Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a) LEAP 2012. b) Supporting Food Industry Staff

It's a once-in-4-years-date today. Searching around for something of interest, I noticed an online commenter wondering whether there has ever been a set of twins born very close to midnight at either end of a leap-day, one just before midnight, one just after. If such twins exist one will have a birthday each year, the other, though no doubt used to celebrating annually with their twin, will have a true calendrical birthday only every 4 years.

Astrologically, though, leap years are inconsequential. People born on 29th February are no different from anyone else, they have a natal chart which describes the position of Sun, Moon and planets at the exact time they came into the world. The Sun will return to the same position it was at their time of birth once every year, leap year or not, so leap year babies do have an astrological birthday every year, it will be shown on the calendar as either 28th February or 1 March.

On a different topic entirely, and quite unrelated to astrology, a word or two about an injustice in the USA which goes on, unchecked practically right under our noses.

I've noticed during the past few days articles and threads of enlightening comments about the conditions under which restaurant and fast-food outlet staff are expected to work. That Oscar-nominated movie The Help reminded us of a terrible injustice which happened decades ago; today's version of what went on in The Help, though somewhat milder, is still injustice.

See, for instance:
Is Your Local Restaurant Relying on Exploited Women's Labor?
Restaurant workers Show Up Sick
When I lived in the UK (most of my life) it was common knowledge over there that British tourists to the US were always overjoyed to find that eating out was so cheap - far cheaper than in the UK. I now realise why that is!

A snip from the first of the above links, the article is by Michelle Chen:
Federal law makes the labor of tipped workers especially cheap (assuming that tips will make up the difference): a subminimum wage of just $2.13 compared to the standard $7.25 for other sectors. And of restaurant workers who rely on tips, most are women, concentrated in jobs like serving and tending the counter.

The lower-wage tier for restaurant work reflects a legacy of discrimination in labor regulation. Historically, sectors relying heavily on women and people of color, such as domestic work and farm work, have been excluded from critical labor protections.
But the inequity restaurant workers face isn’t just a bread-and-butter issue of wages. A national survey of several thousand restaurant workers found that:
90 percent lack paid sick days and 90 percent do not receive health insurance through their employers. One third of all female restaurant workers … lack any kind of health care, whether provided by their employer or otherwise.

Families suffer when parents can’t afford to take a day off to care for an ill child. And when sick food-service employees drag themselves to work, everyone is at risk. A majority of restaurant workers reported “going to work and cooking, preparing, or serving food while sick,” according to ROC’s study–a startling 70 percent among women. Imagine a bout of the flu in a hot, crowded kitchen, and how many hands touched your salad on its way to the table.

Those thoughts could easily put me off eating out ever again, but it wouldn't help struggling food industry staff and their families. What's needed is for well-regarded politicians and Union leaders to start fighting for better pay and improved conditions for these massively under-appreciated workers. Cost of eating out would necessarily go up, but so be it. Do we wish to enjoy ourselves at the expense of those who help us to do so?

All we can continue to do, for now, is to show appreciation by adding a decent level of tip, at least 15%, to the meal's cost, considering it to be a part of the fair price of the food and service we have received.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Astrologically, we're all sandwiches. Human sandwiches. Fate, the chef, dictates by the very seconds during which we entered the world and took our first breath, what ingredients our personal sandwich would contain, how much spice or sweetness, how solid or squishy, whether flavours would be distinct or muted, blending or contrasting.

Too few people understand a really good sandwich
James Beard (May 5, 1903 – January 21, 1985) American chef and food writer

I once, long, long ago, knew a pair of young sisters from Ireland, can't recall the exact place, maybe Kerry or Connemara, somewhere romantic sounding anyway. What I remember best about the girls, apart from their lovely lilting accent, was their love of sandwiches. We all worked in a small hotel at the time, and would often take our meals together at untraditional times after guests had eaten and gone on their way. The two girls, Maura and Aileen would make sandwiches of whatever we were presented with as breakfast, lunch or evening meal. I'd watch with fascination as they'd take two slices of regular white sliced bread and create a thing of mouth-watering deliciousness from it all. I'm sure their version must have tasted much better than mine, eaten knife-and-forkly, but I never dared to copy their style.
(Photo shows the sign outside a bakery/cafe in a Texas town where we partook of chicken salad sandwiches last week, on the way home from picking up our car from a repair shop. The sandwiches themselves were nothing to blog about!)

The Irish girls popped into my mind while looking at some photographs at HuffPost the other day, photographs of "America's Best New Sandwiches, 2012"
How about, for instance, The Irish Breakfast Sandwich:
Thick-thick slabs of salty bacon, savory Irish sausages, and circular slices of black (blood) pudding and white (oatmeal-pork fat) pudding, plus a fried egg and slice of grilled tomato, only slightly fancied up with a thin layer of garlic aioli spread on the crispy bread, and a housemade, tarmarind-spiked “brown sauce” on the side for dipping.
Yikes! That's what my husband would call "a hand held fat bomb".

Another memory surfaced just as that of the Irish sisters faded. Memory of a veritable King of Club Sandwiches, from another time, and another place. With a few other hotel staff members, I would munch these after we'd all "serviced" some event or other: wedding, dinner dance, banquet etc. Our head barman, Jack, had once worked on luxury ocean liners, and knew the drill. He would beckon a few of us into the silent abandoned kitchens, raid the fridges for ingredients, and concoct delicious multi-layered, toasted club sandwiches such as I'd never tasted before and have certainly never tasted since. What appear on restaurant menus as club sandwiches are mere travesties of Jack's version.

I don't know why sandwiches in particular remain in my memory so clearly, other food items seldom leave reminders. While typing this I've also recalled delicious salt beef sandwiches served every market day in the front bar of a Devonshire market town hotel where I worked, back in the early 1960s. The chef prepared the salt beef in such a way that it melted in the mouth. It was hewn off a large joint, as needed, then cushioned between two hefty slices of Granary bread (I miss that bread). The farmers almost always cleared the lot in no time, but on one or two occasions, when there was a little leftover, I got to sample this delicacy. YUM! And I'm not usually a meat lover.

