by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To the Degree: 8 Libra


The Sun reaches 8 Virgo today. So why is that important - and why are you looking at a blog entitled '8 Libra'?

The Virgo part you'll have to wait for. As for 8 Libra, certain degrees of the zodiac come to have 'nicknames' - names which are generally astrological 'shorthand' for what the degree means. And one such degree is 8 Libra, sometimes called the 'widow's degree.' But what does that mean? If you have a planet at 8 degrees does that mean you're going to be a widow? Be involved with widows? Be someone who leaves someone 'widowed'?

And what if you have a whole nasty conglomeration attached to 8 Libra? Does that mean you are, or could get attracted to so-called "black widow" predator-type  people?

In considering how to answer this question, we start with the basics. 8 Libra is a first decanate degree of a public/worldly sign having to do with what we present to others, or how we present ourselves...and thus how well or badly we (or whatever we present) are received.

So right away we have a clue that whatever this degree is or applies to, it's a cause/effect thing - which as long as we're looking at 8 Libra in our own chart, turns the onus on us. Every chart contains 8 Libra somewhere, right? So when our 8 Libra is active/activated, that must be about us and our experience of the quintessential Libra I put myself out there and thus get some sort of response  thing.

There's also that Libra is an air sign. So whatever 8 Libra is, it's an idea and thus thus negotiable...discussable - a theoretical construct which can be explored, better understood and thus (one hopes) used to better ends.

As noted, Libra is also a public and worldly sign, so 8 Libra is about interacting. The first six signs/houses of the horoscope (houses 1-6 and signs including Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo) are about internals. About learning to be who we are. It's the 'how to' part. The second 6 signs/houses of the horoscope (houses 7-12 and signs including Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces) are about how we apply that which we are in some sort of external fashion. You know, the 'what can we make out of this' sort of stuff.

Given all this, 8 Libra isn't about who we are on the inside. It's about some interactive experience of our world.

The Sabian symbol for 8 Libra gives us this image: Three "Old Masters" hanging on the wall of a special room in an art gallery. In his interpretation of this, master philosopher Dane Rudhyar comments on the esoterics of a 'three-fold' Soul composed of love/wisdom, intelligence in action and power.

The first part - at least if we express it as love as wisdom (giving a hoot about others - thinking about how what you are and do affects others?) is Libra from the ground up. After all, how we treat others pretty much determines how they treat us. This in itself is a very Venusian idea, and Venus rules Libra: what you 'earn' through your presentation of self or what you offer to others is pretty much what you get back. Intelligence in action fits in here rather seamlessly too. Nothing necessarily bad there - unless you do something bad to others or present yourself in some sort of truly unpleasant manner.

And one could suppose that if you are unpleasant to others that could leave you socially widowed, yes. But what about the 'power' part?

That seems a bit of a puzzle until we remember that Libra, like all other signs of the zodiac, is part of a polarity - namely the Aries/Libra polarity.

And every sign is tied inexorably to its polar opposite. After all, if you have a bar magnet, you don't just get a south pole without a north pole on the magnet. Cut it in half, the new 'end' becomes the magnetic polarity - that's just the way it works.

So we look over at the other end of this Libra pole and find Aries, a sign ruled by pro-active, assertive and often even aggressive Mars. Aries is all about motivation and the personal power behind a given action. Aries is all about the physicality of you or anything you do. What we are or present in or through Libra starts in Mars, a metaphysical power symbol whether thought of as ruler of Aries, primary of Scorpio (the choosing to part of investing yourself in anything from a hedge fund to a relationship) to Mars/Ares as the Greek god of war or totem symbol of initiation, courage and warriors. 

So what we do and how we do it (or don't do it) is the engine. And that may give us a way to look at this 'widow' degree nickname: If we are offensive or don't deliver on our promises, we can obviously put people off and become (as noted) a 'social widow.' We can choose to reject standards, methods or lessons out of our culture or from our own past and 'widow' ourselves for any of a number of very human reasons. We could think those reasons are hogwash. We could want to try something different. Maybe we're just ornery enough to want to do things our own way.

Or maybe we're starting anew...which is a very simple and valid way to look at the concept of one who has become widowed. The moment, the 8 Libra of it, may be a point of intellectual recognition that the love - the companionship we as humans need whether it's from friends, co-workers, mates or counselors. Which fits, since advisers and anyone who we are in a close one-on-one relationship with have a Libra connotation.

In fact, the one exception to this 'close relationship' thing really underscores what Libra is - that exception being 'blood family' (parents, children, uncles/aunts, cousins, etc.). That spouses are not included on this list really tells the tale here - a spouse isn't someone you come into this life and simply find as part of the package. Even in cultures where a spouse is chosen for you it's a negotiation - that's Libra.

And in a culture where you choose your own marriage partner? That's oh so Libra. Whether it's the spouse you marry, the financial adviser you choose or the business partner you decide to team up with - these are all Libra partners.

Which yes, tells us something about the common conception that Libra is the sign of marriage. Matrimony, maybe - that's a contract. But a marriage? A conversation for a different day, but obviously more than just Libra.

And yet the whole 'better or worse' idea associated with marriage is peculiarly very Libra. Subjective on one hand and yet obviously very 'causal/effects' on another, the what you bring to the marriage (or the partnership) and how honest everyone is, that leads us to the idea of Libra as a sign of truth (of the person or the situation).

Interestingly referenced since ancient times as a physical matter (and thus apt for a 1st decan degree) we have no less than the Egyptian Book of the Dead (a book of 'how to' instructions and requirements for getting from this world to the next) showing us this scene called the 'weighing' of the heart...

Anubis weighing the heart of a human to see if it
s as light as the proverbial feather (i.e., pure).

In this scene, Maat (Goddess of Justice) is having a little chat with Anubis (God of Mummification) over the fate of some person which would be determined by seeing how heavy or light their heart was at death - at the final point to which they had come...or how they were 'presenting' themselves at the end of all things.

