Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve with T.S. Eliot

This magazine cover welcomed in 1936. I couldn't resist that cute little astrologer! There's a bigger version below.

Waiting to welcome in 2008, I'm in the mood for some T.S. Eliot. His poetry isn't to be greedily swallowed whole. I find that it's indigestible that way. Picked at like an elegant plate of Cordon Bleu cuisine (not that I've ever tasted any) it's quite beautiful.

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."

~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

He was born in St Louis, Missouri on 26 September 1888.
Top gives his time of birth as 7.45am - Libra rising. I'm not sure how reliable that is. It does add more emphasis to already well-emphasised Libra.

Sun, Uranus Venus and Mercury all in the sign of the scales, ruled by Venus, planet of the arts, with Venus and Mercury straddling the ascendant (if that birth time is to be trusted.)

Three planets in Gemini with Moon/Pluto trining Sun, Moon trines Uranus - communication and the Arts very well integrated. As an embarrassment of riches Jupiter (the publishing planet) in Sagittarius (sign of its rulership) sextiles Eliot's Sun, whilst opposing Pluto/Neptune. Mars in Sagittarius opposes Gemini Moon. Saturn in Leo sextiles both Uranus and Moon.

My first thought was that this is an extremely well integrated chart. There is a predominance of Air, indicating a person who "lives in their mind", some Fire but no planets in Water or Earth. Positive polarity predominates - goes off the grid in fact!

Biographical detail is thin on the ground, but the small amount which follows ties in nicely with his natal chart.

"I am an Anglo-Catholic in religion, a classicist in literature, and a royalist in politics." T.S. Eliot so defined, and even exaggerated, his own conservatism. The ideas of this stimulating writer were perhaps traditional, but the way in which he expressed them was extremely modern Eliot was one of the first to reject conventional verse forms and language. His experiments with free expression contributed to his reputation as one of the most influential writers of his time."(Tradition-loving Saturn sextile inventive, futuristic Uranus)

"Eliot held many different kinds of jobs throughout his lifetime, as writing poetry was not and still is not the most lucrative of occupations when one is not well-known. His occupations varied from schoolmaster, bank clerk, free-lance writer, assistant editor, editor, publisher, and even professor of poetry at Harvard. (Versatile Gemini Moon with Pluto/Neptune well integrated with other Air planets)
Being an introspective kind of person,(Sun in 12th house) as most poets are, Eliot underwent a profound religious calling. After much soul-searching and inner turmoil, Eliot was confirmed as a member of the Anglican church in 1927. This brought him a much more positive attitude towards life that can be seen in his writings after this date."
(Jupiter and Mars in Sagittarius may be connected with his religious/philosophical traits).

It is rather difficult to find much information on T. S. Eliot, which is quite hard to understand, considering the profound impact he had on American and English literature. However, it can be explained that since Eliot was a very private man and also forbade in his will an official biography, the dearth of information on Eliot is justifiable.
(Libra planets all in privacy-loving 12th house, except Mercury, which lies on ascendant at this birth time. I suspect that Mercury may actually have been in 12th house, also.)

T.S. Eliot died on January 4, 1965.

Another sample of his work - a favourite piece of my own. It comes at the end of "The Four Quartets".

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one."

(Sources : brief biographies HERE and HERE
Magazine cover illustration (top & below) is by J.C. Leyendecker.)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007, My Year of the Blog

2007, my third full year in the United States of America is coming to an end. I'm out of the "another-fine-mess-I-got-me-into" stage, and into the "this- could-be-so-good-if-only-more-people-woke-up-and-voted-differently" stage. And, it was my first full year of blogging (I still find that word ugly).

Transiting Uranus conjunct my natal Jupiter, at 6* Pisces and close to natal midheaven could be credited with irritating my blogging-itch, in late-2005. Whether that itch will ease and disappear as Uranus(ruler of my Aquarius Sun)moves ever further away from natal Jupiter, the publishing planet, I don't yet know.

At the start of each week I've felt doubtful that inspiration would stretch to fill a week's blogs, but most times, as if by magic, it has done so. Perhaps I should credit this to the fact that transiting Neptune (imagination) has been hovering very close to my re-located ascendant at 22 Aquarius.

I'm doing something now that I couldn't have visualised, or even considered that I could do, 5 years ago. Blogging is the result, for me, of a slow development. My first home computer, in 2001, was the springboard. Neptune was then conjunct my natal Aquarius Sun. How about that! Uranus and Neptune have been taking it in turns to tease me.

