Saturday, November 29, 2014


Events in Ferguson, Missouri this week have been reported everywhere at length, discussed on radio, TV and online. I stayed well away from commenting, not because I don't care, but because I decided that, unless one had been present during the struggle between Michael Brown and police officer Darren Wilson in August, it'd be impossible to come to any reliable conclusion. I do think, though, that whatever happened, and however it happened, there was no need for so many shots, at least one of them fatal, to have been fired at an unarmed man by a police officer.

Police forces in the USA these days, encouraged by ownership of hand-me-down military equipment, seem to have concluded that they are, in fact, just one degree distant from the military - the armed forces - and will act accordingly.

For anyone who is still puzzled about how events unfolded on that street in Ferguson in August, there were a couple of really good, even-handed articles by Ezra Klein at Vox this week.

Darren Wilson's Story

Dorian Johnson' Story (Johnson was Brown's friend, and present during the events).

The concept of a grand jury was puzzling to me. In Britain grand juries have not been part of the system for many decades. (See Wikipedia's page on Grand Jury). While I understand the need for some kind of preliminary hearing in certain cases, to my mind setting such hearings before a jury of laymen doesn't seem like a good thing. On the other hand, as pointed out by husband during my queries, if lawyers or other official individuals only were involved, too much opportunity for collusion, corruption etc. would arise. Hmmm - well, that says a lot about the integrity of said lawyers and officials!

These lines from a piece by Walter Brasch, Perceptions of Reality — And a Failure to Indict, at Smirking Chimp website yesterday are significant -

..........because prosecutors are the ones who control grand juries. They are the ones who present evidence, call witnesses, and create the narrative the grand jury follows. There are no defense attorneys. There are no cross-examinations.

In one city in America, a prosecutor chose his witnesses and how to question them.

In one city in America, a 12-member grand jury—each with his or her own backgrounds and perceptions—listened to what was presented to them. They struggled to determine the facts, to try to reach a just verdict. And, after the prosecutor presented what he chose to present, that grand jury decided not to indict a police officer who shot and killed a suspect.

A maxim of the way the law is practiced, not how it is written, is that if they wanted to, prosecutors could get grand juries to indict a ham sandwich.

A maxim of life is that truth will eventually emerge—no matter how long it takes.
In my opinion a full trial, with a trial jury, would have been the only just way to go in this very sad case. But, as a relative outsider still, what do I know?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Jim Warren

The name Jim Warren wasn't familiar to me, but while surfing TV channels, looking for something to watch, a piece of artwork painted on an old wooden door drew my attention. The owner was attempting to sell the piece to a pawn shop owner in the TV series Pawn Stars. The door was decorated with a portrait of Jim Morrison and several associated images, and signed "Jim Warren". An expert was in the midst of assisting the store owner to value the piece. He confirmed that it was genuine Jim Warren artwork, and the artist's original work these days commands high prices, at least in the tens+ of thousands of dollars. Those prices proved too rich for the store owner who declined to offer anything near what he seller was asking.

Later I did a bit of research on Jim Warren and his art.

Jim Warren was born on 24 November 1949 in Long Beach, California, is now based mainly in Florida. Amazingly, he is a self-taught artist, apart from his school art classes, and years of studying the work of famous artists exhibited in museums. He first became known for his artwork on record album covers, book covers, movie posters, and some portraits of well-known personalities. His album cover for Bob Seger's hit album Against the Wind won a Grammy Award in 1980 - he had arrived!

Warren works in oils using paintbrushes on stretched canvas. He eschews the airbrush beloved by so many of his contemporaries. His style has been described as "somewhere between Dali and Rockwell". I'd add to that: a touch of Magritte and a faint echo of Michael Parkes...surrealistic fantasy; rather surprisingly too, I also see in some of his work, a whisper of Thomas Kincade. Put that all together, though, and his paintings become pure Jim Warren.

In more recent years Warren has been concentrating on promoting environmental themes and issues, emphasising harmony and co-existence between man and nature. Warren's 1991 painting of Earth, Love It or Lose It was featured on posters, magazines, billboards, and T-shirts; and became an iconic visual representation of the global environmental movement. The original painting named "Oops" features a little girl standing on an image of the world that was also a balloon. The balloon had opened at the tie and looked to be whisking across the sky. The little girl in both he 1990 and 1991 depiction was Jim's niece Cristin. The original "Oops" had been painted from a photo Jim had taken when Cristin was about two years old looking at a bug. This was also made into posters and shirts and became the 1990 Earth Day poster for Nevada.

His book, The Art of Jim Warren: An American Original, was published in 1997, followed by Painted Worlds in 2002. A third book is scheduled to be released soon.

Jim Warren has said, "Each person sees something different in my paintings that relates specifically to them. That, to me is what art is all about."