And that is also another way of imaging the idea of 'being widowed.' The word may specifically describe a female who has lost a marriage partner to death but metaphysics is always metaphorical. So 'the widow's degree' as to do with an end - where something is over.

How we come out of that - obviously - has a great deal to do with who we were going in and how we have acted along the way. It's also the moment for a new start - with the question being: will you? Does the 'widowed' person remain widowed or do they start again?

This takes us back to Venus. Where your Venus is in your chart by sign, position, degree, aspect - the whole schmageggy - that tells us how you experience and deal with 'things Venusian,' including matters connected to 8 Libra.

But there's also the idea of Venus returns which should probably get a nod of consideration here. With an orbital period of 224.7 days (about 8 months), that well may be a natural sort of 'clock' which many of us cry and revive ourselves by when loss occurs. It may also be that where in a Venus return cycle you experience loss - or some relationship between your natal Venus and this degree of loss (8 Libra) which reveals how you deal with getting past such events. We all know that - taking death as an example - we all grieve differently.

It's a whole interesting study idea which hopefully some researching astrologer will take up at some point. Until then, we muse and wonder and...

...and we end this contemplation by looking to another body of lore on zodiacal degrees which describes 8 Libra as 'sensitive,' prone to 'retreating into a dream world' and 'hesitant to join in, even when invited' to, adding to that the idea that at this time, fixed star Diadem (the crown) is positioned at 8 Libra.

Fixed stars do move, if slowly. The star we know as Diadem was evidently named back around the time of 200 BCE, when the star itself was at 8 Virgo - which would be why this blog was scheduled for today.

Originally (and by some still) known as 'Al Dafirah' (the braid or curl), Diadem is part of a constellation known as Comae Berenices and positioned amidst a cluster of other stars in an astronomical phenomena known as the Small Magellanic Cloud.

The Small Magellanic Cloud, including fixed star Diadem.

Known as a star symbolizing quiet sacrifices knowingly made with dignity and aplomb, the lore of Diadem has evolved over the centuries to include giving gestures which in putting the (Aries) ego aside, contribute to the bigger picture and greater (Libra) good. Which is actually very much like Diadem's position in the sky as part of a mass star cluster.

So is 8 Libra about loss? Maybe initially. But in the long run, 8 Libra may be all about what we choose to give, either of ourselves or to others - and how those two things meet and diverge along the road of human life.

Completed in 1849, the famous poem by Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam, A.H.H. written for his friend, Arthur Henry Hallam may embrace the whole of this thought best: 

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most; 
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all  

Originally entitled 'The Way of the Soul,' that this poem was written for a friend and not a lover or mate may also  underscores once and for all that 8 Libra is not about being the 'widow' in the traditional modern sense, but rather our ability to recognize and honor the precious qualities imbued in our relationship to all and everyone.

Including ourselves, which would be why every chart comes with 8 Libra as part of the zodiac rondo.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Mary Shelley: A Woman and Her Frankenstein Monster

Born in England on August 30, 1797, the child named Mary Wollstonecraft Goodwin would grow up to be the author of one of the most famous stories in all of modern media fiction. Having by that time married to romanticist poet Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley comes to us as the author of Frankenstein.

 Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster - the above is a promo
photograph from the movie Bride of Frankenstein

Actually...that wasn't the title as first envisioned by the author. When Mary wrote the original story, she entitled it Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus.

It's an interesting reference, considering who the mythic Prometheus is and how like any writer, Mary Shelley's inspirations drew at least partly - if not greatly from her life.

Part of the basic Greek creation story, Prometheus is a Titan - a primal entity who helped form the world we know. In particular, he's a champion of mankind. As life and humans come into being everything is literally cold and raw on Earth - mankind has not yet acquired fire.

Prometheus steals fire for mankind, and for this is sentenced to be forever bound in chains and left exposed at the 'end of the world' where each day a giant eagle would come and feast on his liver.

  Prometheus Bound by Scott Eaton (c. 1996)

Like all mega Greek myths, there's a whole lot more to Prometheus. But that Prometheus gives the 'spark' of fire (metaphorically: light/knowledge/free will) to mankind is the crux of the Prometheus tale.

In the story Frankenstein (no matter how you parse the title), the creator of the monster is Frankenstein. And when he brings his monster to life, he's attempting to be a modern-day Prometheus. Sin? No sin? Just because we can do something, should we? It's a question still being debated. And probably for good reason.

As for the story of her life, Mary's was a dramatic one, beginning with the death of her mother when Mary was just eleven days old.

 Mary Shelley - natal chart (August 30, 1797) 

Going to the date recorded for this event, the transits to Mary's natal chart are Mars conjunct Sun, Sun square the Nodes, and Sun opposition Sedna, with the Nodes having squared her natal Sedna a couple of days prior. 

The numerical link here is Mary's Nodes and Sedna being both numerically at 18 of respective signs. But that the Sun would 'set off' Nodes and Sedna as the transiting Nodes (which linger in a degree often for a week or more at a time) squares Sedna - that's the classic example of what astrologers call a "trigger transit" where the Sun (life) is acting as a trigger to "fire off" the effects of the larger, 'more major' transit. 

The key here is understanding Sedna as symbolizing the struggle between immature needs to be taken care of (or parented) and the Nodes as how we intersect in our life. Mars/Sun is almost a sidebar, though that this conjunction occurs in the 4th house of family is apt. And there is that the Sun symbolizes not just life or will but men in general: obviously with his wife gone, Mary's dad had to take over parenting.

The combination however, suggests that without her mother (dad didn't remarry for a few years) Mary was both more dependent on men and forced to be independent of them. Or indeed anyone, as her life suggests in the long run.

