Tuesday, January 25, 2011

AQUARIUS NOTES ~ (My Astro Twin ~ Keith Olbermann's departure ~ What's in a name?)

A glance through the Aquarius links via Label Cloud in the sidebar refreshed my memory on previous posts concerning the sign itself, as well as people with Sun in Aquarius to whom I'm related or acquainted; and about some characters in public life born on the same day as I was, but in different years.

As far back as 2006, I wrote about an almost exact astrological twin of mine, born same day, year, with same ascendant sign and Moon/planets placements. We were born on opposite sides of the Atlantic though. I discovered him at astro.com's VIP Astro-Twins section.

I discovered when drafting this post that the gentleman in question, Brugh Joy, sadly died in December of 2009.

Ordinarily news of the death of an astrological twin might have un-nerved me somewhat. However, I'd been told, years ago, by Brugh Joy's assistant that Dr. Joy had a biological twin brother. So I was less worried. (Brugh Joy is on the left of his fraternal twin brother in this, more recent, photo, borrowed from a blog HERE.)

A Google search indicated that the brother, Bob, seems to have led quite a different lifestyle from that of his twin. He has been a teacher and adminstrator; whereas his twin was originally a doctor then, in 1974, a life-threatening disease led to a spiritual transformation and the writing of his best-selling book Joy's Way. He continued his explorations into healing, meditation, dreams and their interpretation, and the influence of the unconscious. His last book Avalanche: Heretical Reflections on the Dark and Light tells how his "once-revered values finally crumbled under an avalanche of new insight into the dark and disowned portions of the human psyche."

"For more than twenty years, Brugh Joy has been a teacher of Heart Centered Transformation and Spiritual Enlightenment. His courses deal with body energy fields, healing techniques using energy transferred through the hands, and Self-discovery. His teaching includes shadow work (seeking insight into an individual's unconscious side), understanding dreams and projections, and exploring high-intensity sound, rituals, collective energy dynamics, and intuitional states of consciousness."
Archived post is HERE.

Something immediately came to mind as I belatedly read of Brugh Joy's 2009 death. Back in January 2009 there was a solar eclipse which hit our Sun's Aquarius degree exactly. I am skeptical about the influence of eclipses on the lives of people. I could be wrong though. Anyway, Brugh Joy's twin brother and I seem to have weathered that eclipse-related storm, but Brugh Joy, perhaps (?) with a link back to his 1974 health problem, didn't. RIP.

Keith Olbermann (with whom I share a birthday this week- 27th January) has been in the news in the last few days. His contract with MSNBC and his nightly political comment show Countdown is no more.

I didn't watch Countdown regularly, hardly at all in recent months. It is an MSNBC offering and MSNBC is part of the GE (General Electric) empire. Keith, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and others were/are there to pull in viewers who support the Democrats, so that commercials carried can reach their eyes. MSNBC commentators are necessarily hobbled by their corporate bosses. They can only get away with so much "lefty talk". Keith may have been the bravest of the bunch, over-stepping their lines on more than one occasion. For my taste he spent far too much time criticising "the other side" and conservative commentators. There is no "other side" in the USA. There is one side only - the corporate side. A brave commentator ought to say THIS on some TV channel - but they can't because the whole of the media is owned by corporations whose aim is to present the illusion of a two-party situation. Until more Americans realise what is going on nothing will change, no matter who is in the White House, for the incumbent is as hobbled as MSNBC presenters are.

The astrological slant on Keith's departure has been covered by several astrologers already. What struck me first from his natal chart was that transiting Pluto had passed over his natal Saturn, at 2 Capricorn, last September and is still within range - now being 3 degrees further along. Whenever Pluto "hits" a personal planet one can expect some kind of transformation to follow.

Aquarius is popularly illustrated as "a water bearer", interpreted by astrologers as bearer of knowledge rather than water, Aquarius being one of three Air signs, and Air connects to mental process. So there's something of a water/air disconnect, and the same applies to the commonly used Aquarius symbol: two wavy lines depicting water (some astrologers depict the lines as more zig-zaggy to better represent electricity, as a connection to the sign's modern ruler Uranus).

Delving into the origin of the name Aquarius can be pretty confusing, due to the diverse, yet related, threads of the DNA of astrology itself.

In terms of constellation, not zodiac sign, Aquarius is thought to be one of the oldest. It is located in the region known as The Sea because of surrounding constellations associated, by name, to water: Eridanus The River, Pisces The Fishes and Cetus The Whale.

