I've written regularly about Saturn, and his ability to deny our inner reality, so that only that which is observable and measurable has value. Often during a major transition, people can't carry on as they did before, so they can't measure and value themselves as they did previously. So you have to look deeper during those times to find value and meaning. This is Saturn as crucible for inner transformation.
I like Botton's point (see video below) that
in a meritocracy, you only get to the top if you deserve it. The
inevitable implication is that those at the bottom are also there
because they deserve it. Saturn again.
My way out of this mess
is to take people as they come, get a sense of who they are and what
they're like and don't be dazzled by their income or lack of it or what
they have or haven't done. Saturn softened by Neptune, maybe.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Monday, March 03, 2014
Close encounters with public reality often leave me reflective. For one thing, they remind me of what I have within (and help counter my usual undercurrent of self-doubt!) By ‘public reality’ I mean life as many people live it, where you accept as objectively real the values and ideas that you grew up around; and where people who don’t share those values are seen as a bit weird. Not that you’d say.
I often forget how many people live in this unreflecting way. I’m more likely to compare their certainties with my uncertainties and find myself wanting. When I was younger I was very judging of people for not being reflective, not questioning; but that was just the same attitude that conventional people can have about unconventional people, that I’d brought with me and reversed. Nowadays I don’t mind people being like this, it is who they are, their lives are meaningful to them, I can enjoy their lives with them. It is just humanity and how it is.
The arising of reflective ability is a mysterious process. I think it is crucial, axial. It often starts to arise when things go wrong, when our received values are inadequate to deal with our experience, and as an astrologer you can be part of that process for people.
You can be a brilliant Nobel Prize winner, yet be happy within the status quo, even be seen as a wise person within that status quo. And on the other hand you can appear as a ‘loser’, in and out of unskilled jobs, just about holding your life together, yet be very perceptive about the values people are driven by.
And there’s a thing about confidence. It is so much easier to feel confident and at ease with yourself if you accept the status quo and succeed within it, living your life by its simple certainties, buoyed by the values shared with those around you.
If on the other hand you are on a lifelong search for meaningful values, you probably won’t have the motivation to succeed very much on the world’s terms – maybe just enough to hold your life together – and it can be hard not to compare oneself unfavourably with the ‘winners’. Self-confidence when found, however, is very real, it is a Leo thing, that source of life from deep within. But I think most of us bounce in and out of that. Writers and artists are archetypal examples of this way of being.
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And now I want to turn to a favourite topic of mine, science, because it can be understood in a reflecting or an unreflecting way. Don’t get me wrong, I think science is a great subject, I’m not anti- it. But there is a crucial point about how we understand it. And it is to do with ‘facts’.
For example, is matter made up of atoms? Well yes, we all know that, it is an established fact, part of 'public reality'. But do we actually know it? No, of course we don’t, we have merely been told it by people whose opinion we respect. And we have been told it so many times, crucially we were also taught it at school, the culture generally is so automatically accepting of the idea that matter is made up of atoms, that we accept it as a fact, yes of course it is true, everyone knows it is true. It has acquired a firm reality as a ‘fact’, free of its original moorings in someone’s mind.
I’m not playing a game here. It is about intellectual integrity, it is about being true to experience – without those qualities, reflective ability cannot arise. The real situation is that we have merely been told that matter is made up of atoms, and that is a THEORY, not a fact, for no-one has or ever will see an atom with their bare senses. And it is a good theory, or should I say story, for it explains a lot of things.
It is an inner knowing that I am arguing for here, what do we really know within ourselves? That is the point from which consciousness grows, and the more you come from that point, the more you realise how much you don’t know. Real knowing has to begin with stripping away what passes for knowledge in public reality, but which is really just a bunch of stories that hold together well enough to provide a sort of coherent picture of reality, provided we don’t look too closely.
And I find it a liberation to think of science in this sort of way. Scientific knowledge is so all-pervading these days, there is just so much of it, and it locates reality so firmly outside of ourselves, that the inner has correspondingly less reality. But all scientific notions begin inside someone’s mind, and then they spread to other people’s minds. Science itself has an inner starting point and foundation, and it gets detached from that, and to that extent we humans get detached from who we are. And science has such spectacular results that we are dazzled into thinking it is real in a way that it is not. It is a product of the mind, like all human creations. (I have a suspicion that the mind is so much the creator of the reality around it that science will pretty much always discover what it sets out to find.)
We live in a Gemini Age. Pluto and Neptune, the 2 outermost astrological planets, meet up every 500 years or so and define the age we live in. They last met in about 1890 in Gemini, and in Gemini again 500 years before that. Each sign needs its opposite to be balanced. Gemini is facts, information, and Sagittarius is the wider human context, the sense of meaning, within which we place those facts. The shadow of Gemini is facts without meaning, facts as the be-all-and-end-all, mere information as ultimate reality. Science at its worst. And it has been creeping up on us for 600 years (corresponding to the period of the growth of modern science) and has several thousand years to run! The blink of an eye in the history of humanity, but hopefully in that time we will collectively learn to tame the tyranny of facts, remember that all such information is the product of the human mind, and set it in that huge all-inclusive imaginative context we are capable of creating. We cannot let the muggles win!