His official website:

I don't intend to post a natal chart for Jim Warren, as he's still very much around, and would probably see it as an intrusion into his privacy. I'll just note that his Sun is in the very early degrees of philosophical Sagittarius and, depending on his exact time of birth, Moon would be either in early Aquarius or late Capricorn - I'd bet on early Aquarius, in sextile to his natal Sun; if this should be nearly correct, the sextile would, via two quincunx aspects, link to Uranus at the Yod's apex. Very appropriate!

This YouTube video showing some of his paintings is one of several available; lots of his work is featured on his own website, linked above, and on various other websites, easily found via Google.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank You Very Much!

The Scaffold were a comedy, poetry and music trio from Liverpool, England, consisting of Mike McGear (real name Peter Michael McCartney, the brother of Paul McCartney), Roger McGough and John Gorman.

If any passing reader has listened to the above song and wonders, "what's the Aintree Iron?" Nobody knows for sure. Numerous possibilities have been provided by commenters HERE, there's even a comment from Mike McGear/McCartney bimself; but by the end of the thread one is no nearer to knowing the truth. As Aintree is the part of Liverpool where the famous horse race course is located, I suspect Aintree Iron relates, in some way or other, to that.

Anyway, my own "thank you very much" goes today to all who read and/or comment here - y'all are much appreciated!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


We've at last seen Interstellar! I enjoyed it, for husband, "jury still out". The film's two and three-quarter hours...3 hours in our seats, including ads and previews, didn't seem over-long.

My only complaint was that some of the softly spoken dialogue was all but inaudible. My hearing is usually fine, no problems. As it's the third week of showing this movie at our 6-screen cinema, perhaps management has relegated Interstellar to the least well-equipped screening room. I have to suspect there's some local cause because I haven't come across any such complaint about sound in any review I've read since seeing the film. Whether we lost anything crucial through lack of some dialogue, I can't say. We'll probably rent the DVD in due course and find out.

I'd have benefited from more research before seeing the movie, but didn't want to know any plot details in advance, so desisted. I wish, in particular, that I'd seen this piece about the movie's spaceships before seeing the film. Even after reading it though, I'm still puzzled about one aspect.

Without giving too much away and spoiling this film for any who might still wish to see it, I'll just say that what puzzles me most wasn't involved in some of the high-fallutin' quantum physics, timey-wimey space wot-nots involved, those had to be understood by me in my own peculiar way, rightly or wrongly, but the question I still cannot answer had to do with the circular space ship Endurance, and its minor craft as described in the linked piece above. When the crew entered the wormhole discovered near Saturn, they used the smaller Ranger vehicle, while the Endurance "wheel" remained somewhere outside the wormhole's entrance. When Ranger arrives through the wormhole, into a new galaxy, Endurance is there, ready for them. Now, I might have not followed what was being said or done, or maybe I missed something (not hard to do in this movie filled with "somethings"), but in spite of spending time searching for an answer online I still haven't resolved this.

For anyone who hasn't seen the film and who doesn't intend seeing it - or for any who have seen it and would appreciate explanations, there's a very good article and commentary at
Screen Rant Interstellar Ending and Space Travel Explained
With commentary at Interstellar Spoilers Discussion.

All that said, in a nutshell Interstellar is the tale of how, when Earth becomes uninhabitable in the future, due to changes in climate, inability for crops to survive, attendant lack of food, a large proportion of Earth's population already dead, a remaining branch of NASA and one visionary professor (played by Michael Caine) struggle to devise a plan for humans to save their race. This, the professor hopes will be possible by travelling outside of our Milky Way galaxy, via a wormhole discovered near planet Saturn. The hope is that there will be planets in the new galaxy capable of supporting human life. To this end NASA had already sent out a set of explorers to some possibly suitable planets. From three of those planets "pings" have been received from beacons set by three different astronauts, indicating that there might be possibilities for humans to begin colonies on those planets.

The movie's hero, ex-astronaut turned struggling farmer and widower, Cooper ("Coop"), played by Matthew McConaughey, is persuaded to head a small team to be sent to investigate the three "pinging" planets in the new galaxy to assess their viability. There's lots of other stuff going on around this point which I shall not mention. Enough to say that Cooper takes on the mission, much to the angst of his young daughter Murphy.

Matthew McConaughey, for me, made this movie enjoyable. I should also mention that director Christopher Nolan had hand a hand in it too! I said to husband on our way across the car park that had the lead part been played by someone like Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, George Clooney, I'd have been turned right off. McConaughey is an actor to whom I'd not paid much attention until we rented Dallas Buyers Club some months ago. His dedication in that movie, his willingness to lose so much weight (some others in the cast did too) endeared him to me, as does his Texas accent which makes me feel "at home" with him. In Interstellar he gives another excellent performance as a
father whose love for his family, and dedication (that word again) to his race (the human race), become a division of loyalties almost impossible for him to bear. He's not an over-the-top or method actor, he's a natural. He understands, I believe, from his own depths, what it is he's portraying, and how to do it best. Perhaps I should mention here that his birthday is 4 November - Sun in Scorpio.