Babylonian star catalogs name the Aquarius constellation after "The Great One", said to embody the god Ea (aka Enki) - one of the three primal gods of Sumer. Ea = god of water; Enlil= god of earth; and Anu = god of heaven.

Originally a local deity in the city of Eridu, he evolved into the lord of the fresh waters beneath the earth, the god of ritual purification, and a patron of sorcery and incantations. Ea/Enki is the basis for the half-fish, half-goat form from which the astrological figure of Capricorn is derived. In sidereal astrology, based on the constellations, most of tropical Aquarius IS in sidereal Capricorn.

The Air/Water disconnect remains when considering the alleged origin of the name Aquarius from Greek myth. According to that tradition the constellation Aquarius was named for either:

1) Ganymede, a beautiful prince from Troy, son of king Tros. Ganymede was considered to be the most beautiful of mortals. He was carried off by the gods (in one story by Zeus himself, or by Zeus in the form of an eagle) to Olympus as Zeus's lover, and to serve as cup-bearer to the gods, a position previously held by Hera’s daughter Hebe, goddess of eternal youth. Zeus replaced Hebe with Ganymede after she spilled a flask of nectar. Zeus immortalized Ganymede, his favorite server, with a heavenly constellation in the form of the eagle he had assumed when abducting Ganymede to Olympus: 'Aquila' (eagle), also 'Aquarius' (water bearer). One of Jupiter's many moons is also named after Ganymede. (Note: The Zeus/Ganymede myth is the first indication of male homosexuality in Greek literature.)

The Rape (kidnapping) of Ganymede. Early 16th-century Renaissance ceiling panel, Villa Farnesina, Rome, by Baldassare Peruzzi.


2) The myth concerning Deucalion, son of Prometheus and king of Phthia in Thessaly, also husband of Pyrrha and father of Hellen, mythical ancestor of the Hellenic race. When Zeus, king of the gods, resolved to destroy all humanity by a flood because of their godless ways, Deucalion constructed a boat in which, according to one version, he and his wife rode out the flood and landed on Mount Parnassus. According to a story found first in the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book I, upon offering a sacrifice and enquiring how to renew the human race, they were ordered to cast behind them the bones of their mother. The couple correctly interpreted this to mean they should throw behind them the stones of Mother Earth, and did so. The stones thrown by Deucalion became men, while those thrown by Pyrrha became women.

Deucalion is known as the ‘Water Bearer’. He not only lived through the flood, but he helped to bring life to a new generation. Similarities between this myth and the Judeo-Christian legend of Noah’s Ark are clear.

Deucalion and Pyrrha: Marble relief in the Parc del Laberint d’Horta in Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain).

What's in a name? In astrology: sometimes confusion!

All in all, constellation Aquarius and history of its somewhat watery origin, mythologically speaking, presents a clear disconnect from our tropical Aquarius - sign of Fixed Air.


Blog will be on hold for a few days after today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Music Monday ~ Aaron Neville

A clutch of male singers have birthdays today, 24 January :
Doug Kershaw, the Ragin' Cajun, born 1936.
Ray Stevens, country, pop songwriter/singer born 1939. He's currently involved in the Tea Party (quel horreur!) singing songs on their behalf (available at YouTube).
Neil Diamond born 1941 (a favourite, about whom I've already written).
Aaron Neville, soul/R&B singer born same day as Neil in 1941.
Warren Zevon born 1947 rock singer/songwriter, died in 2003.
And Jools Holland from the UK, born 1958: pianist, bandleader, singer, composer, and television presenter.

Quite a collection !

Who's going to get "the treatment"?

Aaron Neville. An unforgettable voice - so delicate, so unlike the kind of voice you'd expect to hear coming from this big guy - a rough, tough-looking character.

Aaron Neville was born in New Orleans, 24 January 1941, son of a merchant marine sailor. His childhood, though happy, was poverty-stricken. He got in to trouble early on, did a stint in prison for car theft, and another for burglary later on. There were years of heroin addiction too. But through it all his music and a long (48 years long) happy marriage to Joel sustained him. Aaron and Joel lost their New Orleans home to hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Aaron lost Joel to cancer in January 2007. He re-married last year.

A 1967 hit, Tell It Like It Is was prelude to later successes for Aaron and, from 1977 onward for recordings and tours with his band of siblings - The Neville Brothers: Art, Charles and Cyril.