Yesterday, a late commentor to one of my posts from a few weeks ago said that I should "move on", spend time on something with "solid results", why spend my time on "this"? My reply was "because I enjoy doing it, and to me each posting is a solid result that pleases me." If passing readers find anything of interest or amusement, it's a surprise bonus.

It was brought home to me, as I read Christmas letters from old friends in the UK, that not everyone of my generation has embraced the computer. Two friends expressed extreme distaste and unwillingness to even try using one. "I don't even know what a blog is", said another." I'd taken for granted that everyone would be as besotted with the opportunities offered by the internet as I am. HeWhoKnows and I are a matched pair though, he's been "at it" (in various ways), for much longer than I have. I guess it takes one to know one.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturn Hybrids

Saturn was traditional ruler of both Capricorn and Aquarius - adjacent signs, and the only adjacent pair with the same ruler. Modern astrology has Uranus as ruler of Aquarius. In spite of all three modern rulerships (Neptune/Pisces, Pluto/Scorpio being the other two), an underlying similarity - no, commonality is a better word - between traditional pairs of planets can be seen.

Carl Payne Tobey in his book "Astrology Primer for the Millions" wrote of similarities and differences between these pairs of zodiac signs. In past months I've featured his views about the people of Mercury(Gemini/Virgo),Venus(Taurus/Libra), Mars(Aries/Scorpio) and Jupiter (Pisces/Sagittarius). Links at foot of post.

In the case of Capricorn and Aquarius, Saturn's traditional rulerships, Mr. Tobey illuminates for us that the two signs have similar interests and drives, but approach them from opposite viewpoints. Capricorn is conservative by nature, Aquarius has distinctly progressive inclinations, one would wish to uphold the law, the other to change it.

I have the idea that these two, very different but adjacent signs with a common traditional ruler, can bring about a curious type of hybrid personality. Individuals with Sun in either Capricorn or Aquarius frequently have planet(s) in the other sign. (I have Sun in Aquarius, Mercury in Capricorn). Whilst I would never describe myself as in any way conservative, I do appreciate tradition as well as visions of a fairer future for all. Even so, I'm not a true Saturn hybrid because several other signs carry almost equal weight in my natal chart.

Distinct hybrid Aqua/Cap and Cap/Aqua personalities could partly account for the reason Sun Aquarius has a mixed reputation. I've heard people comment that "there are two kinds of Aquarians". I'd agree, and previously had put this down to generational traits. We're all astro-hybrids of one sort or another, but due to the juxtaposition of Capricorn & Aquarius, Saturn hybrids are of particular interest in view of their common ruler.

I've found it a little odd that some Sun Aquarians who particularly appeal to me fit, to my mind, a common pattern, but not that of textbook Aquarius. Three favourites - Paul Newman, Neil Diamond, Tom Selleck - are all Sun Aquarians with more Capricorn than Aquarius in their astrological makeup. Saturn hybrids!

Astrotheme tells me:
Newman has (rounded up/down) 43% Cap, 6% Aqua, 16%Scorpio.

30%Cap, 10%Aqua, & 22% Taurus.

30% Cap. 13% Aqua & 19% Leo.

Capricorn content outweighs Aquarius in all three cases. There are lots of other, similar examples, Aqua/Cap and Cap/Aqua, but this post would become tiresomely long if I quoted them all. Dick Cheney, Aquarius Sun, is not a Saturn hybrid. He = 30% Taurus, 22%Aquarius. His dominant planet is unruly Uranus, however.

The late Maya del Mar, astrologer, and Sun Aquarian was a Saturn hybrid, 23% Capricorn, 17% Aquarius. C.E.O.Carter, astrologer and Sun Aquarian was not a Saturn hybrid - 31% Aquarius but no Capricorn at all, Saturn comes in 4th in dominance among his planets. Astrologer Evangeline Adams wasn't a Saturn hybrid either. She had Sun in Aquarius, but her dominant sign by a wide margin was Pisces @ 46%, with Aquarius 17%.

Finally...attributes of Saturn's two zodiac signs are well known, but just a mention here of one or two points from Carl Payne Tobey's assessment:

Capricorn will tolerate frustrations, is very practical in outlook, insecure about material things, will not take unnecessary chances and will put up with a great deal for the sake of material security. Doesn't like change - makes them feel insecure. A true Capricorn wouldn't be likely to go into politics except perhaps locally, usually those who do enter this arena are mixed Capricorn/Aquarian types.