It's an interesting contribution to our learning about Sedna, a point only discovered in 2004. We know a lot from the myth, but refining our understanding of Sedna through its function in many a chart is ongoing work. Mary's dad remarries when Mary is four, the effects of which are interestingly visible when we set up a solar return bi-wheel:

Inner chart: Mary's natal chart
Outer wheel: Mary's solar return for when she turned four
With a bi-wheel, what we look to do is compare positions. And here we see the (in yellow - outer ring) Moon at 17 Gemini very much conjunct her natal North Node at 18 Gemini (in black - inner ring).

This is a point of interest to us starting with the idea of what Gemini is and represents. On a  personal and/or psychological level Gemini often means 'from many things we choose one or many' (choice or prioritizing). Against this we have the mundane Gemini of everyday life: the 'more than one' or 'many,' which is apt in this sense as when coupled with the Moon (women) is very much a picture of Mary getting a 'second mother.' 

The woman her father married was also named Mary (obviously no one was taking pity on future biographers) ...Mary Jane Clairmont. Apparently she was the neighbor - another interesting Gemini quotient, since Gemini represents 'things local or within daily reach.'

So dad reached out and married the neighbor and we see it represented in the solar chart as Moon (woman) in Gemini (local to me) conjunct the societal Nodes (marriage as a socially/societally endorsed institution).

In 1814 at the tender age of 16 (on her way to being 17, obviously) Mary began a romance with one of her political father's political followers - one Percy Shelley.

Yes, that Shelley - the famous romantic poet...

Percy Bysshe Shelley

...the fly in the ointment here being that Shelley was already married. In fact, his wife was expecting at the time Mary and Percy met. Nevertheless, the couple eloped on July 28, 1814 amidst the emotional upheaval of eclipses and a shower of transits on Mary's chart suggesting that on one hand she was desperate to escape where she was and get on with "her" life (that independence thing) with an inner sense of 'is this right?' and a little Mercury station at 23 Leo taking place on the 27th atop her natal Hybris ('can I get away with it?').

The combination marks this as a truly fateful moment, one she probably struggled with as over the next couple of years she and Percy struggled not just with debt or criticism, but also with the death of a prematurely-born daughter - oh, echoes of Mary's childhood!

And maybe it is here that we see how Mary's life really works: as she and Percy spent a summer in Switzerland during the latter days of Mary's 18th year she conceived the story which would become that we know as Frankenstein.

 A handwritten page of 'Frankenstein' in first draft

This brings us to recalling that the cycle of the lunar nodes (aka the Nodes of the Moon) is 18.6 years long. Remembering that the Nodes are all about Things Social, Societal and Worldly...and that Mary's life was marked from the first by that Node-square-Sedna transit barely after she was born it seems telling that as Mary passes this 18.6 year mark she and Percy take off for the Alps amidst pressure from creditors, scorn about  their relationship and the death of a prematurely-born child.

And there she writes a story about giving life to a monster.

Not that things stopped there; it was a particularly fortuitous if gruesome year. As December is half way along comes news of a suicide. Percy's wife has drowned herself in Hyde Park's famous Serpentine, a body of water which while substantial (28 acres is its current recorded size) is not all that deep - 40 feet maximum.

But apparently that was deep enough.

The death is marked by one global transit - Sedna going direct: internal needs in forward motion or coming to the fore. Added to this is North Node (worldly/societal/social doings) in an effortless trine to Mary's natal Chiron - the need to act in order to heal one's life. So obviously the wife committing suicide was to Mary maybe painful as an event, but also something which cleared the way for her to heal her own pain.

And this Mary did: she and Percy were married on December 30, 1816 with a Jupiter square Mars recalling her early days (mom's death at Mars conjunct Sun) but with Jupiter here strongly poised in Sagittarius (it's primary sign of rulership) if in a bad position (the 6th house) conjunct asteroid Hel, TNO Typhon and opposition Scheherazade.

It's an interesting picture, this...Scheherazade is the telling tales to save your own life and clearly Jupiter's opposition at the marriage speaks to what she probably felt "should" have been a happy ending - a feeling free at last. 

But no. Typhon being both one's most primal, primitive urges and as a TNO something which 'comes upon you' like an erupting volcano, especially conjunct Hel (bad choices) we get a picture of not all being well. Square to Mars in the natal 4th, this may simply have been Mary hating that her wedding was tainted by the first wife's suicide. For all we know she caught 'Hel' from her father. Or maybe she or Percy had own issues with the marriage coming a scant two weeks after the suicide. 

Then of course there are all those noodling thoughts one might have if they were writing a modern TV drama. Did Mary or Percy in any way 'influence' said suicide? 

The solar return going into Mary's 19th year is quite evocative on everything taking place, especially seeing as she would have been in the middle of drafting the still famous Frankenstein...

Mary Shelley - Solar Return 1816

That's a particularly trying Grand Cross - and Grand Crosses are simply never a picnic. As above, the picture is that of a square, the corners of which are in oppositions and squares to each other. What one might try to lightheartedly refer to as 'a cross we are forced to bear' (or confront) generally ends up being an endless set of choices. Or demands from every quadrant, all of which cannot be met without upsetting some other applecart, schedule or personal aim, relationship or need.

This one is either made even more problematic or partially resolved by two of the corners of the cross being intercepted. Interceptions either function 'internal fantasies' (dreams, hopes, escapist designs) or the willingness to subjugate yourself to service. And either way, they're dicey.

But in this situation, what we may well be looking at is a positive. At least to us, if not to Mary. With the present/past tense injury/need to heal (Chiron) in emotional, fantastical Pisces in opposition with Venus (creation), Mercury (thought/ideas/activity) and Mars (motivation, impetus) in work-oriented Virgo, she may well have needed to 'do something!' constructive. And thus what we may well have here is a picture of Mary investing time and effort in that which on the world stage (worldly Nodes across the 'I reach out to others' Asc/Dsc) is unquestionably her lasting authoring masterpiece: Frankenstein.

Not that she had yet survived her the early marking of her chart. Again, the natal...