Their New Orleans background of "Big Easiness" is saturated in all types of music: jazz, blues, country, reggae, standards and pop all have a place there, and in Aaron's varied repertoire. His renditions of Kris Kristofferson's For the Good Times; Bob Dylan's With God On Our Side and Leonard Cohen's Bird on a Wire were all revelations to me! His duet with Linda Ronstadt Don't Know Much has become a classic standard, and a later duet with Trish Yearwood on country classic I Fall to Pieces is equally notable. His delicate and refined tenor blends so very well with the female voice. His brothers' input, especially saxophone solos from Charles, jazz-influenced, sets his recordings apart from others, and lifts them well above common-and-garden "covers".

In researching this post, a new fan was born! You know what? I reckon these guys were born before their time. I don't think they have been nearly well-enough appreciated!

Aaron Neville was born 24 January 1941, with Sun and Mercury in Aquarius, Venus in Capricorn, three planets in Taurus and a Grand Trine in Earth signs linking Neptune/Uranus and Venus. Aaron is a combination of Earth and Air. Depending on whether he was born before or after 11:00 AM natal Moon could be in either Capricorn (more Earthiness) or in Sagittarius along with natal Mars, adding an extra spark of Fire to the mix.

Natal Aquarius Sun is in fairly close opposition to Pluto in Leo, with both ends of the opposition line in challenging square aspect to the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in Taurus - these aspects together form what astrologers call a T-square - often indicative of on-going challenges in life. Possibly this is reflecting Aaron's troublesome, challenge-filled years.

Long marriages in show-biz are not the norm, and 48 years is long by any standard! Aaron's prominent Fixed planets Sun/Mercury in Aquarius and Saturn/Jupiter/Uranus in Taurus reflect his loyalty and steadfastness in marriage to Joel.

It's surprising, given the emotional pull in his performance, that he has no planets in Water signs. Perhaps Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces was rising as he was born, but without knowing a time of birth this can't be discovered.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

'Murican Idol Revival ?

Wasn't going to.
Swore I wouldn't.
I've sworn before.
But I watched again then.
And I did it again.

An Idol junkie, am I - that's all there is to it!

American Idol had become stale, and more obviously "fixed" than ever last season. We watched the opening shows of Season 10 on Wednesday and Thursday evenings this week in spite of reservations. It was a very pleasant surprise to find that the new judging panel changes the whole tone of the show.

Gone is the tiresome jaded sarcasm of Simon Cowell, embarrassing affectations of Kara Dio-wotnot, and the bland but well-meaning stumblings of Ellen DeGeneres who wasn't really suited for the show - good as she is elsewhere.

Enter Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. Randy Jackson is the only judge remaining from previous seasons. He seemed a wee bit quiet this week, I thought - perhaps watching how the newcomers will tackle the job, waiting to fit in again. Ryan Seacrest is back hosting - the show would fail without HIM, of this I am absolutely certain. He makes it look easy - I'd wager that it's anything but.

One common factor among the judges - flashing white teeth! Lots of 'em: American Smiledol

Steven Tyler,(see my earlier Music Monday post) is proving to be a gem of a judge, so far, and great addition to the show. His quick wit and sense of fun has been something sorely lacking in seasons past. His experience of the music business, its demands and pitfalls will be invaluable as the show proceeds. Even now, on this brief showing he is providing insights previously missing. Something that particularly struck me as important: he pointed out to the other judges, who would have given thumbs-down to a young female singer, Broadway-styled, who said her ambition is to "bring Liza Minelli into the charts" that, as well as having a good voice, she had such boundless enthusiasm and personality:
"You won't find many people like that, that kind of enthusiasm.....I am going to personally work that into something good."
I admired Steven for that, Broadway isn't his thing, yet he was open-minded enough to see her potential - and he's so right. Cowell would have shooed the gal off with a sneer, dampened that precious drive and enthusiasm - perhaps even killed it off for her.

Trust a person like Steven Tyler, with Sun in Aries and stellium in Leo to appreciate enthusiasm. Talent without enthusiasm ain't gonna work!

Jennifer Lopez judged with fairness and grace, wary of being too negative initially, hating the first time it was necessary. She gradually began finding ways to tell contestants "No" without cruelty and with a positive remark to help sugar the pill.

They purged New Jersey and New Orleans of Idol talent this week. On to Milwaukee next week.

