Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another US Radical ~ Mother Jones

Yesterday's post featured Sarah Palin, a modern-day agitator who, to my mind is seriously misguided. An American female from the past who fits my bill more easily is the lady known as Mother Jones, once referred to in the US Senate as "the grandmother of all agitators". She was born in Cork, Ireland, daughter and grandaughter of Irish freedom fighters. Her grandfather was hanged; her father, Richard Harris, his wife and family fled to America in 1835. Mother Jones' real name was Mary Harris Jones. She grew up in Ontario, Canada, moved to the US and taught in Michigan and Memphis; worked as a seamstress in Chicago, married George E. Jones, an iron worker and enthusiastic union member, who no doubt helped to form her future passion for justice and improvement in the lives of the poor and working classes.
Whatever your fight, don't be ladylike. (Mother Jones)

From "Mother Jones, "The Miners' Angel" by Mara Lou Hawse

Life was relatively good for Mary Harris Jones until 1867. That year, when she was 37years old, within one week her husband and their four small children died in a yellow fever epidemic. After the epidemic had run its course, she returned to Chicago where, once again, she began to work as a dressmaker.
But tragedy followed Mother Jones. Four years later, in 1871, she lost everything she owned in the great Chicago fire. That event also changed her life drastically, and she discovered a new path to follow. She became involved in the labor movement and began to attend meetings of the newly formed Knights of Labor "in an old, tumbled down, fire scorched building."

One biographer believes that Mother Jones's interest in the labor movement really began when she sewed for wealthy Chicago families and observed the blatant economic and social inequities that existed. According to Fetherling, she said: "Often while sewing for the lords and barons who lived in magnificent houses on the Lake Shore Drive, I would look out of the plate glass windows and see the poor, shivering wretches, jobless and hungry, walking alongside the frozen lake front.... The contrast of their condition with that of the tropical comfort of the people for whom I sewed was painful to me. My employers seemed neither to notice nor to care......
.....During the time she was most active in the labor movement, the country was changing dramatically, from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy. Small enterprises were replaced by large ones.

The nature of work and of workers was altered. Waves of immigrants and displaced farmers dug the nation's coal and forged its steel. All too often, they received in return only starvation wages and nightmarish conditions. Within these men smoldered the sparks of class conflict which Mother Jones would fan for 50 years. To these workers, she would become an anchor to the past and an arrow toward a better future."

She later became a traveling lecturer for the Socialist Party of America, then a co-Founder of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). She left the Socialist Party in 1911 to return to assist in organising the United Mine Workers , and was still working in that capacity in West Virginia at age 93, after a decade earlier having been convicted and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment by a military court. The then 83-year old battler was set free quite quickly by the new state Governor, after trouble had erupted in the Senate. Later though she was imprisoned on two occasions following strikes and marches, a notable one being to raise awareness about the horrors of child labor and the need for its abolition.

Some day the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit! (Mother Jones)
There is some doubt about Mother Jones' correct birth data. There's no doubt about the place - it was Cork, Ireland. Some sources give 1 August 1837, while others state that she herself gave 1 May 1830 as her birth date. Out of interest and curiosity I've erected a chart for both dates - for 12 noon so rising signs will not be accurately shown, and Moon degree will not be reliable, unless in mid-sign even the sign will be in doubt. There should be enough to go on and to make a stab at which is the "real" chart for Mother Jones.
What I'd expect to be clearly indicated is a driving, passionate force for social justice, lots of energy, linkage of Uranus to personal planets - Uranus the avant garde rebel.

1 August 1837

Well....on balance I prefer the chart for 1 May 1830.

The 1 August 1837 chart has Sun, 3 personal planets and quite likely Moon all in Leo. Leo is certainly the sign of leadership, a trait which Mother Jones obviously possesssed in that much fits. But what kind of leadership does this chart indicate? Sun is in helpful sextile to energetic Mars and confrontationally square to Saturn which can either represent work (and workers?) or limitation and restriction. Uranus the avant garde rebel at 7 Pisces is in quincunx (an uncomfortable scratchy alignment to Mother Jones' Sun, but in harmonious trine to Saturn in Scorpio - that's not a very good fit in my opinion.

1 May 1830

The 1 May 1830 chart has Sun and Mercury in stubborn, practical Taurus forming conflicting square aspects to Saturn in Leo and Mars/Uranus in Aquarius. I like this, especially Uranus conjunct Mars which adds energy and dynamism to the rebellious spirit and challenges the more staid and practical Taurus Sun, both traits and their accompanying challenge were needed for the work this lady chose to do. Natal Moon would have been in Leo or Virgo - I'd guess Leo - the leadership indication needed here. As for the overall generational atmosphere, in 1830 Uranus and Saturn were in opposition, much as they are at present. This is a far more appropriate scenario for bringing forth Mother Jones' type traits, astrologically, than the trine between Uranus and Saturn contained in the 1837 chart.

I rest my case, but am open to correction!