What else? Well, there's lots of timey-wimey, spacy-wacey stuff for cinema-goers to get their heads wrapped around, which I'll not detail for two reasons - a) unwilling to spoil it for others; b) still contemplating it all myself!

Some reviewers align Interstellar with one of my all-time favourite movies 2001 A Space Odyssey. I don't see it quite in that category. Interstellar, though complex, is less mystical, more spelled out, more obviously (potentially) understandable once you get "your eye in".

There's a Dylan Thomas quotation used more than once during the movie to good effect, it's this:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Lyrics from a lovely song Starlight by Muse, an English band, floated into my mind later. I think some see the ship in the song as a ship sailing the ocean, but the song works even better about a ship sailing through space and time:
"Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations
Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations........

Far away
This ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

Here it is sung not by Muse but by Adam Lambert:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Matters Astrological

In most essays and articles there's usually a paragraph or two, sometimes it's just a sentence, which remain etched in our memory after the rest of the article has morphed into a general impression of its subject matter. Here are two examples of this, from my own experience. I've returned to these two articles again and again; always the points made in these extracts "hit the spot" for me. It has not escaped my notice that both articles are around 15+ years old. I often find that articles from that time seem to correspond more with my own feelings about astrology. Maybe it's because Uranus was in Aquarius at the time they were written, and my Aquarius Sun finds itself in tune with them.

This from William D. Tallman's article Another Approach to Astrology

There is an astrological "mechanism", a function, if you will, by which celestial configurations are linked to terrestrial phenomena. Although it would be easy to assume that this function is of a cause-effect nature, it seems prudent to avoid doing so. The reason we know that the function exists is because it is necessary to use an ephemeris to practice astrology, which means that a knowledge of the celestial configurations is primary to the process. If this were not true, then a random sort placement of the planets, etc. would serve dependably, and if the tradition of astrology has any validity at all, this is not the case.

That we are a part of the astrological mechanism, in that the phenomenon functionally includes us, is a matter of apparency; I think we can accept that as a basic assumption. If this is true, then I would suggest that it is reasonable to expect that some people are directly aware of that function, as they are a part of it. It could well be that a close study of that awareness might yield some insights, and so I would recommend it as one avenue of investigation. We are not dealing with astrology here, we are dealing with a sensibility of the function of the mechanism itself; it is fortuitous that some of those who are sensible also possess the ability to use the astrological construct.

If we think about sensibility of the phenomenon itself as a function susceptible to internal experience, then we can easily imagine a range of sensitivity, bounded on one end by a virtual lack of any sensitivity and on the other to some degree of complete and detailed consciousness.

One thought from an article titled The Stars We Are by Richard Smoley, from the Winter 1996 issue of Gnosis magazine (no longer published, I understand).

......the elusiveness of proof for astrology suggests that planetary influences play themselves out in different ways for different people; some astrological influences may not even make themselves felt at all in your life. By pursuing your own inquiries, you'll know what effect the planets have on you.

What has remaied with me from these two extracts is something I've always felt conscious of naturally, something perhaps wired in to my own psyche - that astrology IS part of some kind of mechanism, and that there is an "astrological sensitivity" which some people have and some don't. It must be something akin to the ability to carry a tune, or an exact colour, or being ultra sensitive to light or sound. William D. Tallman does go on to say that it's possible that those died in the wool skeptics about astrology could possibly have high sensitivity to it, but due to other parts of their personality the sensitivity is turned against the subject. I'm not sure that I agree. but it's something to consider.

The sentence from Richard Smoley's piece is a simple statement about a point that is often forgotten, and underlines the fact that nobody knows us as well as we know ourselves.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Coming (Quite) Soon

We had intended seeing Interstellar before now. Maybe we'll eventually make it to the cinema before the film disappears from the schedule. Until we get to see that movie, a couple of tidbits relating two others, for the future, which could be worth a look.

British director Paul Greengrass, best known for The Bourne Ultimatum, is to bring George Orwell's 1984 to the big screen (again). Orwell's dystopian novel will be produced by Scott Rudin, whose hits include The Social Network and Iris. No casting details for 1984 have yet been announced. John Hurt played the novel's lead character Winston Smith, in an actual 1984 adaptation of Orwell's 1984 by Michael Radford, best known for Il Postino.

I wonder who'll play Winston Smith this time? Someone a prospective audience will recognise and, more importantly, accept in such a role might be Brian Cranston of Breaking Bad; or Damien Lewis of Homeland and Band of Brothers. Either would have me impatiently waiting for the movie's release! Please don't let it be Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks!

See here: News/Entertainment
Also, clicking on "1984" in the Label Cloud in my sidebar will lead to several other relevant posts.