My own taste in sandwiches nowadays is simple.....good (non-sweet-tasting!) wholemeal bread, good butter, and just one of the following: beetroot, picked in sweetish vinegar, or lots of lettuce and/or baby spinach piled in, with salt and a slash of salad creme (Heinz if I can get my hands on some); or the old classic cucumber sandwich with plenty of black pepper; or less elegantly a concoction I've not tasted since leaving the UK : a "chip butty": two slices of bread, well-buttered (no margerine) filled with hot chunky chips (potato fries) -Britain's overweight version of the USA's skinny French Fry - with salt and vinegar liberally sprinkled. Sigh... dribble.. and out.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Monday ~ Joe South ~ The Games People Play

Joe South (born Joe Souter) has a birthday tomorrow - his 72nd. I remember him only from his 1968 hit song, and its interesting and ever-relevant lyrics: The Games People Play. The song's title was taken from a book by Eric Berne, a bestseller on the psychology of human relationships.

By the way, there's a cynical mention of astrology in these lyrics: "read your horoscope........"

Oh the games people play now
every night and every day now
never meaning what they say now
and never saying what they mean
while they while away the hours
in their ivory towers
till they're covered up in flowers
in the back of a black limousine

la da la da da da da,
I'm a talkin' about you and me
and the games people play

You know we make one another cry
we break our hearts and we say goodbye
we cross our hearts and we hope to die
that the other was to blame
we need a woman that will give in
so we gaze at our eight by ten
wanderin' 'bout the things
that might have been
and it's a dirty rotten shame


People walkin' up to ya
singing glory haleuajah
and they try to sock it to ya
in the name of the Lord
they're goin' to teach ya how to meditate
read your horoscope and cheat your fate
furthermore to hell with hate
c'mon and get on board


Look around tell me what you see
what's happening to you and me
God grant me the serenity
to remember who I am
cause you've given up your sanity
for your pride and your vanity
you turn your back on humanity
and you don't give a damn da da da......

As well as being a sought-after sessions musician - played guitar on some iconic albums: Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, Simon & Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence, and tracks by Aretha Franklin, Marty Robbins and others - he wrote many successful songs for other performers. He composed Billy Joe Royal's Down in the Boondocks, Lynn Anderson's huge hit I Never Promised you a Rose Garden, Deep Purple's Hush.

His style was a mix of country, pop and southern soul, but his songs aren't the feel-good self-congratulatory ditties, which were fairly common back then. There's more than a hint of bitterness, social commentary and some hostility embedded in them. One reviewer wondered whether his apparent political stances were blocking the way to wider success; his mindset seemed more in line with hippie thinking than southern country conservative.

After success with Games People Play Joe had a few more hits including Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Don't It Make You Want to Go Home; but in 1971 his brother Tommy, troubled by drug addiction, commited suicide. Afterwards Joe left the music business for many years, went to live in the jungles of Maui in the Hawaiian islands. He later returned to music, but mainly publishing rather than performing.

Writers of articles online describe Joe South as having been a better performer in the studio than on stage, where he was never totally comfortable. Prickly, antagonistic, brash, arrogant, or anxious are adjectives used to describe him.

I can find no time of birth for him, so Joe's chart is set for 12 noon. Moon would have been somewhere in the second half of Scorpio whatever his time of birth; rising sign will remain unknown.

Sun and Mercury in gentle, emotional Pisces, Moon in Mars-ruled occasionally paranoid Scorpio, with three personal planets, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn, in the other Mars-ruled planet, Aries - a combination that isn't exactly built for comfort! That mixture could well account for Joe South's reportedly "prickly" nature. In spite of barbs though, the gathered wisdom of 12th sign Pisces, last of the line, shines through his songs, especially Games People Play.

Without a birth time I can't be sure about this, but I suspect there's a Yod (Finger of Fate) in his chart, involving a sextile (60*) from Moon to Neptune, both planets linking to Venus by 150* quincunxes. Such a configuration would link creativity from Neptune to emotion from Moon, funnelling out via Venus planet of the arts. Matches a singer/songwriter/musician exactly!

Official website of Joe South

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Imagine No Religion" (in Politics)

In astrology, Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius and 9th House connect to religion, politics and philosophy. It's a great pity that ancient astrologers saw religion and politics as being so closely linked. I suppose that, at root, the mental and philosophical roots of religion and politics could be said to arise from similar ground, and this is why there are common astrological links. Sagittarius also links to ethics, foreign cultures, travel, international affairs, and how the individual relates to the "big picture", the world, and to a higher power, leading to its representation of belief systems and faith. Sagittarian optimism and idealism links to expansion, and progress, while its shadow side brings in a pompous preaching element, personified as a zealot trying to "save" or convert with his "truth".
(Illustration: The card Principle from Oracle of the Radiant Sun deck, the ninth card in the suit of Jupiter, The Suit of Gain.)

I, possibly mistakenly, see politics as more the province of Saturn and Capricorn. Laws, a major aspect of politics, are indeed the province of Saturn, but "The Church" as an institution, and "The State" as an entity connect to Capricorn, so the "terrible two" are entwined yet again.

Are religion and politics the same as church and state?

Religious belief, or lack of it, has nothing at all to do with the ability to run a country, which is, or ought to be, the prime aim of politics. We might as well be guided by the colour of someone's eyes, or whether they wear briefs, boxers or neither, as be guided by their religious persuasions. Religion, atheisim, or anything between is an intimate, purely personal matter which should have nothing whatsoever to do with politics. This applies in the USA, especially, because its Constitution allows freedom of religion -any religion, or indeed non-religion. Conversely there ought not to be any interference by religious bodies, of whatever persuasion, into politics.