I think it is about coming back to the mind, feeling the ideas of atoms or quarks or evolution, for example, as mind-created like any story, and letting the ideas float there, subject to the forces of the imagination, essentially inner things rather than hard external realities, which I think is a kind of corruption. Through treating stories as ‘facts’ we have created a huge weight that presses down on us collectively. ‘Facts’ are the modern shadows in Plato’s cave, that seem so real to those chained to its walls.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
“Never believe anything until it is officially denied.” (John Pilger). Well the US has officially denied that events in the Ukraine amount to a battle between East and West. And as we all know, it is exactly that. Should the Ukraine be allied with Russia or the EU? The country is divided over the issue, and there is a sizeable ethnic Russian population that wants to stay with Russia. The outcome is not yet clear.
Astrologically, it is the latest in a series of Uranus-Pluto crises that have been afflicting the world. The 2 planets are moving towards another exact square (in April, the 5th of 7) and the Ukrainian crisis has peaked, which often seems to be the way of it with these Uranus-Pluto transits: a month or two before the exact aspect happens, all hell breaks loose.
And the reason the world has its eyes on the country is precisely because it embodies the struggle between East and West, the remains of the Cold War, as Russia – like the UK before it – gradually loses influence to a level proportionate to its population and economic strength. But that is also why the US is saying that there is no battle, because in a sense there is none, Russia has already lost.
The Cold War officially ended in the second half of 1990, with Uranus and Neptune between 7 and 13 Capricorn (their conjunction was the main significator of those events), but the fact that Pluto is now transiting these points suggest that we are indeed seeing a revisitation of those times, maybe a clearing up of unfinished business.
Under Uranus-Pluto, underlying weaknesses or tensions that may have been brewing for years come to the surface and are fought out. Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, reveals the issues that have been cooking beneath the surface. Uranus the sky god facilitates their eruption and brings polarisation, radicalism and new solutions.
Under the current transit, the structures of power (Pluto in Capricorn) are challenged by the fresh vision, the new beginnings of Uranus in Aries. Politically, it’s not usually very pleasant. Sometimes, where there is great potential within the current forms, Uranus-Pluto can represent not a dissolution but an empowerment, dramatic growth, as we have seen with China.
I don’t think you need to see the chart of Ukraine to be pretty certain that Uranus-Pluto is transiting it in a major way. It’s one of those times where you think if this isn’t what is happening, then astrology doesn’t work!
Unlike the chart for an individual, the chart for a country is rarely a simple matter. At what moment was the country ‘born’? And which incarnation, which new constitution or newly regained independence shall we use? The Ukraine never seems to have had much in the way of a continuous independent existence, so the charts dating back to the break-up of the USSR seem as good as any.
And for that event, in Nick Campion’s Book of World Horoscopes, we find 2 charts. One for Ukraine’s declaration of independence on 24 Aug 1991, and one for a referendum confirming independence on 1 Dec 1991, at which point, we are told, with foreign recognition in place, it began to function ‘as a genuinely independent sovereign state’.
The first seems more of a legal, governmental decision/aspiration, the latter one that included all aspects of the newly-born state, and crucially the people.
If we use the USA as a precedent, then we find 2 parallel charts (as well as others). There was the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776, but 2 days before that Congress had already voted and agreed on the matter, so which day, let alone time, do we go with?
Popular practice has gone with the 4th of July, when both legal and popular agreement had been addressed (though not decided on in a referendum).
Maybe there is a parallel with a human birth here: should the birth chart be for the moment the baby has begun to emerge from its mother (the proclamation of independence), or when it has left its mother (legal independence) or when it has begun to breathe (a functioning state?)
Maybe it depends what aspect of the country you are looking at, but I’m inclined to go with the final chart for a reading of the general state of the country, when legal and popular issues have been addressed, and foreign recognition is in place.
Anyway, here are the 2 charts:
I don’t know the national character of the Ukrainians, so I don’t know which chart describes them best, but one thing we do know is that they are a divided people, and both charts clearly express this: in the first chart, we see Uranus Rising, and in the second chart we see Uranus conjunct the North Node and square the MC. Uranus is at 10 Cap in both cases, and so currently subject to the Uranus-Pluto square.
With the division within the country so stark and so ethnic, a split is possible. It is difficult enough as an individual to feel at ease with yourself and society if you have a prominent Uranus, let alone if you are a large collective.
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The UK (1801) has Uranus Rising square to the Sun, and I think that gives rise to contradictions within the country – such as the democratic impulse (Uranus) vs the strong class system and love of tradition and royalty (Sun in Capricorn) – and maybe that has a creative aspect, which is Uranus at its best. But it also suggests instability, and whether or not Scotland votes to become independent this year, devolution or even separation of parts of the UK has always been an issue, with Eire (gone), Northern Ireland (bound to go eventually), Wales and Scotland.