Director Josh Boone is planning a set of four films based on Stephen King’s 1978 long-winded novel The Stand. There has already been a TV adaptation of The Stand, as a mini-series. I think we've seen it, but cannot be certain. Having read a brief synopsis of the theme, oddly it doesn't ring many bells.

The Stand is yet another dystopian tale - they are proving popular, guarantee lots of bums on seats. If film-makers keep over-egging the dystopian pudding with many stale oeufs, though, the audience might soon be turned off. There's always the argument that younger film-goers almost certainly will not have read the novels, and likely haven't seen earlier adaptations, so the do-overs will seem new to them.

These two do-overs don't irritate me as much as some other re-makes have done. 1984 could benefit from a 21st century perspective (knowing what we know now); and The Stand, as long as the director doesn't go into full-on horror/smash-bang mode, but makes a thought-provoking set of movies, could bring the story to an entirely new audience, as well as to some who have read the 800+ page novel, and/or seen the earlier adaptation, but would appreciate a refresher.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Flotsam from the Week That Was

Photo:  Sean Gallup/Getty
Has President Obama at last sensed a cold blast heading his way from what he likes to call "his base", where once only balmy (not to mention barmy) breezes blew? It reminds me of some of Bob Dylan's lyrics in To Make You Feel My Love (recently brought up to date by Adele)-
The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet...
The President has been talking a good talk on at least four topics since the midterm elections early this month: climate change agreement (in principle) with China; immigration reform (announced on Thursday evening that he will use his executive powers to prevent deportation of certain classes of undocumented immigrants); Keystone XL Pipeline (the Senate voted against it on Tuesday, relieving President of any further action - for now); and net neutrality - pending.

Will President Obama reveal, at this late date, what some die-hard Democrat fans, and a mixed bunch of Republican right wing and Tea Party nut cases still like to believe or hope, is "the real Obama"...a closet leftist with Marxist roots, ready to stand up and fight for what in his heart of hearts he knows to be right or or rather left? I wish I could believe that.

A good piece by John Grant at "This Can't be Happening", also at Counterpunch relates.
Is Lame Duck Obama Ready to fight?

A British actor with a multi-syllabic name, Benedict Cumberbatch (on right in photograph), has been doing the publicity rounds promoting the movie The Imitation Game, in which he plays the lead part of Alan Turing (left in photograph). Turing helped to shorten World War II by cracking the "unbreakable" German Enigma Code. After the war, he was arrested for homosexual activities.
Turing's natal chart with a nutshell size explanation is at astrologer Bob Marks' website HERE.

Interpreting Mona Lisa - by a group of youngsters in a local art class. Husband noticed these on display in the lobby at our local concert hall and snapped 'em. He now wishes he'd stopped to take closer shots of each.

It's not hard, even in this small size (click on it to see a slightly bigger version) to identify seminal rebels among this group of young artists.

Mona Lisa

Tweet from "God" this week:
It's funny how nearly all the people who believe global warming is a myth also believe I'm not.

 From 9GAG.COM 

We watched the 1960 film version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine on Turner Classic Movie channel, Thursday evening. I'd seen it more than once before, and read the book long ago, in my youth. I count the tale as one of the best of its genre, especially as it was first published in 1895.

A refreshers from Wikipedia

Social class was a theme in Wells's The Time Machine in which the Time Traveller speaks of the future world, with its two races, as having evolved from the gradual widening of the present (19th century) merely temporary and social difference between the Capitalist and the Labourer ... Even now, does not an East-end (of London) worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the earth? Again, the exclusive tendency of richer people ... is already leading to the closing, in their interest, of considerable portions of the surface of the land. About London, for instance, perhaps half the prettier country is shut in against intrusion.

Wells has this very same Time Traveller, reflecting his own socialist leanings, refer in a tongue-in-cheek manner to an imagined world of stark class division as "perfect" and with no social problem unsolved. His Time Traveller thus highlights how strict class division leads to the eventual downfall of the human race:

"Once, life and property must have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and work. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no unemployed problem, no social question left unsolved."

More from another page of Wikipedia on the two ways H.G. Wells imagined humans had evolved in the far distant future:

By the year 802,701 CE, humanity has evolved into two separate species: the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are the child-like, frail group, living a banal life of ease on the surface of the earth, while the Morlocks live underground, tending machinery and providing food, clothing and infrastructure for the Eloi. Each class evolved and degenerated from humans. The novel suggests that the separation of species may have been the result of a widening split between different social classes, a theme that reflects Wells' sociopolitical opinions.

The main difference from their earlier ruler-worker state is that, while the Morlocks continue to support the world's infrastructure and serve the Eloi, the Eloi have undergone significant physical and mental deterioration. Having solved all problems that required strength, intelligence, or virtue, they have slowly become dissolute and naive. They are described as being smaller than modern humans, having shoulder-length curly hair, chins that ran to a point, large eyes, small ears, and small mouths with bright red thin lips. They are of sub-human intelligence, though apparently intelligent enough to speak, and they have a primitive language.