The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

This is supplemented by Article 6 of the Constitution that says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

These two declarations indicate the direction in which the country should travel. Separation, setting religion and government apart, supposedly guaranteeing fair and equal treatment to all citizens, whatever their religious beliefs or lack of them.

It's not working though.

In the USA religious establishments are allowed to function as tax free entities. Public money goes to schools run by religious organisations, and as loans to pay for students (who are not schooled well in the sciences)to attend colleges run by religious organisations. God is on USA money, and part of the Pledge of Allegiance; Oaths in courts of law are taken on a Holy book; there are prayers at the inauguration of a president; "God bless America" is intoned after every State of the Union address. Why?

And what about "The Family" and the "C Street House"? (See Wikipedia HERE).
Also an article at Salon: Sex and Power Inside "The C Street House". A clip from that piece follows:

But Family men are more than hypocritical. They’re followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to “advance the Kingdom.” They say they’re working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. Sexual peccadilloes aside, the Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn’t registered as a lobby — and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy.

The Family likes to call itself a “Christian Mafia,” but it began 74 years ago as an anti-New Deal coalition of businessmen convinced that organized labor was under the sway of Satan. The Great Depression, they believed, was a punishment from God for what they viewed as FDR’s socialism. The Family’s goal was the “consecration” of America to God, first through the repeal of New Deal reforms, then through the aggressive expansion of American power during the Cold War. They called this a “Worldwide Spiritual Offensive,” but in Washington, it amounted to the nation’s first fundamentalist lobby.

In both presidential election campaigns I've experienced religion has been touted again and again by candidates - on both sides of the (in my opinion fictional) divide. Religious views, it should be noted, of one religious faction only, are becoming increasingly, and aggressively, forced into political debate and argument.

If the Constitution were working it'd be equally possible for a Christian, Muslim, Pagan or atheist to be president of the USA, and to wield political power in lesser positions too. In theory it is possible. In practice not so much. Maybe it will work in practice, eventually - in say another 500 or so years if, in the meantime, we don't blow ourselves to smithereens or cause the Earth to dispose of us dramatically, as the parasites we have become.

From what I've gleaned, by reading and talking to my husband, things were not always this bad in the US. Perhaps 9/11, then the so-called "War on Terror" against Islamic factions, and several years of a general feeling of financial insecurity have all fired up more intense levels of religiosity among Christian fundamentalists in the US.

I wasn't a fan of the late Christopher Hitchens, but I do hope he rests in peace. He was right in this quote of his:
“How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ Ansel Adams ~ Pisces Again.

1902 was a very good year for the arts, especially for anything connected to photography and film. The prevailing astrological stew brought forth numerous men who were later to become film producer/directors. Some of the best known are: David O.Selznick, Vittoria de Sica, Anatole Litvak, Harold Schuster, William Wyler, Darryl F. Zanuck, and photographer Ansel Adams. The position of the outer planets, Neptune, especially, and Pluto, in communications sign Gemini almost certainly contributed to this cornucopia of film and photographic talent.

Famous photographer and conservationist, Ansel Adams was born 20 February 1902, allegedly at 3am, in San Francisco, Astrodatabank gives it a "B" rating, so it's likely to have come from some published biography.

A birth time of 3 am puts outer planets close to the ascendant/descendant angles, giving them extra significance. Technological Uranus and creative Neptune harmoniously trine or sextile his most personal planets, Sun, Venus and Mercury which lie in the late degrees of Uranus-ruled Aquarius and 00* of Neptune-ruled Pisces.

I see Ansel Adams as a clear blend of Aquarius and Pisces, with extra dynamism coming from his Moon in Leo and the Sagittarian ascendant.

Neptune connects to photography and is also the ruler of his Pisces Sun. Uranus, ruler of Aquarius where 3 of his personal planets lay, connects to technology, and technology is involved in cameras. It all fits rather well!

Below is a tiny sample of the work of Ansel Adams, with two quotations attributed to him. Many more examples of his photographs can be seen at the Ansel Adams Gallery, and via Google Image.

"In my mind's eye, I visualize how a particular... sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice."

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment".
(The more things change, the more they remain the same!).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pisces x 3 ~ Pier Paolo Pasolini

Scooting around YouTube one day I happened upon Farmer in the City from Scott Walker's 1995 album Tilt. I listened.... listened again, and again..... throughout the day and next day. It's weird but addictive, and beautifully rendered by Scott Walker.

Being a curious so-and-so I wanted to know what the song was all about. It wasn't difficult to find out, especially as the song is sub-titled Remembering Pasolini. It is a tribute to Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose name I'd heard, in connection with movies, but without knowing anything about him.

I discovered that he had Sun, Venus and Uranus in Pisces - so, with Sun, Mercury, Moon and Neptune in Pisces as I type, and remembering that Neptune and Pisces connect to film, now would be a good time for a post about him.

Astrodatabank and Wikipedia help with detail:

A few of the lyrics (of Farmer in the city) are appropriated from Norman Macafee's English translation of Pier Paolo Pasolini's poem, "Uno dei Tanti Epiloghi" ("One of the Many Epilogs"), which was written in 1969 for Pasolini's friend and protégé, the scruffy young nonprofessional actor, Ninetto Davoli. Throughout the song, Walker's chant of "Do I hear 21, 21, 21...? I'll give you 21, 21, 21...", may be a reference to Davoli's age when he was drafted into (and subsequently deserted from) the Italian army.

On Pasolini: "Italian actor and director of radical films, best known for controversial films about people in conflict with the mainstream society. A virtual Renaissance man who was "poet, novelist, scholar, film critic and theorist, reforming zealot and creator of large scaled visual spectaculars," he wrote and produced "Boys," and "Sebastian." Poetic and literate, a Marxist yet bourgeois in his efforts to be socially correct, he died under circumstances as perverted as those seen in some of his films. ..............His unorthodox views led to his arrest in 1962 on charges of insulting the church in his film "Rogopag." He clashed frequently with Italian authorities over the content of his films, which held liberal doses of sex, violence and blasphemy, at times being declared obscene...... His own death could have been scripted into one of his features. Pasolini was bludgeoned to death by a 17-year-old youth who claimed that he had made homosexual advances, 11/01/1975, 11:30 PM, Civitavecchia, Italy. The boy then ran him over (several times) with Pasolini's own Alfa Romeo."

