Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ogden Nash, Poet with Leo's Sense of Fun

Ogden Nash, born 19 August 1902 in Rye, NY at 1.30am

It seems to me that what James Thurber did via cartoon drawing, Ogden Nash did writing verse. Adjectives such as "kind", "loving" and "gentle" are used to describe this man and his work in a variety of articles and reviews on-line.

In Nash's natal chart the Sun is in Leo, Mercury in Virgo (see how often Virgo features in these writers' charts!) Venus, Mars and Neptune all in Cancer - here's his loving kindness and the reason wit and satire became gentle in his hands. Moon and Jupiter in Aquarius probably account for his habit of mocking the establishment, conservative politicians and religious moralising - not unlike Sinclair Lewis' approach, but with a more emphasised sense of the absurd. Sun and Moon are exactly opposing each other, but without knowing more about Nash's personal life, it's not possible to say how this materialised for him. Simply put, it's meant to signify conflict between needs and wants. I notice that a similar opposition occurs in the chart of my next subject, S J Perelman.

Saturn is in Capricorn, Uranus in Sagittarius. Pluto is, of course in Gemini as with all six of my chosen subjects There is a Yod in Nash's chart (as there was in Dorothy Parker's and James Thurber's). Nash's Yod points to Saturn, with Sun/Pluto sextile. He was obviously a very hard worker, working almost to the time of his death - perhaps in his case this was his way of relieving the tensions of ill health and a tempermental wife upon whom he doted.

Ogden Nash's Leo Sun would have influenced his playful use of language, and his almost child-like sense of fun - apparent in his many rhymes about animals and insects:


I objurgate the centipede,

A bug we do not really need.

At sleepy-time he beats a path

Straight to the bedroom or the bath.

You always wallop where he's not,

Or, if he is, he makes a spot."


God in his wisdom made the fly

And then forgot to tell us why."

Ogden Nash used the English language like a ball of clay, moulding it to his will and his verse:

"I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance,

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance."

"If called by a panther/Don't anther."

His own assessment of "serious" works of prose and poem:

"Very Like a Whale

One thing that literature would be greatly the better for

Would be a more restricted employment by authors of simile and metaphor.

Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,

Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to go out of their way to say that it is like something else.

What does it mean when we are told
That the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?

In the first place, George Gordon Byron had had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of Assyrians.

However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and thus hinder longevity,We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.

Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a wolf on the fold?

In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy there are a great many things,
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.

No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;

Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail anda big red mouth and big white teeth and did hesay Woof woof? ".............................................

Nash's working life started uncertainly with a variety of different jobs, leading eventually to a position with Doubleday, a well-known New York publishing house, this is when he began writing his humourous poetry, which apparently came to him with little effort, after a shaky attempt to write more serious verse. Later he became a regular contributor to the New Yorker, and other quality magazines, and was to count Dorothy Parker among his circle of friends.

Ogden Nash married Frances Rider Leonard in 1931, with whom he had two daughters. His experiences with fatherhood provided more comic fodder for his verse, evident in the 1936 collection "The Bad Parents' Garden of Verse." He offered this observation as a result of a party, comparing his children and their companions to tribal warriors:

"Of similarity there's lots

Twixt tiny tots and Hottentots."

According to some on-line biographies Frances Nash was a hard woman to like, very temperamental - yet Nash remained devoted to her, and his family (stellium in Cancer!) He suffered bouts of ill health throughout his life, and frequently wrote humourously about his encounters with the medical profession. His book "Bed Riddance...A Posy for the Indisposed" is one example.

Nash always had a burning ambition to write for musical comedy. He eventually attained his dream when he provided the lyrics for Kurt Weill's classic "Speak Low" in collaboration with my next subject S.J Perelman, who was to become his lifelong friend. Nash and Perelman co-authored the show "One Touch of Venus" from which the song came. ''Speak Low'' was to become the show's signature number, but there are many more, including ''Very, Very, Very,' which, satirically, takes off on targets from fine art to free love. As the Nash lyric explains, ''It's a minor peccadillo/To patronize the wrong pillow.''

As well as his writing, Ogden Nash undertook a regular circuit of lectures, which he found exhausting but gratifying. He carried on working almost up to the time of his death in 1971.At one of his last venues he said of humour:

"It is not brash, it is not cheap, it is not heartless. Among other things I think humor is a shield, a weapon, a survival kit. . . . So here we are several billion of us, crowded into our global concentration camp for the duration. How are we to survive? Solemnity is not the answer, any more than witless and irresponsible frivolity is. I think our best chance lies in humor, which in this case means a wry acceptance of our predicament. We don't have to like it but we can at least recognize its ridiculous aspects, one of which is ourselves."

I'd have liked Ogden Nash - no doubt at all.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

James Thurber - a softer, rounder Sagittarian wit

James Thurber
Born 8 December 1894
in Columbus, Ohio, at 11.55pm.

Here we have "a horse of a different colour".
After Dorothy Parker's acid wit, I get a much softer feeling from James Thurber's writing. He's more amiable, less sharply cynical. Even his cartoons have a "rounded" comfortable feel to them. He has a keen eye for the absurdities of life, which I find most endearing.

So, what sets James Thurber apart from both Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy Parker?

Thurber has Virgo rising, if the time of birth is accurate, Virgo's ruler Mercury is in 3rd house of communication, in Sagittarius with Sun conjunct Venus nearby. Here's one big difference from the two previous writers' charts. Lewis and Parker's Suns are both conjunct Mars. A personality with Sun/Venus conjunction is almost certainly going to come over as pleasant rather than abrasive, and Sagittarian Sun, is bright, expansive jovial, and philosophical rather than negative. Thurber's 3 Sagittarian planets are in 3rd house of communication, opposite Pluto and Neptune both in Gemini . Already there are a lot of indications that communication of one kind or another will figure largely in this person's life. Jupiter lies in gentle Cancer. Moon in Taurus (8th) is opposing Saturn in Scorpio(2nd), I'm not sure how this would have materialised - there's not a lot of detail about his personal life available on-line. James, like Dorothy Parker, has a Yod in his natal chart, this one points to Mercury, the sextile between Moon and Jupiter "feeding" it via the two inconjunct aspects - again I wish I were more experienced, but somehow this tells me that writing and drawing were a release point for Thurber, a release from emotional tensions.

James Thurber grew up in Ohio, lost an eye as a result of a childhood accident, and later in life lost his sight entirely. His writing career began locally as a newspaper reporter. He soon moved on to New York and became part of the New Yorker's staff.

It is said that his cartoons became well known only because his friend pulled some of them from his trash bin one day and decided to get them published - people liked them.
Dorothy Parker, another friend, said of his cartoons that they have the "semblance of unbaked cookies" - which is true enough !

Thurber is described in one article as shy and sometimes subject to depression.
This could well have been as a result of his partial blindness, and underlines how strong the influence of his Sagittarian planets must have been, for him to maintain his bubbling sense of the ridiculous in spite of his difficulties. He wrote many short stories, children's stories, and adult fables such as the tale of "The Unicorn in the Garden". "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" published in 1941 is possibly his best-remembered story, it was later made into a film starring Danny Kaye as the famous daydreamer, who now merits his own entry in English-language dictionaries.

James Thurber died in 1961, of complications following pneumonia. It is not known whether he succumbed to alcohol as did a few of his contemporaries, but one of his quotations touches on this subject:

"Some American writers who have known each other for years have never met in the daytime or when both were sober."

A couple more quotations from Mr Thurber, demonsrating his philosophical nature, and his witty self-depretation"

"Man has gone long enough, or even too long, without being man enough to face the simple truth that the trouble with man is man"

[To an admirer who told him that his output read very well in French translation]:
"Yes, my works lose something in the original."
I think I'd have liked James Thurber, the person.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dorothy Parker - Bittersweet Virgo cynic ?

DOROTHY PARKER Born 22 August 1893, West End, New Jersey, at 9.50 PM.

This is the only female among my 'Super Six'. There were other female writers among the Pluto in Gemini generation, of course, but none who displayed the wit of Dorothy Parker.