The new panel, and Steven Tyler in particular brought a much-needed blast of fresh air into the show. I suspect someone in "the executive" knew Steven Tyler personally, knew his personality and that he's more - much more - than a rock star whose best days are past. In fact, his best days might well be still to come. As transiting Uranus inches towards his natal Sun this summer, I'm betting there'll be some very interesting changes going on for him.

Below is the new panel with executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, who returns after a spell away from the show. I remember Nigel back in the UK, with his Nigel Lythgoe Dancers.He has "come a long way" since then. He, along with Simon Cowell are the ones to blame for Pop Idol in the UK, which later spawned American Idol. If anyone could manage to return the show to something nearer its original roots, he could....he is very familiar with its DNA.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Grant Wood - American Gothic etc.

Grant Wood. The name might be familiar to Americans, especially those in Iowa and the midwest, but until I came to the USA I hadn't even set eyes upon his most famous, and oft parodied, painting American Gothic.

American Gothic. I'd assumed it depicted husband and wife, but I discovered it represents a farmer and his daughter. The artist's sister was the female model, and his dentist the male. The painting caused a stir in 1930 when it was exhibited for the first time at The Art Institute of Chicago and awarded a prize of $300. A cottage Wood had seen in the small Iowa town of Eldon was inspiration for the painting's title. Its Gothic Revival style, is indicated by the upper window designed to resemble a medieval pointed arch.

A scoot through Google Image told me that Grant Wood was fond of his native Iowa countryside and of rural people. He painted them lovingly, with a "not quite photographic" realism. His landscapes, sometimes dubbed "unreal realism", occasionally contained an almost humorous effect with slight exaggerations. "All my pictures are first planned as abstractions," he is reported to have said. "When I think it's a sound design, then I start very cautiously making it look like nature. But I'm so afraid of being photographic that maybe I stop too soon."

It was quite a surprise to read that, in spite of the rather traditional, conservative feel of his work, he was a "not-out" homosexual, and quite likely not a totally happy guy living in the environment in which he found himself - deepest Iowa. He experienced European art in France and Germany, though, in his young days on 4 separate visits to study their art and artists but eventually settled in his home state of Iowa.

Grant Wood was a talented artist from early on. At age 14 he won third prize in a national contest for a crayon drawing of oak leaves and said that winning that prize was his inspiration to become an artist.

His early career included the design and construction of a stained glass window for a Veteran Memorial building in Cedar Rapids - the window took two years to complete, some of the work was done in Munich, which did not endear the artist to the Daughters of the American Revolution (or as he called them "those Tory gals). They declared that it was made by enemy hands (it was constructed in Germany).

The group held up the dedication of the window until 13 years after the Wood's death. He achieved some satisfaction, however, in his painting Daughters of the Revolution (The Daughters are a group of volunteers, established in 1890 dedicated to keeping America strong by promoting patriotism). Three ladies are depicted, facing the viewer, one holding a teacup. The one hand depicted holding the teacup is rigid, suggesting a spinster. The ladies stare at the viewer, waiting for recognition of their inherent glory. They are placed in front of a painting by Emmanuel Leutze, called Washington Crossing the Delaware. Although the painting is considered a national treasure, the irony was, that Letuze painted it in Germany using the Rhine as a model for the Delaware.

R. Tripp Evans, a professor of art history at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. has written a biography of Wood, Grant Wood: A Life. The author closely examines Iowa’s famous artist and his tenure on the University of Iowa faculty.

"Wood was already famous when he joined to the University in 1934. American Gothic had made him a celebrity four years earlier and he lectured around the world, sold paintings for huge sums, and was prominently featured in a Time magazine cover story on the Regionalism style.
He joined the faculty as the Iowa director of the Public Works of Art Project, a Depression-era relief program that gave artists a government paycheck and academic credit to create public art. Wood oversaw the creation of murals and other art installations at post offices around the state and at Iowa State University, painting many of them in a drained swimming pool on the UI campus.
His tenure, though, was not a smooth one. Not long after Wood arrived, the art faculty became made up mostly of Modernists who took their cues from Impressionism and other European forms. They considered Wood little more than a decent cartoonist, his Regionalist style as reactionary (described by one as “communazi”), his training questionable, his education inadequate, and his teaching heavy-handed. He was also rich and famous, a big strike among many academics*.
And there was the gay thing."

Wood died from liver cancer, aged 51 minus one day.

In the 1950s, academics felt Wood's work was too populist, too much like American folk-art - 'always popular among simple people'. One of his main critics, Ruth Pickering, observed that he did not fit the image of a romantic painter. She complained he was no Van Gogh or Cezanne. However, from the 1970s onward Wood's reputation has again risen. (More HERE.)