There are two dwarf planets very high in this chart: Pluto (transformation, life/death) and Sedna. Pluto stands in opposition to Mary's badly place Virgo Mars in the house of family and Sedna is technically in Ptolemaic aspect only to the Nodes. With Neptune in a physical degree in the house of children in a tight trine to Saturn (also in a physical degree) poorly placed by sign and house in the 1st, we should not be surprised that while in Italy, Mary's second child also died.

Were it today in fact, we might suspect a physical problem with pregnancy. Or maybe some sort of 'substance use/abuse' - Saturn-Neptune contacts being famous for such.

Looking at this chart it seems possible that Mary Shelley might have even had sort of chronic depression which led to Munchhausen by Proxy Syndrome (a psychological setup which compels the parent to harm the child) either for attention (Munchhausen's) or perhaps because her child psyche never survived the death of her own mother. Not having yet grown into a sense of perspective, children often  internalize things which 'go bad' in early life as having been 'their fault.' So in those days of minimal pre/post natal care, could having her mother die so soon after giving birth have imprinted Mary with mom's death being her fault? And does this make her "the monster"?

Richard Rothwell's portrait of Mary Shelley

Fortunately, her third child survived. But Mary had not yet escaped tragedy. On July 8, 1822 - in what seems like an eerie echo of agony past, Percy dies when out sailing. This occurring before Mary's birthday on August 30th, we look at the solar return for 1821 for this event to be imaged. Here is that chart in a bi-wheel.

Again, the inner chart is Mary's natal chart, the outer ring is her solar return for 1821...

Inner wheel: Mary's natal chart
Outer wheel: Mary's solar return chart for 1821

The outer ring Neptune at 0 Capricorn sitting directly under the Descendant - one's binding agreements with others and traditionally, the house of marriage as a bond between two people - shows her union with Percy being rather literally 'dissolved.' That the mythic Neptune is ruler of the oceans? Totally apt. That Capricorn is ruled by that Saturn we just described as being unhappily and poorly placed in the first is the sign of her continuing sorrow.

It's also probably the signature of her death. Mary Shelly died at the age of 53 from a brain tumor. Saturn is all about limits, walls and metaphorically the 'hardening' which happens in us literally (cysts, arthritis, tumors) associated with our ceasing to grow.

And yet she left us that one disturbingly wonderful story which in asking us to suspend our belief of what's possible, allows us to all grow a little more...and maybe deal with our own monsters.

Mary Shelley: August 30, 1797 - February 1, 1851
(a miniature by Reginald Easton said to have been taken from her death mask.) 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CHART USA (Pt. 7): Transits and a Nation in Transit

A map of the United States and Terrirorites

One of the truly useful things about astrology is in the fact that from the time/space map which any natal chart is, we can then look at transits - prescribed angles being struck by celestial objects as they continue their orbital path around the Sun.

For those who wonder why this might be a valid consideration from a scientific point of view, the answer is fairly simple, if entirely metaphysical. Working from the concept that the entirety of Existence is energy (the 'E' in E=mc2'd), then we are each born as manifestations of energy - energy bundles, if you will (shades of kiddihood) - which are 'hallmarked' by the moment and position in that All of Existence-time/space in which we were born. And much like any other 'bundle' of energy, we would be reactive to harmonics as energy frequencies (time/space) marches on.

Those harmonics are created (physically and metaphysically) by the continuing movement and reorientation of time/space as a whole - in which celestial objects are a very convenient set of markers. They do not thus 'do' anything except what all celestial objects do: they move through space, they exude magnetic waves, they disrupt the general field of space-time by moving through it.

Astrology simply reads when those waves reach Earth. And for those who say 'yes, but astrology started back in Babylon' the answer to that would be yes. And obviously back in Babylon, people weren't all that up on Relativity and magnetic resonance and the like.

But we were still human. And one of the great things about human beings is their unceasing curiosity which, when coupled to the human power of observation often leads to great discoveries. (When we're in the mood to be observant, that is.) As it happens, people evidently started observing and correlating movement of celestial objects with things here on Earth back in Babylon. People probably would feel better about astrology if such observations had begun in modern times, but that's not the way it worked. Nor does astrology's origin in antiquity make it any less correct, as discussed in a different blog post touching on some correspondence I had with that most successful and open-minded of planet hunters at CalTech, Mike Brown (link).

In any case, despite the to-be-expected debates among astrologers about transit nuances (what, you think astrologers should debate less among themselves than  politicians, lawyers, clergy and doctors do? Why should we miss out on all the fun?)....despite that, transits remain an interesting and often dispassionately reassuring source of information.

How so reassuring? Well, one of the things about being an astrologer is that you tend to hear from people when they're having a really bad time. And when you're having a really bad time, that bad time is usually marked by a transit which has a beginning and ending date. By giving those dates to a client, I provide them with a sense of when they're going to see 'the light at the end of the tunnel.'

Not that the tunnel always lets out onto their land of milk and honey, mind you - but most people would rather be able to see what they are dealing with rather than stumble along in the dark.

So where are we with Chart USA when it comes to the big and wonderful world of transits?

Starting with the broadest of big brush strokes, the karmic and evolutionary powers of transformation (symbolized by Pluto) moved across the IC/Nadir (foundational bottom) degree of this chart in 2002. As discussed elsewhere in this series, the IC degree of the Appomattox chart (17 Sagittarius) is one which displays a native and innocent (rather purist) belief in God - or what one believes in, even if that is a belief in nothing.

That this time corresponds to when the United States began its recent, rapid and highly polarizing/polarized  radicalization with regards to religion(s) is notable. Given this idea, we can also say that this trend will continue until Pluto moves out of the 4th house that the IC serves as cusp to. That will not happen until 2019, so enjoy the debates. 

As of 2006, Pluto also opposed Uranus, a Uranus positioned in the governmental and most worldly house of the chart - the 10th house. For astrologers/readers who time a transit uptick when a major planet comes within the standard 5-degree conjunctive orb, that moves the date back to January of 2004, suggesting that domestic and foreign difficulties ranging from the war in Iraq to governmental disorganization when greeted with the ravages of Hurricane Katrina were part of a more karmic 'shakeup' of the nation.