With data from Astrodatabank, Pasolini's natal chart:

Astrological indications of Pasolini's non-conformist ways are not hard to find. Eccentric Uranus on the ascendant is a classic sign. In Pasolini's case Uranus conjoins his natal Sun to. Double whammy - in imaginative and potentially addictive Pisces, ruled by Neptune! Mercury, the communcations planet, is in Aquarius - sign of Uranus' rulership, which adds another layer of avant garde non-conformism. This guy was what used to be known as an "enfant terrible"!

Pluto (darkness, death, intensity) in Cancer is in harmonious trine to his ascending degree and those first-house Pisces's source of the dark side of his eccentricities - and what likely is a reflection of the dreadful manner of his death.

I took a look at the chart for the date of his murder, 1 November 1975 and noted that Pluto then lay at 10 degrees of Libra - exactly conjoining Pasolini's North Node of the Moon, also conjunct Saturn and Jupiter which lay on either side of the node.

It's not too surprising that Scott Walker felt drawn to sing about Pasolini. Walker's chart is shown in the post for Monday 9 January. There's some common emphasis. Both men have Mercury in Aquarius (10 degrees apart), both have Mars in Sagittarius (10 degrees apart). Walker's Moon and midheaven conjoin Pasolini's Uranus/Sun/Venus cluster in Pisces.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Astrologers with Natal Sun in Pisces

According to a list at Wikipedia, well-known astrologers of this variety are fewer and farther between than I'd have expected. Pisces characteristics: intuitive, perceptive, humane, sympathetic, sensitive, compassionate seem like excellent components in the toolbox of a working astrologer, on their own, though, not enough to "complete the job".

Two of the three astrologers with Sun in Pisces in Wiki's list are shy about revealing their full birth data. I find that a wee bit odd, considering their profession Or maybe not. Pisces is the 12th and last sign of the zodiac and relates to the 12th house in a natal chart - 12th house links to the unconscious, isolation, secret or clandestine matters.

Susan Miller of Astrology Zone reveals only her birth day, 7 March but no year (well, that's a lady's privilege is it not?)

Eric Francis of Planet Waves is even more reticent, his Wikipedia page states only "March", but I do recall from the days when I used to read his writings, that he admitted to having Sun in Pisces.

The third Pisces-type astrologer I found, Manly Palmer Hall was born 18 March 1901 - there's a post in my archives about him, with his natal chart.

All of which leaves me little fodder for a post on Pisces-type astrologers and their natal charts.

I hold to thoughts in the post last month about Aquarius-type astrologers, surmising that a mix of Air and Water = fertile astrological soil to grow astrologers. Where Sun is in a Water sign there will be need for equal emphasis on another element - Air or Fire, probably, in order to mentalise, communicate and/or energise those Watery intuitive traits

When looking down the list of astrologers at Wikipedia, and clicking through to the page for each, I noticed a good number of well known names with Sun in Libra. Libra is adjacent to Scorpio - Libra with Scorpio, (or Cancer or Pisces) emphasised will be just as fertile ground as Gemini with Cancer (or Pisces or Scorpio) emphasised, or Aquarius with Pisces, (or Cancer, or Scorpio) emphasised. Each Air sign has a Water sign nextdoor, as does each Fire sign. Those with natal Sun in an Air or Fire sign often have at least Mercury and/or Venus in that neighbouring Water sign, possibly even Moon or other personal planets too.

(Thanks to Kepler College website for this helpful diagram.)

There are astrologers among Sun in Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), of course, but these signs have no Water sign adjacent. I'm wondering whether such astrologers are rare, relying not on adjacent Water signs (for emphasis by Mercury and Venus), but on position of Moon or ascendant, or on a cluster of planets elsewhere. Maybe, as the year unfolds and I continue looking into this an answer will become clear.

Another thought: if an astrologer is to turn his skills into a business, then some Earthy input will be essential - from Capricorn would be ideal, it's the most business oriented of the Earthy trio, but emphasis on any of the three would be of benefit.

PS: Archived posts relating generally to Pisces the zodiac sign can be accessed by clicking on "Pisces" in the Label Cloud at sidebar on the right.


At last, we got the call, so... we're heading back to Waxahachie, Texas today to pick up our car. No post tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Neptune's Come Home ~ Will We Now Go Back To Sleep?

Our annual few weeks of Sun in Pisces have come around once again; more interestingly though, so has Neptune's infrequent and much longer sojourn in that sign, its sign of rulership. Neptune will remain in Pisces until around 2025.

First, keywords for Neptune - a long list of 'em, can be found HERE. All have a rather loose feel, indistinct, foggy, dreams, no barriers, not unkind, not hard-headed or mean, fuzzy......think alcohol or drug induced fog and delusion; also Neptune links, unsurprisingly, to the sea and, more surprisingly, to oil, film and photography. Keywords for Pisces, the zodiac sign, are along similar lines, because Neptune rules it.

Overall, I suspect that Neptune in Pisces will have less to do with actual events during the transit than will the other outer planets, Uranus and Pluto. Neptune in Pisces may simply tell us about how the population at large is likely to feel as events and situations unfold. Neptune in Pisces will blur and soften some harsh events and soothe our jagged edges.

Type "Neptune in Pisces through history" into Google's search box and see some articles by astrologers comparing events during periods when Neptune transited its sign of rulership in the past. I read through a few of these pieces, but a ho-hum kind of feeling crept in. To take a planet in a sign and extrapolate a likely series of outcomes, isn't especially helpful, anymore than it is to take only a Sun sign and interpret a personality from that alone. I wonder whether the population at large had their jagged edges soothed during past Neptune/Pisces transits. We can't know this with any certainty.

