Friday, February 28, 2014

Arty Farty Friday: James Ensor - Neptune in Pisces Ascending

James Ensor didn't have natal Sun in Pisces, but he did have Neptune, modern ruler of Pisces, slap-bang on his ascendant. He was born on 13 April 1860 at 4:30 am in Ostend, Belgium (data from Astrodatabank AA rating = very reliable). Chart and notes on the astrology follow at the end of this post.

A band called They Might be Giants once wrote a song about this artist:

Meet James Ensor
Belgium's famous painter
Dig him up and shake his hand
Appreciate the man

Before there were junk stores
Before there was junk
He lived with his mother and the torments of Christ
The world was transformed
A crowd gathered round
Pressed against his window so they could be the first

To meet James Ensor
Belgium's famous painter
Raise a glass and sit and stare
Understand the man

He lost all his friends
He didn't need his friends
He lived with his mother and repeated himself
The world has forgotten
The world moved along
The crowd at his window went back to their homes

Meet James Ensor
Meet James Ensor
Belgium's famous painter
Dig him up and shake his hand
Appreciate the man.

I enjoyed a 2009 piece on this artist by Elatia Harris at 3 Quarks Daily - James Ensor: Keepin' It Surreal. Or there's Pariah to Paragon - James Ensor and the Carnivalesque by Bryce Dwyer at University of Tampa's Journal of Art History. Or Wikipedia's page on the artist.

In a nutshell, for the greater part of his life Ensor was not an artist embraced by the elite of late 19th century art world. He was an outsider, made little attempt to change this, remained in the city of his birth, living and working in a studio in the home of his parents. He did come to be accepted later in life, but from what I've read, such public acceptance seemed to mark a decrease in, or complete loss of, the sharp insights in that strange style which eventually brought him recognition. Perhaps he had thrived on, and revelled in simply being an outsider, but once his work became widely accepted something within him retreated.

His earliest work was fairly mainline, fairly unremarkable, then his paintings seemed to veer into a kind of raging madness, and his style stayed somewhere out there where the buses didn't run. His paintings are filled with masks and skeletons, or unpleasant images. I understand these were depressing commentaries on the human condition as he saw it from the vantage point of his hometown, Ostend, a city on the North Sea coast of Belgium. Belgian history, and maybe his own mortality must have conjured such morbid visions. Human bones were regularly uncovered in Ostend, residue of the carnage there during seventeenth-century warfare; Ensor possibly retained memories of their exhumation. His 1888 etching (below) of himself as a skeleton, reclining in slippers bears the title My Portrait in 1960.

A few more examples of his work.........

 Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889

 The Frightful Musicians

Skeletons Fighting Over a Pickled Herring

Ensor seemed to enjoy painting self portraits -19th century version of a "selfie" I suppose - three of these follow:

 Self Portrait with Flowered Hat

 Detail from Self Portrait with Masks

 Ensor at the Harmonium

With regard to his art style, Neptune in Pisces on the ascendant and Uranus conjunct Venus in Gemini is really all there is to say!

His dream or nightmare-like scenes, masks, illusions (Pisces Neptune), off-the-wall subject matter (Uranus) in his art (Venus) - the most unpleasant of which I have not posted. For example there's a painting Doctrinal Nourishment [Alimentation Doctrinaire], a provocative send-up of authoritarian hubris that lampoons the Belgian ruling classes as bloated, self-satisfied tyrants, sitting, bare-bottomed, on a high wall and emptying their bowels into the awaiting mouths of a ravenous crowd. Created in 1889, this print critiqued the unstable socio-political climate aggravated and perpetuated by the oppressive policies of King Leopold II. (See HERE)

Ensor's apparent need to stay on the outside of the art world's bubble, to be different, to appear eccentric clearly relates to Uranus conjunct Venus.

“Drenched in British purples, I have offered up my tones: pigeon breast, hind belly, balky mule lung, monkey bottom pink, lapis lazuli and malachite, excited nymph thigh, panther pee-pee, high-smelling hen hair, hedgehog in aspic, barrel-maker's brothel, revered rose, monkeybush, turkey-like white, sly violet, page's slipper, immaculate nun spring, unspeakable red, Ensor azure, affected yellow, mummy skull, rock-hard gray, brunt celadon, shop soiled smoke ring.”
~ James Ensor, "James Ensor"

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Another Side of Neptune in Pisces

Four individuals listed below were born between 1849 and 1861 (when Neptune was last transiting Pisces) with Neptune close to their ascendant degree. It's not hard to spot similarities in their chosen life paths is it?

My software wasn't too helpful with French place names, I had to find the nearest town to some birth places, but charts as shown will be accurate enough for the purpose of discovering prominent Neptune in Pisces. Data came from either or astrotheme.

Anthelme Nizier Philippe, also known as "Maître Philippe" or "Maître Philippe de Lyon" born on April 25, 1849 in Le Rubathier, Loisieux, Savoy, France, son of a peasant couple. He gained a reputation as a healer by the age of thirteen. He married Jeanne Julie Landar (1859–1939)in 1877, had a daughter, Jeanne Marie Victoire born on 11 November 1878. She died on 29 August 1904 aged 25. He refused to heal her, saying that it was Heaven's wish that she should go on ahead, and predicted the precise course of her illness and death. "This death," he said, "has for me been a living crucifixion."

He soon gained a reputation as a miracle worker amongst Paris occultists. Having been harassed for practicing medicine without a license, he went to St Petersburg where he was awarded his Doctor's Diploma in recognition of extraordinary feats of remote healing conducted in St Petersburg.

Charles Lancelin, born January 4, 1852 in Dreux, died in 1941, was a French physician and occultist who was an early experimenter in the field of astral projection, also known as out-ofthe-body travel. He published a number of important books in the active period of French interest in occultism that preceded World War II.

Thomas H. Burgoyne, an astrologer and founder of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, was born April 14, 1855. Spontaneously psychic, he claimed that as a child he came into contact with the Brotherhood of Light, a group of discarnate, advanced beings who attempt to guide the destiny of humankind. Today that group continues as the Church of Light. At a later date he met a M. Theon, purported to be an earthly representative of the brotherhood who taught Burgoyne about the Brotherhood.Burgoyne moved to the United States around 1880 and soon afterward his writings began to appear in various periodicals.

Victor Stanislas de Guaita, born on 6 April 1861 at 07:00 AM , Chateau de Alteville, France.

French poet based in Paris, an expert on esotericism and European mysticism, and an active member of the Rosicrucian Order, celebrated and successful in his time. He was an expert on magic and occultism. He had many disputes with other people who were involved with occultism and magic. Occultism and magic formed a part of his novels. His main work was "The Key to Black Magic."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Google and I - "Getting to know me, getting to know all about me....."

In 2009 I read about and wrote a bit about Raymond Kurzweil (and his natal chart). I then felt much admiration for the guy. By 2013 though my admiration was tinged with annoyance that his brilliant mind wasn't being used to address the world's greatest needs.

Now what's he up to?

Google Will Soon Know You Better Than Your Spouse Does, Top Exec Says

In short, the Observer writes, Kurzweil believes that Google will soon "know the answer to your question before you have asked it. It will have read every email you've ever written, every document, every idle thought you've ever tapped into a search-engine box. It will know you better than your intimate partner does. Better, perhaps, than even yourself."

As creepy as this may sound to some, Kurzweil -- who has long contended that computers will outsmart us by 2029 -- believes that the improvement of artificial intelligence is merely the next step in our evolution.

"[Artificial intelligence] is not an intelligent invasion from Mars," he told the Montecito Journal in 2012, per a post on his website. "These are brain extenders that we have created to expand our own mental reach. They are part of our civilization. They are part of who we are.

Another article on the same topic, by Carole Cadwalladr is at The Guardian:
Are the robots about to rise? Google's new director of engineering thinks so…
Ray Kurzweil popularised the Teminator-like moment he called the 'singularity', when artificial intelligence overtakes human thinking. But now the man who hopes to be immortal is involved in the very same quest – on behalf of the tech behemoth..............

Dang! I'll repeat my last year's criticism : is this the kind of thing the best and brightest scientific brains on the planet ought to be focusing on? How about lending a few genius-tinted thoughts to climate change, worsening water shortages, and new power sources to name but a few? The world needs its best and brightest minds on such problems right now. If someone doesn't focus on these issues there will not be much of a world left upon which Google could practice its all-seeing, all-knowing crapola.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Neptune in Pisces - or Is It a Conspiracy?

Neptune has been transiting zodiac sign Pisces for over a year now, with around 13 years still to go. Maybe because Neptune is edging close to my natal Jupiter at 6 Pisces I'm feeling I ought to be writing something on Neptune and/or Pisces just now.

I like Pisces, as a sign, think of it as gentle, non-threatening, sweet rather than bitter, sensitive but not clingy, emotional but not paranoid. That's a stripped down version, various possibilities and potentialities are there. Keywords such as spiritual or religious, dreamy, prone to addiction, creative.....on and on have been attached to Pisces the sign.

Neptune, the other "blue planet", astrologically has been laden with keywords relating to aspects of its name: the sea, water, liquids, oil, then, for some reason, illusion, delusion, fog, mist, mystery, creativity - maybe because the sea sometimes brings fogs and mists to its coastlines; fog or mist can cloud judgment, lead to some type of addiction, or illusion.

Conspiracy theory can be seen as a very Neptune in Pisces thing - very Neptune anyway, and in fertile Pisces likely to become a shade or two more deeply creative, without Earth, Air or Fire biting in critically.

We, "the great unwashed", started to hear more and more about conspiracy theories with the coming of the internet. What used reach us, occasionally, as whispers have now become almost daily shrieks.

I've wondered in the past what astrological configuration might relate to a penchant for conspiracy theories. C.E.O. Carter's Encyclopedia pf Psychological Astrology is of no help in this. There's no entry under "conspiracy" or "conspiracy theory". I doubt that it was a term in common use when the book was first published in 1924. Something in communal consciousness shifted between then and now, in line with developments in technology and communications. I came to the conclusion that a generational quirk could be involved. Neptune in Scorpio generation? Did this generation, born between 1957 and 1969, (now approaching middle age) pick up and fall in love with the very idea of conspiracy theories? Maybe. Neptune represents imagination and mystery. Scorpio represents secrets and death.

In a New York Times article last year: Why Rational People Buy into Conspiracy Theories, by Maggie Koerth-Baker the author tells us that psychologists, in particular Viren Swami, a psychology professor who studies conspiracy belief at the University of Westminster in England, have concluded that "conspiracy theories appear to be a way of reacting to uncertainty and powerlessness".... “If you know the truth and others don’t, that’s one way you can reassert feelings of having agency,” Swami says. It can be comforting to do your own research even if that research is flawed. It feels good to be the wise old goat in a flock of sheep.

 H/t Assailed

Commenter "DJ" beneath that article observed that:
A lot of what gets categorized as “conspiracy theory” is often people just trying to make sense of things in a world where we have seen both our government and the media, liberal and conservative, inform us in a way that best suits their agenda. Not lies, per se, because their goal (at least from their view) serves a higher purpose. And with corporate America influencing our lives from all angles, spoon feeding us their Kool-Aid on how they benefit us while our dollars line their pockets - as long as we live in a country where we are so blatantly manipulated, we will continue to doubt the “official” story and try to figure it out for ourselves.

Another commenter, "Marino" puts forward a point which makes good sense to me:
The silliest element in most conspiracy theories isn't the facts of the conspiracy -- it's the competence of the execution. The U.S. government can't blow up a terrorist in Pakistan without taking out a birthday party half the think it can engineer and cover up 9/11? Many news reporters can't spell your name think they're all pulling the same way for a hidden agenda? The IRS gave out a billion dollars in unwarranted refunds last think it's auditing organizations on the orders of a high-level cabal?

Believing somebody is pulling the strings in secret would certainly be comforting -- if nothing else, it means somebody in charge know what they're doing. But in reality, the vast majority of people most conspiracy theorists think are after them are remarkable for their blunders, not their skill. Most of the time, the world turns on a blend of misfortune and mundane incompetence. It's not as comforting as many people might like, but it's not as actively antagonistic, either.

I found a rather good video on this very topic at YouTube, presented by astrologer Armand Diaz Ph.D. I've embedded it here. It is third of a set of three, links to the two others are below, the astrologer's website, Integral Astrology is HERE.

Neptune in Pisces Part 1
Neptune in Pisces Part 2

Ending, again, with words of David Foster Wallace, who had Sun in Pisces. (He came up in a post and comments here at the weekend).
“Because we’ve been lied to and lied to, and it hurts to be lied to. It’s ultimately just about that complicated: it hurts. It denies you respect for yourself, for the liar, for the world. Especially if the lies are chronic, systemic, if hard experience seems to teach that everything you’re supposed to believe in’s really a game based on lies. Young Voters have been taught well and thoroughly. You may not personally remember Vietnam or Watergate, but it’s a good bet you remember ‘No new taxes’ and ‘Out of the loop’ and ‘No direct knowledge of any impropriety at this time’ and Did not inhale’ and ‘Did not have sex with that woman’ and etc. etc. It’s depressing and painful to believe that the would-be ‘public servants’ you’re forced to choose between are all phonies whose only real concern is their own care and feeding and who will lie so outrageously with such a straight face that you just know they have to believe you’re an idiot. So who wouldn’t fall all over themselves for a top politician who actually seemed to talk to you like you were a person, an intelligent adult worthy of respect?”
~ David Foster Wallace, The Best American Essays 2007

Monday, February 24, 2014

Music Monday ~ Michel Legrand

Michel Legrand has a birthday today, 24 February - it'll be his 82nd, may he have many more! Because it's accurate and "just right", I'm stealing John Lewis's opening line from his review in The Guardian of Michel Legrand's 2012 concert at Ronnie Scott's in London:
"Michel Legrand has the kind of musical CV that makes everyone else's look like a sick note."

Everyone over...40? 50? knows some of the film themes and lovely songs composed by Michel Legrand. I'm not sure whether these have percolated through to the Facebook, i-tunes generation yet, if not, they're missing out on lots of good music.

From the entry on Michel Legrand at Songwriters' Hall of Fame website:
His most unforgettable work is the classic 1964 film, "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," which marked his first recognition from the Motion Picture Academy. He won his first Academy Award for Best Song for "The Windmills of Your Mind," which appeared in the 1968 film, "The Thomas Crown Affair." He later picked up the Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score, for the movie "The Summer of '42," and years later, in 1984, he won for Best Original Song Score for the Barbra Streisand movie, "Yentl," a work which Time Magazine called, "the most romantic, coherent and sophisticated movie score since "Gigi" a quarter century ago."

But Legrand is remembered almost as well for a number of songs that didn't win Oscar awards (although some were nominated). Among the more notable are "Pieces of Dreams," "Brian's Song," "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," "I Will Wait for You," "Watch What Happens" (both from "Umbrellas") and from the movie "The Young Girls of Rochefort," the well-remembered "You Must Believe in Spring." One of Legrand's most recent hit songs is the melodic "How Do You Keep the Music Playing," from "Best Friends."

In addition to his prodigious writing skills, Legrand is a conductor of renown and a virtuoso jazz pianist. He has conducted and appeared with such ensembles as The Pittsburgh Symphony, The Minnesota Orchestra, The Buffalo Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Montreal and Vancouver."
He has made more than 100 albums and collaborated with numerous major stars of all genres: pop, jazz, blues, Broadway, classical...... I love that the man can certainly be no kind of music snob. He embraces all genres, treats each with the same level of respect and attention.

From an essay by vocalist Melissa Errico describing her collaboration with Michel Legrand to produce an album of his songs, we get a peek into one facet of his personality and the way he works:
"So, Michel and I played through his songs, and always quietly and tenderly. Neither of us seemed to want to do anything theatrical or bombastic—we found ourselves exploring the poetic words, and meandering through his painfully gorgeous melodies, always with intimacy. I knew the stories of his films, and if I didn't know the stories behind the songs, he would let me know. The lyrics themselves would hit me and I'd know right away if something was mine to sing.
Sh-K-Boom & Ghostlight Records
Michel would feel it too, and he would play and decorate and inspire me along with his extraordinary pianistic color, which flows from him like water. I'd hold the melody and the meanings while he would go to wild corners of his imagination, sometimes bringing in classical motifs or jazz or folk. He would write notes in the margins like "Mozart meets folk" or "Ravel concerto in G major"and then his hands would sort of combine these elements in a fascinating way. I would sit at the piano bench and delight in his creativity, and at the same time I would feel completely lost in the simplicity of a truthful song, and I'd feel totally balanced. It was a strange thing but it started coming together. We spoke of some of our favorite cds (such as Shirley Horn Here's To Life/with Strings and Joni Mitchell including her beautiful orchestral Both Sides, Now album) and Michel was certain it had to be a huge symphonic recording. How on earth would that actually ever happen I thought!? , "enormone, intime, sensuelle" he said. 100 musicians in a symphony for an intimate cd? Well, that's just what we set out to do."

Michel Legrand was born on 24 February 1932 in Paris, France at 12.21pm (data from

What best represents his astro-signature? I think Venus conjunct Uranus in Aries trine Jupiter in Leo would be a good fit. Venus (the arts), Uranus (the modern and inventive) Jupiter (prolific, widely published) all in Fire signs: energy, enthusiasm.

In interview, here, when asked: Did you find a film like 'Les Demoiselles... ' difficult to score? He relied:
‘It was not easy. My natural instinct is to always write sad music. It is instinctively really what comes out of me. So it was difficult for me to write something so lively, because all the tunes are happy, fast, allegro. So I had to force myself to write happy, happy, happy. And then the next day, happy again. I had to force myself a little!’
That revelation doesn't quite fit the bright enthusiasm of Fire. His natal Moon at 7 Libra trines Saturn (00 Aquarius), so his inner artistic sensitivity is under a kind of cold dampening effect from Saturn, and Moon is opposite Venus (his music) too.

Sun and Mercury conjoined at 2 and 4 Pisces, underline his creativity and imaginative talent. Mars at 29 Aquarius might be considered as conjoined with Sun/Mercury, though 2 degrees might be seen as too wide a difference - anyway it adds a certain type of novel and inventive energy to the mix. Pisces and Aquarius are not uncomfortable neighbours; in this case Aquarius' ruler Uranus is in trine to Pisces traditional ruler Jupiter, helping to harmonise the blend.

Happy birthday Michel Legrand!

I Will Wait For You with M. Legrand on piano, jazzing up his composition:

What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? Barbra Streisand with M.Legrand - here she's unprepared and put on the spot:

The Summer Knows from the film Summer of '42. With his wife Catherine Michel playing the harp he conducts... then sings a bit:

My own favourite composition by M. Legrand is
How Do You Keep the Music Playing? with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman for the 1982 film Best Friends. I didn't much like any of the vocal versions on YouTube, they're all encumbered by adverts anyway, but this stripped down simple and simply lovely version by pianist Adelmo Francisco lets the melody's beauty show clearly:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Rambles on Boundaries and the Edge

Having recently watched both film versions (1944 and 1984) of Somerset Maugham's novel The Razor's Edge, I thought about writing a post on either the films' theme ("finding oneself" and/or the meaning of life) or the relative quality of each film version. The novel's and films' title comes from a verse in the Katha-Upanishad. (The Upanishads are a collection of Vedic texts), and is translated as: "the sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard."

The Razor's Edge tells the story of an American guy traumatised by experiences in World War I. Back home after the war, he renounces the materialism around him to seek transcendent meaning in his life. Culmination of his search takes him to a monastery high in the mountains of India. I haven't read the novel, but from what I can gather it seems both films omit much detail of the main character's travels and adventures, as well as the way life is proceeding, in his absence, for the circle of friends he left behind. (Photographs: Tyrone Power in the leading role in the 1944 film version; Bill Murray took the lead in the 1984 version).

 Feast Before Altar of Terminus  (Castiglione 1642)
However, when I noticed that tomorrow, 23 February, was the date of yet another Roman festival, Terminalia, in honour of their god Terminus, an oblique detour from my original intentions opened up.

Terminus, Roman god and protector of boundary markers; his name was the Latin word for such a marker, in our world the milestone is the boundary marker's descendant. Sacrifices were performed to sanctify each boundary stone, landowners celebrated "Terminalia" in Terminus' honor each year on February 23, which was also their last day of the Roman year. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill was thought to have been built over a shrine to Terminus, and he was occasionally identified as an aspect of Jupiter under the name "Jupiter Terminalis". I've already rattled on about Terminus, by the way, in an old post HERE. (Wikipedia HERE and HERE)

It might not seem so at first glance, but there is a loose link between The Razor's Edge and Terminus, Roman god of boundaries: knife-edge/razor's edge = an extremely narrow boundary.

So.. a ramble around the general topic of boundaries.

First thought was along the lines that all boundaries are man-made, defined by the power-hungry for purposes of profit and control. That's not accurate, of course, nature has her boundaries. Most basic of these: earth's continents are constantly moving due to motions of the tectonic plates, the border between two tectonic plates is called a boundary. All the tectonic plates are constantly moving — very slowly — around the planet, but in many different directions. Some are moving toward each other, some are moving apart, and some are sliding past each other. Because of these differences, tectonic plate boundaries are grouped into three main types......For more see HERE.

Astrologers define boundaries relevant to their profession. "Out-of-bounds planets" are any that have a declination greater than 23 degrees 27’. The declination is the angular distance of a planet north or south of the celestial equator. Out-of-Bounds simply means “outside of the boundary of the ecliptic”. Because of the tilt of the earth’s axis, the sun appears to stay within 23 degrees 27’ north of the equator and 23 degrees 27’ south of the equator. Anything “outside” of that is considered “out-of-bounds”.
More HERE.

Back to the original and more visible earthly boundaries.

An ancient custom of "beating the bounds" is still carried out in parts of England and Wales. Members of a community walk the boundaries of their parish, usually led by the parish priest and church officials. Purpose of this exercise, historically, was to share knowledge of where the boundaries lay, and to pray for protection and blessings for the lands. In the past, knowledge of the limits of each parish needed to be handed down so that such matters as liability to contribute to the repair of the church, and the right to be buried within the churchyard were not disputed. The custom dates from Anglo-Saxon times, it's thought that it may have been derived from the Roman Terminalia, a festival celebrated on February 22 in honour of Terminus, the god of landmarks, to whom cakes and wine were offered, sports and dancing taking place at the boundaries. More HERE.

Combined thoughts of boundaries and English history brings to mind the enclosures of common and waste land on which parishioners had always been free to graze their stock. The enclosure laws sought to enclose common land and reduce and rearrange the long strips of land previously used for growing crops. From the late 16th century onward such change became common, often amid much protest. Under the open field system, several landowners had strips in each large field, probably arranged originally to give everyone a fair share of good and bad land. At enclosure, land was re-apportioned between the various landowners, in general putting land together and swapping it around, so that larger closes were formed within the larger fields to replace the smaller field strips. Wealthy inhabitants were likely to find the changes advantageous, but many of the smallholders and cottagers who had relied on common grazing were forced to move to towns and cities to find work. Enclosure made agriculture more efficient but at huge cost to many living in rural communities. See HERE.

Finally, while I cringe at the very thought of a dog ever being chained, there's this quote from an unfinished novel The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace (born 21 February 1962) . The novel was left unfinished because the author committed suicide in 2008 defining the boundary to his own life. The idea in this sad quotation puts acceptance of boundaries in a rather different light.

 Hat-tip to Wolfer Magic
What he'd do, he'd never go out to the length of the chain. He'd never even get out to where the chain got tight. Even if the mailman pulled up, or a salesman. Out of dignity, this dog pretended like he chose this one area to stay in that just happened to be inside the length of the chain. Nothing outside of that area right there interested him. He just had zero interest. So he never noticed the chain. He didn't hate it. The chain. He just up and made it not relevant. maybe he wasn't pretending--maybe he really up and chose that little circle for his own world. He had a power to him. All of his life on that chain..

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Match Made in Heaven......Givenchy & Hepburn

Hubert de Givenchy, famous French couturier had a birthday yesterday, according to anyway. Wikipedia has his birthday down as today, 21 February. is more reliable, their website has the date and time rated AA (the highest rating for accuracy, birth certification in hand).

I'm not really into haute couture sufficiently to launch into a post on the subject, but who would not be impressed by Givenchy's superb dresses and suits especially designed for Audrey Hepburn in her films, as well as in her private life? She was the ideal "clothes horse" for his restrained, often minimalist styles. She had a simplicity and youthfulness that lifted his designs to a different, more accessible wavelength for all. The two were close friends - soul mates almost, though not in a romantic sense as far as we can tell. He called her his muse. It was a friendship which lasted until Ms Hepburn's untimely death from cancer in 1993.

Audrey Hepburn: His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality.

From: HERE
Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn - a match made in heaven. Similar ages, the French couturier and Iconic screen star immediately empathized with each other – an intimate relationship that continued into old age.

Givenchy intuitively understood Audrey’s petite frame – the perfect foil it would seem for the sophisticated and ladylike look of the late 1950s and early 1960s – tiny waist, full skirt – often with underlay and a simply cut bodice, often collarless to show Audrey’s swanlike neck.

In turn, Audrey’s iconic movies served as the perfect environment for the ultimate catwalk – raising Givenchy’s profile. And perhaps due to the timeless design of both the couture and the movies both are still much admired decades later.

Hmm. Match made in heaven? There ought to be evidence of that in their natal charts - let's see. Yes! The clearest sign of all of potential for a good relationship is here: his Sun conjunct her Moon. His Sun is at 00 Pisces her Moon at 6 Pisces, additionally his natal Jupiter at 7 Pisces is in even closer conjunction to her Moon. His Mars and her Mercury are conjoined too, though on the cusps of two signs: 29 Taurus and 00 Gemini.

Both Monsieur Givenchy and Ms Hepburn have Air signs ascending, Aquarius for her, Gemini for him, that factor alone makes for easy communication and compatibility. Their natal Suns are quite harmonious too, Givenchy's in Pisces, Audrey's in Taurus, different sensibilities but an easy enough blend of Water and Earth.

The pair both have Sun conjunct Jupiter they share a natural enthusiasm and confidence, possibly even "feeding" those traits to each other. I read somewhere online that Audrey Hepburn had said that in the course of her many wonderful efforts on behalf of UNICEF, when giving speeches, she always felt more confident and able to give of her best when wearing something made by Givenchy.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

More Pluto in Capricorn & Dr Lee Lehman's Wise Words

Back in 2010 I ran a short series under the heading Astrologers' Words of Wisdom. The second of these featured a quote from astrologer Lee Lehman, that post is HERE. I came upon it by chance while searching for something else, decided to take a look at Dr. Lehman's website. I tootled through her archive. A very busy lady she is, as set out in her profile. Her posting to the blog has been fairly infrequent, but of high quality.

Dr. Lehman would not approve of my version of astrology, it'd be something akin to a high class concert pianist looking at someone bashing out a popular tune, by ear, on a creaky upright piano with a few keys missing and in need of a good tuning! That doesn't prevent a creaky piano-playing amateur from appreciating true quality when they encounter it though.

I sampled three or four of Dr. Lehman's archived posts, noticed one on the topic of Pluto in Capricorn. We had a brief discussion here on that topic on Tuesday, with added observations about another astrologer and his predictions: Michael Lutin, including his natal chart (or lack of its availability). Dr Lehman's natal chart is up for all to ponder upon at It bears at least one similarity, apart from year of birth, to that suspected to be Michael Lutin's - Virgo Sun, but also with Moon and Mercury in Virgo in her case, and Leo rising.

Dr. Lehman's post titled Hope in the Time of Pluto in Capricorn, is a transcript of a talk she gave at NORWAC (Northwest Astrological Conference ) in 2009. It's a lengthy piece, all interesting. It ends with emphasis on two factors, factors which no other astrologer I've read lately has mentioned:
(a) the fact that what will come after Pluto's Capricorn transit, Pluto in Aquarius, might not be as benign as some modern interpretations of Aquarius would lead us to believe. Aquarius is one of the Fixed signs; being fixed it isn't as open to fundamental change as are Cardinal and Mutable signs. "In the fixed signs, the Old Order strikes back – or at least tries to." said Dr. Lehman after a quick look at some historical evidence. Therefore it would be better for solutions to be found and implimented during Pluto's transit through Capricorn, a Cardinal sign.

And (b) over-population of the planet.
What this means is: there is no solution to poverty except population reduction. There is no solution to development except population reduction. And sustainability is a complete joke unless it is coupled to population reduction. Reduction. Limitation. Sound like Pluto in Capricorn?...............
Have you heard President Obama talk about overpopulation when he mentions sustainability? He's danced around this topic one or twice. Have you heard any talk about changing our tax system to stop rewarding large families?.........
Can we develop the will to face the limitations that Pluto in Capricorn will demonstrate for us? I don’t know – but I can guarantee that it won’t happen until we provoke the societal discussion beyond the baby steps of sustainability we have managed to achieve by now. We must bring population to the heart of the discussion – or everything else, as we say, is academic.
.....But if the problems are dire, that doesn't mean there's no hope. It's just that we must create a vision of a different future than I'm describing.
"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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Southwestern Oddities

We watched an indie movie on DVD the other night, The Wicksboro Incident. It's one of the genre often labelled "found footage", documentary style but purely fictional. The film's theme: Wicksboro, in far south-western Texas (fictional small town) disappeared with its inhabitants sometime in the early 1950s. One survivor emerges from hiding decades later to tell his story to two amateur film-makers. His story involves ...aliens. 'Nuf said. Someone who happens across this blog at some point might wish to see the movie, I don't want to spoil it. It's a short film, only about 70 mins, it starts slowly but builds. There's lots of shaky camera work, dark, almost blank screens with voices only to reassure us the DVD hasn't stuck in its groove (or whatever).

The film set me thinking how an area of south-western United States, New Mexico, part of southern Colorado, and south-western Texas have developed mysterious connections to strange happenings, modern legends, the weird and the would-be wonderful. On our trips, over the years around these areas, we've visited a few locations of mysterious reputation. Roswell, New Mexico always comes to mind first.

We first visited Roswell, New Mexico in 2006, the UFO Museum and Research Center was then situated in the main street, in what appeared to be an old movie theater. A new center for the museum was under construction further down the road.

We read many of the numerous exhibits: newspaper articles, sworn affidavits and other printed material displayed around the walls. The main part of the museum deals, unsurprisingly, with the reported UFO crash near Roswell in 1947. There are, among many other things, reports and signed statements from witnesses who saw evidence of the crash and collected wreckage. Evidence of a request for "child size coffins". In several of the statements, witnesses reported seeing purple colored symbols, hieroglyphic-like, on a strip among the wreckage. There's a statement by a woman medical officer, detailed to take notes at an autopsy of bodies following the crash. She was later sent to England, and subsequently is said to have disappeared - or has not been heard from again.

Who can say how genuine any of the material is, after 60 years have passed? And yet, why would ordinary, everyday people have fabricated such a story, back in 1947 on a summer evening just before midnight, without reason? In those days there were few, if any TV programmes about extra-terrestrial phenomena to ignite the imagination. There were few sci-fi movies. What else but "a happening" could have sparked reports of such a bizarre occurrence as this? We discussed our feelings about the whole Roswell story later, after our museum visit, came to the conclusion that "something" did happen on that night in 1947. The "something" was covered up by lies from those in authority at the time. Lies from government downward are not unknown, even in current history, which fact inclined us to believe at least some of the stories told by witnesses.