Uranus - source: NASA

Uranus in the 10th asks a government not to be too rigid, points to the people's need not to allow their government to be too rigid, too inaccessible, too erratic, too detached from the national mood, or too polarized/polarizing in its politics.

By 2006, a lot of these challenges had become rather obvious. And with Uranus opposition Jupiter in the natal 4th, the division and divisiveness which began in the halls of government and all it was up to would then shift to the people, as Pluto moved on from 26 Sagittarius to 28 Sagittarius, conjuncting Jupiter.

Jupiter - source: NASA

As with all things astrological, there are pluses and minuses to everything. Depending on your politics, you saw the election of Barack Obama as either a big improvement or a wholesale detriment. Whatever it was on a purely political basis however, Obama's election (and the very serious bid Hillary Clinton made in that election) did represent a clear 'broadening' of the public view on presidential politics. With this being neither a  referendum on good or bad, it is wholly Jupiterian, since Jupiter represents 'expansion' and in the house of the people denoted the 'expanding' of the popular and populace point of view.

Currently, Pluto is in the process of opposing the national 5 Cancer Mars, a symbol fraught with disruptive energy when not used in a truly universal manner - the United States' 'We the People' credo. With this transit having ratcheted into full effect in May 2010 (and running through October of 2011) its 'orb effects' where witnessed as soon as Pluto entered Capricorn.

Interestingly, given Pluto's yearly retrograde patterns, Pluto first entered Capricorn in late January 2008, just after political caucusing had begun to greatly thin down the list of candidates. As Pluto turned direct during September in the midst of a crumbling economic situation, the nation prepared to head off to the polls in early November. Duly elected if not yet sworn in, Obama's team began taking over the reins of power as Pluto committed to its transit of Capricorn in late November and the GW Bush administration appeared to have all but left the field.

Cancer is ruled by the Moon, symbol of populace and economics. With the Moon of this Chart USA also at 5 degrees, it is no wonder that the people and American government are entrenched in a debate of economics and citizens rights. From immigration to health care to national debt and so on, we can expect these heated debates to continue through October 2011, and the discussions involved therein not to be even half-way sorted out until December of 2013. 

With all of this noted however, one thing is good to know: given how the IC of any chart represents one of its biggest tests, Pluto's passage over this point tells us the United States is moving through its most internally volatile period to be seen in the roughly 150 years since the nation was re-birthed, rising like a Phoenix from the ashes of the Civil War. (Which is a very 8th house image and thus much in keeping with a national 8th house Sun!)

Yet there is no question that the US is really hard up. The Appomattox chart shows a natal Saturn in the 2nd house of talents, abilities, resources and the national coffer. This is clearly a 'what you earn you reap' symbol. Not only that, but natal Saturn sits in a grand trine with Uranus in 10 and Juno in the 6th house of employees, jobs, health, civil servants and the military.

A computer-generated image-map of Pluto - source: NASA

This means that when Pluto first started afflicting Uranus, it also began afflicting the whole Uranus-Saturn-Juno system. So we shouldn't be surprised to look back and track the roots of fiscal (Saturn) problems which entangle everything from military expenditures to health care to Wall Street, big oil and the rest of it back to that time. Saturn moved across the national Vesta (service) potently placed behind the Ascendant as the economy collapsed and rolled across that Ascendant on November 2nd, 2008 (a day before the Presidential election).

That would make the election a Saturn call for dealing with the public's economy, recalling pundits tossing around the slogan 'it's the economy, stupid!' Beyond that, it would also say that everybody would be highly disgruntled no matter who was President during the period Saturn was to transit the national 1st house. This having begun on Election Day 2008, it will continue until August 2014.

Currently, the whole of the nation is highly disgruntled and about to get even more so: with Pluto squaring the national Moon and opposition its willful (loudmouth) Mars by long-term transit, Saturn is also posed to square Mars on September 8th and conjunct the Moon on September 14th. (Those who are political junkies may also want to mark their calendars for September 27 and 28, when the Sun reaches 5 Libra, setting these transits off.)

Having moved into the national 6th house of health-work/jobs-service in May 2007, Neptune's continuing presence in this house until somewhat after 2050 suggests the United States is in a period of long term discussion and development of its own understanding of what the term 'universal' means. And what it doesn't or even can't mean to a nation. Nations have boundaries - Neptune doesn't.

 Neptune - source: NASA

This isn't an easy question, though in time the United States is likely to invest in tougher standards for citizenry and foreign aid. Why? Both reasons come down to the Mars/Ixion/Uranus sandwich in the national 10th house. For one, no nation can be in all places. Secondly, other nations don't think the way the United States does. The US is likely to get very sulky as it concludes (reluctantly) conclude that they don't get to play (Cancer) parent to the world (amidst grumbles about other nations acting like ungrateful Ixion children). Yet in the end, the nation will either pull itself back within its own boundaries or like the mythic Ixion, get roasted for sticking its nose into something totally and entirely none of its business.

It rather gets back to the boundary thing: like many parents, the US wants to protect the whole world. This is emblematic and symptomatic; parents are supposed to be models of behavior which children emulate - a nation which demonstrates war-like behaviors should not be surprised that the world and its own youth pay more attention to winning than the quality of life.

More rough waters are expected in the short run as Uranus moves through the early degrees of Aries, squaring the Cancer Mars and opposing the national  Moon.

We've already felt the entrees of these effects as Uranus hit Aries in late May 2010; considering this is Uranus in action, the center of the dispute is governmental, whether domestic or international. These transits will come into full force as of April 2012 and extend through February 2013, suggesting among other things that the next Presidential election cycle will make this last one look like afternoon tea in the Queen's most secure, demure study.

These being only the most sweeping of broad brush strokes we could go on endlessly, defining and refining transits to this chart for the United States as a modern nation forged and essentially reforged at the end of the Civil War. Just to note that the calamity most people know simply as 'Deepwater Horizon' was marked to the day by a Venus return to the Appomattox chart shows how accurate the chart is.