While one initially has the impression that the Eloi people live a life of play and toil-less abundance, it is revealed that the Morlocks are attending to the Eloi's needs for the same reason a farmer tends cattle; the Morlocks use the Eloi for food.

More on H.G. Wells and his natal chart at an archived post HERE.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Scorpio's Tail End ~ Magritte, Hetty Green, Coleman Hawkins.

The time around November 21 contains the tail-end, and what some say are the most potent, degrees of Sun in Scorpio. 21 November, in particlular, has brought forth some memorable figures from the past. Arty Farty Friday subject for today was going to be one of them: René Magritte, born 21 November 1898 (see his natal chart at After carefully preparing a draft on Word Pad, I inadvertently deleted it. I refused, on principle of my own stupidity, to re-do it. I'm afraid, this time, the video showing some of the Belgian surrealist painter's work must suffice.

  René Magritte at work
Magritte was part of the generation 1898-1904 labelled by E. Alan Meece as "The Flaming Wits". They had Uranus in Sagittarius opposite Pluto in Gemini. Uranus in Sagittarius does, indeed, describe the very meaning of surreal - something over and above the real, the extra- ordinary. Sagittarius = excess, more than; Uranus = the unexpected, eccentricity.

There's an archived post of mine, Surrealism, Abstract Art and Astrology mentioning Magritte. I'm also pretty sure I originally did a full post on Magritte early on in my blogging days, but must have deleted it as part of a "purge" some time later, due to copyright fears.

For a good read about Magritte's life and work I highly recommend the biography at Matteson Art website: René Magritte: This is Not A Biography.

A woman, Hetty Green, born on 21 November 1834, some 64 years earlier than Magritte, became known as "The Witch of Wall Street". She was the first woman to create her own huge stash of wealth. In today's terms it amounted to something in the region of $3.8 billion! She was said to be a legend in her miserliness. (See piece at mentalfloss)

"There was an old woman often seen plodding up and down Wall Street at the turn of the 20th century. She walked alone. Her black, faded dress was dirty and ragged at the seams. She carried a case with her with a pitiful lunch tossed inside, usually graham crackers or dry oatmeal. She was such a familiar sight, with her grim face and strange dress, everyone called her “The Witch of Wall Street..................”

In 1834 Uranus was in Aquarius at around 22 degrees, Neptune in Capricorn around 29 degrees... two generational planets both in signs traditionally ruled by Saturn - if there's a miser among the planets, Saturn is it! Hetty's natal chart is available at Astrotheme HERE.

 Coleman Hawkins & Miles Davis
Last of my chosen 21 November trio is a favourite of my husband: Coleman Hawkins, born 21 November 1904, which makes him another of the "Flaming Wit" group, with Magritte. Coleman Hawkins' wit came via drawing new qualities of sound from the tenor saxophone. Along with jazz luminaries such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington (two more of the "Flaming Wit" generation), Hawkins was one of the pioneer shapers of Jazz. His natal chart is at at Astrotheme.

More on Coleman Hawkins from two of my own archived posts:
Arty Farty Friday #5 from 2007
and Greatest Sax Voices in Jazz from 2011.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fixed Starstuff

“In a world turned upside-down, where everything was wrong, bizarre, you could at least look up at the sky and see normality. Stars that shone regardless of who won a civil war, or who should or should not be a president. Their light was billions of years old. They didn't have a care...”
― Alex Scarrow, The Eternal War

I don't, in general, take much notice of Fixed Stars, other than, maybe, noting whether Algol appears linked to a personal planet in a natal chart. Using Rob Tillett's article at Astrology on the Web, I once spent a while with a copy of my natal chart checking whether any planet or sensitive point coincided with the position of a Fixed Star. I then compared traditional interpretations with my own reality.

Some interesting results emerged. If passing readers haven't yet investigated in this way, I'd recommend taking a look at the linked article, especially if there's something you've always felt was missing from your chart, or something slightly out of tune in standard interpretations of it.

Examples of my own findings:

I've often chewed on the fact that hardly anyone in my age group is interested in astrology, even other Sun Aquarians. Now I find that Fixed Star Toliman (also called Bungula) at 29.36 Scorpio is conjunct my natal Mars at 28.54 Scorpio ("Occult & philosphical learning, self analysis, honours, stubborn, cruel") I guess one takes the good with the bad, stubborn I may be but cruel I'm not, even though I say it myself!

My natal Jupiter at 6.03 Pisces lay conjunct Deneb Adige and Sadalachbia 5.16 and 6.43 Pisces (includes "astrology, writing, the public, other goodies, and The Star of Hidden Things")

After moving to Oklahoma, USA from Britain my re-located ascendant became 22.32 Aquarius very close to Sadalsuud at 23.46 Aquarius ("Astrology").