What seems significant in Dorothy's natal chart?
According to a couple of sources on-line Ms Parker's birth time was 9.50 pm, which puts her ascendant in Taurus. It's said that the ascendant can give clues as to personal appearance. In this case it doesn't. Dorothy Parker is described as fragile looking, doll-like, almost elfin, none of which calls Taurus to mind ! From what I've read about her personality, Taurus seems to have been well-eclipsed by Virgo and Gemini.

The Sun had just passed into Virgo when Dorothy Parker was born - if the stated birth time is accurate. Sun 00* Virgo, in addition there are 2 other planets at 00*. Venus at 00* Libra, and Jupiter at 00* Gemini. Some astrologers consider that the first and last degrees of a sign add emphasis. I'm not convinced about that, but do feel there may be some significance here, especially in the case of Virgo and Gemini which I feel make up her "signature". It was as though the Sun and Jupiter had struggled to get into their proper places just in time for the birth!

Pluto and Neptune are both found in Gemini along with Jupiter, in 1st house. These 3 Gemini planets, plus Sun and Mars in Virgo - all 5 ruled by Mercury, must surely account for Dorothy's writing skills ! Added to this, the Sun and Mercury are in mutual reception (they each lie in the sign of the other's rulership), adding further emphasis.
Saturn lies in Libra with Venus, Mars in Virgo, with the Sun. Mercury in Leo. Moon in Capricorn. Uranus in Scorpio.

Here's a coincidence - Sinclair Lewis had Sun conjunct Mars, two writers who were not averse to expressing views which might not endear them to all. Writers with a fighting spirit!

Venus, Saturn and Uranus all lie within 6th house (Virgo's natural house) - I suspect these placements, allied to her Sun/Mars in Virgo are responsible for Dorothy's naturally critical and acidic attitudes. She definitely had a sharp tongue!

There are two Yods in Dorothy's chart, one pointing to Pluto in Gemini (of course) the other to Moon in Capricorn. I wish I were more expert in the art of interpretation - I just know that there is a lot of significance here . The two Yods seem to complement one another somehow. The Moon is part of the sextile in one and at the apex of the other. This has got to relate to her emotional traumas being released through writing, perhaps?

Dorothy Parker is remembered most for her poems. She was not particularly proud of them, but they have survived in public memory long after her short stories and other writing has been forgotten. Her screenplays have survived. I was not aware until recently that the screenplay of "A Star is Born" was her work, and nominated for an academy award. Three different versions of the story have been made, and have entertained three different generations. It's a bittersweet tale, the kind she knew well from experience.

Dorothy's poems are mainly reflections of her own disappointments and frustrations. She had a sad childhood, losing both parents at an early age. This shadow seems to have followed her throughout her life. Her lovers and spouses only seemed to add to her distress. Dorothy attempted suicide 3 times, eventually took to alcohol, and like Sinclair Lewis died alone in a New York hotel, aged 73. The New York Times printed one of its longest ever obituaries as a tribute. She left her estate to Martin Luther King Jnr, though she had never met him, and he had never heard of her! She supported many left-wing causes, civil rights campaigns and at one point joined the communist party, and found herself on the US government's blacklist.
I don't pretend to understand Dorothy Parker. I probably would not even have liked her in person, yet her poetry and wit have always appealed to me.

There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle ---
Would you kindly direct me to hell?

Second Love
"So surely is she mine," you say, and turn
Your quick and steady mind to harder things ---
To bills and bonds and talk of what men earn ---
And whistle up the stair, of evenings.
And do you see a dream behind my eyes,
Or ask a simple question twice of me ---
"Thus women are," you say; for men are wise
And tolerant, in their security.
How shall I count the midnights I have known
When calm you turn to me, nor feel me start,
To find my easy lips upon your own
And know my breast beneath your rhythmic heart.
Your god defer the day I tell you this:
My lad, my lad, it is not you I kiss!

She said: "That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment."

In fact, the epitaph she later chose was "Excuse my dust". According to Marion Meade, in an article at , Dorothy Parker's ashes remained in a cabinet in a Wall Street office for 15 years after her death before they were eventually laid to rest in Baltimore near her parents' grave.
So two of my "Super Six" had sad, lonely and probably alcoholic-soaked endings. Does it go with the territory ?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sinclair Lewis, textbook Aquarian ?

SINCLAIR LEWIS. Born 7 February 1885 in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

Sinclair Lewis is the eldest of my "Super Six". He is somewhat different in style from the other five. A satirical novelist rather than a humourist, far more serious than the others, in fact, yet reading extracts from his novels brought a wide smile to my face.
This man is a textbook Aquarian ! I recognise him!

Sun and Mars in Aquarius

Mercury and Venus in Capricorn,

Moon in Scorpio,

Saturn and Pluto in Gemini,

Jupiter in Virgo,

Neptune in Taurus,

Uranus in Libra.

Moon at 28 Scorpio opposes both Pluto at 00 Gemini and (widely) Neptune at 20 Taurus.
Sun and Mars conjunct within 1 degree square Neptune.
Uranus and Pluto are closely trined in Air signs.
Oddly - no Fire in his chart.

Sinclair Lewis, after a short period of unsuccessful novel writing, financed by mundane desk jobs and working as a journalist, eventually found his signature style. It was one which fits beautifully with his astrology. His style might be described as 'dispelling myths and unveiling hypocrisy.' Lewis was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930 - the first American writer to be so honoured.

"His central characters are the pioneer, the doctor, the scientist, the businessman, and the feminist. The appeal of his best fiction lies in the opposition between his idealistic protagonists and an array of fools, charlatans, and scoundrels - evangelists, editorialists, pseudo-artists, cultists, and boosters." (from The Quixotic Vision of Sinclair Lewis by Martin Light, 1975)

In his Nobel Lecture in 1930 Lewis said:
"I have, for the future of American literature, every hope and every eager belief. We are coming out, I believe, of the stuffiness of safe, sane, and incredibly dull provincialism. There are young Americans today who are doing such passionate and authentic work that it makes me sick to see that I am a little too old to be one of them."

That quote personifies, for me, one aspect of Pluto in Gemini. A coming transformation in the world of literature.

Sinclair Lewis was one of the first American writers to address feminism. In his 1920 novel "Main Street", a classic satire of small-town America he tells the story of young Carol Kennicott who arrives in Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, with dreams of transforming the provincial old town into a place of beauty and culture. She runs into a wall of bigotry, hypocrisy and complacency. The book was the first bestseller to attack conventional ideas about marriage, gender roles, and small town life, establishing Lewis as a major American novelist.

"Main Street" is available on-line at
Reading a few chapters again, after not having seen the book for many years, I was struck by his firm yet delicate writing style. He seems to understand women, has an innate understanding of life in general, and expresses himself lightly and easily without pretentious wordiness (Mercury in Capricorn ?)

An Aquarian writer worth his salt is going to approach politics at some point. Sinclair Lewis didn't disappoint. He wrote " It Can't Happen Here" (1935). A tale of newspaperman Doremus Jessup struggling against the fascist regime of US President Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip. It serves as a warning that political movements akin to Nazism can come to power in countries such as the USA when people blindly support their leaders. Oh my!!!!! Was Sinclair Lewis a prophet? I guess so!

Although he ridiculed the values, the lifestyles, and even the speech of his characters, there is affection behind the irony. In some ways I see in Sinclair Lewis the novelist who describes in words what Norman Rockwell expressed pictorially. Lewis had a rather more jaundiced eye, however. Both men were Sun Aquarians.

I suspect Mars so closely conjunct Lewis' Aquarian Sun added vim and vigour to the way he expressed his views. He was said to be always "angry". He tilted at sexism, religious bigotry, political hypocrisy, small town attitudes, materialism, and anything else which offended his code of equality and fairness.