Aquarius sees into the future because the future and not the past is of interest. Divorce is more common in Aquarians than Capricorns - Capricorn is more likely "stick it out", for economic or other reasons. Aquarius has great curiosity, and inventive ability. Likes change and progress, doesn't fear the future in the way Capricorn does. Assumes and hopes that the future will be a surprise and when it is, Aquarius reacts automatically and knows what to do about it, while Capricorn must first get over the shock. Aquarius is open minded and something of a hobo by nature. A true Capricorn man would find it difficult to keep up with a true Aquarian wife - she likes freedom, isn't keen on routine.

(Two Saturn hybrids might get along pretty well though!)

Jupiter's People
Mars People
Venus People
Mercury's People

(Details of sign and planet percentages obtained from lists at Astrotheme.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Good Astrology Bloggery (+Benazir Bhutto).

Tom Coates, an early blogger, in 2001 re-discovered an old newspaper column by Keith Waterhouse, in which he had listed his own rules for good column writing. The article can be accessed via the link above. Tom Coates considered that some of Keith's 25 points are as helpful in blogging as in column writing.

Keith Waterhouse was a favourite newspaper columnist of mine, back in the UK. He's seen below (left) with Peter O'Toole, doing what journalists love to do.

I chose 9 points from Keith's list of 25, and added minor modifications and comments, in red. Not only is astrology blogging different from newspaper column writing, it's also different from straightforward blogging - but these points still gave me some useful insights.

The body of this post was drafted a few days ago. Yesterday's dreadful news, of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, highlights some of Keith's points, as well as the sterling work of our astrologers and bloggers who commented on the tragedy, using a variety of astrological references.

(i) It's not so much what you say as the way that you say it. Your column(blog) must have a distinctive voice, to the extent that if your byline(blog name) were accidentally dropped, your readers would still know who was writing. If your style isn't instantly recognisable, what you have there is not a column(blog) but a signed article. (I think he meant "un-signed"?)

(ii) The fact that your column (blog) contains no facts does not mean that you need not have checked them like any other journalist. In other words, you must be sure of your case. You are allowed to generalise - "Our children are the worst educated in Europe" only if your wild generalisations, when tamed, can be substantiated.We should make sure it's possible to "tame" generalised remarks, such as...erm..
"there are more geniuses born with Sun in Aquarius than any other sign". (I do remember seeing that in print, more than once, over the years!)

(iii)Avoid kneejerk reactions. You don't necessarily have to produce a paragraph every time Fergie(or Bush) does something stupid or a politician's wife announces that she's standing by him. If the readers can predict what you're going to say, there's little point in saying it - and even less in their reading it.This one could apply to astrology bloggers, except that sometimes, what happened to a well-known individual might serve to illustrate an astrological point.

(iv) Let the bandwagon roll by. Even if every columnist(blogger) in the land is commenting on the mother unjustly sent to prison or the teacher who handcuffed the child to a radiator,(or a comet, or eclipse, or a celestial peculiarity), you don't have to jump aboard unless you have something to say that the others haven't already said.Same applies here as in (iii).

(iv)On the other hand, although it's not always necessary to write about the main news event of the day, there are times when the occasion demands it. Given a Hillsborough (for those in the US, this could read "New Orleans") disaster, for example, there is no point in writing about anything else since nobody will be talking about anything else.New ideas or a different astrological perspective would ensure readers do actually read, not just glance, at your hard work though. It may still be best to desist, after a brief mention of the topic, unless fresh inspiration presents itself..

(vi)Don't ever try to fake it. Nothing is so transparent as insincerity - pile on the adjectives though you may, false indignation has the ring of a counterfeit coin.This applies to all writing, I guess. If we don't have confidence in a particular astrological method or process, it's best not to try to write about it sounding as though we do..

(vii)Do not expose your spouse to the glare of the public - especially not by the whimsical name of Him Indoors or She Who Must Be Obeyed. The same goes for the misadventures or quirky comments of your family and the daffy behaviour of your family's dog.Ooops! Here's one I'm guilty of. ("HeWhoKnows" = my husband). The internet is somewhat different from newspapers, and bloggers are in a different situation from newspaper columnists. Anonymity is commonplace in internet communication of all kinds, for a variety of reasons.

(viii)There is no real need to mention that you have been on radio or television again. Your readers no longer regard it as any big deal.Any astrologer or blogger who manages to get themself in front of a radio mic or TV camera - heck - shout it from the rooftops! Astrology needs all the exposure it can get.