As this series started out, between all the intriguing explorations of the chart has remained the essential question: what is the real chart for the United States of America? Astrologers have been debating this one for at least the thirty years I've been involved in astrology and probably for more than that.

It seems pretty astonishing to this researcher that no one ever stepped back and took the time to think of the nation not in terms of where it started out (working forward), but as the nation it is today. Starting from today, working back through the tale of years, there is only one point at which the nation came apart. That's what defines a national chart - a nation which comes together and is forged from disparate parts.

During the time these blogs have been being posted, I've heard from astrologers protesting that the Union never accepted the Confederacy's breaking away. To my thinking, that simply doesn't matter. The Confederacy was enough of an entity to have its own legal tender, it's own government, its own standing army, its own constitution and other nations recognizing its existence (though granted, they dallied with whether they wanted to go public on that score.) What more can anyone ask? So what if the North didn't like it - that's why the war got fought.

 Cemetery at Shiloh National Military Park
Ask a hard core southerner whether the nation fractured. You'll get chapter and verse on how it did - and by some, why that was a very good idea. 

As a researcher, the feelings can't matter. What has to be accepted are the facts. In this case, the South ceded and created its own nation. The North invaded, conquered, and subdued its former territories.

The chart which came out of that was the chart erected for General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant in a little borrowed farm house in Appomattox, Virginia. The date was April 9, 1865 - the time (as near as we can make it) was 3:53 pm, which produces the following chart for the United States of America as the nation which exists today.

Chart USA 
April 9, 1865 - 3:53pm - Appomattox Court House, VA


Monday, August 23, 2010

The August Full Moon

 Full Moon over Cincinnati, Ohio

Also known as the Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, Barley Moon and Sturgeon Moon (don't ask...!), the August Full Moon occurs this year on August 24 at 5:06pm, Greenwich Mean Time.

Occurring just a day after the Sun entered Virgo, the chart for this Full Moon is obviously going to have a lot in common with the Virgo ingress.

The Virgo Ingress (shown as an Aries Wheel)

The August Full Moon (shown as an Aries Wheel)

Look carefully...all you'll see having moved are Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars and Vesta. And that in itself tells us something, as Mercury - one of the fastest moving planets in our solar system - hasn't shifted even a degree.

To make the point, Mercury makes an orbit of the Sun every 88 (plus) days. That means Mercury usually moves a couple of degrees a day. So that it hasn't moved is in the bigger picture of 'norms' unusual. Yet it's also entirely understandable, seeing that Mercury just went retrograde on August 20th.

On the 20th, it was at 19 Virgo. Four days later, it's only at 18 Virgo. That's Mercury moving at barely ooze pace.

Considering Mercury's metaphysical connection with thinking and the general thought process, decisions, planning, activities and schedules, that suggests a Full Moon period rife with hold ups. Or maybe just with taking a pause.

Famous for interruptions in mail service, processing of paperwork, clarity of communication, car problems, computer snafus and everything from stubbed toes to canceled or delayed travel, business and personal plans, Mercury retrograde is a pain in the very low back for the highly motivated and speed-addicted among us, but quite all right if you're taking a personal 'time out' of some kind.

On the Full Moon side, Full Moons are known as a time of great 'illumination in reflection' ...and a general intensity of feelings.

Occurring at 1 Pisces, this Full Moon is conjunct three separate astral objects: Athena (wisdom), calculated Lilith and royal fixed star Fomalhaut, a star which promotes those dreams which are not corrupt and which brings great unhappiness where corruption is in the mix.

Athena, goddess of Wisdom. Having sprung from the
brow of Zeus full grown, her helmet represents Athena's
'unassailable mentality' - an 'armor clad' intellectual function.

Considering Lilith is here, and that calculated Lilith is hardly ever a piece of cake as it represents societal considerations we either avoid, evade, reject  or have forgotten about, at best this is likely to be a time of sorting things out. And at worst? The worst here would seem to be where we have done without wisdom (Athena) and done something totally naughty (Fomalhaut) which for some reason has now come back to haunt us (Lilith). Courtesy of Mercury inching along like an unmotivated snail, there's little likelihood of doing a verbal tap dance and scooting away.

However...this is just a Full Moon. And though Full Moons can be 'one of those moments' (good or bad) they are also very transient. With the Sun in perfect conjunction with Orcus and Sphinx, there is either a tendency to attempt to use Sphinx-like patience and tolerance couple of Orcus-like 'facts' to try to charm your way out of things. But if you really have violated the Fomalhaut rule, chances are Orcus-Sphinx-Sun is going to manifest as a totally blank wall which greets all your witty charm with a 'nice try' and a demand that you toe the line, admit your error and make amends.

The good news is that over the next couple of days - while the Moon is still in Pisces, you have some room for emotional negotiation. And this is useful even if you haven't had a good time as Moon in Pisces is as wonderful time to achieve understandings and make mutually beneficial plans as it is to mend broken bridges....

...It's also a perfect time to work on you own if you have some personal project.

Looking to the Arabic Parts for this Full Moon, issues concerning one's own experience of being mothered arises now, as does your personal relationship to honor as a concept. How these two things interact is now functional across the board, as is the experience of being a daughter - which would obviously be personal for women and as something men will do well to be aware of.

These qualities or 'patterns' may be apparent in what goes on, but they won't necessarily be the subject of conversation. But if you know the people you are dealing with or listening to well, you are likely to hear some of their own experiences coloring their parameters in this moment.

Again, this isn't necessarily a giant red flag, merely a nuance which if you understand it may allow you to comprehend what's going on better and operate more clearly for your own part.

Often marking the period when something comes to fulfillment, this particular Full Moon - given Mercury having just gone into retrograde - suggests a time for reflection, discussion and self examination. 