When considering past Neptune in Pisces periods, we should take into account the positions of the two other slowest moving planets, Uranus and Pluto. These, too, add "flavour" to the astrological and historical "soup du jour", producing distinct differences within each cycle. Currently and for some years to come, during the time Neptune will transit Pisces, Uranus will travel through Aries and later on, Taurus; Pluto will travel through Capricorn.

Because there's a similarity to current transits in the last Neptune in Pisces period (it ran approximately 1847 to 1862) a vague hint of the kind of events we can expect between now and 2025 might, be detectable. Aggressive Martian input from Uranus in Aries, is common to both the 19th century Neptune/Pisces transit and the current one. In both cases Martian flavour is replaced by Venusian when Uranus moves into Taurus around the half-way mark of Neptune/Pisces.

Along with the similarity mentioned above, there's a significant astrological difference in 19th and 21st century Neptune/Pisces periods. It's the Saturnian flavour from Pluto in Capricorn we now encounter, this will linger throughout almost all of the current Neptune/Pisces transit.

In the first half of the 19th century Neptune/Pisces transit Pluto was in Mars-ruled
Aries Those poor people experienced a double dose of aggressive Martian flavour, manifesting as political upheavals in Europe and civil war in the US, among other disruptions.

Pluto moved gradually away from the Martian atmosphere during the second half of Neptune/Pisces, on into Taurus, adding gentle Venus to their astro soup of the day, marked by a gradual blossoming of talent in the arts.

Tiny Pluto does seem to pack an extraordinarily powerful punch astrologically. Its presence can mean a breaking down of something followed by healing and transformation. In Capricorn the focus is on established standards, institutions, businesses, so one or more of such bodies could, in coming years, be due for an even more serious shake-up than we've seen already.

There isn't a comparable period in history with Pluto in Capricorn when the position of the other two outer planets matched our current pattern. There is an old example of Pluto in Capricorn though. It was during a 16th century Neptune/Pisces transit. Pluto (then undiscovered, but there all the same) transited Capricorn during, roughly, 1521-1534. One clear manifestation was in England - separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church during the reign of Henry VIII; Dissolution of the Monasteries, establishment of the king as supreme head of the Church of England. The monasteries had owned large areas of land worked by tenants. Henry VIII dissolved them (1536–1541) and transferred a fifth of England's landed wealth to new hands, creating a "landed gentry" beholden to the crown. However, in the 16th century, though Neptune was transiting Pisces when Pluto transited Capricorn, there was none of the Martian flavour we now experience, from Uranus in Aries.

Every transit is unique just as every human is unique, but it's tempting to play a guessing game, with the hints of evidence we have from the past. It's safe to predict that during the Neptune/Pisces transit 2012 to 2025, aggressive Martian, restrictive Saturnian, and later, artistic Venusian flavours will colour our world, in addition to Neptune's signature illusions, delusions and general fuzziness. We'll be seeing a noticeable flourishing of some novel talent in the art world when Uranus moves into Taurus around 2018, and by 2025 we can, fairly confidently, expect to be able to identify some clear area of transformation following a Pluto-type breaking down of one or more established institutions, mode of business, or suchlike.

We (as in We the People)will wake fully from our soothing Neptunian stupor, when the planet moves on into Aries, and when Pluto enters Aquarius, around 2025. Uranus will then be in Gemini, revolutionary methods of communication may be a new part of the mix.

We often consider these to be interesting times, but for really interesting these will have nothing on 2025 onwards!

(Disclaimer. I do not mean to imply from any of the above that I believe the planets themselves cause what I refer to as "flavours". My theory is that the planets simply act as markers for us - markers of various waves or cycles of time. These waves, of as yet unknown significance or composition, will cross at certain points or, run parallel, collide, form patterns - with consequent manifestation here on Earth. So, although Pluto is tiny, compared to Neptune, it still acts as an important marker on a particular wave or cycle of time.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Every Sperm Is Sacred" - or so they say

Using information from a 2006 piece by Jeremy Rifkin The Risks of Too Much City:
Two hundred years ago, the average person on Earth might meet 200 to 300 people in a lifetime. Today a resident of New York City can live and work among 220,000 people within a 10-minute radius of his home or office in midtown Manhattan.

Only one city in all of history -- ancient Rome -- boasted a population of more than a million before the 19th century. London became the first modern city with a population over 1 million in 1820. Today 414 cities boast populations of a million or more, and there's no end in sight."
(Background of illustration from: Cry of the Masses by Josef Vachal)
Keeping well away from political/religious viewpoints, especially from current arguments about contraception, and concentrating only on astrology, a few thoughts on what changes could become noticeable at some point in the future as a result of unchecked population explosion.

A few thoughts:

a) There will be more people on Earth who have identical, or similar birth charts than ever before in human history. Of course, their similarities will be stretched into wide variation due to ethnicity, locality, background, and other factors, but basic character traits could survive externalities. In densely populated areas such as New York, place of birth being closely similar too, the effect could be more extreme.

b) There will be more people born every second, and nano-second, tiny fragments of time, with minutely different alignments of planets and points. In the distant past, even in the more recent past or present history births might not have taken place in these microscopically tiny segments of time. Whether this would bring forth elements of human nature not before experienced, with previously unimagined abilities or traits, for good or ill, isn't clear, but it is a possibility.

c) Gradually increasing numbers of people born within each generation will mean that the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, known as "generational planets" will reflect generational traits over a broader swath of the population, resulting in more noticeable generational differences in temperament than in the past or present.

d)Greater weight of positive/negative polarities could cause public opinion to appear ever more polarised.

There are bound to be other potentialities..... some considerably more sinister.
"Which is the greater danger - nuclear warfare or the population explosion? The latter absolutely! To bring about nuclear war, someone has to DO something; someone has to press a button. To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values-there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally - and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing."
~ Isaac Asimov

See also further, non-astrological, issues relating to overpopulation presented interestingly by Roedy Green in an article here, at

Friday, February 17, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ Gahan Wilson and Johnny Hart, cartoonists share a birthday.