He is said to have taken to excessive drinking, and died alone, in Rome, at the age of 66. I admire this man even more now than I did back in the 1950s when I first saw an example of his writing. His wisdom and courage still shine through today, his work is as meaningful as ever.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

When Pluto met Gemini

During my early teenage years, in a small English market town , I would regularly haunt the local library. It was there that I discovered a few books by some American writers whose style I admired greatly - enough to start dreaming of emulating them, and becoming a writer or journalist myself. "Dream on" was the message of my headmistress (paraphrased) at a brief career interview. So I did - and do!

The writers who impressed me had something in common, something which I discovered today, as I set about writing this blog entry. They were all born with Pluto in Gemini. Two had Sagittarian Suns, two Aquarians, and one with Sun in Leo, one Virgo.

Sinclair Lewis 7 Feb. 1885 Sauk Center, Minnesota

Dorothy Parker 22 Aug. 1893 West End, New Jersey ( astrolreports says @ 9.50pm)

James Thurber 8 Dec. 1894 Columbus, Ohio

Ogden Nash 19 Aug. 1902 Rye, New York

S.J. Perelman 1 Feb. 1904 Brooklyn New York

H. Allen Smith 19 Dec 1907 McLeansboro, Illinois.

They were humourists or satirists, all different yet similar. I've looked at their natal charts, but mainly without the advantage of birth times. I notice that in all charts except Dorothy Parker's there is one fairly tight opposition. Lewis has Moon in Scorpio opposing Neptune in Taurus. Thurber's Sun/Venus in Sagittarius opposes Pluto/Neptune in Gemini. Ogden Nash has Virgo Mercury opposing Pisces Moon. Perelman has Sun/Saturn in Aquarius opposing Moon in Leo. H.A. Smith's Sagittarius Sun opposes Moon/Pluto in Gemini. I'm not sure if, or how, this is significant, but I found it interesting.

Gemini has connections with communication and transportation. During Pluto's transit of this sign, 1883 - 1912, there were fantastic achievements in these areas. The first subway was built in London, the first automatic telephone switchboard was introduced, Marconi invented radio telegraphy, and Zeppelin built his airship.

Gemini is abstract curiosity seeking to form a picture of the world, and to communicate those perceptions to others. So Gemini also represents writing, and presumably writers. Pluto must have brought a long-lasting period of intense energy to those engaged in this area. I'm tempted to babble about Gemini being light-hearted, carefree etc, but let's not forget who else was born into the same generation - Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Ayatollah Khomeini. These men too were communicators, but of a far darker persuasion. Not all writers born with Pluto in Gemini leaned towards humour either : T.S. Eliot, J.R.R.Tolkein, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, John Steinbeck all were of this same generation. Excellence in writing was a definite feature throughout Pluto's visit to Gemini. I guess we could say that they were all born "under a writer's sky".

Now that I've whetted my own appetite, I'll continue to write a few paragraphs about each of my "super six".


Saturday, November 25, 2006


I feel another astrological grumble coming on !

I really should stop reading astrology in books, articles, and on the internet. I can't. Perhaps I'm addicted. A lot of the time I just know I'm going to feel frustrated and annoyed about what I read, but I continue to do it. Maybe I'm searching for THE book or THE article which will make me feel "Yes! This is it!" I'm like the gambler who carries on betting, against the odds, because "THIS time it'll be different".

Astrology has been mashed, chipped, fried, baked, boiled, broiled, shedded, overdone, underdone, tossed, sweetened, stirred and shaken. I suppose it's understandable, there's a lot to work with. What I don't understand is why, after every method imaginable has been tried, there is no consensus among professional astrologers about anything at all.

If all, some, or any of those methods are valid, why isn't there agreement and acceptance by all ? Why has astrology split into separate camps - Tropical, Sidereal, Traditional, Modern, Uranian, Cosmobiology, Harmonics to mention a few? Even within each camp there is no full consensus as far as I can see. Astrology has followed the pattern of organised religion - not a good thing!

I have probably already discarded more astrological doctrine than is good for me in order to satisfy my own personal view. There's plenty left, but among all the options still out there, I cannot find someone or something which says exactly what I want to hear. Am I wrong? I suppose I must be wrong. I sometimes wish I could ignore astrology, but I can't, it carries on chattering to me from the corners of my mind.

Like the gambler, I shall carry on regardless.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Thorne Smith/Douglas Adams coincidence.

I decided to write a paragraph or two about one of my favourite American authors, Thorne Smith. He is not nearly as well known, or well remembered as he deserves to be, in my opinion.
I was eager to see his birthchart, but here lies a problem. Wikipedia states he was born 27 March 1892, Annapolis, Maryland. A site dedicated to Thorne Smith gives his birth date as 27 May 1892, with detailed biography. On a couple of other sites 1891 and 1893 are mentioned. I feel fairly confident that 1892 is accurate, it is printed on some of his book covers. The month of birth, however, seems less certain.

Thorne Smith's books were a riot of zany, irreverent humour. Some were made into movies - notably the 'Topper' series, and later 'The Passionate Witch' was to become the movie "Bewitched".

Re-reading the prologue to my favourite, "The Bishop's Jaegers" on-line at
I was continually reminded of Douglas Adams ("Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" etc) , their styles have a lot in common, and that's surprising given their different generational and national backgrounds ! Douglas Adams had natal Sun in Pisces, with Mercury and Jupiter in Aries. If Smith were born 27 March his Mercury and Jupiter would have been in Aries too, with Moon in Pisces! Is that similarity a clue?

Which birthdate IS correct for Thorne Smith ?

27 May 1892 produces Sun conjunct Pluto and Neptune all in Gemini + Moon in Gemini, Mercury in Taurus, Venus in Cancer.

27 March 1892 = Sun, Jupiter and Mercury in Aries, Moon in Pisces, Venus in Taurus, and Neptune and Pluto still conjunct in Gemini.

It is said that Smith was fond of alcohol. He often wrote about alcohol too! An aptitude for excessive drinking often links to Pisces and/or Neptune. Both birth dates might uphold this factor, Moon in Pisces in March, Sun conjunct Neptune in May. Smith spent some time in the navy before becoming a professional author. He was not physically strong due to early bouts of pneumonia which had affected his heart, and which sadly led to an early demise aged 42. Here is another coincidental correspondence with Douglas Adams, who also died much too young.

Although Gemini stellium for a professional writer would seem the classic choice, in Thorne Smith's case it would mean that Mercury lay in Taurus - not a good match for his zany style. With an Aries stellium(27 March) his Mercury would lie in Aries with the Sun and Jupiter.

I can immediately call to mind four different men I've known with Sun in Aries - all four were different in lots of ways, but all had one thing in common - a great love of laughter and humour. It was one of these men who first introduced me to Thorne Smith's writing, back in 1965. Coincidentally, the only other person I've met who had heard of Thorne Smith and read any his books, is my husband - also Aries Sun!

I'm not too sure which way to jump, March or May! I like the correspondence between Douglas Adams, Thorne Smith, and Aries best of all - so I'll go for 27 March 1892, in spite of the fact that the website dedicated to Smith's memory disagrees. I'll trust Wikipedia's date.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006.

Who better to illustrate to me, an alien in the USA, what Thanksgiving is all about, than Norman Rockwell ?

(From 1945 - look at his mother's face - so filled with gratitude that her son returned safely from the war.)

"Therefore let us make thanksgiving,

And with justice, willing and aware,

Give to Earth, and all things living,

Legacies of care." - Brian Wren

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Arcimboldo's link with Astrology

Top "Fire". Right: Water"

Born 1527 in Milan, died 1593, no other birth data available.

I first saw a reproduction of an Arcimboldo painting long ago, in a book in a school library. I was fascinated, and never forgot it. It's only this week, however, that I've discovered that there is a loose link between Arcimboldo and astrology.

The artist spent a large part of his career at the court of Rudolf II in Prague. Rudolf II was Habsburg heir, Holy Roman Emperor, king of Hungary, Germany, and the Romans.
Rudolf II is said to have been one of history's famous eccentrics. He gathered around him in Prague a collection of individuals who might be termed "la creme de la creme". In a search to understand the deepest secrets of nature and the riddle of existence, Rudolf invited to his court such notables as Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, German mathematician Johannes Kepler, English magus John Dee, Francis Bacon, and painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo among others. Prague became the hub of art and science. Rudolf is also known to have had astrologers resident at his court, and was said to rely heavily upon their predictions. He owned a pet lion who had the same rising sign as himself, and the story goes that when the lion died, Rudolf died the next day.

