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April 12, 2017
Astrology as illustrative and reflective, rather than causative
I love this quote from Chris Brennans new book on Hellenistic astrology:
“Despite the formulaic nature of astrological omens, the astrologers themselves did not necessarily think that there was a direct causal connection between celestial and earthly events. Instead, the celestial omens acted as signs or indications of the future that were sent by the gods, and not as causes of the events that they correlated with. The stars in particular were seen as a sort of ‘heavenly writing’ that was inscribed across the sky. Naturally, as Rochberg points out, ‘the notion of the stars as a heavenly script implies their capacity to be read and interpreted.’ Thus in the earliest Babylonian strata of astrological tradition, astrology was seen to be a type of language.”
This supports what I often say, that the planets do not cause things to happen, rather they merely reflect ones karma. The birth chart is an illustration of ones sanskaras for a given lifetime, and there are various techniques to look more closely at a specific timeframe within the lifetime... We are drawn to astrology to gain insight, understanding, and acceptance of the complexity of circumstances we find ourselves in and the attributes we came in with, as well as the inner and outer events and developments that unfold over time.
It appears that some ancient astrologers placed great value on endeavoring towards acceptance of life as it is and developing forbearance, equanimity, and contentment regardless of circumstances (as revealed by, not caused by one’s astrology). The Vettius Valens (c.175 CE) quote at the beginning of Chris’s book is incredible: “Those who engage in the prediction of the future and the truth, having acquired a soul that is free and not enslaved, do not think highly of fortune, and do not devote themselves to hope, nor are they afraid of death, but instead they live their lives undaunted by disturbance by training their souls to be confident, and neither rejoice excessively in the case of good, nor become depressed in the case of bad, but instead are content with whatever is present. Those who do not desire the impossible are capable of bearing that which is preordained through their own self-mastery; and being estranged from all pleasure or praise, they become established as soldiers of fate”
This strikes me as counter to the modern concept of “manifesting” one’s desires and dreams. I resonate with Valens and appreciate the realism and dignity of his words. I am still certainly a proponent of trying one’s best to improve one’s self or one’s lot whenever possible, as that may also be part of the path, but striving for equanimity and acceptance if or when certain things seem unchangeable is just as worthwhile.
Venus turned retrograde in Aries yesterday. With Venus in the sign that is most opposite to her own intrinsic essence, this may stir up some discomfort. But it is an important and necessary phase of processing Venus-related things (partnerships, financial matters & comforts, beauty & aesthetics, etc) — that should prove to be clarifying and freeing.
Venus, known for her relationship-oriented, other-focused, ready-to-understand, ready-to-accommodate way of being is in the sign that is all about “me,” “my” own needs, what “I” want, and being true to “self.” The context of these opposites is an opportunity to find more inner wholeness.
Further, the nature of a retrograde cycle activates things from the past — under the surface resentments or unresolved issues — for the purpose of rousing out those undetected but simmering impediments to a clear and clean interrelationship, and making changes that need to be made. Depending on where you have Aries in your chart will reveal the area of life most affected by this retrograde process. With Mars also in Aries (Jan 28-Mar 9) there is a an extra quality of feistiness, self-interest, or conflict in that same area of your life.
Venus will back up into Pisces on Apr 2, which will have a different flavor for that part of the retrograde cycle. Venus in Pisces has more of a sense of unity and unconditional love, which would be a nice result of the resolution of old resentments. Then when Venus makes her final pass through Aries (Apr 28-Jun 6) moving in direct motion, things will be in a different place. Not stuck, but ready to go forth, which Aries likes to do!
“Newspaper reporters would regularly seek interviews with Meher Baba, and sometimes he would consent… ‘But what about astrology?’ the reporter asked. ‘Everything has something to do with spirituality. It depends on how it is worked out.’ “ (From LM, p. 2077)
Mercury retrograde in Libra, Lunar eclipse in Aries
We’re past the halfway point of this Mercury retrograde (Sep 17-Oct 9, 2015), and so I have a few observations (The deepest learning of astrology comes through observation). Like all Mercury retrograde cycles this one is providing opportunities to revisit and reconnect with projects and relationships from the past, review misunderstandings or mistakes, and move towards resolving old issues. Since this Mercury retrograde takes place fully in the sign of Libra, the revisits may revolve around Libran values, such as interpersonal relating, empathy, and understanding the feelings and needs of both sides of any difference or conflict. Depending on the house of your birth chart where you have Libra will determine more specifically the types of things you may be reworking during this Mercury retrograde period.
