the charts of Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick are worthy of note: Gaiman's Mars and Selick's Uranus are at the same degree of Cancer (17). Gaiman's Saturn and Selick's Venus are just 3 degrees apart at 14 and 17 Capricorn respectively. Perhaps these similarities help towards the good working relationship they seem to share

It's not really relevant but I may as well throw it in: I noticed that Selick's Mars in Aquarius is spot on my Sun, to the minute, so was also hit by the January solar eclipse this year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Neil Gaiman and "Coraline"

We took ourselves off to the cinema on Sunday evening to see the wonders of 3D, brought up to date in "Coraline". My last, and only, previous experience of 3D at the cinema was way back in the genre's eariest days in the 1950s: "House of Wax" with Vincent Price. With a pair of cardboard spectacles on my nose, one lens red t'other green, I felt I was going cross-eyed and didn't enjoy the experience one little bit.

We felt that technology having sped ahead as it has in the last 50-odd years, things 3D-wise must have improved in leaps and bounds. We decided to find out.

Things have improved, for sure!

Plastic spectacles now replace the cardboard and red/green lens of the old days, they are to be left for re-cycling after the show. 3D effects in "Coraline" were truly special. The most dramatic effects were used sparingly - items seem fly right off the screen and settle somewhere just beyond the seat in front of you. For most of the time, the 3D effect was kept subtle, simply adding depth to the scenes, not detracting attention from the storyline.

"Coraline" is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's graphic book of the same name. The movie has received very positive reviews, so far.
I admire Neil Gaiman, his work, and his style. My post from August 2007, "Stardust" and Neil Gaiman investigates his natal chart. He has Sun/Mercury/Neptune all within a 9 degree spread of Scorpio. That's a condensed version of who he is : Scorpio reflects the darkish flavour of his storytelling, even when it's in the form of a tale for children. Mercury, the writer's planet is close to his Sun (self). Neptune, planet of creativity, dreams, imagination lay close to Sun and Mercury. That Scorpio trio provides a thumbnail sketch of this talented writer. (More at the earlier post, linked above.)

I notice that transiting Pluto is currently conjunct Neil's natal Jupiter at 2 Capricorn. Robert Hand in his book "Planets in Transit" says that this conjunction can denote great success in any endeavour or it can mean that people in power will strongly oppose efforts.....depending on what the native is trying to accomplish and how. It would seem that the first option fits best, in view of "Coraline's box office success. Most commonly the transit works out well with a rebirth of optimism and hope, especially if working on something beyond personal glory, which will benefit society at large. The transit can also mean a re-birth of faith and spirit in the life of the native.
(Chart shown is set for 12 noon in the absence of time of birth).

I was amazed by the technology and amount of work involved in the production of this stop motion animated movie. Animation director, Henry Selick did a wonderful job. I enjoyed the premise of the fairytale plot with an embedded message. Yet, I still feel unable to say the movie was as excellent as it could have been. Parts of it dragged a little. The husband agreed on this. For my taste, the film would have been very much better at around an hour or an hour and 10 minutes, cutting around half an hour from current length. I understand that Neil Gaiman's book is short enough to read at one sitting, which indicates to me that trying for 1 hour 40 mins of run- time might have been a bit of a stretch. A shorter movie with an accompanying mini-cartoon might have filled the bill better, at least for our tastes.

Children will love the movie, though I think parts of it might be a tad scary for the very young ones, especially those of sensitive nature.

One other tiny complaint - there was no credit roll of the cast members at the end of the movie. We had to go home to the computer to find out which voice belonged to which of the stars listed at the beginning of the film. I'm still not certain which of the two eccentric ladies was Miss Spink and which was Miss Forcible (voices by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders). Perhaps a second viewing of the movie, in DVD form, is needed to straighten out remaining doubts and queries.

Neil's blog/journal is HERE. He mentioned the other day that he's also on Twitter. How does he do it all?

I think the best of Neil Gaiman in film form is still to come. He's brilliant, prolific and young enough to have many more movies in him.