Arcimboldo must surely have been influenced by the "glitterati" of whom he found himself a part . His set of paintings of The Elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Air) were perhaps commissioned by his patron whose interest in astrology and alchemy was well known. The many portraits he painted, constructed entirely of fruits, flowers, fish, animals, and occasionally books or utensils were inventive and masterful. Often described as early surrealism, they are really more allegorical than surreal. Arcimboldo also developed a serious interest in attempting to equate musical notes with visual colors, and invented an instrument with which to practice this art. I wonder if Kepler's influence was showing here, for he too had ambitions related to musical science.

As well as painting for the Emperor, Arcimboldo acted as what we might call "entertainments director" to the court. He organised celebrations, parades, festivals, designed costumes and sets.

It's a pity we cannot know Arcimboldo's birth date. I'll guess that Aquarius and/or Uranus features strongly in his chart - his portraits are so far from what was then standard practice. They are inventive, clever, satirical - funny too. Leo might figure heavily, this artist's show-bizzy abilities are a clear clue. Venus, possibly in Taurus - solid artistic ability and a love of nature.

Rudolf II eventually suffered a decline in mental health as eccentricity morphed into insanity. We should be grateful for his patronage of some of the greatest minds and artists of his time.

Astrology and Blending

Although I love astrology dearly, I often struggle to agree with much astrologers write and say, as evidenced in a previous post - "My Purge".

Here's something else I think about a lot. We all have the same planets and luminaries in our natal charts. What makes us different from each other is the way in which they were configured at the time of our birth, the varying proportions of emphasis on signs, elements and modalities. We understand that a planet is the energy, a zodiac sign defines the "flavour" of that energy, and the house shows us where that energy will be most used or felt. This is where I start to wonder.

It seems reasonable to me that when a person has a particular personality trait (as indicated by planet in sign) it is going to influence the whole of that person's personality generally, not only in the area dictated by strict rules of astrology. A Venus in Sagittarius in 10th house for example is likely to influence many areas other than career and public standing. Sagittarian flavour will be apt to permeate the personality.

The cosmic trio of Sun, Moon and Ascendant are said to be a quick and easy way of summing up a personality. That's true, I think, but only if they are allowed to blend into each other's astrological territories. It's not logical to say that the Moon influences ONLY prescribed areas of the personality, or the ascendant is ONLY the way we present ourselves to the world. I've found that these three factors (and others) blend and influence each other strongly. It's impossible for a layperson to separate them and differentiate their influence. Perhaps a psychotherapist would try. How they blend is of course described by aspects these planets make to each other, but the conflicts or harmonies produced are not, in my opinion, likely to be confined to any specific areas.

Divisions irk me. They are not natural.

Take Mercury's energy, for example. How we think, how our minds work, how we communicate intertwines with and influences every other part of our life.
Mercury ought to be added to the cosmic trio - it should be a cosmic quartet. Venus too.
A cosmic quintet. Sun, Mercury and Venus will almost always be found within 3 consecutive zodiac signs. For me, there is much significance to be found in this. I'm chewing on it, straining for something which I can't quite reach.

I've tried to find an analogy to illustrate the point I'm trying to make, because I find difficulty in expressing it accurately. Pixels? Jigsaw? No. Cooking? Nearer. Ingredients blend into each other. When we add sugar, salt, butter in varying proportion, the effect spreads throughout the finished product. A measure of sugar sweetens all, butter adds pervading richness, etc. It's possible to identify the flavours, but not to separate them into compartments within the whole - those ingredients have now amalgamated to become something else. Environment has to form a part of the recipe too - hot oven or cool oven, for instance will make a world of difference to the finished product.

An astrologer can work backwards dissecting the "something else" which has emerged, identifying individual ingredients, but he/she cannot accurately describe the blended product, because there is no precedent, there are too many possibilites, known and unknown, internal and external. We are all unique.

Friday, November 17, 2006


"For the Conjunction of Two Planets",
a poem by Adrienne Cecile Rich

We smile at astrological hopes

And leave the sky to expert men

Who do not reckon horoscopes

But painfully extend their ken

In mathematical debate

With slide and photographic plate

And yet, protest it if we will,

Some corner of the mind retains

The Medieval man who still

Keeps watch upon those starry skeins

And drives us out of doors at night

To gaze at anagrams of light.

Whatever register or law

Is drawn in digits for these two

Venus and Jupiter keep their awe,

Wardens of brilliance, as they do

Their dual circuit of the west -

The brightest planet and her guest.

Is any light so proudly thrust

From darkness on our lifted faces

A sign of something we can trust,

Or is it that in starry places

We see the things we long to see

In fiery iconography?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Time of Birth Problem

Astrologers in the USA must have a much easier time than their counterparts in Britain.
Times of birth are routinely recorded in the USA. As far as I know, this has never been the case in the UK, unless one is born into aristocracy or to parents with excellent memories, or an interest in astrology.

I noticed, when writing previous posts about favourite artists, how frustrating it is not to know even an approximate time of birth. I can only imagine what professional astrologers must feel when presented with a client who has no knowledge of their birth time.I'm pretty sure that in more recent years parents with an interest in astrology will have started to note carefully the time when their offspring enters this planet. For folks of my own generation though, chances of this were slim to negligible.

R.H. Naylor, a British astrologer of the last century, was the first to publish a Sun sign column. I wonder if his clients' lack of full birth data frustrated him so much that he decided to find a method of bringing astrology to the public without the need of birth times. This is not what we are told by Wikipedia, however. They were not privy to his innermost thoughts on the matter, though !

From Wikipedia:
"In 1930 Naylor, an astrologer, was claimed by his newspaper to have predicted the crash of the R101 airship. This led to pressure on Naylor to come up with a simplified system of astrology suitable for a newspaper column. After some experimentation, Naylor hit on using the sun signs (also called star signs) and called his column Your Stars."

It seems clear that if times of birth had been routinely recorded in Britain, "proper" astrology would have had a better chance to flourish there in the past. As it is, Britain has still managed to produce some world class astrologers such as C.E.O. Carter, Alan Leo, John Addey, and, of course, today's crop of internationally known names.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Alphonse Mucha

Above: "Poetry" (from a set of The 4 Arts)
Left: Set of 4 "The Stars" (Morning, Evening, Pole, Moon)

How can I not adore Alphonse Mucha's work? He even acknowledges astrology in his illustration "Zodiac" (below).
He was born on 24 July 1860 in Ivancice in the now Czech Republic. Sun, Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn were all in Leo. Moon in Libra ,Venus in Cancer, Mars in Capricorn. Uranus Gemini, Neptune Pisces, Pluto Taurus.
His work became very popular very quickly after an early period as the proverbial "starving artist". With 4 planets in Leo, he was not destined to starve for long! Moon and Venus in mutual reception, Neptune in Pisces and Pluto in Taurus must all have aided his talent for that delicate, flowing style, an appreciation and celebration of femininity at its best. His popularity was not long-lived, however. It has been said that the market became saturated with too much of his work too quickly causing value to decline. He spent much of his later career painting epic works depicting Slav history for his homeland.
Alphonse Mucha is remembered in my bedroom, where "The 4 Arts" set and two of "The Stars" set , nicely framed, decorate the walls

Astrology in Latin

I found myself looking at a list of Latin phrases yesterday, and it struck me that some of these could be said to belong to the signs of the zodiac. Sifting through them I came up with the following list (some tongue in cheek, others serious).