Grant Wood was born on 13 February 1891 in Anamosa, Iowa. The chart shown is set for 12 noon as no time of birth is available. Moon and rising sign will not be accurate as shown.

At first glance, this 12 noon chart does not look to me like the chart of an artist. I strongly suspect that he was born after 1:00PM when the Moon would have moved into Taurus. Taurus is ruuled by Venus, planet of the arts. In the early degrees of Taurus Moon would have beein in harmonious trine to Venus itself, at 8 Capricorn. The two Earth signs, Taurus and Capricorn connect well to Grant Wood's chosen subject matter, and style: the earthy countryside, rural people, and a realistic style. his natal Sun in Aquarius, conjunct Jupiter, with Mercury at 00 Aquarius signify a rather intellectual side to his nature.....and a few quirks not readily apparent from his artwork.

A Yod (Finger of Fate)formation involving Venus, Uranus and Neptune is interesting.
Venus and Uranus (art and the avant garde/unexpected) are linked to each other by helpful sextile and both linked by quincunx (150*) aspect to Neptune (imagination and creativity). In turn Neptune is conjunct powerful Pluto too! This all makes sense, apart from the Uranus component, which I still don't see. Maybe there's some connection to his hidden sexual orientation? I don't know. I did notice that in a recent Biography the author attempts to interpret some of his paintings in a way not at once obvious to the casual observer. In the introduction to his book (at Google Books) Grant Wood: A Life, R. Tripp Evans writes:

That might well account for "the unexpected" component!


PARSON WEEMS' FABLE (about George Washington & the cherry tree ("I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet").










TOWN half.



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Bill Maher!

Today is the birthday of Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time, stand-up comedian, political commentator & social critic : HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILL! He's a special favourite of mine. His show kept me (almost) sane during my first years in the USA during the presidency of G.W. Bush.

He has an interesting natal chart. I blogged about it a couple of years ago, around the time his documentary film Religulous was released. Here's an excerpt from the archived post, as it related to Bill's natal chart. That post and others referencing Bill Maher can be accessed via the Label Cloud in the sidebar.

Bill Maher was born on 20 January 1956 at 10.32pm in New York, NY.

Rather than trying to interpret his chart in general, I'll concentrate on what strikes me as particularly interesting about it, and on where his anti-religion streak comes from.

Interesting: so many very early and very late degrees:

Sun 00 Aquarius
Saturn 00 Sagittarius
Mars 04 Sagittarius
Neptune 00 Scorpio
Uranus 00 Leo
Moon 02 Taurus
Venus 04 Pisces
Chiron 05 Aquarius

Pluto 28 Leo
Jupiter 29 Leo

The first decanate (10 degrees) of each sign is thought to be most characteristic of the sign in question, having the sign itself as sub-ruler, whereas the second and third decanates are sub-ruled by the other two signs in the same element. This could make for a particularly clear-cut planet-in-sign interpretation in Bill's case, but because so many planets lie in early degrees there are numerous close aspects in the chart, which in turn form webs of interlinked aspect patterns. Perhaps the simplest translation is that Bill has a particularly complex personality. The most interesting aspect patterns here are the Grand Cross and the Mystic Rectangle.

The Grand Cross, which I've outlined heavily in blue, includes four square aspects and two oppositions. Astrologers see this type of configuration as indicating stressful, tense energy which needs a clear focus if it is to be constructive. In Bill's case the Grand Square is in Fixed signs: focus will be inflexible, opinions not open to persuasion. I've recently noticed this type of configuration in the charts of a couple of other ascerbic well-known personalities - Keith Olbermann and Randi Rhodes. All three of these critical observers focus on the political scene. Aviator Amy Johnson's chart contained this pattern too - her focus was on feats of flying, in her time unusual for a female. These people seem more driven than the average person, almost as though they house a hidden looped dynamo.

The Mystic Rectangle, which I've outlined in purple, isn't actually mystical. The configuration combines helpful and tense aspects (2 trines, 2 sextiles and 2 oppositions). This feature of Bill's chart may act as a partial antidote to the Grand Cross, bringing in a softer more adaptable side, especially as some of the aspects are "out of sign" - which means that early aspects of one sign link to late aspects of the previous sign, combining two elements/modes. Eg. Pluto/Jupiter in late Leo (Fixed Fire) trines Moon in early Taurus (Earth), a degree or two more would put the Leo planets in Earthy Mutable Virgo, indicating the potential for a rather more adaptable attitude than indicated by the Grand Cross.