(ix) Should you wear a hat, do not ever offer to eat it. Predictions are for astrologers. If you do make a prediction and you are wrong, as you are almost certain to be, don't start your subsequent column(Blog) with the words "All right, so I have egg on my face". Forget it. Your readers already have.This one speaks for itself to astrology bloggers, and especially to me in view of yesterday's tragic news about Benazir Bhutto.

Although I didn't actually try to predict anything in my blog post about her last summer HERE, my comment that "nothing but good can come of her return to Pakistan" was most unwise. I finished the posting with one of her quotations: "You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea." I hope her ideas will not die with her.

R.I.P. Benazir Bhutto - the world could ill afford to lose you, especially at this point in history.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Rotten Take on Capricorn

I wonder whatever happened to Jim Critchfield and Jerry Hopkins ? I found their little book, which attempts astrological humour, "You Were Born on a Rotten Day", in a secondhand bookshop. It was published in 1969/70, Los Angeles, 5 printings (!) That's surprising.

A quick search via Google informed me that Jim Critchfield passed away in 1998, and Jerry Hopkins now has many books to his name, some best-sellers, and is still busy writing.

"You Were born on a Rotten Day" has provided me with a couple of monthly posts in the past. I fear the quality of its astrology isn't improving, nor is the standard of its humour!
It's a curiosity, and a piece of astrological history. It's an example of what happens when writers try to be funny about a subject on which they appear to be almost totally ignorant. (NOTE: For some good modern astrological humour by an astrologer and blogger, see Matthew The Astrologer's blog, there's a pearl of a seasonal chuckle from Matthew HERE, and others in his archive.)

Here are Jim and Jerry's words of wisdom concerning Rotten Day Capricorn:

"People born under the sign of Capricorn make excellent cheapskates. If you were born on the 18th, you were one day older than people born on the 19th -- but it doesn't matter because they're all cheapskates anyway.

Your love-life is governed by the distant Planet Fringus (which is only 3 inches in diameter), and you have a tendency to be shy when undressing outdoors.

You must fight your primary weakness -- delusions of adequacy. However, with concentration and dedication, you can become average. But never forget you're a sub-standard person.

Financial matters with Capricorns are always lousy, and you are unlucky at love and finding water. This birth sign is a veritable hex, historically filled with gangsters, misfits, perverts and TV repairmen. Your general health will continue to deteriorate and you probably won't make it till the next full moon. Always be of good cheer."

There follows, for each sign, a list of comical predictions for "A typical miserable month for......." Actually, some of these are funnier than the preceding section, which, of course, isn't saying a lot!

"Keep emotionally active. Cater to your favorite neurosis"

"Don't move or act through a third party. Two parties in one night is your limit"

"Set your house in order. Start by picking up your socks"

"You could get a new lease on life - if only you didn't need the first and last month in advance."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Road Far Ahead

"What will America be like in 2017?" That question doesn't inspire me sufficiently to hazard a guess. It feels, to me, as though things are coming to a point of flux. Almost anything could happen in the next ten years. I'd prefer to look further ahead, to a time when the dust has settled, or a new dust-cloud has appeared.

I recall some illuminating, and often touching, entries from professional writers and others in response to a request at De Smog blog.

"We asked friends of DeSmogBlog to write a letter to their great, great grandchildren about their vision and hopes for their world in 100 years, in the context of global warming. Will we all be underwater? In outer space?"

Having no children of my own I don't qualify for great-great-grandchildren. This is something about which I often feel relieved. My husband has four offspring, however, all grown and most with sons and daughters of their own, so I don't feel totally excuded from these thoughts

What will the outer planets will be doing in around 100 years' time?

In 2104 (just short of 100 years from now) there will be another Uranus/Pluto conjunction. This one will occur in Taurus. The last Uranus/Pluto conjunction was in 1965/6 in Virgo. To find the previous one in Taurus we must look back into the centuries Before Christ - 322BC and 576 BC (see Richard Nolle's list HERE).

Will great-great-grandchildren of today's population live through an updated re-run of the turbulent years of the mid-1960s: Vietnam war, civil rights activism, hippies, etc? There's little doubt, in my mind, that if the human race manages to survive that long, there will be turbulence. Turbulence which makes the mid 1960s look serene by comparison. The conjunction in Taurus has a distinctly more robust flavour than the earlier one in Virgo. It will still be in an Earth sign, but Fixed Earth, more determined, single-minded and focused. This may be the revolution many of us feel a need for now. Perhaps the great-great-grandchildren will live it for us. And by 2107, perhaps the worst will be over, and a new world will be taking shape.