A final quote from Mother Jones - still as appropriate today:

I believe that no man who holds a leader's position should ever accept favors from either side. He is then committed to show favors. A leader must stand alone.
PS: Mustn't forget to mention the website bearing her name:
Mother Jones.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dangerous Airhead ~ Sarah Palin

I've been trying to ignore Sarah Palin's recent antics, but an article at Huffington Post last week drew me out of attempted Palin-blockage:Why Sarah Palin Is Not Only an Airhead But a Dangerous One by Mona Gable.

Airhead is a good description of Ms Palin, who has 5 personal planets in Air sign Aquarius. Here's her natal chart with a birthtime recommended by astrologer Chris Brennan at The Political Astrology Blog.

In past posts about Sarah Palin I used a different, and probably inaccurate, birth time. The one used now one could still be an inexact time and rounded-up, as Mr. Brennan points out, but perhaps nearer to the truth. (I suspect she has Leo rising, which would put her birth around half an hour earlier than 6pm.) Looking again at her chart, I notice that natal Venus is at 1* Aries, the point where transiting Uranus (modern ruler of the sign containing her cluster of personal planets: Aquarius) is due to arrive in around a year's time. I'll watch for any news of change for her then, or during the several months before and after.

This woman, in my opinion, gives Aquarius a very bad name! I checked back on the dozen posts of mine where she was mentioned and see that on one occasion I looked at her chart along with that of Dick Cheney, another rogue Aquarius Sun who seems far more Saturnian than Uranian: "Un-Aquarian?" was posted on 4 September 2008. Other posts mentioning Sarah Palin can be accessed from the sidebar Label Cloud. Reading all of these on a full stomach is not recommended!

Some of us suspected that Sarah Palin would simply ride off into the sunset and fade from view - or at worst be offered a job presenting some FOX TV show, which we could easily avoid. Wrong. Ms Palin has other fish to fry and her recent efforts to inflame right-wing masses have become impossible to ignore. Here's a snip from the article linked above:

After the landmark health care vote on Sunday, Palin promptly posted a map of the U.S. targeting vulnerable Democratic members of Congress. To highlight their districts, she didn't use something all Alaska and folksy like a smiley face or a grizzly bear. No, she marked them with rifle cross-hairs. But I guess she didn't think the message was explicit enough. So she exhorted her gun-loving followers with this: "Don't Retreat--Reload." Cute.

This week we've seen that words like these have terrifying consequences. In an interview with The National Review John Boehner suggested that Steve Driehaus, a freshman Democrat from Cincinnati, would be a "dead man" if he voted for health care. Driehaus did, and now his family has received death threats. New York Democrat Louise Slaughter received a message saying snipers were going to kill the children of all those who'd voted for health care. Imagine walking outside your house one morning to find a coffin there. That happened to Missouri Democrat Ross Carnahan.

Republican leaders have yet to firmly denounce these threats. I guess they're afraid of looking wimpy or weak and want to keep their jobs. It's no wonder Palin feels emboldened to demean Obama and attack Democrats with no regard for the consequences. It's clear she doesn't care, that she's willing to say anything. Let's not forget: this is the college dropout who couldn't even tell Kate Couric what newspapers she reads. So it's not like she has a regard for language or facts.

With thousands of angry followers on Facebook and Twitter, Palin might no longer hold office, but she's still holding court. And that combined with her almost gleeful ignorance makes her dangerous. It's time to call Palin out and hold her accountable.
Bear in mind there's an anniversary coming up soon to remind us all of the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh on 19 April 1995 - an atrocity fuelled by right-wing hatred. Ms Palin would do well to remember that when you light a fire, sparks caught in a backdraft could easily ignite designer garments and burn their wearer badly.

To the beginning of this quote I'd add the word "Inciting"....

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."(Isaac Asimov)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Music Monday ~ American Idol's Top Ten & That T-Square

Dates of birth for American Idol's Top Ten finalists have surfaced. I can now take a look at some of the natal charts for signs of imminent triumph - or otherwise. Interestingly, a couple of the gals' charts are affected by the upcoming Cardinal T-square which will link Saturn, Uranus and Pluto in early degrees of cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Capricorn (with a hint of Jupiter thrown in, at times).

As mentioned in my previous Idol 2010 post in early March (here) bookmakers at that point had Andrew Garcia as favourite to win. Andrew's performances since then have proved to be somewhat inconsistent though; he isn't as well favored now. His place as male favourite has been taken by Michael Lynche.

From the gals, Crystal Bowersox remains a potential winner and has brought consistently good performances. A contestant who sneaked up from behind: Siobhan Magnus might prove troublesome to the favourite in time though.

Back left to right: Siobahn, Casey, Didi, Michael, Crystal, Tim. Front left to right: Katie, Andrew, Lee, Aaron.

Let's have a look at some charts, just those of contestants who I suspect will survive the next few rounds. All are set for 12 noon in the absence of birth times, so rising sign will not be accurate as shown. Click on images to enlarge.