Although astrology has always seemed like a part of me, it only "came out" in public when I moved to Oklahoma, putting Sadalsuud on the ascendant, which is said to be the "lens" through which a person sees and is seen.

I'm curious (as always) to know how and why the Fixed Stars were credited with representing the traits attributed to them. Perhaps ancient astrologers kept records of their clients' life stories and did some rudimentary research on the subject. Or perhaps the information was culled from some unknown source, handed down from an even more ancient set of astrologers. We'll never know.

In checking for significant Fixed Stars in a natal chart it's essential to know natal planets' signs and degrees. It's easy to find these by inputting birth data at The natal chart is produced free of charge. If time of birth isn't known, it doesn't matter too much for this exercise. Position of personal planets will be accurate, apart from the Moon's position and the ascendant, so inserting 12 noon as time of birth will suffice.

Now - there is a problem with ancient interpretations - those of the Fixed Stars almost always are based on ancient texts. The words have to be watered down somewhat to fit the 21st century. We should take everything written about these stars with a large pinch of salt, because, as far as I know there has been no modern research to verify any of the ancient interpretations.

I suspect that ancient astrologers noted, and recorded, some of the most evident "effects" of these stars in the charts of a few individual, and possibly rich and powerful, clients, many centuries ago when life was very different. We cannot translate them exactly to fit 21st century life, but they could give us just a fleeting whisper or a very general flavour of a meaning.

The so-called "unfortunate" stars, for most of us, are no more unfortunate than the so-called "unfortunate" or malefic planets (Saturn, Mars) they, too, have their benefits.

As for Algol, I've written in archived posts that the star will appear prominently in millions of charts, but only a handful of people from those millions experience anything vaguely linked to its scary reputation.

I have read (in the linked article?) that aspects to other planets from Fixed Stars are usually not significant, very close conjunctions between Fixed Stars and a personal planet may be of interest in natal astrology. In mundane astrology, I'm not sure whether the same applies.

"All men have the stars, but they do not mean the same things for different people. For some they are guides, for others, no more than little lights in the sky. But all these are silent. You--you alone have the stars as no one else has them."
~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery

(More posts on fixed stars or on individual fixed stars are available by clicking on "fixed stars" in the Label Cloud in the sidebar.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prompted to imagine......

An old Plinky Prompt inspired this bit of nonsense yesterday. Maybe it'll inspire some passing reader to contribute their own response to the prompt.

Plinky Prompt
Fiction writers: You’re stuck in an elevator with an intriguing stranger. Write this scene. Non-fiction writers: You’re stuck in an elevator with a person from your past. Write this scene.

I chose non-fiction, with a hint of fiction thrown in.

As I waited for the elevator to descend, standing alone in the glass "cage" a late-comer hurried in. An elderly man, thinning white hair neatly styled, designer spectacles, conservatively dressed, but with a touch of flair - a camel-coloured coat thrown casually about his shoulders over a dark suit. He looked faintly familiar, but I couldn't quite pinpoint why. He glanced in my direction, took in my casual jacket and dark jeans, my own greying hair and spectacles, looked away, then glanced across again.

"Did we meet before?" He had the trace of an accent, and a hint of breathlessness when he spoke.

The lift was refusing to respond to the "Down" button. I'd pressed it again and again. A few seconds, minute, or what seemed like five, passed.

"I don't think so, but...I wonder if maybe you remind me (and I you) of someone we knew decades ago, in England?"

An unwelcome thought and painful memories had obviously visited us both.

Another quick glance at one another, as both inwardly willed the elevator to move, so that this uncomfortable situation could end quickly.

"Did you, long, long ago, as a young man ever work in the English Lake District?", I asked.

He felt for the wall of the elevator, leaned back, somewhat shaken.

"I did".

"So did I, I believe we met there. The rest is some rather unpleasant history involving a brief marriage and long-winded divorce."



Possibly the only harmony we had ever, and would ever, achieve came in that one chorus of realisation: "Yes!"

"What are you doing in the USA?", I ventured.

"Looking for my daughter."

" And you?"

"I live here now, married to an American".

The elevator, mercifully, began to move rather jerkily downward. Expressions of relief settled on both faces.

As the elevator landed in the hotel foyer, he nodded, turned and hurried off. I called after him,

"I hope you find her".

And that was that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Royal Beloveds in the Times of Scorpio

Shaking out and re-airing an archived post which still continues to attract a hit or two.

Sun in Scorpio days of mid-November have often had significance for Britain's royals - not always positive significance. The outcome of a fairly recent mid-November date of royal significance seems to have been a happy one: the announcement of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2010. They have since married and produced one son with another child on the way.

On 20 November, in 1947 the then Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey. They first met when the Princess was just 13, and the story goes that it was "love at first sight". According to news gossip, through following decades, the marriage has not always been trouble-free, but it has lasted - probably more due to royal protocol and the Queen's determination than anything else, or so I'd guess.