Tomorrow, 18 February will/would have been the birthday of two American cartoonists: Gahan Wilson (1930) and Johnny Hart (1931). Hart died in April 2007. Both men were drawn to the humour in weirdness and, in Wilson's case, horror.

Gahan Wilson is famous for his cartoons featuring all the motifs from horror tales and movies; and for his strip Nuts, which spotlights the neuroses and traumas of childhood. Johnny Hart found fame with his famous cartoon strips B.C. and (produced with Brant Parker) Wizard of Id

The two charts are shown below for comparison: Wilson's in the centre, Hart's in the outer ring (both set for 12 noon as no birth times are available)~

There are, of course, many similarities: Sun, Mercury, Saturn and all three outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in same sign and not far apart degree-wise. Their common Aquarius Sun and Mercury connect to a mindset that's distinctly "left-field".
In both cases they felt a pull towards a particular type of communication - cartooning.

Main chart differences, apart from rising sign which can't be established without exact times of birth: position of natal Moons. Moon was somewhere in Scorpio when Gahan Wilson was born, and somewhere in Pisces as Johnny Hart came into the world. Wilson's Pluto-ruled Scorpio Moon goes a long way to explaining his pull to include horror motifs in his work, while Hart's Moon in gentle and often religiously-oriented Pisces matches his less horrific, but often in later life, religiously-tinged work.

Positions of Mars and Jupiter are also different in the two charts: Wilson's are in Airy trine Aquarius/Gemini, while Hart's are both in Watery intuitive Cancer. Venus, too lay in different signs: Very early Pisces but conjunct very late Aquarius Sun for Wilson; business-oriented Capricorn for Hart. From that I'd guess that Wilson is a fun guy, rather more more outgoing than Hart was, but Hart, perhaps, the more sensitive of the two.


From an interview HERE
I was born in Evanston, Illinois, on October 18th, 1930. Charles Jaffe made a nice movie about me called Born Dead, Still Weird, and I was indeed born dead, which is quite an extraordinary story. I came out blue and not breathing, so they just put me in the sink. Fortunately for me, the family doctor was on the scene. He was looking through the little porthole into the operating room and then burst in and grabbed me up. He used hot and cold water and slap, slap, slap. He got me coughing and puking and breathing and that’s that: I was alive. I don’t know if anybody at the hospital ever apologized for it. “Oh, jeez, sorry…” The same thing happened to John Steinbeck. I could have spent some time in the afterlife before I was born.
From another interview HERE

"I'd always wanted to be a cartoonist," asserted Wilson, "and I was ghoulish before conscious recollection. I don't know why my parents didn't do something about it earlier on." After their deaths, while going through their papers, Wilson happened upon "a touching little stack of drawings I had done, pre-literate, just a wee babe. And my mother had written, no doubt upon my instruction, 'And a scary monster comes to destroy us all!' "A lot of kids are creepy kids, and I was definitely a creepy kid," Wilson admitted with a boyish grin.

I like this Gahan Wilson cartoon - the dates could easily be amended to 2011/2012 without loss of its point.


From an obituary for Johnny Hart who died 2007:

After his discharge from the military in 1954, Hart worked in the art department at General Electric while selling cartoons on the side. He began reading Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” and was inspired to start his own strip.
“Caveman gags, for reasons which I still cannot explain, were an obsession in those days,” Hart told Creators. “One day, a friend jokingly suggested I create a strip revolving around prehistoric times.”

Later in his career, some of Hart’s cartoons had religious themes, a reflection of his own Christian faith. That sometimes led to controversy.
A strip published on Easter in 2001 drew protests from Jewish groups and led several newspapers to drop the strip. The cartoon depicted a menorah transforming into a cross, with accompanying text quoting some of Jesus Christ’s dying words. Critics said it implied that Christianity supersedes Judaism.

Hart said he intended the strip as a tribute to both faiths.

“B.C.” was filled with puns and sly digs at modern society. After he graduated from Union-Endicott High School, Hart met Brant Parker, a young cartoonist who became a prime influence and eventual co-creator with Hart of “The Wizard of Id” in 1964.

PS:There are lots of examples of cartoons by both artists at Google Image, but not wanting slapped hands for copyright infringement I've limited myself to one of each, two bookcovers and a couple of photos as illustration. if my hands are slapped - so be it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All That Nutty Obama-Alinsky Jazz....

During the last US presidential election pantomime in 2008 some writers and commentators who leaned right-ward politically used to offer it as A Very Bad Thing that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, then candidates, were once inspired and influenced by the views and writings of Saul Alinsky. From what I've gleaned about Mr Alinsky's views, I see it as a great pity that Clinton and Obama, and more especially our now President Obama, weren't more deeply influenced by them than appears to be the case. I now suspect that Mr Obama slept through many lessons. Simply by observing events, it's crystal clear that the current incumbent of the White House leads no left-wing conspiracy to bring socialism, communisim or anything beyond center-right, look-after-those-who-have-ism. The idea that Alinsky is a huge influence on the left, or has ever been so, is a myth of the right-wing media, a talking point for the masses who chatter in their sleep, a ploy to keep the country's armchair politicians busy and divided on yet another front, while those really in charge get on with filling their coffers.

Even now, in 2012, heading for another pantomime of an election, I still read some muddle-headed right-wingers throwing around Alinsky's name as a bad influence - prime cause of this current unpleasantness even. Lordy lordy! If only our president were following Alinsky's teachings there wouldn't be hungry children collecting sachets of tomato ketchup to take home, add water and make soup as something to eat when there's no food in the house; or families in bankruptcy due to a hospital bill, or without a family member because they couldn't afford to buy sufficient treatment and medication. Ye flippin' gods!!!!! This country can be as cold-hearted as any envisioned by Orwell or Bradbury.