Gals first:

Crystal Bowersox: Joplinesque and confident in her own talent - knows her niche and her strengths. Great voice, plays guitar and harmonica.
Sun and 2 personal planets in Leo - no surprise that a career on stage has always been her dream. If born before 7pm natal Moon would be in Pisces, later in the day she'd have Aries Moon. Either way, transiting Uranus will be hanging around the Pisces/Aries cusp for quite a while, and Uranus relates to changes and unexpected events. During much the same period transiting Saturn will be opposite Uranus, and therefore opposing Crystal's natal Moon, as Saturn relates to work and career, perhaps here is an indication of upcoming big changes for her in this area. Could the heavy T-square configuration manifest for Crystal in life changes and the realization of her dreams, but bringing with it some problems and stringent demands to this young single Mom?

Siobhan Magnus: Young, quirky, big voice, a vocalist who could likely sing absolutely anything and make you listen. Interesting gal! She's a combination of Pisces/Aquarius/Capricorn with Moon almost certainly in Scorpio. Significant here is that she'll have transiting Jupiter (benign, and often thought lucky, planet) close to her natal Sun during the rest of the competition. Also, transiting Uranus is joining her Sun, so she will be linked, though more loosely, into that T-square which could affect Crystal. Interesting!

Didi Benami : Good-looking gal, nice voice, not sure of her genre though, probably something along British singer Duffy's style. (Scorpio Sun with Leo or Cancer Moon).

Katie Stevens: Youngest gal still in the competition. Good voice but will struggle to stay in much longer. She needs time for her style to "gel".
(Sagittarius Sun with Moon in Taurus or Gemini).


Michael Lynche: Big, big fellow (fitness trainer) with, I'd guess, a big heart to match. He seems such a nice guy. He's versatile in style, great voice, confident and best of all - very likeable. Sun/Mars in Gemini opposite Jupiter/Uranus in Sagittarius with Moon in either late Capricorn or early Aquarius.
Hmmm. I don't see any significant transits for him, he has no planets in early cardinal signs where the T-square will form. Maybe this is a good thing though -to be free of any looming potential surprise or problem? I'll be watching his progress, or lack of it, with interest, bearing that T-square in mind.

Casey James: I've liked him from the start. He has the confidence in his skills honed from years of singing in small venues. Nice looking without appearing conceited. Style can vary from rocker to country to balladeer - good on guitar too. Casey's another contestant without clear linkage to the upcoming Cardinal T-square. He's a mix of Capricorn and Aquarius with Leo Moon, whatever time of birth. As with Michael, perhaps a lack of significant transits at this time will be a boon. We shall see.

Andrew Garcia: Suffers from bad song choices, but could pull back to the lead with better judgement in that department. Good judgement in choosing songs to suit the voice and importantly to please the audience, is essential, and something often absent in less experienced contestants. Andrew is experienced though - he had a big YouTube following before Idol, so this is puzzling in his case.
(Sun in mid-Libra, Moon in Cancer or Leo).

Lee DeWyse: Nice gravelly voice (Joe Cocker-ish ?) Lee lacks experience and confidence though, but is improving fast. (Sun 12* Aries, Moon in Capricorn or Aquarius).

Aaron Kelly : Youngest contestant in the Top Ten, amazingly mature sounding. Tweens will love his cute looks. Aaron is another who, though good already, could use a few more years to "gel" his talent into an individual style. Could go country, or straight pop, I guess. Huge potential. (Sun 12* Aries - same as Lee, Moon definitely in Leo).

Tim Urban: Another one for the Tweenies, difficult to know where he fits genre-wise though. I doubt he'll go much farther in the competition unless he comes up with something really special soon. (Sun in Taurus).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back in the cyber saddle again. (No astro today).

This trip wasn't one of our forays into the spectacularly scenic wonders of this land. Our route was more or less dictated by the track of a couple of winter storms.

We headed west, Sunday morning, behind a snowy storm which hit our town the day before. Through the north Texas "boot" into New Mexico as far as Tucumcari we drove, then on to Alberquerque, a town we'd missed on previous New Mexico adventures. Both these names sound more exotic than their towns turned out to be. Albuquerque is nicely situated with the snowy Sandia and Manzano Mountains forming a backdrop. It's New Mexico's biggest city, but seems more like several smaller towns linked together. Traffic systems were, to strangers in town, haphazard. Getting around seemed a little too much like hard work!

Next day, as another winter storm threatened from the north, we decided to head south, and eventually found ourselves in Roswell. We'd visited the UFO museum there on a previous trip, so hit the antique shops, and moved on into Texas next day, keeping ahead of the weather.

Through Brownfield, Snyder and Colorado City we next happened upon "The World's Biggest Windfarm" at Roscoe - it did cover a huge area of land, at one point we could see wind turbines on all sides. There's an article about the project at NPR's website "Winds of Change blow into Roscoe, Texas", by John Burnett.

We later saw another huge windfarm in the same part of Texas. Not bad for a state which prides itself on oil and gas production. The sight of these white turbines serenely turning against a blue sky can easily become soporific. (Photo on left isn't ours - it's from

Next stop: Abilene.
Abilene, Abilene
Prettiest town I ever seen.
Folks down there don't treat you mean
In Abilene, my Abilene.......
says the old song.
Actually it's another big city resembling an overgrown small town - not a lot more to say about it, except that the old song was right - nobody treated us the least bit mean!