On 20 November, in 1992 a fire broke out in Windsor Castle, one of the three principal official residences of the British monarch. The fire badly damaged the castle causing over £50 million worth of damage.

On 22 November, in 1914,
the man who was to become what many people considered to be the love of Princess Margaret's life was born: Group Captain Peter Townsend. (Not to be confused with Pete Townsend of The Who!)

Townsend was equerry (personal attendant) to King George VI, father of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

For astrology buffs there's Australian astrologer Douglas Parker's interpretation of the natal charts of Princess Margaret and Group Captain Townsend, with the charts available at a linked pdf file.

Princess Margaret's love affair with Townsend was superseded by other stories and scandals in later years, so may have been forgotten or perhaps never known by any stray younger readers. Here are the bare bones of it taken from a website HERE
Townsend was a war hero, sixteen years the Princess's senior and married, although he was soon to be divorced. In her grief over her father’s death, Margaret turned more and more to Townsend for consolation. He too had suffered a loss when the King died.

The relationship had apparently started long before the King’s death and would probably have stayed under the radar, if Princess Margaret hadn’t been caught out brushing a piece of fluff off Townsend’s lapel during the coronation.

Princess Margaret desperately wanted to marry Townsend, but there were several obstacles, the most pressing being that he was divorced. Despite the fact that he was the injured part, divorce in aristocratic and royal circles was still a big taboo in the fifties. As the Queen was the Defender of the Faith and the Head of the Church of England, having her sister marry a divorced man was unthinkable.

Margaret was told, erroneously it turns out, that not only would she have to renounce her place in the succession, but that she would be stripped of her royal title, her civil list allowance and forced to live abroad in exile for the rest of her life like her Uncle. In 2004, it was revealed that Margaret and the Queen were deliberately given misinformation by the government. While Margaret would undoubtedly have had to renounce her place in the succession, she could have kept her royal title and the money. The reason for the subterfuge was that even though the abdication was almost twenty years prior, the wounds were still open. As the Queen had just ascended the throne, it wouldn’t do for her younger sister to be seen marrying a divorcé, no matter how well-connected.

After a two year separation, Townsend had been posted abroad to Belgium as an air attaché and only sporadic meetings, Princess Margaret agreed to give up any thought of marrying him. Despite their love for each other, Margaret had no concept of what it would be like to be anything but a member of the Royal family. The idea of living in exile, on his salary, was too much to be borne. Margaret simply wasn’t the type to have to do her own washing up, and cooking. It was one thing to play at it, knowing that you could also call the servants if something went wrong, another to have that be your way of life.

On 6 May 1960 Margaret married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, later given the title Lord Snowdon. She reportedly accepted his proposal a day after learning from Peter Townsend that he intended to marry a young Belgian woman, Marie-Luce Jamagne, who was half his age and bore a striking resemblance to Margaret.

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon were divorced in 1978. Ironic? Prevented from marrying her first, and possibly best love because of his divorce. I wonder how the Princess's life would have unrolled had she been allowed to marry Group Captain Townsend?

Townsend died in 1995, Princess Margaret in 2002.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Music Monday ~ Gilbert & Sullivan "With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse".

There can't be many in the UK and USA who haven't heard of Gilbert and Sullivan and their comic operas/operettas - maybe they've passed by some of the under thirty generation - I wouldn't know. Though well aware of the pair's works, I've never been a fan myself - it was all a bit...I don't know - twee (?) for my taste. I thought it'd be interesting to compare their natal charts.

In spite of a basic incompatibility they managed to write 14 comic operas together. Most have retained popularity among fans and countless societies on both sides of the Atlantic, established for the purpose of keeping the works of Gilbert and Sullivan fresh and alive.

Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842 - 1900) studied at the Royal Acadamy of Music and the Leipzig Conservatory. He had a serious repertoire of orchestral and religious compositions before his collaboration with Gilbert. William Schwenk Gilbert (1836 - 1911) was a well-known satirist before working with Sullivan. Their collaborations became wildly popular, each production achieving more acclaim than its predecessor. In 1889, after production of The Gondoliers the pair eventually split, and with a great deal of acrimony.

"Both men tended to ridicule the mannerisms and poses of their partner, and each was jealous of the other's acclaim, neither above criticising the other."

Sullivan's life disintegrated fairly rapidly after the split. He lost his money in the casinos of Monte Carlo, died alone in London after a bout of bronchitis. Gilbert survived for 11 more years after Sullivan died. He was knighted in 1907, died of heart failure in 1911 whilst trying to help a swimming pupil in trouble.

Gilbert and Sullivan famously "enjoyed" a strained working relationship:
"each saw himself as allowing his work to be subjugated to the other's, and partly caused by the opposing personalities of the two — Gilbert was often confrontational and notoriously thin-skinned (though prone to acts of extraordinary kindness), while Sullivan eschewed conflict. In addition, Gilbert imbued his libretti with "topsy-turvy" situations in which the social order was turned upside down. After a time, these subjects were often at odds with Sullivan's desire for realism and emotional content. Also, Gilbert's political satire often poked fun at the wealthy and powerful whom Sullivan sought out for friendship and patronage."

In 1922, Sir Henry Wood explained the enduring success of the collaboration as follows:

Sullivan has never had an equal for brightness and drollery, for humour without coarseness and without vulgarity, and for charm and grace. His orchestration is delightful: he wrote with full understanding of every orchestral voice. Above all, his music is perfectly appropriate to the words of which it is the setting.... He found the right, the only cadences to fit Gilbert's happy and original rhythms, and to match Gilbert's fun or to throw Gilbert's frequent irony, pointed although not savage, into relief. Sullivan's music is much more than the accompaniment of Gilbert's libretti, just as Gilbert's libretti are far more than words to Sullivan's music. We have two masters who are playing a concerto. Neither is subordinate to the other; each gives what is original, but the two, while neither predominates, are in perfect correspondence. This rare harmony of words and music is what makes these operas entirely unique. They are the work not of a musician and his librettist nor of a poet and one who sets his words to music, but of two geniuses.

Sources: Wikipedia and


William S. Gilbert born 18 November 1836 in London, UK. Time unknown - chart set for noon.

Arthur Sullivan born 13 May 1842, London, UK at, according to with a"B" rating, 4.47pm.

That their natal Suns at 26 Scorpio and 22 Taurus,   directly opposed one another was one basis for potential challenge in the relationship, especially as Mercury was also reasonably close to their natal Suns.  Yet Venus, planet of the arts shed harmony on the pair, Gilbert with Venus in Libra trining Sullivan's Venus in Gemini. Both men were of the generation with Neptune (creativity) in quirky Aquarius and Uranus in fantasy loving Pisces, so there was that in common too. Sullivan's Moon, if time of birth is near accurate was in Cancer, Gilbert's natal Moon position can't be established without a time of birth, but it would have been in either Pisces or Aries. As their compatibility wore thinner as time went on, I'd guess at Aries Moon for Gilbert, a Pisces Moon would have blended better, had more empathy with Sullivan's Cancer Moon.

I'm sure there are other astrological clues and pointers, but as I see it, from data available, those are likely to have been the main harmonies and discords.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"'Cause you've got personality...."

A recent piece by Ian Welsh, Character as Personal Destiny, had me scratching my head and wondering. I don't fully agree with his ideas, which reminded me somewhat of remarks I read long ago on an astrology forum, stating that "it's possible, once enlightened, to transcend one's astrology". I recall that I did question that proposal at the time. A post of mine from last year touches on similar thoughts - Musings on Meditation. My response to commenter and blog-buddy "mike" there included this thought:
We're here to untangle from the puzzle of life what we can, I suppose. If meditation helps in the untangling process, it can't be bad. But I've always had the uncomfortable feeling that, if taken to extremes, it could simply provide an excuse for not taking note of what's going on outside of one's own inner-ness. These days, I'd hesitate to blame anyone for that attitude, things being as they are - but somehow it doesn't feel right.
Anyway, back to Ian Welsh's recent piece - SNIPS:
The idea of karma is related to this. You’re born at a particular time, with a particular personality, to particular parents, in a particular place. Your nurture and your nature (the personality that even babies have) is predetermined, therefore your life is predetermined, because how you will react to events is a matter of your character, which is your original personality plus the circumstances you grow up in.

The fully enlightened are said to be largely immune to karma. This is because, often, as you meditate, it becomes clear that personality is a choice. You don’t have to act in accordance with your personality if it’s not in your self interest. This is true of everyone, but it’s one of those abilities most people don’t use. As you meditate you become detached from your own character, it doesn’t seem important to you, and as a result it loses much of its power. As it loses its power you become free to act as you please, and in that sense you break your karma. (And by act, I also mean think. The sort of terrible thoughts that plague many people lose much of their power.)...............................Meditation, then, can make you free and rob you of much of the juice required to make use of that freedom. The less you care, the happier you are (I know many people won’t believe that, I’ll just say that in my experience it’s true, and many other people attest to the same). .........................Still, I think it’s worth remembering that your personality isn’t anything super-precious, and that it can be your chains. Acting in ways that aren’t beneficial to you (or, often to anyone else) because of your personality serves no one. Personality is often chains, and yet we treasure it. If you want to be happier, be less attached to who you are.

"You don't care"....that's the scary part to me. A population of "don't carers" sharing a planet with equal or greater numbers of "I want power,
control and...everything and will have its".

Oh - what the heck! I shall stay unenlightened and care!

'cause you've got personality,
Walk, personality
Talk, Personality
Smile, Personality
Charm, personality
Love, personality
And of Cause you've got
A great big heart.....