I can't help recalling, too, some thoughts of my own about a time even further into the future. I wrote a short story last year, a first attempt at fiction, "Regions of the Home Wind". A futuristic tale of two travellers, many many centuries from now, from a far-off world whose ancestral roots are here, planet Earth. They return to their roots. About halfway through the story they discover a hidden refuge and store-place with materials which help them understand Earth's history. Among their finds is a sunlight-driven recording device, containing a message from the year 2045.

"A male voice, deep and resonant:

" To whomsoever may hear these words in the future, I send greetings from the people of the United States of America in the year 2045."

"We fear for the future of our planet in these dark times. We have tried to collect and store, in a secure place, items which may help and inform any of our people who are able to survive into a new age of planet Earth, an age which must surely come. As well as the items you already have discovered within this container, there is more. You must remove the base of the container using the same tool you have used to open the cabinet. Under the base you will find supplies of seeds. These will survive for hundreds, or thousands of years. They are seeds of corn, wheat, vegetables, fruit and flowers from our world. These, carefully planted and tended, will provide an ongoing solution if food is in short supply. There are illustrated instructions to assist you.

We, who have used our planet Earth so unwisely ask one thing only of those who might survive these times to build a new future: Love your planet. Live in harmony with it, and with one another. These are the lessons we have learned, but learned too late.

On behalf of the people of North America and planet Earth, I ask your forgiveness and trust that our mistakes will bring forth your wisdom.

I am President of the United States of America.


We remained in silence, deep sadness etched upon every face. Cheroka and I felt proud that the people of Alterion have, indeed, learned from the cruel lessons of their ancestors."

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Star of Wonder...."

As I press Blogger's publish button it's still Christmas Eve here in Oklahoma, but in some parts of the world it's Christmas Day already. Christmas carols ring out from our TV - the carol for astrologers and astrology bloggers has got to be "We Three Kings"....."Star of wonder, star of light....."
In the Astrology Explored blog on Sunday Beth Turnage wrote about this wondrous Christmas Star.

This is a fun version from Australia sung by Hugh Jackman, David Hobson and Peter Cousens, hamming it up, but singing well.

I found the following illustration on the cover of an old "Pathfinder Town Journal", dated December 1953 - picked it up in an antique shop on our spring travels. 54 years ago the topics were much the same as we find in magazines and the internet today - but many steps back: the atom bomb, elections, new car models, black and white TVs, cookie recipes, winter weather and more. No astrology column though. There's a paragraph in a page titled Looking Ahead - "What will the US be like in 1963?" John E. Haines, VP of Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co. predicted:

"Planes will fly round the world non-stop in less than 18 hours.
Rockets will reach the moon
Residential air conditioning will be as commonplace as automatic heating is today
Houses will be built of plastics."

Not bad....not bad !

Now....what will America be like in 2017?


The 12 Days of Christmas - zodiac style.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" seemed to me to be crying out for an astrological parody - 12 days, 12 zodiac signs! Passing readers will be relieved to hear that I had neither the voice, nor the technical know-how to inflict on them a recording of the following ditty, cobbled together by yours truly. There's a traditional version of the song, from YouTube, below.

Michelle, at "Crows Feet" tells an interesting tale about the song's history HERE

On the first day of Christmas
My astrologer showed to me
Aries in a big hurrreee

On the second day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrreeee

On the third day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Three chatty Gems,
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrreee

On the fourth day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Four Cancer moms
Three chatty Gems,
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrreee.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Five...... Leo........ kings.......,
Four Cancer moms,
Three chatty Gems,
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrreee.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Six Virgos checking,
Five....... Leo...... kings.....,
Four Cancer moms,
Three chatty Gems
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrreee

On the seventh day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Seven tactful Librans,
Six Virgos checking,
Five........ Leo... kings........,
Four Cancer moms,
Three chatty gems,
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrreee.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Eight Scorps seducing
Seven tactful Librans,
Six Virgos checking,
Five.......... Leo..... kings.....,
Four Cancer moms,
Three chatty Gems,
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrrreee.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Nine Saggies expanding,
Eight Scorps seducing,
Seven tactful Librans,
Six Virgos checking,
Five....... Leo.... kings.......
Four Cancer moms,
Three chatty Gems,
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrrreeee.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me,
Ten Capricorns counting,
Nine Saggies expanding,
Eight Scorps seducing
Seven tactful Librans,
Six Virgos checking,
Five...... Leo...... kings.....,
Four Cancer moms,
Three chatty Gems
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrrreee.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me
Eleven Aquarians knowing,
Ten Capricorns counting,
Nine Saggies expanding,
Eight Scorps seducing,
Seven tactful Librans,
Six Virgos checking
Five..... Leo....... kings.....,
Four Cancer moms,
Three chatty Gems,
Two Taurus bulls,
And Aries in a big hurrreeee.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My astrologer showed to me,
Twelve Pisceans dreaming,
Eleven Aquarians knowing,
Ten Capricorns counting,
Nine Saggies expanding,
Eight Scorps seducing,
Seven tactful Librans,
Six Virgos checking,
Five..... Leo........ kings......,
Four Cancer moms,
Three chatty Gems,
Two Taurus bulls,
And .... Aries in a big hurrrrreeeeee..