Our last overnight stop was in Graham, a town boasting the biggest Town Square in America. These Texans!! Apparently, when the town was built in the late 1800s the town square, measuring a mile round the perimeter, was constructed big enough for a wagon to turn around in it.

Antique stores and malls abound in this part of Texas, even moreso than in neighbouring states, where they are plentiful enough. One wonders where all the "stuff" comes from. We found stores aplenty in Jacksboro, Decatur, Gainesville and Muenster as we journeyed towards the Red River and home. These stores are not just one room jobs, they meander through multiple adjoining buildings, room after room filled with all manner of "stuff": antique, collectible or simply dated. My husband searches for old photographs for his collection on Lost Gallery, and for LP covers by his favourite artists. He had a reasonably good haul from our many stops.

I found some DVDs, CDs and books at bargain prices.
I also bought a curiosity, probably not very old - maybe mid 20th-century: a 100 year calendar. I doubt these are at all rare but I'd not seen one like this before. It was made in India, of brass and enamel. Turning the wheels to the correct year and month brings up the right date and day of the month. Clever stuff!

The trip was just what we needed - a complete change of scene after a long winter of feeling "shut-in".

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Zodiac Sign Aries

The Sun moves into zodiac sign Aries today. This is a sign I ought to feel more at home writing about, it's the only zodiac sign in which I have more than one planet natally. Moon and Saturn were both in Aries when I was born. In addition, my husband has Sun in Aries, and I've worked closely, for long periods with at least three people who had Sun in Aries.

People born when the Sun was in this sign are not the only mortals to display traits associated with it; conversely, every person born with Sun in Aries will not display all its traditionally accepted traits - on occasion these might all be overcome by other strong planetary placements. Moon, rising degree, or a cluster of personal planets in Aries could bring forth a personality far more typical of the sign than one with just Sun in Aries.

With that proviso in mind, I'll copy a paragraph from an old book, published 1934: Student Chart Reader of Horoscope Indications by astrologer Llewellyn George. Old books such as this can often manage to hit the nail on the head succinctly, without a lot of the fluff and esoteric frills with which some later authors have tended to embellish their writings.
In Aries the Sun gives much mental energy and quick wit. Natives of this sign are natural leaders, more or less headstrong or impulsive, ambitious, full of enterprise and new ideas. They do not like to be under the direction of a master and are inclined to be fiery and quick-tempered, quick to resent abuse or imposition but forgiving and do not hold a grudge long. Their great love of freedom and justice, coupled with their enthusiasm and self-will makes them liable to go to extremes through indignation, hasty speech or lack of discretion. They possess penetrating will-power, are persistent, determined and not easily discouraged. Are philosophical by nature, admire scientific thought, and are at their best when at the head of things, such as director, instructor, superintendent or manager.

I can relate, to varying extent, to all of that. I'm not sure that "philosophical by nature" is often attributed to Aries though. I'd have thought it more connected to Sagittarius, and perhaps Aquarius. Aries, ruling planet Mars, is a wee bit too fast and furious to stop and ponder upon the meaning of life for long at a time! I wonder what Mr. George had in mind with that? There doesn't seem to be any connection to philosophy from a Fixed Star in the area the sign covers. Ah well, perhaps he'd observed it from acquaintances with strong Aries content in their natal charts.

Blog will now be on hold for a few days. We are about to cash in a handful of rainchecks gathered for postponement of treats due to inclement weather at Christmas, New Year, my birthday, and Valentine's day. My husband's birthday is coming up, and surprise surprise - a new winter storm arrived in Oklahoma yesterday...not quite on time to spoil another arrangement though. We shall brave what's left of it this time and just go.....somewhere.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Week That Was: Another Broken Reed

This was the week when another of my American heroes proved to be "a broken reed". It's not a habit of mine to quote the bible, but it's appropriate for once. In English translations of Isaiah XXXVIII,6:

"Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him."

Dennis Kucinich. A quick look for his name in the sidebar Label Cloud will lead to several archived posts which prove in what high regard I'd held this congressman. I'm sorry to have to admit to myself now that he has been "all talk and no trousers". In caving in to President Obama's lobbying this week to vote "yes" on the upcoming Health Care Bill (or as some bloggers more aptly name it The Corporate Wealthcare Bill), Kucinich has, with that single act turned me away from the Democrats for good. I'd gathered that most of 'em were what Brits look on as conservative, but I'd thought there was a handful worth supporting. I was wrong.

For any stray astrology buffs reading this: that's my natal Mars in Scorpio kicking in! It doesn't happen often, but when it happens it happens for good....I'll turn around and walk away. I can't even bring myself to look at Kucinich's chart to find any possible astrological excuses.

Dennis Kucinich has stated time and again that without the absolute bare minimum of a Public Option insurance choice included in the bill he would vote "no". His first choice was single payer, which would be the best of all plans, but naturally, the insurance corporations would not stand for that, President Obama already capitulated on that front very early in the game, and with that action showed us what are his true corporate colors.

It was all too good to be true, that 2008 election result and the euphoria in January 2009. There was I singing to myself "Let The River Run". I was sincerely elated. It has taken me a while, but I've now landed back to earth with a bump.

Some admire Kucinich for what he's done, taking the view that this is a small step forward. I can't go along with them. He has further enabled the hold the corporations have on the government of the USA, and has proved to his former supporters that he can not be relied upon when push comes to shove.....on any issue. He has lost all credibility. His integrity is now compromised.

It now is clearer than ever that the corporations are in charge of the USA, with nobody in "opposition" that cannot be, ahem, persuaded to mend their ways.

Seminal third party now badly needed. Actually what the USA really needs is a credible second party. Democrats and Republicans are not two different parties, but branches of the Corporatist Party. It has taken me a while to get it, but now I'm up to speed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Arty Farty Fresco Friday

Today, 19 March, in Roman times marked a celebration known as Quinquatria (5th after the Ides (15th) of March), honoring Minerva, goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the inventor of music. Wikipedia also tells that, as this festival was sacred to Minerva, women were accustomed to consult fortune-tellers and diviners on this day.

A dip into Google Image set me on a cyber route to Italy in search of art featuring Minerva, the month of March, and a touch of astrology.

Renaissance artists Francesco del Cossa and Cosmè Tura, between 1460 and 1470, designed and painted a set of frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoia - a pleasure palace belonging to the Dukes of Este who ruled Ferrara, in northern Italy, for several centuries. In the palace's Sala dei Mesi (Hall of the Months) were originally 12 huge separate fresco panels, floor to ceiling, one for each month.

The panels depict "allegories of the months" combining scenes from mythology, astrological references and illustrations of local life with its ruling Dukes. Each panel is divided into three horizontal sections- top: month, its planet and ancient divinity in triumphal procession; middle section shows the appropriate sign of the zodiac, bottom section depicts events relating to the time of year. Astrological input was, it is reported, overseen by Pellegrino Prisciani, professor of astrology.

Most panels have been lost to time and/or layers of whitewash later applied, but those for March, April and May have survived well. It's the March fresco "Allegory of March - Triumph of Minerva" which interests me today, and links back to Minerva and Quinquatria.

First image shows the complete March fresco, below it some enlargements of various sections. Minerva is being carried in procession in the top panel, which also depicts, on the left a group of poets and magistrates, on the right women with symbols of feminine labour. The middle layer represents the zodiac sign Aries, while the lower layer shows a hunting scene.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hess, Engels, Marx: Trio of Radicals & Their Astrology.

Socialism. In the USA nowadays this word ranks alongside colonoscopy as something citizens would least like to experience. The fact is though, socialism is nothing more than an attempt to re-balance a system which has become too heavily weighted on one side - the side of the powerful and wealthy. If a system remains in just balance there's never a need for socialism or any similar isms. Just as colonoscopy can, in the right circumstances, be A Good Thing, so can socialism.

John Reed, Abbie Hoffman, Saul Alinsky, Emma Goldman have all been featured recently in posts here under the heading "US Radicals" who embraced socialism as an ideal. They, surely, were influenced by the writings of an earlier group of radicals originating in Germany: Moses Hess, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.The driving force behind all these radically minded individuals was a wish to correct imbalance and injustices heaped upon ordinary working people by the ruling and wealthy classes - whether these were in the form of royalty, dictators, land owners, wealthy capitalist employers or religious leaders.

In the 19th century, as the industrial revolution got underway, there was a lot of injustice and imbalance around! Of course, there had been just as much of it before then. As far back as history has been written, the ordinary man in the street or man in the field has been treated badly by those "above him". Serfdom in mediaeval times in Britain and Europe was much the same as African-American slavery in effect. As centuries trundled on, philosophy and radical thought began to trickle down......

Moses Hess, the eldest of today's featured trio to some extent influenced both Engels and Marx. He was born in Bonn on 21 June 1812, to Jewish Orthodox parents, soon drawn to philosophy and particularly philosophical socialism. Hess played a prominent role in transforming Hegelian theory by conceiving of man as the initiator of history rather than as a mere observer. He was reluctant to base all human destiny on economic causes and class struggle, and he came to see the struggle of races, or nationalities, as the prime factor of past history. He was responsible for converting Engels to Communism, and he introduced Marx to social and economic problems.

Friedrich Engels was born on 28 November 1820 in Barmen (now Wuppertal), Germany. His father had interests in textile mills in England. Already active in radical causes when he met Karl Marx in 1842, Engels was soon influenced by this man who he saw as a more original thinker than himself.

During the 1840s Engels spent a period working as a manager at one of his father's mills in the north of England. Shocked by the conditions working people were forced to live in, he wrote his first prominent work, "The Condition of the Working Class in England" published in 1844. For anyone who has no knowledge of working class life in 19th century Britain, there's an extract from Engel's writing on the Dante-esque scenes of Old Manchester at this website. In 1847 Marx was asked to write a document proclaiming the principles of communism; Engels collaborated and helped write the now famous Communist Manifesto. In 1850 Engels returned to England to run the factory of which he was now part owner. During this time he also provided assistance to the then poverty stricken Karl Marx who had been driven from Brussels for his revolutionary activity.

Karl Marx was born to Jewish parents in Trier, Germany, on 5 May 1818. He studied law and at some point was introduced to the writings of G.W.F Hegel. Marx was especially impressed by Hegel's theory that a thing or thought could not be separated from its opposite. For example, the slave could not exist without the master, and vice versa. Hegel argued that unity would eventually be achieved by the equalizing of all opposites, by means of the dialectic (logical progression) of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. This was Hegel's theory of the evolving process of history.

Marx met Moses Hess, a radical who called himself a socialist, and began attending socialist meetings organized by Hess. Members of the group told Marx of the sufferings being endured by the German working-class and explained how they believed that only socialism could bring this to an end. Marx had become a close friend of Friedrich Engels, who had just finished writing a book about the lives of the industrial workers in England. Engels shared Marx's views on capitalism and after their first meeting Engels wrote that there was virtually "complete agreement in all theoretical fields". Marx and Engels decided to work together. It was a good partnership, whereas Marx was at his best when dealing with difficult abstract concepts, Engels had the ability to write for a mass audience.

So, this being an astrology blog, it's appropriate to take a look at the natal charts of these three German radicals. Maybe there'll be an interesting link between them. Let's see.

Marx is the only one for whom Astrodatabank offers a time of birth, so the other two charts are set for 12 noon.

The planet most astrologers would expect to see prominent in such charts as these is Uranus - the rebel, the avant garde, the anti-status quo planet. The two younger men were born with Uranus conjunct Neptune (illusion, delusion, creativity) in Sagittarius - the sign of the philosopher. In the case of Hess, Uranus was in Scorpio, but would have been conjunct his natal Moon (inner self), either tightly or loosely, whatever his time of birth.

In Engel's case, as well as being conjunct Neptune, Uranus is also conjunct Mercury (communication "to a mass audience") and Mars (drive & energy)and in the same expansive Sagittarian cluster as his natal Sun (self).

Part of the reason Engels and Marx got on so well has to be the placements of their natal Moons : somewhere in Virgo for Engels - more likely than not in trine with Marx's Moon/Sun in Taurus. Even if not in close trine, their common Earthy Moon would be a significantly compatible link.

If the time of birth for Karl Marx is accurate, then Aquarius rising defines him, and his ascendant degree is in harmonious sextile to Uranus, Aquarius's modern ruler. Taurus Sun conjunct Moon is something of a surprise - but what it does signify is a determined and stubborn nature, though Mercury nextdoor in its home sign of Gemini could lighten and loosen this quite a lot - at least in his communication style, while still retaining an inner entrenched position.

Lots of other chart factors could be taken as significant individually, but it was any link I was investigating - Uranus being the obvious one here.

Hmmmm -long post, so I shall skip a day - next one Friday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Alice", Charles Dodgson & Lewis Carroll

We saw Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland yesterday evening. The movie is an enjoyable sequel to the two classic tales, with input from Jabberwocky providing the "cherry on top". Will someone try putting The Hunting of the Snark on screen soon, I wonder? I recall there's already a partial soundtrack by Mike Batt stashed away somewhere. Speaking of soundtracks, the Alice movie could have been improved with a better score - it was noisy at times, tending to drown out dialogue. Other than that - no complaints!

So much has been written about Lewis Carroll, pen-name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, that it's easy to become bewildered. Views about his personal life have evolved as attitudes and sensibilities have changed, decade by decade. I somehow doubt that there's any truth in assumptions that he was a paedophile, or even harbored such desires. 20th century biographers and commentators tended to insert 20th century attitudes onto a Victorian personality.

Dodgson was a keen and talented photographer, in the days when photography was new. He mainly shot portraits - celebrities of the day: poets, actors, artists. He also produced a set of photographs of young children often in naked poses. This, together with his obvious affection for, and ability to appeal to, children via his writings, did a lot to fuel the rabid imaginations of reviewers, biographers and critics.

What can be overlooked in all the excitement bred by his vivid and whacky imagination, is that Dodgson was first and foremost an intellectual, a brainy individual with a flair for mathematics and logic. He wrote several books and papers on these subjects. He was an amateur inventor too. He taught mathematics at Christ Church college, Oxford, was an ordained Deacon of the Church of England, though never became a priest.

None of the above means that a leaning towards paedophilia was not part of his nature, of course - it could have been. Biographers who have more recently studied his diaries tend to edge away from that view. He apparently had many female friends who were certainly not children. At least one writer believes that he may have had an amorous extra-marital affair with the mother of Alice Liddell - the girl so many assume was his famous "Alice" - which he denied. The affair apprently ended badly, and his family, fearing scandal hid or destroyed any written evidence. His diaries disclose numerous close friendships with adult females, and males - which, again does not discount other types of sexual preference.

The truth will remain a mystery - and rightly so.

He was born on 27 January 1832 in Daresbury, England at 3:45 AM (Astrodatabank).
27 January is my own birthday - will that give me a pinprick of insight, I wonder?

Sun in mentally-oriented Aquarius, along with Jupiter and Aquarius's modern ruler Uranus, planet of the innovator, rebel, and all things unexpected. Now - had Uranus been elsewhere in the chart we might never have known a Lewis Carroll. Uranus cranked up the whacky, wonderful images which have delighted generations of kids and adults alike, in, for instance, his Alice tales, Jabberwocky, and The Hunting of the Snark . Sun and Jupiter alone in Aquarius might have given us a professor, a bishop perhaps, or a politician, but without Uranus's close connection to Sun, I doubt Lewis Carroll and his cast of characters would have ever seen daylight.

Jupiter in Aquarius with his Sun accounts well enough for his religious side, as do Mars conjunct Venus in Sagittarius. If Astrodatabank's time of birth for Dodgson is accurate, Sagittarius was rising, with Moon smack dab on the potent ascending degree (cynical as ever, I suspect a little bit of rectification might have gone on here). Sagittarius rules religion - appropriate to the churchy side of his character. When rising though, it mostly manifests as a cheery, ebullient personality which, by all accounts, Dodgson was not. I see him more clearly having either Capricorn or Scorpio rising. But that's just my personal opinion.

My favourite quote from Alice (I wonder why.....?)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Music Monday ~ Bix Beiderbecke

Last Christmas I bought my husband the Ken Burns DVD set of "JAZZ". His VHS tapes of the series were long ago lent out and seem to have found a new home. I'm sharing the enjoyment of watching the DVDs and learning more on a subject in which I'm something of an ignoramus.

At the weekend we watched an episode with detail about Bix Beiderbecke and his music. Noticing that he was born with Sun in Pisces I decided he'd be a good subject for Music Monday this week.

Beiderbecke, a legendary figure from the time known as "the jazz era": 1920s. He lived fast (on alcohol) and died young, aged 28, in 1931. He played piano probably before he could walk, had a naturally acute musical ear. Although he composed several pieces for piano, he had never learned to read music efficiently. Bix taught himself to play the cornet, eventually achieving a distinctive bell-like tone, different from anything else heard then. His parents, though, didn't support his draw towards a career in music, but he followed his heart anyway, against their wishes. He became one of the first white musicians to embrace jazz and execute it on a comparable level with his many black, African-American counterparts.

Jazz had been an exclusively "black music" 'til Bix and his peers came along. The sad and ugly aspect of this was that in the USA, in those days, white and black musicians were not allowed to play on the same stage or in the same band. Such a lot was lost in those dreadful years of segregation in the USA.

There are countless pieces about Bix Beiderbecke's life available on-line. Some variation in detail occurs within the legend that has inevitably grown up around this mucician since his untimely death. I enjoyed an article by Will Layman: The Gap, a paragraph from which sums up the pertinent points sufficient for this post:
Bix is arguably the prototypical jazz legend: a young guy with a horn who skipped school to dig his heroes in speakeasies and then was kicked out of school. He made some records and headed to New York where he was hired by the biggest band in the land. Then, tragically, he lived too hard and fast, slowing himself down with alcohol. Spiraling downward, he died in a rooming house in Queens after a final drinking binge at the tender age of 28.
In the middle of it all, however, were a series of gorgeous and singular cornet solos that transfixed fans, created generations of imitators, and even won the respect of older legends—indeed, Louis Armstrong himself dug Bix.

There is little hint of what the guy was like personality-wise, apart from his alcoholism, which reportedly reached a stage serious enough to bring on delirium tremens, with its confusions and hallucinations. I did find a brief clue to his nature here:

By all accounts, Bix was a kind, gentle, and generous man. He was an individual of few words, introspective, and unconcerned by the superficial details and demands of daily routine. Music was the all-consuming focus of his life, the essence of his being; and in music, he wrought his everlasting legacy.

Bix Beiderbecke was born on 10 March 1903 in Davenport, Iowa at 7 AM (Astrodatabank)

First thing I notice is that he had no planets in Earth signs to provide a touch of "grounding" to his nature. I always like to see a wee bit of Capricorn, Taurus or Virgo, as a kind of anchor, in the chart of anyone in show-biz. Bix had no such anchor. His Pisces Sun and Jupiter with Sagittarius rising (Jupiter rules both Pisces and Sagittarius) would account for him being seen as gentle, kind and generous. Pisces is famously introspective too - that covers all the factors mentioned in the quote above.

There are a couple of oppositions Saturn/Moon and Venus/Mars in this chart. These could be seen as symbolic of some inner conflict - perhaps that with his parents: in astrology Saturn represents the father and Moon the mother; Venus the feminine, Mars the masculine.

Uranus, planet of invention and the avant garde lies on his ascendant, the most potent point on the chart. This is a clear reflection of Bix's draw to jazz - the new musical genre of his times. If jazz has a planetary representative it simply has to be Uranus! Jazz is eccentric, inventive, and to the uninitiated onlooker can seem, at times, just plain peculiar and unexpected - in other words, typically Uranian.

Mercury(mental processes) in Uranus's rulership, Aquarius lies in sextile to Uranus providing the link which brought this eccentric musical style to the surface for Bix Beiderbecke. Usually, I'd look for links to Venus when investigating music in a chart, but in this case, Mercury and Uranus seem more appropriate.

One of the things I like about jazz, kid, is I don't know what's going to happen next. Do you? ~ Bix Beiderbecke

Playing Sorry

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Are we there yet?

There's still a week to go before the equinox when we get truly vernal, but the USA puts its clocks an hour forward today so....

Spring is like a perhaps hand
by e.e. cummings

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

Born 14 October 1894 in Cambridge Massachusetts, at 7pm.
"Whimsical and experimental, E.E. Cummings was a popular American poet of the early 20th century. Cummings' first published work was his 1922 novel The Enormous Room, based on his time in a French prison camp during World War I. He became more widely known as an avant garde poet, thanks to his unconventional use of typography, syntax and sometimes scandalous (at the time) choices of words and topics. He had a fondness for scattering words unevenly across a page, and liked to spell his own name as e.e. cummings, leading generations of college students to remember him as the guy who didn't capitalize his own name. "
There, in a very small nutshell, is the biography of e e cummings. It's a small nutshell, but it pinpoints salient parts of his personality to be seen in his natal chart (click on it to enlarge) :

Mercury conjunct Uranus in Scorpio - look at the adjectives in the bio above - avant garde, unconventional, uneven (Uranus), scandalous at the time (Scorpio) - in relation to his mode of writing (Mercury). It's classic. Love it!

There are a couple of oppositions - Sun and Moon, Mars and Saturn, close enough to blend into one big opposition Sun/Saturn in Libra opp. Moon/Mars in Aries. A broad interpretation of the complex aspect could be: a restless soul, charming but determined, not always at ease within himself. Venus, planet of the arts in its home sign of Libra trines creative Neptune and powerful Pluto in Gemini : an Airy boost to the imagination!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another US Radical ~ Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman was born on 27 June 1869 in Kovno, Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire. She emigrated to the USA, with her sister, in 1885 and found employment in a New York clothing factory. Soon after her arrival in the states an uprising of workers in Chicago resulted in the execution of four anarchists, who came to be known as "The Haymarket Martyrs".

They had been prominent trade union activists leading the struggle for an eight-hour day. Framed for a bombing, the authorities hoped that this would scare off the emerging trade union movement, especially its anarchist component. The international outcry which followed these executions on trumped up charges helped to shape Emma's radical and anarchist ideals, which lasted throughout her long life..............

Emma Goldman was a formidable public speaker and a prolific writer. Her whole life was devoted to struggle and she was controversial even within the radical and anarchist movement itself. She was one of the first radicals to address the issue of homosexuality, she was a fighter for women's rights, and she advocated the virtues of free love. These ideas were viewed with suspicion by those who placed their faith in the cure-all solution of economic class warfare and they were denounced by many of her contemporaries as "bourgeois inspired" at best.

To mainstream Americans, Emma was known as a demonic "dynamite eating anarchist". She toured the States, agitating and lecturing everywhere she went. She was hounded for much of her life by FBI agents and was imprisoned in 1893, 1901, 1916, 1918, 1919, and 1921 on charges ranging from incitement to riot to advocating the use of birth control to opposition to World War 1.

A self proclaimed anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, assassinated President William McKinley in 1901 and this event unleashed a massive wave of anti-anarchist hysteria throughout the States. Emma was blamed for his action and was forced into hiding for a time. She was deported from the United States, Holland, France, and was denied entry to many other countries. None of this daunted her, she began publishing 'Mother Earth' magazine in 1906 and was very active in the No-Conscription League.

Emma Goldman died in 1940, and though exiled for many years, her body was allowed back into the USA for burial in Chicago, not far from the graves of the "Haymarket Martyrs".

Whole books have been written about the life of Ms Goldman - it's impossible to cover it sensibly in a brief blog post, but there's enough information in the extract above to get an idea of this lady's character.

Here's her natal chart set for 12 noon. Astrodatabank has a 3pm time of birth, but it is categorised as "DD" - dirty data, and unreliable. That time puts her natal Moon in mid-Aquarius with Scorpio rising. I'll rely on a 12 noon chart to point out some interesting factors.

Most significant of all is rebel planet Uranus conjunct Venus, in the midst of a cluster of personal planets in Cancer. Cancer isn't the first sign that springs to mind when considering an anarchist whose life's work consisted of fighting the system - the status quo. When Uranus is closely involved though, all of Cancer's homely cuddly sentimentality goes out the window. Her natal Moon would have been in Aquarius whatever time she was born, and more likely than not in scratchy aspect to either her Sun/Mercury or Venus/Uranus in Cancer. Aquarius and Cancer are not best pals of the zodiac, any aspect between them is going to be scratchy at best - accounting for her less than typically Cancerian nature - as portrayed to the public, at least.

Mars in Virgo on one side and Jupiter in Taurus on the other form harmonious sextiles to Uranus/Venus. Saturn in Sagittarius could well form a sextile to Moon which then links Moon and Saturn via two quincunx aspects to Uranus, forming a Yod. Astrologers consider that the "energies" of the sextiled planets emerge via the qualities of the planet at the apex of the Yod - in this case, what could seem more appropriate : Moon (inner self) and Saturn (career) emerging through Uranus (rebellion)?