His quick wit and ready ability to see the funny side of most things probably help Bill to deal with many of the stresses of his lifestyle. Mercury, the communication planet isn't closely tied into any aspect or pattern, it lies at 12 Aquarius (in the second decanate of Aquarius, sub-ruled by Mutable Gemini). Symbolically here Mercury acts as "an observer" of the tangled web of aspects - rather as Bill himself observes the tangled web of the world's political and religious scene.

In a nutshell, I see this web of linked but very different aspects in his chart as indicating that Bill Maher, though sharply critical of organised religion, still retains certain doubts. His humour softens and warms the harshness of his judgement, and this is always going to be his saving grace. For every challenging aspect in his chart, there's a harmonious one - something not encountered in every natal chart.

Many viewers of his programme, myself included, have forgiven Bill much in the past. He can be something of a misogynist at times, possibly though this done is more for effect, to raise a laugh, than due to any personal feeling. I detect an underlying kindness and softness beneath his overtly critical and prickly nature.

Bill Maher on France

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sun Signs, Ophiuchus ..and all that jazz

Someone stirred the old Ophiuchus pot again last week and set off the usual mix of protest and sneers. Protest from those who cling to their "Sun sign" like Republicans cling to their guns, and sneers from skeptics about astrology in general. Deep sighs followed - mine!

I've complained before on this blog about the apparent refusal of people to accept that they are NOT their Sun sign. Why is it that people need to identify themselves in this way? Why, if they have any interest in astrology at all, do they not investigate it in a little more depth? It doesn't take much reading to establish that Sun sign is only part of one's astrological makeup and can sometimes be overtaken by other elements in one's chart.

It doesn't matter what label one claims, whether it's one from the traditional twelve signs, or the 13th: Ophi-wotsit, it's pretty darn meaningless without the rest of your natal astrological factors added. You can't tell what a person really looks like by examining a hand or a foot, or their iris, or even their face in isolation - not really. The wonderful James Thurber wrote along similar lines, though with a deal more eloquence.
I loathe the expression "What makes him tick." It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm
(James Thurber).

One cannot "read" a person by investigating the label they wear as their Sun sign. What possible use can such a label be? Are we so lacking in self-worth that we need these labels?
We do not deal much in facts when we are contemplating ourselves. (Mark Twain)

It is possible, with some logic, to say that a person is, for example, "a Gemini-type" - but that person need not have been born when the Sun was in Gemini. I was born when the Sun was in Aquarius, but I'm not an Aquarius-type....not nearly! And I try very hard never to refer to myself as "an Aquarius". With natal planets in all but two zodiac signs I look on myself as something of an astrological mongrel, and enjoy the mix all of my astro-related traits. It's helpful to look at the issue in this way, and avoid frustration when Ophiuchus pedlars and skeptics surface in the media, as they are wont to do with some regularity.

PS: Astrologer Jonathan Cainer has a clear and informative rundown on the Ophiuchus matter at his website. Look for the link to "Ophiuchus: 13th sign, Umpteenth time".

Monday, January 17, 2011

Music Monday ~ Diane Warren - Songwriter, 12th House.

Songwriters, as I've remarked before, are often forgotten once a song "takes off", as performed by a particular artist. Commentators, reviewers and journalists are often guilty of aiding and abetting this when they write, for instance, "Aerosmith's Dont Wanna Miss a Thing" or "Toni Braxton's Un-break my Heart" - leaving the impression (for some readers/listeners) that the artists wrote those songs. Most songwriters tend to be "backroom people" by nature and won't mind too much, as long as the $$$$$ keep rolling in.

Diane Warren is one such songwriter whose name isn't nearly as familiar as those of the hundreds of singers who have had success singing songs she wrote. I wasn't surprised to find, from her natal chart, that her natal Sun lay in 12th house. Astrologers consider 12th house a place of isolation of one sort or another - the astrological backroom, as it were.

Diane has had many, many hit songs across the Billboard charts (reports vary from 100 to 200) and her songs have been featured in numerous movies.

There's an excellent article about Diane Warren at Sound on Sound.com, (SOS) written by Paul Tingen. From that piece I learned that Diane's draw to music and writing began in her mid-teens
"....after being given a guitar by her father, obsessively spent hours every day honing her craft in the garden shed. From her 15th birthday onwards she tried, with her father's help, to gain a foothold in the Los Angeles music machine, to be met for more than a decade with rejection after rejection."
By 1983 though she had become a staff writer and a couple of years later enjoyed real success with her songs regularly climbing high in the music charts.
".... performed by artists such as Aerosmith, Elton John, Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Roy Orbison, Eric Clapton, Lenny Kravitz, Pet Shop Boys, Joss Stone, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Jessica Simpson and Mary J. Blige."
Her songs are mainly romantic ballads, e.g. Because You Loved Me, If I Could Turn Back Time, How Do I Live, Can't Fight The Moonlight, There You'll Be. That last one used to have me in tears every time I heard it at one point in my life! A list of her songs appears at Wikipedia.

Diane maintains control of her songs which are published by her own company RealSongs, reported to be "the most successful female-owned and operated business in the music industry".

A further quote from the linked article - because I think it connects very well to her natal chart, which follows, using data from Astrodatabank.
Despite her success, Warren remains relatively obscure to the public at large, having made a conscious decision to remain behind the scenes and not to be an artist in her own right. She appears genuinely shy and uncomfortable with the limelight, and has also remained resolutely single, making one wonder how she managed to become both a successful businesswoman and a renowned composer of love ballads. Her deceptively simple answer is the same in both cases. "I don't know what the process is," she says, "but the process is that I show up. This is what I always say: I show up. If you don't show up, nothing is going to happen. You have to get there. And I am excited to get here every day and can't wait to get to work. As long as I feel like that, things are cool."

"Showing up" may not sound like a magic bullet to many aspiring songwriters and musicians, but it's amazing how many of us dream rather than show up. By contrast, Warren knew from day one, even in her parent's garden shed when writing three songs a day ("they all sucked"), that 'showing up' is the First Commandment of Success. She continues to put the principle into practice at an astonishing rate, and still works 12 hours a day, six days a week, rarely taking a holiday. She says that she writes about a song per week, and she's built up a back catalogue of over 1000 songs.
"Yes, I am a workaholic,"
Warren agrees. "And it's hard to tell you what I actually do, because writing is a magical experience. I always try to be inspired, but of course some days you're more 'on' than others. On Sundays I try to take at least part of the day off. I don't come into the office, if I can at all help it. There's a place on the beach where I like to go to, just to get out of here for a moment. And then I hit it hard on Monday. But you know, sometimes I find myself writing on the beach."

Sun in Virgo, and in 12th house, conjunct Jupiter describes a writer who is also a workaholic. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the writer's planet, and it's the sign of the potential workaholic too. With Jupiter, planet of excess so close, in Diane's case her potentiality to work, work, work is exaggerated further. (See quote above!)

Mercury, Moon and Neptune were all in Libra, in 1st house of self as Diane came into the world. Libra is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts including music. So it's appropriate that Mercury is here, as well as Neptune, planet of creativity, and Moon (inner self). There's a definite softness and charm about all of Diane's songs - typically Libran. Venus in Cancer. I'd not have been surprised to find even more Cancer in her natal chart. Her songs are very sentimental and emotional, typical Cancerian traits. Venus in Cancer in 10th house of profession does describe her work well - Venus (art) in Cancer (emotion, sentimental) in 10th house (career).

I drafted this post during last week. Coincidentally, yesterday evening, watching part of the Golden Globe Awards on TV, I noticed that Diane Warren won the Golden Globe for best song written for a movie soundtrack. The award is for a song she wrote for the movie Burlesque.

My favourite of Diane's songs - sung by Faith Hill: There You'll Be (used in the movie Pearl Harbor)

When I think back
On these times
And the dreams
We left behind
I'll be glad 'cause
I was blessed to get
To have you in my life
When I look back
On these days
I'll look and see your face
You were right there for me

In my dreams
I'll always see you soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There will always be a place
For you for all my life
I'll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you'll be
And everywhere I am
There you'll be

Well you showed me
How it feels
To feel the sky
Within my reach
And I always
Will remember all
The strength you
Gave to me
Your love made me
Make it through
Oh, I owe so much to you
You were right there for me

[Repeat chorus]

'Cause I always saw in you
My light, my strength
And I want to thank you
Now for all the ways
You were right there for me
You were right there for me
For always

[Repeat chorus:]

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Downton Abbey ~ Julian Fellowes

A new TV drama, Downton Abbey began a 4-episode run in the USA, on PBS, last weekend. I understand that it is currently being shown in the UK too, albeit in a rather longer version. It was thought that American audiences would balk at the UK version's rather more stately pace and emphasis on the archaic law of entail (estate inheritance), quite foreign to the USA. A foreshortened version of the series is fine by me. I can stand a slow-moving tale if written by an icon such as Charles Dickens or James Michener, this is not one of those, so will probably be better taken at a trot!