Primus inter pares - First among equals
Ex tempore - Off the cuff, without preparation

Consuetudinis magna vis est - The force of habit is great. (Cicero)
Difficile est longum subito deponere amorem - It is difficult to suddenly give up a long love. (Catullus)

Audio, video, disco - I hear, I see, I learn
Facilius est multa facere quam diu - It is easier to do many things than to do one for a long time. (Quintilianus)

Veni, Vidi, volo in domum redire - I came, I saw, I want to go home
Est queadam fiere voluptas - There is a certain pleasure in weeping. (Ovid)

Magister mundi sum! - I am the master of the universe!
Veni, Vidi, Visa - I Came, I Saw, I Shopped

Mens sana in corpore sano - A sound mind in a sound body. (Juvenalis)
Abutebaris modo subjunctivo denuo - You've been misusing the subjunctive again

Pro et contra - For and against
Audiatur et altera pars! - Let us hear the opposite side!

Nemo me impune lacessit - No one provokes me with impunity. (motto of the Kings of Scotland)

Corruptio optimi pessima - Corruption of the best is worst

Primum viveri deinde philosophari - Live before you philosophize, or Leap before you look
O diem praeclarum! - Oh, what a beautiful day
Auget largiendo - He increases by giving liberally

Pecvniate obedivnt omnia - All things obey money.
Labor omnia vincit - Work conquers all things. (Virgil)

Mens sibi conscia recti - A mind conscious of its rectitude
Omne ignotum pro magnifico est - We have great notions of everything unknown. (Tacitus)
Vox populi - The voice of the people

Pulvis et umbra sumus - We are dust and shadow. (Horace)
Poeta nascitur, non fit - The poet is born, not made
Credo quia absurdum - I believe it because it is absurd. (contrary to reason) (Tertullian)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Politics and Astrology

An article by Ann Coulter in one of our Oklahoma newspapers this morning first grated on my nerves, then had me pondering. Is there some kind of "signature" in astrology to indicate the way we are most likely lean politically, and how far we might lean ? Astrologers have probably investigated this in the past, but I've drawn a blank looking for information on the internet.

Environment, experience and education must figure very heavily in the development of a person's political views, but I wonder if there IS something in astrology which might give us a hint about this.

Ann Coulter's birth data: 8 December 1961 in New York City. No birth time.

Oh my! That's a disappointment. Sagittarius, one of my favourite signs figures very heavily in her chart. Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars and Mercury all in the sign of the Archer, Sun and Mars conjunct within 2 degrees. Saturn in his own sign of Capricorn is strong.
Jupiter in Aquarius....hmmmm. Pluto and Uranus in Virgo. Neptune in Scorpio.
I wish I knew her ascendant and midheaven!!

First thing - imbalance. She certainly does come across as unbalanced and extremist in her writing. So many personal planets clustered within one zodiac sign could be a blessing or a curse, external factors will decide which.

Second thing - Strong Saturn, strongest planet in the chart, I think - I bet it's on an angle too! Conservative, rigid, at its worst and strongest, almost cruel.

Third thing - Mercury square Pluto and Venus square Uranus - these aspects to generational planets probably have significance, especially Mercury's aspect to Pluto in view of Ms Coulter's career in communication. I'm not sure how to interpret these.

I think in this case imbalance, aided and abetted by a strong Saturn are the villains of the piece.

Rush Limbaugh is another extreme conservative commentator on the US political scene. His chart contains none of the imbalance of Ms Coulter's though. He was born 12 January 1951 Cape Girardeau at 7.50am according to Astrodatabank. His personal planets are spread pretty evenly between Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces with Saturn in Libra, and, shock horror Aquarius rising!!

This is nothing but a guess: I bet Limbaugh's stance is predominantly for effect, putting on a show, but Coulter's is "for real".

Monday, November 13, 2006

William Morris

Another favourite artist: William Morris.

Art Nouveau arose and flourished in Britain and Europe for a relatively short period in the second half of the 19th century, and until World War 1. Its signature is a flowing, sinuous, organic and often rather erotic style which is based on nature, and was a reaction against the Victorian's rigid attitudes and styles. The female form figured often in Art Nouveau, sometimes naked or scantily clad - a celebration of natural feminine beauty, erotic but never vulgar. Jewellery, glassware, furniture, posters and illustrations in published material all reflected this "new art". William Morris was one of the originators of Art Nouveau in Britain. He must have influenced many younger artists to follow in his footsteps. Charles Rennie Mackintosh, already described in an earlier post, was one of these. In Europe Alphonse Mucha was a wonderful representative of the Art Nouveau style - another of my own favourites. Other well-known artists on this genre are Aubrey Beardsley (erotic), Rene Lalique (glass), and Tiffany (glass, jewellery).

I'm beginning to notice something I hadn't appreciated previously: my favourite artists are not artists in the narrowest sense of the word. They all used their talent in practical ways. Norman Rockwell as a magazine illustrator, Charles Rennie Mackintosh as architect and designer, William Morris, remembered most for his wonderful fabric designs,
Alphonse Mucha for posters and illustrations.

William Morris designs have attracted me from the first time I discovered them back in the 1970s. Over the years his work has appeared in my various homes as wallpaper, cushion covers, or wall hangings. Sadly, as yet he isn't represented in my home in the US, but in due coure he will be!

William Morris was born 24 March 1834 in Walthamstow, Essex, England.
Before I looked at his natal chart I just knew there'd be Aquarius in there somewhere. He was a pioneer of socialism and ecological thinking in Britain as well as being a multi-talented artist, member of the Pre-Rafaelite Brotherhood, and Arts and Crafts artistic movement in Britain. He believed that art should be affordable and available to all and that every craftsman was an artist - he eschewed any form of elitism.

"My hero" on all counts !!

Extract from
"When William Morris (1834-1896) died at the age of sixty-two, his physician declared that the cause was "simply being William Morris, and having done more work than most ten men." This multi-faceted man was at one time or another (and sometimes simultaneously) a designer and manufacturer of furniture, stained glass, tapestries, wallpaper and chintzes; an accomplished weaver; a pioneering preservationist; an active Socialist and social reformer; a successful poet and novelist; and in his last years, the founder of the Kelmscott Press. Yet all of these activities were of a piece, unified by several threads in the tapestry of Morris's life.
One continuity, dating from early childhood, was his love of nature, evidence of which may be found in the fond natural descriptions of his letters and poetry, the patterns of his tapestries, and the vining borders of the Kelmscott book. There was also his passionate devotion to the Middle Ages and to everything they represented; romantic Medievalism informs Morris's literary output, as well as his arts and crafts work and the books from his Kelmscott Press.
A third thread was his belief that it is impossible to separate esthetic issues from social and political ones. Morris often contrasted the social organization of the Middle Ages with the present condition of England, which led him to advocate a complete reform of industrial society. At first, he advocated an overhaul of the flawed esthetics of the age and later, realizing that such reform alone was insufficient, a thoroughgoing political revolution."

I was right! William Morris has Sun, Venus, Mercury and Pluto in Aries AND Neptune, Mars and Uranus in Aquarius!! Jupiter in Taurus, Moon in Virgo, Saturn in Libra. No birth time available.

Wow! Is there any wonder he was such a dynamo, physically and mentally ? And is there really any wonder that I admire him so ? My Sun and Moon are where his two stelliums appear, Aquarius and Aries.

A quote from Mr Morris which is equally valid today in the USA , long after these words were spoken or written in England:

"I hope that we shall have leisure from war, -- war commercial, as well as war of the bullet and the bayonet; leisure from the knowledge that darkens counsel; leisure above all from the greed of money, and the craving for that overwhelming distinction that money now brings: I believe that, as we have even now partly achieved liberty , so we shall achieve equality , and best of all, fraternity , and so have leisure from poverty and all its griping, sordid cares.”

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

I spotlighted Norman Rockwell a few posts ago, now it's time to go back across the Atlantic to look at another of my favourites: Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Born 7 June 1868 in Glasgow, Scotland. Sun Gemini with stellium (Mercury Uranus, Venus) in Cancer, Capricorn Moon. No birthtime available.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh had many and diverse ways of using his talent. Watercolours, posters, furniture design, architecture, interior design. This diversity is fitting for a Sun Gemini. His Uranus/Mercury conjunction is well represented by the avant garde styles he presented to an often astonished public. I love every aspect of this artist's work.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society website explains that

"Mackintosh took his inspiration from our Scottish traditions and blended them with the flourish of Art Nouveau and the simplicity of Japanese forms."

Mackintosh's talent, which I categorise as genius, didn't bring him the accolades he deserved in his own lifetime. In "The Mackintosh Style" by Elizabeth Wilhide the author remarks that

"Sheer bad luck, professional setbacks and misunderstanding conspired to provide Mackintosh with what has been described as "a tragically small range of opportunities".
A proud and difficult temperament only made matters worse and gave a sad inevitability to his decline. What began so brilliantly ended in self-imposed exile, near-penury and almost critical eclipse."

Perhaps the opposition between Uranus/Mercury in Cancer and Moon in Capricorn might suggest the internal struggle which made his temperament "difficult"? Was the Pluto in Taurus generation to which he belonged too entrenched in the status quo to to appreciate his genius ?

It is poignant and ironic to note that his furniture and artwork now sell for millions of pounds and dollars, yet at the time of his death his entire estate which comprised the contents of two studios was assessed at 88 pounds ($136.40). Mackintosh buildings were being demolished as late as mid-20th century, whereas today they are prized for the treasures they truly are. Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a genius, unacknowledged in his own time but now fully appreciated at last.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Autumn in Oklahoma


"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. "--George Eliot
This is the third autumn, or speaking American,"fall", which I've spent in Oklahoma. It's only the second fall in our present house, and the first when I've been able to fully enjoy my favourite season.

We have 4 very large old trees, Cottonwoods and Maples, in front and back yards here, many others adorn houses in our street and in the pasture and woodland just beyond the back of the house. In consequence all the joys of summer shade and autumn colour need to be paid for by a regular clearing of literally tons of leaves come November and December. This year's crop is more abundant than ever. We had a VERY hot summer with longterm drought conditions. Rather than harming the trees, these conditions seem to have encouraged leaves to cling on for longer, turning to luminous colours, and eventually descending in a multitude, seemingly all at one time.

Our nextdoor neighbour is very conscientious about his yards. I swear he has strong Virgo in his chart! He can be heard daily clearing the debris. No doubt he sighs heavily at the sight of the 2 big trees in front of our house, and the thick covering of leaves over our grass, which blow onto his neatly manicured lawn at regular intervals. We philosophically decide "Let's wait until ALL the leaves have fallen, then have a proper clean-up". I, however, eventually feel duty bound to go our and fill a bag each day, "just to show willing".

Last week we travelled across state to Talimena Drive, a scenic road across the Ouachita National Forest 'twixt Oklahoma and Arkansas on OK's eastern border. The roads we travelled were breathtakingly lovely, even before arriving at The Drive. Trees bordering the country highways at times looked more like giant flowers, glowing red, orange, yellow, brown, copper, and all shades between. The Drive itself was disappointing due to misty conditions, but a few breaks in the fog, allowed us to shoot a couple of photos (see one above).

American people love their "fall". From Halloween to Thanksgiving lots of porches and yards are adorned with bright orange pumpkins, bundles of wheat, ears of corn, and other symbolic items. It's as though Americans are determined to be optimistic, despite the dying year, the coming frosts, and messy leaves - they want to celebrate life. That's nice.
In Oklahoma, fall weather is mostly kind. The energy-draining heat of summer gives way to pleasantly warm days, crisp early mornings and evenings. Blue sky days outnumber those with heavy cloud cover, and when it rains, a few hours is the limit. Here, it really is possible to enjoy the autumn. In England, especially in the north, one has to be quick to catch fleeting glimpses of lovely autumn foliage. Wind and rain strip the trees bare in a matter of hours. Autumn in the north of England can be as short as one week. Here we can enjoy the season for much longer.

Astrologically we are in the time of Scorpio and Sagittarius. Deep introspection leading to a philosophical realisation that "life is good", spring will come again, as will summer, and yet another beautiful autumn. Time is turning exactly as it should, and all is right with the world.

My Purge (or should that be My Bad?)

"Purge": an act of removing by cleansing; ridding of sediment or other undesired elements.

In the unlikely event of anyone accidentally reading this blog, I must make it clear that what follows is nothing but my own very personal view of astrology, formed through many, many years of interest, observation, and a lesser number of years studying the finer points.

I mean no disrespect to the views of others. The feelings I describe arise from somewhere deep inside me. I would be disloyal to myself to pretend to believe some things for the sake of appearing to conform.
The purge of my astrological toybox begins:
First, I don't believe that when a natal chart seems not to match its owner, using basic methods of delineation, the astrologer should use a "deeper" set of techniques, or add more ingredients, to MAKE IT FIT. If a chart doesn't fit, the reason is most likely to be attributable to the native's heredity, location, environment, sex, health, circumstances, etc. Probably, though, transits and cycles especially those of Saturn, Uranus and Pluto will be observable in the life, in accordance with that chart, even when the personality as described does not clearly manifest. The idea that astrology MUST always produce accurate results is not in accordance with my belief that astrology is a FRAGILE natural manifestation of planetary effect upon a living being, originated in the moment of birth. The fragile effect might be modified in any number of ways, it is amazing to me that the effect remains discernable at all - but it does, in many cases.

I cannot accept the idea that there are any DEFINITE divisions in an astrological chart. In my view, because there is no universally accepted "correct" house system or even correct zodiac, signs and houses ought to be open to blending. Insisting otherwise is illogical. There are no walls in space. In my opinion astrology is NOT capable of exactness - not in present circumstance, and at a guess, not ever. I believe a natal chart can display
a view of the native, but only through a swirling mist - it contains hints, outlines, suggestions.

The two previous paragraphs are contrary to what astrologers in general like to believe.
I understand why. Astrologers and writers about astrology need to make a living.
Their opportunity to do so would be badly impaired if my own views were universal.
Who would buy a book or astro-report based on the fact that "this might be partially true, or it might be quite wrong". Astrologers of all stripes have been able to keep astrology alive and kicking into the 21st century. For this, I'm grateful, but it doesn't mean I have to believe everything they say.

To put myself into further trouble, I must admit that I have no time for progressions, secondary, primary or any other -ary. They are based on an imagin-ary premise of "day for a year". Huh??? Come on guys!!!! Why??? Fractal theory? Who said it applies to astrology, or life? In my own experience, it doesn't. Likewise I don't accept the validity of solar arcs, solar return charts, and lunar return charts. However much I've tried, my mind and heart will NOT accept these methods. The fact that they originate from the past isn't enough to convince me. The idea of a flat earth originates fom the past also. These are useful tools for astrologers to expand business: more to write about, more to predict, more chances that predictions might match circumstances. No, sorry ! These do not fit my version of astrology. These methods make astrology into a kind of board game in my opinion.

Digging myself an even deeper hole, I'll confess that I do not accept that charts for things inanimate have any value at all - countries, governments, cities, etc. I think astrology affects living beings. Horary astrology probably links into this too. If some astrologers get good results from using horary methods, then I have to believe that horary astrology is something akin to tarot cards - which DO occasionally come up with spookily accurate answers, for some unknown reason.

Finally, getting down to the last dusty corner of my astrological toybox, I throw out
any theory related to karma, soul purpose, reincarnation. These belong to religion, not astrology. Draconic charts = fiction. Any idea that names from mythology allocated to newly discovered/designated celestial bodies should be taken as a guide to a body's meaning makes no sense to me. Even less sense when astrologers jump on the idea the day after announcements are made by a body of astronomers who look on astrology as bullshit. Is there any wonder they have that opinion ?

Even after my purge, there is a lot of good stuff left in my toybox. I'll play with my favourites later.
I admit that my views arise as a result of my own personality, as suggested by my natal chart. I cannot think otherwise - this is the way I am wired. I may be wrong, but equally, YOU may be wrong.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Way

Before I begin throwing some items out of my astrological toybox, I'm going to write a few lines about my own way of thinking about astrology. I also want to acknowledge some of those who have helped me thus far on the way along my lengthy learning curve.

I see astrology as a delicate wildflower. Natural, fragile, yet strong enough to withstand the vagaries of climate; simple, yet carrying within it the complexity of nature itself. It was never meant to be used as part of a sophisticated corsage, an altar dressing, an abstract piece of artwork, or to be crushed for its perfume , or dissected for experimentation. It deserves to be understood for what it is : an intrinsically beautiful part of nature. Like a wildflower, astrology deserves to be treated gently, lightly and with great respect.

I acknowledge with gratitude the helpful information I have gleaned (and continue to glean) from a variety of sources, past, present. A few names and places - not exhaustive, but representative :-

Jonathan Cainer, Robert Hand, Zane Stein, Antero Alli, Carl Payne Tobey, C.E.O. Carter,
Eric Francis, Philip Sedgwick, Bill Herbst, William D. Tallman, Ken Gillman, Candy Hillenbrand, Therese Hamilton, Sirman A. Celâyir, Dr. Patrice Guinard. Members of message boards - AstroChat, Tribe, Zarathu.


Friday, November 10, 2006

My journey into astrology

Astrology has played some part in my life for over 50 years. For the greater part of that time my knowledge was sketchy at best. I strained to understand a world beyond Sun signs, which I knew existed, but had difficulty accessing. In my younger years things were very different from now. The Astrology Bandwagon proper had not yet started to roll, it had not been fuelled by the spread of home computers and the internet. I lived in England in a small town where the library and book shop carried no books on astrology. I would scour magazines and newspapers for articles expanding on the scanty Sun sign columns which were carried then. Astrology was with me always though, sketchy or not.

As the 1950s morphed into the 60s then the 70s, things began to look up for astrology.
Hippies, their culture, and "Hair" the musical with the song "The Age of Aquarius" brought astrology into focus and more people began to take an interest. By now I'd moved from small town Yorkshire. I'd married and awaited divorce. I puzzled over the fact that my marriage to a Libra Sun person failed dismally, when Aquarius and Libra were thought to be such an excellent match. I started reading more books and any specialised magazines I could find. Nothing I read enabled me to get much beyond Sun sign astrology. I was hampered by my blind-spot in mathematics. Trying to calculate a natal chart from written instructions with nobody to ask for advice was too daunting a task.

In the early 70s a new relationship began in my life, with a Sun Taurus. According to all information Aquarians and Taureans are NOT a good match. In spite of our Sun signs the relationship lasted for 33 years, until the partner's death. With a more stable emotional background, a new home base in the northern city of Leeds, new job in the civil service, a new era for me began.

Amongst colleagues in my new job were 3 who shared my interest in astrology. Glory be!!!! Barbara, a lady nearing retirement, Pat who was originally my immediate superior, and Mike who eventually married Pat - these three opened the doorway into astrology a wee bit wider for me. Pat and Mike introduced me to tarot cards, and a strange shop in Leeds called "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". I bought tarot cards, books and an enormous pile of back issues of "Prediction" magazines there. Pat helped us to discovered our Moon signs around this time - another step in the right direction!

The first "proper" astrology report I ever had done was in the 70s. I answered an advert in one of the Prediction mags, I think. The astrologer was called Patrick something or other.
The report was expensive, and took a long time to arrive. It was produced on a typewriter which had seen better days - uneven type and fading ink upon three foolscap sheets of good quality blue paper. I remember its appearance very clearly, but no longer have it. It was lost along with all of our possessions in a disastrous fire in 1996. This report on my natal chart told me, at last, something about the other planets. It was confirmed that Moon was in Aries, as Pat had calculated. The astrologer estimated my ascendant to be in Leo, from the birth time I had given - which later proved to be inaccurate. I laboured for years under the misapprehension that I had Leo rising. Most of the other content of that report has faded in memory, except that the astrologer said I'd be likely to experience disappointments in dealings with the oppisite sex. Hmmmm! I reckon that's true of any human on planet Earth. I still haven't worked out what in my chart prompted him to say that. As it turns out, I've been luckier than most in my relationships.

As the years passed, other office colleagues shared my interest in astrology too. We'd swap books and information. Still the subject was beyond full understanding. We were like kids playing blindman's buff. My copy of Linda Goodman's "Sun Signs" did the rounds of our office a few times, and eventually disappeared.

Astrology in newspapers had increased a lot by this time in both quality and quantity. Russell Grant had a column in the Daily Mirror - a tabloid which my partner insisted on buying because it was the only socialist newspaper then, apart from the rather snooty Guardian. In those days Russell Grant was doing well as a popular newspaper astrologer. Something happened though - he didn't live up to that early promise. I was always sorry about that. I wonder what went wrong.

I can't remember exactly how or when I discovered Jonathan Cainer's column. Perhaps it was in a women's magazine, or a Sunday newspaper. I immediately felt that this was THE one to watch. We couldn't bear to buy the Daily Express, even for Jonathan Cainer's column - the newspaper was far too conservative for us! I'd borrow copies, and buy any other publication I could find where his writing appeared. When he took over from Russell Grant in the Mirror I was overjoyed ! I can't remember the order now, but he moved to the Mail, and we moved to the Mail too - it's all muddled in memory! Jonathan's page in the Daily Mirror was very interesting. It carried all kinds of information as well as Sun sign forecasts, I looked forward to it eagerly each day.

I can't say now just why I was so keen on these Sun sign columns. I knew that there was much more to astrology, yet these columns presented something to hold on to, something regular, day by day. These columns helped to keep astrology at the forefront of my mind.
Perhaps I was holding on instinctively, until I was able reach a point of being able to discover more for myself.

The 'point of discovery for myself' came first with the purchase of a home computer at the end of 2001, and later with the purchase of astrology software. Because of everything I'd absorbed, knowingly and unknowingly over 50 years, learning enough to fill many of the gaps in my sketchy knowledge came with comparative ease. Along with this new knowledge, however, came some doubts.

An Aquarius Sun with Uranus in Taurus and Mercury in Capricorn needs rationality.
This is where I now find myself - seeking rationality in astrology. It never occurred to me over those 50 years of enthusiasm that Sun sign astrology was irrational. Why? Because it is simple, and in many cases you CAN see it working, if you have a feel for the subject. I'd have questioned astrology much sooner had I not been able to see SOME correlation between Sun sign and person. That's for sure! I now understand why in some cases the Sun is not the prominent factor in a personality. In many cases, though, the Sun does shine through clearly enough to be observable personality-wise. Sceptics and researchers have not been able to prove that point to their own satisfaction but I am not swayed by this. If I can discern astrology working, that's enough. Conversely, if I cannot detect rationality in certain methods used by astrologers, and they produce nothing observable to ME, then I have difficulty in accepting the validity of those methods, no matter how ancient or revered.

Ayn Rand (another Aquarian) said "Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it. "

and Theodore Roosevelt: "Keep your eyes on the stars but keep your feet on the ground."

I'm about to de-clutter my astrology toybox.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Search for astrological direction

The website of CURA (University Centre for Astrological Research) is a kind of on-line magazine. A collection of articles written by (mainly) academics, edited by Dr. Patrice Guinard. The site is not particularly current, most articles seem to originate from the late 1990s and early 21st century, but this does not detract from the value of content.

The main thing I gained from picking here and there amongst the articles on CURA is that I am not alone in my way of thinking about astrology. Greater and vastly more experienced minds than mine have experienced reservations similar to my own .

Dr Patrice Guinard, in "Some Aphorisms on Astrology" says, among many other things-

"Utility, the pragmatist criterion, is not the ultimate criterion of Truth (if it were, there wouldn't be something that could be called truth). The modern practitioner tells us he is just a pragmatist: "it works!". In reality, he is just an imitator, not even imitating what he would have learned through actual research into the past, but merely imitating modernist books and translations which have fallen, accidently, before his eyes.

5.2 Contemporary astrologers, and also the majority of astrologers of the past, are doing nothing other than what they were told to do. They are purely imitative in their attitude. Astrologers are doing, in general, only what they have learned to do. I don't care to justify what astrologers are doing in general. Sociology exists for that purpose! If astrology is not more than a field for latter day believers, then let's get rid of it!

5.5 Astrology is not what astrologers are doing, but rather something that lies beyond them. And that is fortunate for astrology! Astrology will probably recover its prestige when a majority of astrologers will let it.

5.6 Such a thing as a 'well-established tradition of astrological practice' does not really exist at all! Each astrologer, each school, has his own one.

5.7 Nothing in reality neither was nor is actually 'working very well', except the feeling on the part of the astrologers that it does.


5.13 Continuing to interpret charts with the only poor 'pseudo-symbolic' thought which modern astrologers generally take as thought, is not doing astrology, but a part of the modern 'Show' -- or the space in which the Show allows "astrologers" to define their act as astrology. No reflection upon astrology is valid if it is not correlated with a reflection upon society & culture!

7.5 The study of the history of astrology is crucial, for this study must lead not to the understanding of what we think astrology is, but to the understanding of what the astrologers of the past believed astrology was and why they thought it was such.

7.6 We will not discover in past astrology what astrology is, but rather, why the past models of astrology have failed. We will have to understand astrology by ourselves, on our own, because we are not the Greeks, nor the Assyrians.

7.8 The study of the historical past of astrology is not for crystallizing a supposedly correct and definitive astrology, but for understanding astrology's failures and deficiencies (because all predictive methods in the astrology of the past have always failed), and for showing the degree to which the inconsistent modern practices of astrology are in fact, today, dependent on these very failures and deficiencies. To seek the past mainly serves the purpose of purging it!

7.11 It is as absurd to believe that one could practice a supposedly authentic hellenistic astrology, as it is to believe that it is possible to invent alone, in a vacuum, the future astrology of the 21st and 22nd centuries, without knowing what the astrologers of the past had done, and why they appear to have failed.

7.12 It could be that the ancient material and rules are invalid. Then the task is to find the logic underlying this material, which could lead us to a new vision of astrology which is compatible with modern thought. " (End of quote)

The last paragraph is especially significant. Some ancient rules may indeed be invalid.
ALL ancient rules COULD be invalid - but we are still left with something which many people can see working - not all the time, not in every circumstance or in every personality, but with sufficient regularity for them to retain interest and enthusiasm for astrology. This means that SOME ancient rules do work for some of the time - in any case they are the only rules we have.

Glancing around a few sites today, a couple of things grated on my astrological sensitivities.

I wondered how long it would be before someone hawked out the Eris/Ceres thing with regard to Nancy Pelosi and/or Mrs. Clinton. Sigh. Someone has!

Someone else has noted that Nancy Pelosi's Mars is at the same degree as fixed star Algol.
The ancient belief that Algol is seriously malefic still persists. Thousands of people walk the earth with Algol prominent in their charts and do not experience as much as a bruise or broken bone in their lifetimes, let alone a beheading or violent death. For Pete's sake people - get real!!! Some astrologer in ancient times noted that one of his clients had this fixed star prominent in their natal chart. That client suffered a bad end. Maybe even two of his clients had the same fate. End of story.
One man crosses a road, is hit by a truck. Billions of others cross the same road safely.

I'm still very wet behind my astrological ears, but I can see silliness when I encounter it.
Come on, astrologers - open your eyes !! Something IS going on, no doubt about that, but you do need to acknowledge that : 1) You are not all-knowing repositories of ancient truths. And 2) Astrology badly needs an overhaul. Some of the bigger names in popular astrology could lead the way - if they were brave enough to do so. Academics such as Dr. Guinard et al will never influence enough of the population at large. Popular astrologers hold sway. Who among them is brave enough to be in the avant garde of a New Rational Astrology ??

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Mid-term Star is Born !

I have no vote in the USA yet. Perhaps by the 2008 election, Department of Homeland Security permitting, I shall have managed to obtain citizenship, which will enable me to take part in the voting.

Disenfranchised as I am, I still have a keen interest in politics here. It'd be silly not to.
US politics affect the whole planet in many ways - even though at times I doubt that The American People fully appreciate this.

It is clear, now, that the Democratic party has regained a lot of strength. Democrats now hold a clear majority in the House of Representatives, and will also rule the Senate if two close calls go in their favour. This will indeed, little by little, swing the USA in an entirely new direction, and everyone on the planet ought to heave a sigh of relief.

Most of the names and faces I saw on the TV screen last night were unfamiliar, one in particular stood out for me, even so. Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi, Democrat, represents California's Eighth District in the House of Representatives.
She will now become Speaker of the House, the first woman in American history to hold this position. I don't know why she stood out for me last night, from so many other good Democrats. Perhaps my intuition knows something. I think she will prove VERY significant in the future, in some way - a prediction!

Nancy Pelosi was born on 26 March 1940, Baltimore, MD. Sadly no birth-time is available. She has Sun and Jupiter in Aries, a stellium in Taurus (Mars, Venus, Uranus and Saturn), Moon in Scorpio, Mercury in Pisces (surprising!) Her generational planets are the same as mine, Uranus Taurus, Neptune Virgo, Pluto 00* Leo. I thought she was much younger - she looks it! She is in fact but a year younger than me.

I'd expect someone with a chart like hers to be a leader who would fight with great determination for her beliefs. On her website she is described in one headline as "The Granite Lady". That fits! I think her generational planets must lend a lot of stability and common sense - she will not be inclined to take risks which endanger her party or her country, or her planet - unlike the President who has Uranus in Gemini, Neptune in Libra - too much Air, not enough stability !

Go Nancy!!!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

"When the student is ready......."

There's a belief that "When the student is ready a teacher appears". This runs along the same lines as "Cometh the hour, cometh the man". Do either of these ideas ring true ?
I can think of examples which uphold the second saying. Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King , on the world stage, spring immediately to mind. The student/teacher idea, for me though, is not as easy to see in action. In my role as a student of astrology the teacher has not yet appeared who fits my bill. Perhaps I'm not ready. Perhaps I'm too obtuse?

I'm seeking an astrologer or writer on the subject with whom I feel comfortable. The farther I seek, the more disillusioned I become. I have always felt comfortable reading anything written by Jonathan Cainer, but he limits his writing to the elementary area of astrology which I think I have now mastered. I admire Robet Hand, especially his excursions into the history of astrology. Even Mr Hand doesn't completely fit the bill for me. I'm looking for someone who asks questions, looks for answers, and doesn't accept ancient doctrine or dogma wholesale.

The late Carl Payne Tobey comes fairly close to what I'm looking for. I like his fresh approach to the subject. He insists that astrology is "an abstract". I disagree on that. He says it is a branch of mathematics. Perhaps mathematics are needed to understand astrology, but it is surely more than that? Reading his book "Astrology of Inner Space" I got the feeling that he was something of a male chauvinist, which I found offputting, but tried to ignore. Perhaps he was simply a man of his time, and things have moved on.
I got the same feeling when reading Grant Lewi - another astrologer of roughly the same period. Both these men were probably before their time in one way, yet still shackled by the attitudes of their era.

I have found articles by William D. Tallman, Ken Gillman, and Therese Hamilton of great interest. These are the kind of astrologers I'd like to read more of - but their output on the internet or in books is limited. They are not commercially-based astrologers.

The search continues.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Norman Rockwell

The above illustrations by Norman Rockwell are but a drop in the ocean of his enormous talent. He was a prolific illustrator of American life in the mid-20th century. Born 3 February 1894 in Manhattan, New York at 2am his Sun and Mercury are in Aquarius, Moon Capricorn, ascendant Scorpio, Venus Taurus.

His illustrations display a great affection for humanity and for his country, his love shines through them all very clearly. His work graced the covers of Life Magazine for many years, and are still much loved in America and elsewhere.

He did not shrink from making a political point when he felt it necessary, as can be seen above. The majority of his illustrations, though were like snapshots of family or working life of the average American in what now seems almost like the "golden age" of his country. He often included himself in his illustrations. He can be seen in the second picture above, to the right of the bearded man with black skull cap.

If I had to pick a list of admirable Aquarian Sun people, Norman Rockwell would be up there near the top.

More examples at