The current Solar Return Chart for the earlier chart for the Ukraine is very descriptive:
It doesn’t get much stronger than this, and maybe therefore the earlier birth chart is the one to go with for now, despite what I said earlier, until a possible re-birth of the country. Angular Neptune and Pluto, Uranus square the Asc, showing the powerful forces of struggle, protest and dissolution that both the government (Angular Sun opp Neptune) and people (Moon conj Uranus and square Pluto) are going through. It’s quite a remarkable chart.
Regardless of which is the best chart to use, the Aries Ingress chart for 2014 (in 3 weeks time) set for Kiev has Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter on the Angles. The October Libra Ingress (after which the current troubles began) had Neptune and Pluto on the Angles. So the revolution and unrest look set to continue for some time yet. Uranus in the upcoming Aries chart points to the issue of the country perhaps splitting.
The Ukraine is just one country having a crisis, but it is critical geo-politically, and so describes bigger themes within the Uranus-Pluto transit that the world is going through.
Since Uranus and Pluto began to approach each other back in about 2008 – the orb is a wide one with these long changes, these phase shifts, that the world goes through – we have had crisis after crisis, as any astrologer could have predicted, though their natures and the timings would not have been so easy to predict. All we know is the shape and rough timings of these big changes. (Which is just as well, because even with that sort of knowledge, astrological forecasting can be a hindrance to actually living through change.)
We have had the biggest financial crisis since the 30s, as the underlying weaknesses of ideologically driven ‘free market’ economics and in particular financial deregulation showed themselves (though we don’t seem to have learned much from it); there has been the Arab Spring, begun as a long overdue series of popular rebellions against western-leaning dictators, and which has turned into a death struggle between secularism and Islamism; the underlying weakness of the Euro - the attempt to achieve fiscal union without political union - led to a series of crises that have gone quiet for now, but remainessentially unresolved; meanwhile the greatest economic expansion the world has ever seen, the modern rise of China, has continued apace and is gradually shifting the balance of world power. That said, China has itself built up huge internal debts as it attempted to tackle the world economic slowdown through government spending, and it may yet have its own crisis as Uranus-Pluto continues to run its course.
Meanwhile the US political crisis, a struggle that has been going on since the end of the Cold War, in which the right wing of the Republican party seems prepared to bring the country to its knees rather than let the Democrats govern, has ways to go, particularly as Pluto makes its exact oppositions to the US Sun this year and next.
Uranus and Pluto still have 3 exact crossings to make between now and March next year, and they will remain within orb for some time after that. The new shape of the world has yet to become clear, a shape that will remain until the next time 2 outer planets make a hard aspect, which will be Uranus square to Neptune in about 25 years’ time.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I don't know where to begin with this one. Astrology News Service, which claims to be sponsored by august bodies such as the American Federation of Astrologers and the National Council for Geocosmic Research, is rejoicing that more Americans think astrology is scientific than did a few years ago. It reminds me of the time the Sun newspaper took a poll of its readers as to whether Princess Diana had been murdered, as if those readers were qualified to make a judgement.
It's not just that. Anyone whose studies astrology quickly comes to see, in my opinion at least, that astrology is NOT a science, not in the modern, narrow meaning of the word. Nor are poetry and music and psychotherapy and a lot of other things.
That's why I said I don't know where to begin unpicking this one. Astrology sometimes needs saving from its friends rather than its enemies! Though personally I think those enemies can be a good thing, they keep us on our toes.
It would be interesting to find out what people mean when they say they think astrology is ‘scientific’. What they really mean, I suspect, is that they think astrology works, but science has such epistemological authority for them that saying astrology is ‘scientific’ amounts to the same thing. 1000 years ago they might have said they thought there was room for astrology in the teachings of the Church, and I can’t see there’s much difference in the two statements.
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I think what overlap there is between astrology and science is incidental, because their ways of thinking are inconjunct. Science is based on cause and effect and repeatability, along with an explanatory mechanism (except for the privileged disciplines of Evolution and Psychiatry). Astrology is based on sychronicity, "the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related" (Wiki). In this case, earthly events and heavenly events.
Astrology is not based on cause and effect, you could call it 'mythological thinking', it is how early people thought. They would, for example, see some unusual behaviour in nature and reflect that it must therefore have a meaning for them. (Source: Chippewa Cree friend). I think that the reclaiming of this way of thinking is potentially astrology's most important contribution to the world. Astrology in itself is a rather specialised and improbable subject that I don't think will ever be mainstream. But I love it :)
Like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, astrology and science need to learn to live with each other. I don’t think, however, that it is an equal relationship: astrologers can understand how science sees the world, but science finds it much harder to understand astrologers. We need to be patient, even indulgent. After all, we see reality through all 4 elements, whereas science concentrates on Air and Earth as means of knowledge, it is limited. Its basic method tends to disregard Fire and Water as means of knowing and valuing. The proper place for science is that of a speciality within a more all-encompassing culture that includes astrology. Causal thinking needs to take its place within the broader context of mythological thinking.