Where are today's equivalent of US radicals of yesteryear: John Reed, Abbie Hoffman and Alinsky ? The guy in the White House is not one of 'em - of that I am 100% certain. OWS doesn't quite fit the bill, as yet - unfortunately - I'd thought it might have been at least the start of something good. Maybe it will rise again, more determined and with a very clear agenda.

From Askville by Amazon

Tough, pragmatic and a lover of humanity, Saul Alinsky pioneered a method of helping poor and working-class people organize themselves to improve their communities. Combining urban social theories he had learned at the University of Chicago with street smarts he had earned growing up in that city's Jewish ghetto, Alinsky first worked in prisons and as a juvenile delinquency researcher. Then, starting in crime-ridden Chicago neighborhoods in the late 1930s, he helped unions, churches and other social groups unite and win everything from jobs to streetlights and garbage collection. He would immerse himself in the neighborhood, listen to ordinary people's troubles and needs, assess where power lay, and empower previously divided groups to seek common goals by standing up to government and corporate machines. With financial backing from department-store heir Marshall Field III, he established the Industrial Areas Foundation, which helped him extend his work to several U.S. cities. He had little patience for militants, Communists or dreamy liberals, saying he was a community organizer because he believed in American democracy and because "I can't stand to see people pushed around."

Saul Alinsky's natal chart: he was born in Chicago on 30 January 1909. I can find no time of birth for him so a 12 noon chart has to suffice. Rising sign and Moon degree will not be accurate.

Now here's a chart that fits like a glove! Sun and Mercury in socially-conscious intellectually-driven Aquarius; but even more significant is rebellious, revolutionary Uranus tightly conjunct Venus, in pragmatic Capricorn.

Natal Sun sextiles business-like Saturn in go-getting Aries on one side and energetic Mars in expansive Sagittarius on the other.

Unless born in the very first minutes of 30 January Moon would have been in communicative Gemini, somewhere between 1 and 12 degrees, and quite likely in harmonious trine to his Aquarius Sun.

I'd say that little lot is a recipe for exactly what manifested in Saul Alinsky.

From paras towards the end of an interview with Alinsky conducted by Playboy magazine in 1972 -
PLAYBOY: You seem optimistic. But most radicals and some liberals have expressed fear that we're heading into a new era of repression and privacy invasion. Are their fears exaggerated, or is there a real danger of America becoming a police state?

ALINSKY: Of course there's that danger, as this whole national fetish for law and order indicates. But the thing to do isn't to succumb to despair and just sit in a corner wailing, but to go out and fight those fascist trends and build a mass constituency that will support progressive causes. Otherwise all your moaning about a police state will just be a self-fulfilling prophecy. That's one of the reasons I'm directing all my efforts today to organizing the middle class, because that's the arena where the future of this country will be decided. And I'm convinced that once the middle class recognizes its real enemy -- the megacorporations that control the country and pull the strings on puppets like Nixon and Connally -- it will mobilize as one of the most effective instruments for social change this country has ever known. And once mobilized, it will be natural for it to seek out allies among the other disenfranchised -- blacks, chicanos, poor whites.

It's to that cause I plan to devote the remaining years of my life. It won't be easy, but we can win. No matter how bad things may look at a given time, you can't ever give up. We're living in one of the most exciting periods of human history, when new hopes and dreams are crystallizing even as the old certainties and values are dissolving. It's a time of great danger, but also of tremendous potential. My own hopes and dreams still burn as brightly in 1972 as they did in 1942.

Saul Alinsky died a few months after the interview, on June 12, 1972. I can't help but wonder what would be his thoughts on our situation in 2012.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Saturnian Relationships

Astrological Saturn quite often gets a bad press, sometimes deservedly; but there is a positive side to the planet's astrological reputation too.

Astrologer Dena L. Moore's 2002 article about the role of Saturn in Relationship Astrology is an interesting read. The points raised could relate to all kinds of relationships including marriage, partnerships, friendships and professional liaisons when Saturn in one person's natal chart makes close aspect to a planet in the chart of the other party.

Key snippets from the article (which needs to be read in full for overall understanding):
"Saturn’s importance in relationships should not be overlooked........ In synastry, Saturnian contacts are often viewed negatively if there is a square (90 degrees), opposition (180 degrees), or conjunction ( 0 degrees) involved..... A positive Saturnian contact such as the trine (120 degrees) and the sextile (60 degrees) is easier to work with in the relationship because Saturn and the other planet have more of an understanding between them........ Without the strength and support of a significant Saturn contact, it is fairly difficult to think in terms of long-term possibility in a relationship."

Testing this theory on myself and my husband: my natal Saturn at 12.55 Aries trines his Moon at 13.35 Leo; his Saturn at 26.3 Pisces trines my Mars at 28.54 Scorpio. Maybe we're OK for the long haul then, each teaching and learning a few lessons on the journey. We've both been through all manner of relationship grinders over the years, such experiences must have smoothed off many rough edges.

I investigated my parents' charts too. They managed 55 years of often turbulent but always loving and faithful relationship. For much of their lives they worked and lived together 24/7. A testing ground indeed! My mother's natal Saturn conjoined Dad's Neptune in Cancer. The clincher in their charts, I think, was the fact that Mum's natal Uranus was only 6* away from Dad's Aquarius Sun, and sextiled his Saturn in Aries.

Although long term possibilities in relationships may be less of a certainty in the absence of positive Saturn contacts, other placements and aspects could supply a strengthening effect powerful enough to overcome a lack of strong helpful aspects from Saturn. External factors too, such as environment, education, context, background etc. carry as much weight as the astrological in any situation.

Whatever is indicated by any astrological theory is a potentiality to bear in mind, rather than being an outcome chiseled in stone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Our Chevrolet Monte Carlo is still in a sick bay, 250 miles away. My husband suspected all along that repairs needed following an unfortunate incident when he was obliged to drive over a metal object lying in the road, would take much longer than I, naively, had envisioned. Maybe we'll get the call to go reclaim our car this week.....maybe not.