And now, the original:

PS forgot to say - MERRY CHRISTMAS! to any who will be absent from blogland over the holiday. I'll be around - 'cos the 'flu bug hit us. We are in the midst of a whingeing competition - to decide who feels worst!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dylan Thomas &"A Child's Christmas in Wales"

Dylan Thomas was born on 27 October 1914 in Swansea, Wales, in the UK. Astrotheme has his time of birth listed as 8.56pm - Cancer ascendant. His personal planets were a blend of Scorpio and Aquarius, in challenging square - an uneasy mix. Venus in Sagittarius, Saturn conjunct Pluto in Cancer, and Neptune at 00 Leo complete the picture. No planets in Earth signs. Unruly Uranus and addictive Neptune oppose each other and square his natal Sun. His history of alcohol abuse may connect here, as well as to his lack of grounding Earth planets.

For all his challenges and failings, however, Dylan Thomas wrote like an angel.

At Christmas-time I love to read or listen to his story, "A Child's Christmas in Wales", a patchworked collection of his childhood Christmas memories. Read it in full HERE, or listen to him reading it, HERE.

A brief excerpt:

He begins:
"All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find..........."

And Dylan Thomas found his hands filled with memories, which he delights in recording in his inimitable style, after which he draws to a close so...........

"The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying "Excelsior."

We returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept."

(3 Snowscape illustrations are of scenes far from Wales, but still compatible with Dylan Thomas' writing. They're by American artist/illustrator Maxfield Parrish)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007


As we in the north prepare to welcome the Winter Solstice, in the southern hemisphere Summer Solstice is being celebrated....whichever it be for passing readers, Summer or Winter -


An urge to mark these points in time must be in our blood - in our DNA. Humans have been doing so for as long as we are able to see, back into the distant past.

Countless structures around the world served ancient civilisations as natural calendars to mark solstices, equinoxes, and sites of sacred ceremony. I think the nearest such structure to our present home is in New Mexico, the state adjoining Oklahoma's panhandle, to the west.

At the southern entrance to an area known as Chaco Canyon stands 443ft high Fajada Butte (above right).

Here, in 1977 Dr. Anna Sofaer discovered the "Sun Dagger" - a petroglyph thought to have been carved some 1000 years ago by an ancient people who inhabited the area, the Anasazi, ancestors of the modern Pueblo peoples. The ancestral Puebloans were a prehistoric Native American civilization centered around the present-day Four Corners area of the Southwest United States (where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet). The "dagger" is the only known site in the world that marks the extreme positions of both the moon and the sun.

"A large circular spiral and a small spiral are pecked in the cliff behind three large stone slabs. At midday on the summer solstice, the sun shines between the stone slabs and creates a dagger of light that bisects the large spiral. On midday of the winter solstice, two daggers bracket the large spiral. During the spring and the fall equinoxes, a small dagger of light bisects the small spiral. The slabs also cast shadow on the large spiral that marks the moon’s eighteen point six years cycle of its orbit"
(Chaco Culture Brochure).

We haven't visited Chaco Canyon, but in 2005 we did visit Mesa Verde, which is in the same area. We explored the remains of ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings - an amazing experience.

(A couple of photos from our trip)

The Anasazi abandoned Chaco Canyon around 700 years ago, for reasons unknown, possibly due to climate deterioration, and crop failure.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Cards

Christmas card styles for the 12 zodiac signs:-

Lighthearted fun, usually sent early:

Traditional style, landscapes:

Making sure the message gets through:

Homely scenes:

Classy, large, somewhat pretentious, expensive looking:

Restrained, minimal:

In the best of taste, maybe handmade, may show pairs:

Cards to grab the eye by colour or design:

Santa Claus, fun, or religious cards:

No nonsense, structured, traditional symbols:

Unusual, zany:

Whimsical, pretty, religious: