Saturday, March 31, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Tales of Outer Planetary Transits

If ever I have serious doubts about the validity of astrology, at its core, I remember my personal experiences when outer planetary transits conjoined some of my natal planetary positions.

My natal Sun is at 6.46 Aquarius, natal Jupiter at 6.03 Pisces. At the time of these events and developments I was unaware of the planetary transits. With hindsight, I'm very glad of my ignorance.

Uranus transited Aquarius from mid-1995 to late 2003. Uranus' transit of Pisces commenced March 2003. My natal chart received a "multiple-whammy" during these transits. My second Saturn return happened within that time span, as well as a transit of Pluto to natal Venus, and Neptune's transit of natal Sun.

The story begins on 21 April 1996 on a Sunday evening, in a northern English city, at around 9.20 pm. Uranus on this date was a little past 4 degrees of Aquarius, 2 degrees from my natal Sun position. A partial solar eclipse had occurred on 17/18 April at, I think, 28 Aries. My natal Moon is at around 24.40 Aries. Transiting Mars was at 21 Aries.

On this Sunday evening my long-time partner watched TV in the living room as I prepared to take a bath. A fire, which, unknown to us, had started in a large adjoining empty building spread close to our second floor apartment (3rd floor USA-style). I heard a strange crackling noise, went to the kitchen to investigate. Flames licked the window. We realised what had happened, grabbed coats (I was only semi-clad), thankfully I also grabbed my handbag. We hurried down two flights of stairs, as fire engines drew up outside. As we reached the ground an explosion occurred above, probably from gas boilers in the building. We stood with two other tenants, thankful to be outside and alive, watched everything we owned, and our home for the past 23 years, disappear in an horrendous fire.

The whole block of buildings had to be demolished later. We still had our car, parked in a nearby garage, the few clothes on our backs and my handbag containing credit card and a little cash.

That was the start of a very difficult phase. Three days later my partner, probably still affected by shock, fell in the street and damaged his hand so badly that he needed plastic surgery and was admitted to hospital. I remained in a bed and breakfast place.

My work friends and my mother were a great help to us, both with contributions, and moral support. Our insurance helped a lot too, as did the result of legal proceedings against the owner of the adjoining building - but not until some years later.

Within a month or so we found another apartment, but it proved not ideal. We had one break-in during the year we lived there - those burglars were unlucky, we owned next to nothing!

In the early spring of 1997, as Uranus exactly conjoined my natal Sun, we moved into a rented house in a nice area. The whole episode had come to seem like a nightmare turned adventure. More changes were to come, however.

That summer of 1997, Uranus started its retrograde movement. My mother was diagnosed with terminal illness. This happened rapidly and unexpectedly, affected me deeply. My second Saturn return was exact in April 1997. Mum seemed fine when she visited us at Easter, by mid-August she had died. She left me a bungalow on the coast where she and my Dad had spent a good part of their retirement. On the day Mum died retrograde Uranus, was at 5.59 Aquarius, one degree from my natal Sun, 8th house.

I was nearing retirement. We didn't want to live on the coast, but after trying unsuccessfully to sell the bungalow, we decided we'd have to move there after all. In March 1999 we moved home, as Mars hovered at 13 Scorpio, Moon's North node in my chart which opposes natal Uranus/South node. Transiting Uranus had moved on now and lay 7 degrees from natal Sun, but Neptune was inching slowly towards natal Sun.

Soon after moving to the bungalow on the coast, my partner's health began to fail, both mentally and physically. He was much older than me, and we'd been together for more than 30 years. From 2000, until he died in the first weeks of 2003, I looked after him, heart breaking, knowing that I'd lose him painfully and slowly. Throughout this time, transiting Pluto was approaching my natal Venus at 19.59 Sagittarius, 6th house.

To help things along (or not) Neptune conjoined my natal Sun exactly from September to December 2001, and wasn't far away for months after that. Looking back, I can see that Neptune acted somewhat like an anesthetic, or some kind of drug which, along with the computer I'd just bought, helped me through what was, without doubt, the worst period of my life. I'm pretty sure that from time to time I acted as if I were under some kind of intoxication - which WAS purely astrological!

That first home computer of mine arrived along with Neptune in Aquarius. Because I was tied to the house, caring for my partner and unable to go very far for very long, the computer became something of a life-raft. I made a few on-line friends via message boards, and instant message programs, who, bless 'em, along with Neptune's intoxication, kept me afloat through those bad times. I doubt that I could have coped without the computer.

Uranus didn't leave Aquarius until late 2003 and before Pluto left its conjunction with my natal Venus another adventure awaited me. Still reeling from the loss of my partner, I met my (now) husband. At first he was an e-mail penfriend, then, during a short holiday in the USA we met in person. He later came over to the UK, spent time there, and we eventually married. I sold the bungalow, went through the rigmarole of visa and immigration hoop-la, arrived in Oklahoma, USA late in 2004. Events seem rapid, with hindsight, but at the time it didn't feel that way. Life seemed to be proceeding in ultra-slow motion.

Uranus conjoined my natal Jupiter at 6.03 Pisces in February 2005, just after we had bought a house in Oklahoma and moved from my husband's previous home. I'd already bought a new computer, soon afterwards astrology software followed, and a box of secondhand astrology text books. Much study and experimenting ensued.

Jupiter, the publishing planet, danced around the vertex in my chart (natal Mars conjoins this sensitive point). I started blogging. Other astrology bloggers were kind enough to notice my blog, and offer support.

Summing up: the transit of Uranus through Aquarius was a little like a tornado passing through a small town. When that planet first entered Aquarius I had a Mum, a long-standing partner, a home of many years, and a job. When Uranus left, none of those remained. Amid the chaos in my life, Uranus, ruler of technology,left something for me to hold on to - the computer, which became my life raft, eventually guiding me across the Atlantic to a new way of being and, incidentally, to blogging.

What indicates "astrology at work" is the timing, the way events dovetail with transits. Skeptics might respond that there are "ordinary" reasons for these events. Maybe so, but there are no ordinary reasons for such exact timing.

Now, bringing this tale right up to date in 2018, as Pluto conjoins my natal Mercury in Capricorn, I've needed surgery for a small breast cancer, discovered following a routine mammogram, as described in previous posts. Hello Pluto - it brings me no pleasure at all to see you again!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Arty Farty Good Friday

"2,000 years ago one man got nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be if everyone was nice to each other for a change."
(Douglas Adams)

 Raising of the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens

 Watercolour of Jesus Christ Crucifixion On Good Friday Photograph: Matthew Gibson

Dali's painting, below, was inspired by an old drawing by St John of the Cross, a 16th century priest; he along with St. Teresa of Avila, founded the Carmelites. Dali painted his own version following a series of dreams.

 Christ of St. John of the Cross by Salvador Dali

 Famous Good Friday Dinner by Edgar Degas

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It was a 9 to 5 Job !

A quickie post just to celebrate finishing the "procedure" I underwent yesterday, 27 March.

The whole event did actually take from 9 to 5! We arrived at the hospital at required time of 9 AM. Not all of the 9 to 5 time span was used for surgery, there was a lot of waiting time to spend, and chunks of tests to establish exactly where "the nasty" is located, and to leave a marker for surgeon as he carried out the small lumpectomy. Some tests were fairly easy, one was a tad challenging mainly due to the length of time it took, while in some discomfort.

After the tests to find positions and direction of lymph nodes, came the inserting of a wire marker to show position of the small tumor, to to assist the surgeon. I was lucky to have a surgeon whose reputation is second to none in the state. The radiologist, also, deserves an Oscar for his skills, enthusiasm, and cheerful support in both my prior biopsy, a week or two ago, and in today's tests. He said, after completing his part of the procedure, "It'll be all downhill from here - you'll have a nice nap and then go home!" True enough, but there was a l-o-n-g wait before the nap, while the surgeon finished a much bigger operation than mine. The waiting time was the worst part of the whole thing, lying, sometimes uncomfortably, on the usual hospital bed-cum-trolley, in a small room. The husband was always with me though - that was a plus! My actual surgery took, I am told, around 45 minutes. I was away from the husband for 2 hours though, due to various additional preparation, plus some recovery time. During surgery husband had much appreciated supporting visits from his daughter, and later from his son-in-law.

I now have "binding" or "wrapping" around my breasts. I'm actually glad of my relatively small bra' size, something I've cursed during most of my adult life. I was given prescriptions for pain medications and stuff for nausea - which I don't have, thankfully. Pain is there but it's quite bearable, I shall not take maximum of pain pills unless it becomes truly essential.

Next appointment: 4 April, to see the surgeon for follow-up talk.

I feel a song coming on:

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Not the blaze of noon...."

“...inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.”
― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

In spite of current concerns, I don't often actually feel "old". Maybe I should.

Some words on old age from a favourite poet: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: last two verses of Morituri Salutamus (See full poem here)

As the barometer foretells the storm
While still the skies are clear, the weather warm,
So something in us, as old age draws near,
Betrays the pressure of the atmosphere.
The nimble mercury, ere we are aware,
Descends the elastic ladder of the air;
The telltale blood in artery and vein
Sinks from its higher levels in the brain;
Whatever poet, orator, or sage
May say of it, old age is still old age.
It is the waning, not the crescent moon;
The dusk of evening, not the blaze of noon;
It is not strength, but weakness; not desire,
But its surcease; not the fierce heat of fire,
The burning and consuming element,
But that of ashes and of embers spent,
In which some living sparks we still discern,
Enough to warm, but not enough to burn.

What then? Shall we sit idly down and say
The night hath come; it is no longer day?
The night hath not yet come; we are not quite
Cut off from labor by the failing light;
Something remains for us to do or dare;
Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear;
Not Oedipus Coloneus, or Greek Ode,
Or tales of pilgrims that one morning rode
Out of the gateway of the Tabard Inn,
But other something, would we but begin;
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

Gotta love that last line!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Martian Music Monday

For any Netflix viewers who have grown jaded from watching too many police procedurals, detectives chasing serial killers, etc etc, yet find the average 'romcom' to be somewhat hackneyed, no matter what spin is added - do give Martian Child a look.

Martian Child, a 2007 American comedy-drama film directed by Menno Meyjes and written by David Gerrold, is based on his fictional Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short story of the same name, and not on David Gerrold's semi-autobiographical novelette also confusingly titled The Martian Child. The film stars John Cusack as a writer who adopts a strange young boy who believes himself to be from Mars.

The movie is not as science fiction oriented as the title implies. It's a sweet story, with some superb acting from young Bobby Coleman as the child in question.

John Cusack is excellent, he strikes just the right note as the child's adoptive father, his real life sister, Joan, plays his fictional sister. David Schiff (Toby from The West Wing), and Angelica Houston (who will be, for me, forever Clara from Lonesome Dove) pop in to the story from time to time.

BUT - it's Music Monday, so what else but this?

Or this - I love this music, part of a great, and much, much longer story, that is pure science fiction:

...The chances of anything coming from Mars
Are a million to one, he said
The chances of anything coming from Mars
Are a million to one, but still, they come...

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Weekend with the Waistdeeps

While I wait, and try not to worry, and imagine, and obsess, here's something from the husband's huge collection of vintage photographs. A few years ago he took to writing fanciful fun narratives to some of the photographs. Not everybody "gets" this type of wackiness, but I enjoy it - always have -I guess that's partly how we originally latched on to one another! ;-)

It was to be a work-free week-end in the hills at the famous Woodsnipe Walls Manor for the members of the Waistdeep Nature Club. After gathering for the get-away in the gilded grand foyer, the group wandered out on the grounds for this group picture to commemorate the great event.

Just as the photographer yelled “pose” someone pinched the butt of Geary Stype, standing third from the right. Geary obviously suspects Gilda Goldflue standing just to his left. Gilda is ignoring him, of course. Geary did not see the guilty grin on Baldwin Molepost, just to his right. Actually Baldwin is grinning because he is secretly wearing a tie fashioned from a scarf belonging to Caldera Soo (standing, far left). Caldera designed her own blouse, hat and matching scarf. This morning her scarf went missing.Caldera, it must be noted is standing next to B. F. D. Blasko the well known vampire and vacuum cleaner repairman. They are not related.

The women of course perceived immediately that there were not enough men to go around. The men, of course, in typical masculine fashion, perceived that there were not enough women to go around.

All the girls are wearing hats for identification purposes.

Inside, the cook was making celery soup and singing "Heart and Soul” along with the wireless which was playing, “Night on Bald Mountain” by the Harmonicats.

Someone noted later in green ink, that Ivie Leak (seated fourth from left) was not a Waistdeep Nature Club member at all but an undercover writer for Popular Séance magazine.

But then, that’s another story, isn't it?

As reported by my husband, anyjazz.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mid-week Meanderings

This post will stand until the weekend. I shall be otherwise engaged. Currently I have something serious on my plate - some surgery. More on this later on, perhaps.

Anyway, a few odds and ends:

On the environment....
"Your descendants shall gather your fruits." (Virgil)
(Note: no doubt it was implied anyway, within this ancient wisdom that: "whether the fruits be nourishing or poisoned is up to you.")

"And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: "Look at this Godawful mess."
Art Buchwald, humorist.

On future potential for revolution - here, there and everywhere:

A poem, by Otto Rene Castillo who was a Guatemalan revolutionary.

One day
the apolitical
of my country
will be interrogated
by the simplest
of our people.

They will be asked
what they did
when their nation died out
like a sweet fire
small and alone.

No one will ask them
about their dress,
their long siestas
after lunch,
no one will want to know
about their sterile combats
with "the idea
of the nothing"
no one will care about
their higher financial learning.

They won't be questioned
on Greek mythology,
or regarding their self-disgust
when someone within them
begins to die
the coward's death.

They'll be asked nothing
about their absurd
born in the shadow
of the total life.

On that day
the simple men will come.

Those who had no place
in the books and poems
of the apolitical intellectuals,
but daily delivered
their bread and milk,
their tortillas and eggs,
those who drove their cars,
who cared for their dogs and gardens
and worked for them,
and they'll ask:

"What did you do when the poor
suffered, when tenderness
and life
burned out of them?"

Apolitical intellectuals
of my sweet country,
you will not be able to answer.

A vulture of silence
will eat your gut.

Your own misery
will pick at your soul.

And you will be mute in your shame.

On different elemental matters:

In "The Night Sky" by Richard Grossinger, some food for thoughts astrological:

In 1869, the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev discovered that the chemical properties of the elements (My note: this refers to the non-astrological elements)are periodic functions of their atomic weights, i.e. of the number of protons in their nuclei. When he arranged the then-known elements in a series, he found that there were familial resemblances among elements at regular numerical intervals. For instance, carbon, silicon and tin lie in a series for which the member between silicon and tin was then apparently missing. This was later found to be germanium. Fluourine, chlorine, bromine and iodine constitute another family. Then there's a group of lithium, sodium and potassium; another of nitrogen phosphorus, arsenic and antimony; and so on. Nature contains a hidden periodic function which is basic to form and order in the world. (My note: There are "families" in astrological elements too, at regular numerical intervals - the Fire family Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, the Air family Gemini, Libra, Aquarius etc.) All the other elements are based on the simplest one, hydrogen with its single proton, which is also - we were to find out - the fuel of the stars.

Mendeleev's periodic table, and the reality that lay behind it gave a new basis for understanding the history and evolution of matter. Mathematical relationships determined the seemingly limitless display of forms in nature, from plants and animals to stars and galaxies. It was hauntingly Pythagorean, as Heisenberg would remind us.

The echo of astrological elements and modes and the way they were arranged by ancient astrologers is discernible. They had no knowledge of periodic tables and suchlike, as far as we know.

I have confidence that astrology is more than mere superstition. It's something rooted in the very nature of the universe. Oh - it's rough and ready, imperfect and encumbered with a plethora of unnecessary accessories, but beneath it all there is a gem - just waiting to be discovered.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Vernal Equinox!

Welcoming Spring with, appropriately enough,
"The Coming of Spring" by Erté

An archived post on Erté is HERE.

“In olden times, it meant the long dark of winter was finally over, and things would start growing again and the world would be renewed. The solstice was the promise–that the days wouldn’t just keep on getting shorter until they disappeared altogether. The equinox was the day when the promise was fulfilled.”
― M.R. Carey, The Girl With All the Gifts

Also today the Sun moves into zodiac sign Aries, bringing in an astrological New Year - here's to a happy one for us all!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

"Watch Yourself!" (Zeus to Narcissus)

Not a day passes when I don't read at least a handful of questions at Quora relating to narcissism. For example :
Are relationships with narcissists doomed to fail?

Does a narcissist know they are a narcissist?

Do narcissists know when they are wrong? Mine never admitted he was wrong and never apologized.

Why is there so much unreliable, erroneous and opinionated information about narcissism on Quora?
Narcissism. Can we lay blame on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, names of which escape me? People use those tools because they are like mirrors - all about them, their need for an audience . Blogging filled that need for some people, for years. Blogging was but the overture to the full-blown symphony!

Is blogging a symptom of chronic narcissism? Is using Twitter and/or Facebook et al a sign that the disease has become acute?

Blogging, for me, is and has been simply a way to experiment with a girlhood dream of being a writer or a reporter or journalist. Maybe there is some retro-narcissism going on.

I've always found Facebook a wee bit creepy, though was never quite sure why. I opened an account early on and almost immediately deactivated it, re-opened it years later, then deactivated it again. As for Twitter, I can see that for some people it could feed incipient or rampant narcissism (and that is a very awkward word to type, I'm finding). Looking in on Twitter has, very occasionally, led to information I'd have otherwise missed, but beyond that, I'm not enthusiastic. If Twitter is a narcissistic pastime, I fear I'm not doing it right!

Here's a ponder-worthy topic on which to close: is perusing one's astrological natal chart the ultimate in narcissism?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ A Glance at Impressionism

I've been a little distracted and otherwise engaged for a few days so, instead of my usual arty farty dish with a side order of astrology, today's post is just a brief review of some well known Impressionist paintings. Impressionism isn't my own favourite genre, but it is easy on the eye, that cannot be denied. Impressionism is almost like comfort food, when one is weary of surrealism, abstract art and...well...the outright weird!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sheepishly Heading for Easter and Springtime

Easter, and the run up to it, brings to mind a rhyme I used to repeat, long ago and far way near the north-eastern coast of England:
Tid, Mid, Miserai (or Misere)
Carlin, Palm, and Paste egg day.

Reciting it as a child, gobbledegook-wise, I didn't care what it meant, I just wanted to get at those chocolate Easter eggs! I later grasped that it had something to do with the Sundays of Lent, and customs attached.

Carlin(g)s are black peas, eaten on Passion Sunday, On Palm Sunday sometimes dried palm leaves were handed to members of church congregations, and Paste eggs (possibly a corruption of Pasch) eggs were what all the kids eagerly anticipated.

As for the mysterious first line of the rhyme, there are two explanations:
'Tid' was the second Sunday in Lent when, it seems, the Te Deum was sung/chanted in church; Mid could refer to a hymn 'Mi Deus', sung on the third Sunday of Lent; Miserai/misere might be the psalm 'Miserere Mei', sung on the fourth. But there's also a very slight possibility, because the purpose of the rhyme was to count Sundays before Easter, that Tid, Mid was a variation of an ancient Celtic-based method/language once used in the north of England for counting sheep. Exact spelling varies with dialects of northern England, but one, two three, four, five = yan, tan, tithera, mithera, pip. Could 'tithera', 'mithera' equal 'tid' 'mid'? I'm not confident about this, it doesn't really fit snugly. Interesting though. It has been noted that even in parts of the United States the old sheep-counting method is not not unknown, possibly brought across the Atlantic by early immigrants.

The full ancient sheep-counting method went like this, with spelling variations.
(My grandmother and neighbours of her generation always pronounced "one" as "yan", by the way.)


The sheep were counted up to twenty, the shepherd then closed one finger and repeated the count until all his fingers of one hand were down = a hundred sheep. Next he would close a finger on his other hand and begin anew. So up to 500 sheep could be counted using this method.

Regarding the mysterious custom of eating black carlin peas during Lent: there's no religious significance, but the tradition is said to be linked to the civil war of 1644. Royalist Newcastle in the north-east of England was under siege from the Scots. People were dying of starvation. The story goes that, either a French ship docked in Newcastle with a cargo of Maple Peas which were distributed to the people out of charity; or that a French ship was wrecked off the coast near Newcastle and containers of peas were washed ashore, much to the relief of starving inhabitants. Either way, a custom was born! Carlin peas are soaked overnight in water, boiled well then fried in butter and served with vinegar and bread and butter. My East Yorkshire grandmother used to prepare carlins that way, each year around Easter time.

Here's the late and much lamented Jake Thackray with one of his self-penned ditties, very appropriate to this post.

When I first posted on this old counting method, 4 years ago, some comments received added more interesting tid-bits:

David: "Hickory, dickory dock the mouse ran up the clock" is from the same counting scheme

Hi! I didn't know that - but now you've mentioned, of course! The rhythm is the same and..."hovera dovera dik" - Wikipedia: Westmorland shepherds in the nineteenth century used the numbers Hevera, Devera and Dick.

JD : Still used by shepherds in Cumbria (it was on the BBC's 'Country File' not so long ago). Base 20 counting system goes way back to the Babylonians, I think, and was used by the Maya.

Twilight: I suppose 5, 10 or 20 counting methods were an inevitable consequence of humans finding themselves with 5 fingers on each hand - and 5 toes on each foot. :-)

Kaleymorris: This reminds me of a 10-based counting method called Chisanbop. Yours seems a bit more efficient.

Twilight: Hmm - I'd never heard of that one - clever stuff!
Looking for generally related information on finger counting, I came across the fact that, well into the Middle Ages, the Greeks and Romans seem to have used fingers for computations. The Homeric term for counting = "pempathai", which means to count by fives. It's interesting that in the sheep-counting language in my post the word for five is "pim", so it could possibly be a left-over derivation from words used by the occupying Roman legions back in the mists of time?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Music & Movie Monday ~ Russian Around

In a flea market or thrift store, when we were last out and about, I bought a DVD containing two lesser-known films starring the late and much lamented Robin Williams : Jakob the Liar, and Moscow on the Hudson. Neither title was familiar to us. We eventually got around to watching them last week, one after t'other. It's interesting, and probably the reason they are bundled onto one DVD disc, that Russia has a "supporting part" in each movie.

It's a relief to think about Russia in different lights; all the current, and seemingly endless, Russiagate stuff flying around media and internet got old for me many weeks ago.

In these two movies, Russia plays different characters - in the first Russia wears the white hat and is a factor for good - as was Russia for us in the UK during World War 2. We ought never to forget that if not for their brave armies opposing Hitler's regime, keeping him busy in eastern Europe, Britain might not have survived uninvaded.

In the second movie Russia itself isn't the bad guy in the black hat, it's the KGB and the Soviet regime then in power. Russia itself never is the bad guy - or at least never should be. Ordinary Russians are, I feel certain, just like us. They want peaceful lives, families and friends and to live without undue fear from day to day.

In Jakob the Liar, a 1999 movie set in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War 2, Jakob (Robin Williams) finds a way to combat the overwhelming depression pervading the ghetto, and causing regular suicides among its inhabitants. He lies. He claims that he hears regular news broadcasts claiming that Allied advances, in particular Russian troops, are very close, so relief is near. His plan does lift hearts and refresh optimism - but...and there's always a but... (no more detail!)

Slow, interesting, well played, but ultimately leaving one feeling a tad depressed.

In Moscow on the Hudson, a 1984 film, a younger-looking Robin Williams plays Vladimir Ivanoff, a saxophonist from a Soviet Circus touring in the USA with his troupe. He decides to defect while in New York, and finds refuge with the family of a black security guard he met in a luxury department store. In the same store he also met a lovely young Italian woman working in the makeup department. He is introduced to a shrewd Cuban immigration lawyer to help with his asylum application. So, from these brief details it's already clear that this movie had a diverse cast, and a positive feel for immigrants of all stripes! It's really a multi-cultural romantic comedy with hints of some earnest flag-waving efforts, especially in the later scenes.

Enjoyable movie in spite of the flag-waving potential.

It's Music Monday - and the flavour of the day is...Russia! Enter my favourite Russian composer, Aleksandr Borodin.

Liatoshinsky Ensemble , Kiev, plays Borodin's nocturne during ICF (International Conductors' Festival) under the conducting of Christophe Rody (Switzerland). This piece, and other pieces of Borodin's music was used in the 1955 movie "Kismet". With lyrics added this piece became "And This is My Beloved".

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts on Neptune, Halfway Through a Transit of Pisces

Mysterious Neptune is currently around halfway through its transit of Pisces, its home sign in modern astrology. When Neptune entered Pisces, in the spring of 2011, I was wondering whether, during its sojourn, we might see a revival or "re-working" of something even more mysterious than we're accustomed to experiencing (which is mysterious enough, at any given time!)

Neptune, astrologically, has keywords attached relating to aspects of its name: the sea, water, liquids, oil, then, for some reason, illusion, creativity, film, photography , and delusion, fog, mist, mystery - 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.
During the 1960s, for the whole decade Neptune was transiting Scorpio, one of the three Water signs where Neptune is said to "feel most at home". What happened then? Neptune's "influence" was made clear in the prevalence of hippie culture and fairly widespread ingestion of mind-altering substances among members of the young generation. Some iconic music came forth from that decade, and that's no coincidence I feel sure.

In Pisces Neptune will be feeling even more "at home", this transit will last until early 2025. With Pluto travelling through Capricorn and Uranus in Aries the outer planetary "atmosphere" is different now from the way it was in the 1960s..

Pisces, the zodiac sign ruled by Neptune in modern astrology - I 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.

What, to date, in Neptune's journey through Pisces has become significantly related to this Watery, foggy transit? It will not become perfectly clear until there's benefit of full hindsight, but it's worth taking stock at this half-way mark of the transit. "Fake News" is a definite candidate! What else? Underhand dealings inherent in the 2016 presidential primaries and general election. Suspicions of Russian meddling in the run-up to the election. The result of the election, though a shocking surprise to many is hardly Neptunian - more Uranian - unexpected, eccentric, and not in a good way! Investigations, currently undertaken by Robert Mueller, in the hope of uncovering secret Neptunian-type dealings, past or present, of POTUS and/or members of his administration. Though Pluto in Capricorn could be seen as a better reflection of that investigation, suspected past Neptunian doings are the reasons driving it.

Perhaps ever-growing concern about the oceans is in line with Neptune in Pisces. Encroachment on land due to rise of sea level consequent on climate change; increasing worries about plastics and other garbage fouling up sea and shores, poisoning fish; destruction of coral reefs. The ongoing mystery of lost flight MH370 - still no sign of the crashed plane thought to be on the seabed of the Indian ocean.

Heightened concern about drugs (very Neptunian) - not new this, it never abates. Currently the "opioid epidemic" is being labelled "the most perilous drug crisis ever". In the United States, the epicenter of the opioid epidemic, overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999, killing 91 people every day. Pharmaceutical pain relief is an essential clinical tool, but with physicians writing some 240 million opioid prescriptions to Americans every year, the potential for addiction is enormous.(See HERE)

Neptune's earlier transits through Pisces have been investigated by several writers online. A reliable source of such data is astrologer Steven Forrest's website here:
Timeline of dates and notable events under the transit of Neptune in the sign Pisces. Though interesting, I'm undecided as to how much of astrological use can be gleaned from this. During each of Neptune's trips through Pisces other patterns, made by the slow-moving outer planets, would have been different and would have to be factored in to any conclusions reached about Neptune-in-Pisces-related events.

During Neptune's previous transit of Pisces, 1847-1862, not long after the planet was discovered, there was a surge of interest in spiritualism in Britain and Europe.

Spiritualist churches were founded, and spiritualism's attendant mysteries were on the the minds of many. At that time Uranus and Pluto were either in, or about to move into, Taurus. Though Taurus and Pisces are quite different "flavours", both have a strong creative side; Neptune in Pisces would not have been overly watered down by the other outer planets' transits.

 Looking back
The Neptune-Pisces transit before 1847-62 was during 1664-1698. Neptune was undiscovered at this time, but the planet was there! Though we have dry, factual history books to guide us, we can't imagine quite as clearly the general atmosphere of those times. I don't see that religious wars and expulsion of Hugenots relate to Neptune in Pisces. Religious wars had been more or less continuous for centuries. Witch trials seem to relate to the opposite of Neptune in Pisces. The other two outer planets during mid to late-17th century moved: Taurus and Cancer were quite friendly to Pisces; Gemini and Leo, less friendly to Pisces. Perhaps the witch trials reflected the tone of those moves?

One more step back in time: 1520 - 1534: Factually: Martin Luther condemned as heretic, excommunicated...Henry 8th cutting ties with church of Rome...Religious Peace of Nuremburg...Calvin's Protestant movement in France...etc. All religion all the time! Religion is traditionally Pisces territory, though I'd have said more linked to Pisces' traditional ruler, Jupiter than to Neptune. But religion is...well... something of a mystery itself isn't it, and therefore overseen by Neptune also! During that 16th century span the other two outer planets were in Taurus and Capricorn in the early stage, and had moved to Cancer and very early Aquarius by the end of the transit. Neptune's Pisces position didn't blend at all well with Pluto in logical Capricorn and early Aquarius, but got along reasonably well with Uranus in Taurus and Cancer (though not as well while Uranus traversed Gemini). So religion and its mysteries won some and lost some!

Beyond that time, I believe Neptunian mists become much too dense, and Neptunian mysteries too "far out", to allow translation into 21st century language.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ A Pre-Raphaelite Feminist

Pre-Raphaelite art has been a longtime favourite of mine. I don't know quite why - it's not "cool" it's not surreal, it's not abstract, yet it's not exactly 'real' either. The richness of the images attracts me, the skill of the painters has to be obvious to any with good vision! There are several relevant posts around my archives (see "Pre-Raphaelites" in the label cloud in the sidebar).

 Marie Spartali Stillman by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Marie Spartali Stillman, however, is a name I had not come across before seeing it in the list of birthdays for 10 March (in 1844).

A few snips from an article by by Claire Komacek titled Marie Spartali Stillman – A Pre-Raphaelite Feminist Paints Empowered Women.

Although she is considered to be the greatest Pre-Raphaelite female artist, Marie Spartali Stillman is still virtually unknown and underrepresented in the canon of art history. One of a small number of professional women artists working during the second half of the nineteenth century, her work has largely been overlooked due to the fact that most of it resides in private collections, but moreover that her status as model to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood overshadowed her career as artist. Drawing upon her own Greek heritage and experience modeling for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Spartali painted images of active, empowered women that challenged the male gaze.

Spartali was born into an affluent Greek merchant family in London. Her father, Greek Consul-General to the United Kingdom and patron of the arts, frequently hosted garden parties to which he invited young, up-and-coming artists and writers; this is undoubtedly how Spartali’s exceptional, unique beauty came to the attention of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They regarded her as a ‘stunner,’ ‘a woman so beautiful she ought to be painted, and throughout her lifetime Spartali would come to ‘be most valued for her role as an artist’s model.

Discontent with being purely the recipient of male gazes, Spartali desired to become an artist herself, and in 1864 she begged her father to allow her to study drawing and painting under Ford Madox Brown, the eldest member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. She trained with him for six years, during which she continued modeling for her artist-friends, and sat for Brown for several drawings

It doesn't come as much of a surprise to discover that this lady was from a wealthy family. In the 19th century, trying to find news of a female painter from among ordinary folk, working class, poor and underprivileged - and there were a whole lot of them - would be petty darn fruitless. If a young woman of poor or working class background had spectacular looks, the best opportunity she might have had, if living in certain areas, would be to act as a model for painters. If she happened to have an innate artistic talent herself - good luck with that - she could draw and paint to her heart's delight, if she could afford the materials, but nobody outside of family and friends would ever see her work.

For a selection of Marie's paintings do take a look at this website:



Born in London on 10 March 1844. Time of birth unknown, chart set for 12 noon, ascendant and Moon position will not be correct.

Brief notes only:
Natal Sun and Jupiter in Pisces, Moon almost certainly in Sagittarius - Pisces and Sagittarius are, traditionally, both Jupiter-ruled signs. I don't know exactly why, but I've always felt that the Pre-Raphaelites' style was kind of Jupitarian in nature - rich, sumptuous, big. Seeing their paintings in real life may be necessary to get this effect fully, however. I'm lucky enough to have done so, back in Manchester, UK.

Marie was "ahead of her time" in that she managed to shine and become well-appreciated as a painter, in times when women found it nigh on impossible to succeed in the art world, other than as models. It's no surprise to find in her chart 3 planets, Mercury, Neptune, & Saturn in Aquarius, sign of the avant garde. Saturn is in sextile to Uranus in Aries, linking the traditional rulers of Aquarius rather helpfully. While Saturn represents traditionalism and Uranus all that is modern - here we have a female painter painting in broadly traditional style while being herself, whether she realised it or not, on the leading edge of a feminism still to come to full maturity.

The cluster of 3 planets: Pluto, Venus (planet of the arts) and Mars in late Aries (ruled by Mars)& early Taurus (ruled by Venus) adds to the feel that this is the chart of a forward thrusting initiator.

Click on the image of these two paintings by Marie Spartali Stillman for a larger, clearer view.

 The Enchanted Garden of Messer Ansaldo, 1889

 Love's Messenger

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Johnny & Jane ?...Really?

One of the silliest remarks I've seen in a long time (President Trump's utterings excluded) is this, from here:
“Scotch as a category is seen as particularly intimidating by women,” company vice president Stephanie Jacoby said in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s a really exciting opportunity to invite women into the brand.”

Intimidating? Please! My mother was a Scotch drinker (her father, my grandfather, was also), I am a Scotch drinker. In the photograph, taken one Christmas long ago in Leeds, UK, Mum's brandishing her bottle of Bell's - I don't often see Bell's Scotch in the USA.

Johnny Walker isn't a favourite brand of mine, not because of the striding guy on the bottle label, but because I'm not keen on its flavour. The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Chival Regal, Glenlivet are all more to my taste. The Famous Grouse was recommended to me by Gary, a Scottish work colleague, back in the UK, it's still the best reasonably priced brand I've tasted, but a tad more expensive than Cutty Sark, at least here in the USA.

Anyway...back to the point of this post.

Women are, and have been for years, seeking equal treatment, in employment conditions and opportunities, in equality of pay scales for same. Women need to know that, in their working environment, they will not be sexually harassed, and that sexual favours will not be necessary before promotion or fair treatment is metered out. These are all essential goals, and very late coming fully to fruition, at least in the USA.

Silliness such as Jane Walker on a whisky bottle, to my mind, is simply counterproductive.
I agree strongly with Heather Greene, a spirits expert and author, in a good piece at Forbes

Heather Greene told Forbes, “I have not seen any quantitative or qualitative data that show whisky-drinking women will respond positively to this type of branding. Women don’t want to be separated into this kind of silo. The trick is include them in on the conversation — and quite frankly this does the opposite.”

"Instead of the packaging of whisky, Greene would prefer to see the focus on increasing the role of women in the production of whiskies. “I am happy to see changes, but I will be supporting brands that have a more proven track-record when it comes to women distillers, master blenders or founders behind them,” she said. “There are plenty of them, and I want to reward them with my dollars. That doesn’t mean I don’t support great male-fronted and -made brands. I merely want more time from them to prove a commitment when they try to market to me. Let’s run up the score for the brands that have had some amazing female whiskey makers or blenders and let them shine for a minute.”
There is this compensating factor in the same piece :
For each bottle produced, the brand has committed $1 to like-minded organizations championing women’s causes, such as Monumental Women.