The name Chevrolet has been spinning around my head during the past week. I got to wondering whose name it was, originally, and what kind of person they were. I clearly recall that my mother, back in the late 1940s had a watch bearing the name Chevrolet, and my Dad remarking that he'd always thought Chevrolet to be the name of an American car manufacturer, not a watchmaker.

The Chevrolet family member whose name has been forever absorbed into the US car industry was Louis Chevrolet, born on 25 December 1878 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, just south of the French border. He was son of a watchmaker. Chaud-de-Fonds is at centre of the Swiss watch-making industry, also in an area important to the dairy industry. Chevrolet, the name, is thought to be a derivation of French words for goat's milk : chèvre (goat) & lait(milk).

Louis Chevrolet himself is not a figure as alive in public memory as a contemporary of his, Henry Ford, but his surname is still, and will probably always be, one of the Big Two names in the recently troubled US automotive industry.

What of the man behind the name, a man whose motto was "Never Give Up"?

Louis was described by contemporaries as a "big man", at least 6 ft. tall and 195 lbs; neither well-educated nor skilled in business practice, a bit of a rough diamond by all accounts, but a guy with an innate talent for reparing, inventing and developing all things mechanical, beginning with the humble bike.

When his family moved to Beaune, France he worked in a bicycle repair shop and began racing bikes and winning competitions. Still a teenager, he invented a wine barrel pump and manufactured a bicycle he called the Frontenac, named after the 17th Century governor of France's North American colonies. He would, much later, later use that name for a company set up with his two brothers, and on racing cars. Louis, inspired by a de Dion powered tricycle, joined the firm as a mechanic. He also worked in the Roblin mechanics shop before moving to Paris and soon after emigrating to Canada in 1900.

Natal chart of Louis (set for 12 noon in the absence of information as to his time of birth) shows a practical guy (Sun Mercury, Venus and Moon, unless born in the last hour of 25 December, all in Earthy Capricorn. Jupiter at 9 Aquarius, in helpful semi-sextile to Sun/Mercury/Venus provides the tipping point from straight-ahead practicality into the fairly rare, though still practical, skill of inventiveness. Creative Neptune in harmonious trine to the Capricorn planets is a further echo of this. Mars, at 00 degrees of Sagittarius, in semi-sextile to the Capricorn group, from the other side of Capricorn, adds an adventurous and competitive ingredient to his nature....hence his gravitation towards racing.

The story behind his arrival in the USA may or may not be true, but it's told that a member of the famous American Vanderbilt family was travelling in France when his car broke down near the bicycle shop where Louis Chevrolet was employed. The owner of the shop couldn't start Vanderbilt's car but Louis came forward and solved the problem. Vanderbilt is said to have been impressed, advised the talented young mechanic "Come to America. There's work for you there. When you come, look me up."

Louis Chevrolet did travel across the Atlantic a couple of years later and arrived in Montreal. He worked there as a driver-mechanic and chauffeur as well as continuing his racing endeavours and learning English. After a year or so he moved to New York, worked first for a Swiss immigrant's engineering firm, then in the factory of de Dion-Bouton, French car manufacturer in Brooklyn.

Louis continued his racing career first for Fiat, later for Buick, and in the course of his adventures met Buick owner William C. Durant, founder of General Motors.

Lack of much formal early education was no deterrent to Louis, he rapidly learned car design while working for Buick and those innate skills, possibly inherited from his family background of precise watchmaking discipline, came to the fore. He built an overhead valve six-cylinder engine in his own machine shop in Detroit, then moved to Flint, Michigan, continued designing engines and began working with William C. Durant. The pair founded the Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Michigan. Durant and Chevrolet, though able to work together on some levels, were very different personalities.

Chevrolet, unsophisticated and brash, had the necessary mechanical skills, Durant was the smooth, business-minded partner. Durant wanted Louis to build a car to compete with Henry Ford's Model T, a low-cost car "for the masses", but Chevrolet wanted to put his name on a big impressive car.

Louis Chevrolet at the wheel of his prototype for the 1912 Chevrolet Series C Classic Six (Photo from Max Chevy Magazine)

By 1912, Chevrolet had produced the luxury Classic Six, selling for $2,150, a vast sum in those days. At this point Chevrolet and Durrant split, but within a year Durrant had bought back the lilting name - Chevrolet - into General Motors, this name he coveted to mark his product.

The Chevy logo, now so well-known, came into being in 1913. Stories of its source have become muddled through time. Take your pick: it was copied from a wallpaper design in a Paris hotel room; it was copied from a newspaper advert for Coalettes; it was drawn on a dinner napkin in a restaurant by Durant; it's a stylised version of the cross from a Swiss flag (reflecting the name Chevrolet's origins).

Louis Chevrolet moved on to concentrate on the racing car industry, which, I guess, was his real love. In 1916 he and his two brothers started the Frontenac Motor Corporation, becoming known for "Fronty-Ford" racing cars. Louis continued to drive, competed in the Indianapolis 500 four times, coming 7th in 1919. His brother Gaston won in 1920 in one of their Frontenacs.

Louis dabbled in designing racing boats and aircraft, but losses in the stock market crash of 1929 left him practically penniless. His story came full-circle as the need for income drove him, ironically, to take a minor job as a line mechanic in a Chevrolet factory.

After having suffered several strokes, it was complications after the amputation of his leg that caused his death in 1941, aged 62. His erstwhile partner William C. (Billy) Durant, the ambitious industrialist, outlived him by more than 20 years, but he didn't exit in a wave of glory either. The Great Depression hit and Durant’s heydays ended. He declared bankruptcy in 1936, died in relative obscurity in 1947. General Motors, his creation, has lived on as the largest car company in the world, and because of this the name Chevrolet lives on in the motor industry.

Throughout his career Louis Chevrolet lived according to his motto "Never Give Up," it is inscribed on his memorial at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
(Photo from