The series is in fact written by Julian Fellowes, a rather upper-clahhss actor/ screenwriter/director, soon to be a member of the House of Lords on the Conservative Party benches.

In a nutshell, Downton Abbey, set in the early 1900s in Yorkshire, England, tells the story of an aristocratic family who face future problems linked to inheritance laws, following the death of their only son, a passenger on the Titanic. They have 3 daughters but according to the then laws, women were not allowed to inherit an estate.

We are promised tales of love, betrayal, domestic politics, and the challenge of waves of incoming change bringing in feminism, socialism and other -isms which threaten to shatter a class system solidly in place for many centuries.

There are tales from both above and below stairs - the residents above, their army of servants below. The servants have their very own self-created class system, almost as insidious as that of their masters.

With better choice of TV programmes on Sunday evenings I'd have given this one a very wide berth. My husband usually enjoys anything at all from British TV, but I suspected this particular series might baffle him more than somewhat! It doesn't baffle me, it irritates - a lot. I'll probably continue to watch it all the same, at least it's set in Yorkshire, with a few Yorkshire accents (among the servants, of course) so it can't be all bad!

Why does it irritate me? It depicts everything I despise: the class system of Britain as was, the remnants of which survive to this day.

Before I lapse into soapbox mode, better have a look at the natal chart of Julian Fellowes, the series creator (photograph below). He was born in Cairo, Egypt on 17 August 1949, son of a diplomat.

His Leo Sun with 3 personal planets in Virgo nicely describes this actor-cum-writer.
Leo is traditionally the sign of show-biz; Virgo, ruled by Mercury is a writer's sign. I'd bet, too, that at the time he was born Moon was in Gemini, the other sign ruled by Mercury. At noon on the date of Fellowes' birth the Moon was in the last degrees of Taurus, ready to slip into Gemini at around 2.00 PM. Without a time of birth it's not possible to establish a rising sign or midheaven, which is a pity. I'd not be a bit surprised to find Leo rising....second choice, Taurus.

According to an October 2010 article in The Mail Online, "Julian Fellowes insists he's no snob... but would never dream of wearing jeans to lunch"
As to snobbery, the reader must draw their own conclusions - as I have done (wink).

Now, the couple’s parties — often including world-famous actors and European aristocracy — are legendary. And it’s all good fun, so long as the rules are obeyed.
‘Julian doesn’t like jeans to be worn at lunch,’ says one guest. ‘His view is that casual clothes are acceptable, but jeans are always a no-no.

‘And if he’s denouncing some politician, or expounding on why the Falklands’ airport should be named after Louis XV’s mistress, you won’t get a word in. You have to hold your hand up and wait for permission to speak. Even his wife does this. Not that Emma is downtrodden — she’s the great-great-niece of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum.

.........‘Julian’s also superstitious. He won’t have 13 round the table. Once, their son Peregrine — now 19, and the godson of Princess Michael and Sir Anthony Hopkins — came home unexpectedly and would’ve been the 13th guest. He was made to eat in his room.’ And Emma is just as careful of social nuances. She reads all her husband’s manuscripts for errors. ‘Julian got a ticking off for a gaffe in one of his books,’ says a friend. ‘He described a marchioness wearing a silk dress at Ascot.

Emma told him, “Everyone knows you go to the designer Tomasz Starzewski

Snobs or not, manners do seem to obsess the couple. Julian once spent an interview demonstrating how socially inept it was to grasp one’s knife like a pencil, while Emma described the signs she uses to spot the nouveau riche. She said that the soup course was an unfailing test, and admitted she and Julian did award black marks afterwards if they spotted someone tipping the soup plate towards them.

And then there’s a right and a wrong way to leave the table. ‘I would hope never to judge somebody because they folded their napkin after dinner,’ Emma says. ‘But I’d never pretend I didn’t notice. Isn’t that awful?’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1322707/Downton-Abbey-creator-Julian-Fellowes-insists-hes-snob.html#ixzz1AgB9VzeJ

It's hard to differentiate between fact and Downton Abbey, is it not?!