Given the Sun in a pragmatic sign on one side backed up by fact-driven Orcus in opposition to the Moon in a emotional, perhaps even vulnerable (hopeful?) position conjunct Fomalhaut on the other, keeping the facts separate from the feelings is the best way to go. Both are valid, but it won't help matters to let them get confused.

 Going forward, we move into a 'waning' period (from the Full to New Moon) which here involves becoming more aware of ourselves, our values, our choices, our plans and how our personal aims matter, but need to work with others if we're to get ahead. All this is up for consideration, and with Mercury in retrograde, considering and thinking things over is the perfect thing to do.

Have a happy, prosperous, productively feeling-filled Full Moon!

The Full Moon - photographed from Japan

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sun enters Virgo/Sedna goes retrograde

The Sun (Xray image taken by NASA's solar observatory)

Come August 23rd at 5:28 GMT, the Sun will enter Virgo. Given that the first ten degrees of every sign is where sign attributes manifest physically and through one's physicality (in a body or through actions), this sets a variable stage built around the three standard Virgo keywords: health, work, service. 

By 'work,' Virgo means doing things which either are done simply because they need doing and/or because they are part of a greater effort. Thus going to the job (or finding one) is Virgoan. Being an employee is very Virgo. Being part of a team effort is a Virgo sort of thing as is brushing your teeth, washing the dishes (car, dog, etc.) as is helping someone out because they need assistance.

This last, in particular, naturally blends with the Virgo concept of 'service.' Where work meets service we naturally come to a sense of those who serve, which in the sense of 'in a process' is again why Virgo represents employees, but at a more esoteric level is why Virgo also embraces any one whose job is to provide a service to others. Medical people, help desk people, civil servants, members of the military - and indeed anyone who may be in a honcho position, be they lawyer, leader of a nation, CEO/ the extent that they have any responsibility to anyone, they too have a Virgo connection.

Must be why every chart comes with a Virgo component, don't you know!

Yet because Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the Virgo 'service' as well as 'health' concepts are not just the physicality of doing for others, or taking care of yourself (exercise, eating right, going for checkups, etc.). 

Being that Mercury also rules thought-thinking-idea-choice-oriented Gemini, all things Virgo also involve the idea of the thing. Which is why say in the 'work' category, Virgo becomes not just going to work or doing the job, but every facet having to do with improving the ways things get done, inventing the better mousetrap and making efforts efficient, effective and thorough.

Which yes, leads to that Virgo negative of obsessing about details. Virgo is so the sign which loses the forest for the trees so often! Instead of listening to the sense of the idea being presented, Virgo is perfectly capable of glomming onto one little word in the presentation being used "incorrectly" and acting like that's the make-or-break in the whole deal.

Why does Virgo do that? There's a thousand reasons - maybe more. And in your chart or the chart of whoever is getting stuck on such minutia, there are indicators about what it is they really don't want to contend with, those being the reasons they instead glom onto the misused word. Or that one smudge on the mirror. Or the chore list which never ends which they are using to effectively prevent them from ever having to get on with life, broaden their horizons or....

Know anyone 'married' to cleaning, chores and 
errands? Or someone who simply can't bear anything
having to do with keeping (themselves or their house) clean? 
It's probably all about Virgo/Mercury in their chart. with mental health. The combination of Virgo and Mercury is not just about dealing with health, it's the mentality of health, the health care 'marketplace' and the fine balance between health obsessions (from hypochondria to fitness nuts) and dealing with mental health problems or problems in general in a mentally healthy way.

And lets remember - this is not just about Sun, Moon and Virgo rising people (or entities). This is global stuff. This is all of us! Every chart around includes Virgo. And those who moan, groan or twitter at such? Those would be pretty sure 'tells' (as they say in poker) pointing to  issues with responsibility and various forms of internal/mental self-discipline which in balancing need against want tests our sense of propriety and priority  (otherwise known as entitlement).

So as the Sun enters Virgo, life 'lights up' these arenas. It can do it on the mundane level - meaning you'll be busy, the job thing will be particularly on the front burner, someone may have some health issue which needs attention or there's just someone who needs help. Sun transiting Virgo can also be a time when you become aware of where you're too invested in one thing - maybe even to the degree that you're damaging something good by putting SO much focus on it.

And that includes you - the physical you. As well as your environment and the environment, seeing that ecology (recycling, etc.) is so very Virgoan.

Entering Virgo in the company of Sphinx and Orcus with a direct opposition to Athena at 0 Pisces, it's to be expected that we will all be dealing with the repercussions of things done or choices past (Orcus).

 one artist's concept of TNO Orcus

Some of us will think (or may have thought) we could just wait it out (Sphinx) and that some storm would blow over. But because Orcus and Sphinx are sitting here side by side greeting the Sun at Virgo's door...apparently not! Together, Sphinx and Orcus are a sort of earthly, earthy manifestation of eventual consequence: the paying of the piper which in the end must be dealt with.

With Athena in opposition, some sort of emotional 'knowing' in the mix. Given that Athena stands in opposition to the Sun here, that may manifest as someone who confronts you with how you have hurt, unfairly compromised or cheated them. Or it could just be that your conscience just kicks in. Or that necessity now rears its demanding head.

That this will affect us greatly on an internal basis is shown by the fact that Mercury, ruler of Virgo, has just gone into retrograde. With Mercury in emotional degrees of Virgo, we get another indication of emotionalism - and with Mercury now in retrograde, this would tend to indicate internal emotionalism. So it's either your emotional reaction or something emotional which is/has been hidden by someone else, or with regards to someone else's emotional (Virgo) functions.

Or yes, maybe lack of same. That quality - the 'lacks' - are likely to become even more apparent in the first couple of days after Sun enters Virgo, too. Why do we know that? Well, it's a combination of two items: Bali (paradise) being at 2 Virgo and Atropos (cut-offs) standing at 16 Virgo, two shy of Mercury at 18 with Mercury moving backwards through the zodiac.

The Three Fates by Sodoma (Atropos is on the left) 

This gives us a 2 day, 2 week, 2 month sort of implied 'progression' of circumstances which imply and end (Atropos) to some sort of conceptual paradise (Bali).

Some party is almost over, people. And since asteroid House stands at 16 Pisces - in exact opposition to Atropos - this is about some 'end' to some sort of 'being at home' with something. Or someone. Or some thought, effort or idea.

One other item coloring this event - and a big one - is Sedna going retrograde. Ultimately a figure of oceanic fertility and creation which requires that we wrestle with immature (often egotistical) urges and/or personality traits which have developed out of childhood experiences or "programming," Sedna applies at very separate levels to our planet, our feelings (water always equals emotions) and our process of growing into our Self and purpose as an individual and as a race of beings living on our planet.

 Sedna's orbit is shown here in red. The orbit of all the rest
of the (inner solar system) planets is shown by that set
of small concentric circles at the upper right.

Going station/retrograde in Taurus on the 23rd, Sedna's station highlights any sort of meaningful event which highlights (Taurean) values - yours personally, those of a community, or on any sort of global basis. Standing in an inconjunct to Ceres - which has just recently gone direct (link) - we are reminded that we need to think through what we do.

Ceres being goddess of the harvest and also associated natively with Mercury reminds us that we must sow and tend before we can reap. Ceres also tells us that we cannot decimate the 'ground' we till - be that human/physical, human/relational, human/emotional, human or global/ethical or strictly planetary - if we expect to survive long term.

Sedna itself indicates an adjustment - and a difficult one for many. The simplest way to think of Sedna is as the individuation which comes from a successful passage from dependent childhood to independent adulthood. But it's (unfortunately for us...!) more complicated than that.

Sedna's story starts with her wanting what she wants - and wanting those desires to be provided to her by others. Hers is not a compassionate or empathetic world at all.

Ultimately, it takes bitter disappointment, great ocean storms (i.e., emotional storms) and the experience of actual physical violent rejection to get her to relinquish her hold on...on at least the concept or ideal of life as she has known it. And yes, the reality which goes with that - which by then includes some really sad tales of reaching for what she wants so desperately, only to find that when she throws everything aside for her dream, the reality which her dream becomes is not far different from the dream, but not all that pleasant.

In the mythology of the Inuit people, from Sedna has come seals, 
fish, walruses,whales and much else we think of as the beauty and
wealth of the sea. That originally Sedna rejected every effort made
to teach her that life is about both give AND take - only to end up
as goddess of/providing that which her people rely on for life
...that implies a good deal about human growth, the process
of maturation, and some of the key metaphysical concepts with
regards to that which we are so attracted to getting - ultimately being
that we should provide or teach to others (i.e., personal karmic purpose).

Ultimately given a chance at reprieve, Sedna thinks she's been 'saved' and that she can reverts to old ways, but it doesn't turn out like that. A great storm erupts. Sedna gets thrown overboard into stormy seas. And there she drowns.

But since this is a myth, she isn't really dead. So what has she drowned in? Answer: the ocean - the metaphorical equivalent of our 'sea of emotions.' And  through that drowning which comes at such great cost and through such painful means (Sedna's father cuts her fingers off as she's trying to hold onto the boat) once Sedna accepts being cast into the great sea of her emotions, she acquires a new life. Sinking into the icy depths (the 'cold aloneness' of our individual soul) she  becomes the great ocean provider. Her severed fingers become seals, walruses, whales and fish, and thus the Sedna who had wanted to have everything provided for her becomes the respected protector and goddess of her sea-dependent Inuit people.

With Sedna going retrograde now in Taurus, we look to Venus, ruler of Taurus for a clue on where this energy will manifest. And we find Venus at 15 Libra, exactly conjunct Mars and TNO Haumea.

Mars in Libra is the quintessential lowering of ego which allows relationships to happen. Conjunct TNO Haumea however, we have an indicator of manipulation and 'trickiness' - trickiness also being a quality associated with Mercury, the trickster/game player/joker and poser of questions (recalling the Sphinx, another riddle-asking entity of lore).

Have we been fooled? Is someone playing a trick on us? Or have we played some trick on ourselves? Any of these things can be true now. All of these things might be true now.

And throughout the Sun's passage of Virgo, especially until Mercury goes direct come September 12th, these will be issues either on the table or niggling us from the sidelines.

That Pluto will go direct right after Mercury does? That indicates a change is certainly in the works. Those who resist now will be forcefully confronted with it next month. Those who begin moving through the process now will find their efforts beginning to bear fruit and clear problems out - again, next month.

  Planet Earth - source: NASA

One more note the Sun enters Virgo, the Moon stands at 13 Aquarius, a degree which is either honorably assertive or reactive and aggressive. Just at the edge of its conjunction range (at 18 Aquarius) stand Damocles and Nessus, a truly formidable duo totally worthy of the  article on same which will post at Daykeeper Journal as of September 1st (mark your calendars!).

Again using progression theory, this five-degree separation suggests looking ahead five zodiacal months, which takes us to Sun in Aquarius. And the New Moon which occur that month (on February 2nd/3rd, depending on where you are)? That New Moon will occur at 13 Aquarius, underscoring the long-term effects of what we do - or don't do - now.

Will you be on the initiating side of it or the receiving side of it? Will you let go of the boat and actually through drowning in your own emotions come to a truth and some understanding of the true potentials of your life? Will you refuse to let go and cling to being provided for simply because you are so spoiled and so indolent in your own desirous way?

Will you own up to your own issues? Will you seek help or give it where it's actually needed? Will you recognize errors and own up to them? Will you accept that some measure of pleasure, compensation, 'the good stuff' or gratification has to be deferred in order to not rape your own life, this earth and the future or even present of others?

At the moment, it's all questions. And only over time will you provide yourself - and others - with your answers. But that's the Virgo way: we have to work for it, lest we compromise all for ourselves and others by denying the truth of reality.