On a 2005 trip to see Anasazi cave dwellings at Mesa Verde, Colorado we happened across a UFO Watchtower in the San Luis Valley, near Hooper. The site was run by a friendly lady who told us tales of strange sightings she and others had experienced. She also told us that some Native American tribes believe that their ancestors came from "the stars".

On a later trip, 2011, celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary, in the far north of New Mexico, we intended to see what we could find relating to some strange legends surrounding a tiny town called Dulce, on the border of Colorado and New Mexico, close to the Continental Divide, where altitude reaches 7 to 8 thousand ft at various points. Google search "Dulce, New Mexico" for numerous tales of varying incredibility about Dulce and what lies beneath Archuleta Mesa! We, unfortunately, decided to turn around and head home just before we reached Dulce, due to unexpected wintry weather, altitude (7,871ft), and a few uncomfortable health issues.

One particular little village on Highway 64, Dulce, was going to fascinate yours truly because of stories of UFOs, aliens and a massive 7-layered underground government facility said to be nearby - under a huge mesa. There are also stories/legends of a UFO crash near Aztec village in this area. Again, there's a ton of information, comment from locals and researchers online. Some, if even half-true would be hair-raising. It involves bio-tech experiments (which I can believe), mutilated cattle found regularly around the area (documented), alien cooperation following a firefight between government troops and aliens or "grays" (which I can't believe).

I'd guess that there really is, or was, some kind of underground facility in this area dating from 1950s through 1970s. The fear of nuclear war was fierce then.
The US government, paranoia-filled as usual, could easily have decided to experiment, attempting to plan for all eventualities: mutations, radiation effects, etc. etc. Where better than this wilderness area with plentiful natural underground caverns, easily extended and modified, for use without much chance of discovery? That part of the stories isn't hard to believe, given the atmosphere of those times.

We didn't reach Dulce though. We stayed overnight in Chama, a village 25 miles to the east. The temperature was frigid up there in the mountains, some of what we'd assumed was remnants of the winter's snow remained in the fields and forests over the highest parts of the route.

Neither of us slept a wink that night though. The altitude was probably getting to us both. My husband, restless, decided to get up and play on the laptop. I experienced a severe attack of allergic sneezing which brought on a sharp sinus headache and it simply wouldn't let up. In addition I had developed a troublesome sore on my ankle. We both wondered aloud whether to carry on west or head back to Oklahoma next morning. When we looked outside at about 7 AM we decided at once! Snow had coated the car, and it was still snowing. Probably not at all a surprising find to the locals but a bit disconcerting to southerners like us, spoiled by an unusually warm spring. I hadn't packed any warm clothes. We had to layer up with what we had. It was Sunday, no shops were open to buy warmer clothing - there were no shops around anyway! I'd also managed, somehow, to get myself multi-bitten by an insect (goodness knows what insect would be around in those temps!) I still have 3 itchy bites on my left earlobe, several down the left side of my neck and a cluster of bites on my chest. And they ain't love bites!! We headed home on Sunday morning.

A trip to the Big Bend area of southern Texas in 2012 threw up yet another oddity. In the village of Marfa stories of "the Marfa lights" or "ghost lights" are common. Stange lights, with no logical explanation, have frequently been observed near U.S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of the village. These have gained fame due to some observers having theorised a connection to paranormal phenomena....UFOs, ghostly apparitions etc.
A half-hour drive west of Alpine found us in Marfa, a tiny town made famous by some mysterious lights which appear, intermittently, in the vicinity - Wikipedia explains.

Interestingly the fictional Wicksboro Incident, mentioned at the top of this post, took place in the same general area as Marfa - possibly chosen by its creators because of "the lights"?

I shall remain among the "don't knows" on the topics of UFOs, ghosts, and strange goings-on in general - until I actually experience something to fully convince me otherwise. The experience mentioned below was getting there, it did bring goose bumps. It was an incident unrelated to UFOs and aliens, but still strange. In Santa Fe, New Mexico some years ago, celebrating either my birthday or my husband's.
We had wandered into a hotel lobby thinking it to be the entrance to an arcade of stores. We noticed a bar, still early evening quiet, decided to have a birthday drink there. I considered taking the seat near the wall at the end of the old copper lined bar, but decided it looked rather dark.
I pulled out the next stool along, then felt guilty for leaving a single stool empty, in case a couple might want seats later on - but still, it somehow didn't feel right to move to the end stool. Later in the evening, when some live entertainment was about to begin, it was announced that a beloved regular in this bar, a lady well known in Santa Fe (local singer or musician) had died of cancer a couple of days ago. The seat at the end of the bar had been her usual place to sit. The barman brought her usual drink and placed it there, in her memory. The hairs on the back of my neck began to prickle !