Meanwhile the Lunar eclipse on Sep 27th was an interesting counterbalance occurring in the opposite sign of Aries. A Full Moon is always the peak, climax, or crisis point of the lunar month, but the addition of an eclipse takes it to a more intense level. Even though the deeper significations of an eclipse take place over a period of months (before and after the exact date of the eclipse), the day of the eclipse itself can certainly be telling too. I knew of three people who had this eclipse tightly conjunct one of their Aries planets, and they were all sick during the few days around the eclipse. Since this was an eclipse occurring near the South node of the Moon, it suggests a time of letting go. For those who were sick, I’m interpreting this as a detoxification process. But more generally this eclipse could be seen as a detoxification process for all of us in whatever part of our natal chart where we have Aries. I have Aries in my 7th house of one-to-one relationships, and right around the time of the eclipse, I had fleeting but important differences to attend to with a few people I connect with in a one-to-one way. Each one involved letting go of old thought forms or patterns. The fact that it was a Full Moon, an eclipse, and being in the fiery, impulsive, assertive sign of Aries added a higher degree of emotionality than might otherwise be present.
How did this eclipse play out for you? It’s always fruitful to note these things, in the same way it is fruitful to remember and explore the meanings of one’s dreams. These practices help us along the path towards greater self-knowledge and self-mastery.
During Mercury’s apparent travel backwards, at the midpoint of the retrograde phase, is a special moment when Mercury meets up with the Sun. This occurred on Sep 30th. It can be thought of as Mercury’s New Moon so to speak, the beginning point of a new Mercury cycle. Things are sown, either consciously or unconsciously, at this conjunction, so you can note what occurred on that day — ideas, discussions, events, or flashes or urges for a new and different way. It is an inception point, though it may not be clear just how those things will grow up and expand until after Mercury goes direct.
There are always several different astrological events going on at a time, but right now Sun opposite Chiron has my attention. This aspect will climax right around the Full Moon on Sept 8th, but it is plenty active now. While Chiron is in Pisces the Sun is in Virgo, opposite, shining a direct light onto Chiron, illuminating the feeling of being wounded and areas that need further healing. Or perhaps where one can be of service and a healing force for others is becoming clear, as a result of the collected wisdom gained from focusing on one’s own inner healing work. The house Pisces falls into in your birth chart will give information about the area of healing you are currently working on or the department of life in which this healing work is finding context. The Full Moon on Sept 8th and the days that follow will give further clarity about how the process and journey is going. With the Pisces archetype it is good to remember that the deeper spiritual intelligence underneath the surface of events may be hidden from the logical mind. The wound that Chiron represents may have unknown origins and the inner or outer work we now embark on may have a greater impact than we can know. Because of the invisible inner links and connections within the Oceanic oneness of creation, it is certain that each step we take to heal ourselves and gain more consciousness affects the whole.
Today, expansive benevolent Jupiter (in airy networking Gemini) squares Chiron, “the wounded healer” (in mystical emotional Pisces). Jupiter in Gemini can correspond to open-mindedness and expansive ideas, while Chiron in Pisces can corresp
ond to surrendering one’s wounds or suffering over to a higher power. Squares can bring things to a crisis or a turning point. If a wound is poignantly felt today, so too may be found the willingness, openness, and opportunity to turn one’s gaze towards a spiritual light for a moment of real healing. Read more...
“Real healing is spiritual healing, whereby the soul, becoming free from desires, doubts and hallucinations, enjoys the eternal bliss of God. Untimely physical healing might retard the spiritual healing. If borne willingly, physical and mental suffering can make one worthy of receiving spiritual healing. Consider mental and physical suffering as gifts from God, which if accepted gracefully, lead to everlasting happiness.” ~Meher Baba
The news about the historic first time ever flyby of Pluto is a few days old now but still interesting to me, and this is the first chance I’ve had to post anything. At the very moment of the flyby of Pluto by NASA’s fast moving spacecraft, New Horizons, which took almost ten years to get to Pluto — the Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Mars were all opposing Pluto. The opposition is an aspect of awareness of the Other. It is like looking across a round table at someone sitting exactly opposite you. Although they are furthest away from you, you are in a position to have the most clear, straight-on view of them compared to all the other seats around the table. So with the faster moving planets in this opposite position we got a much better look at Pluto, who is known to us in astrology as the hidden, mysterious, and powerful symbolic god of the underworld. On the day of the flyby the Sun and Moon were unified in Cancer opposing Pluto in Capricorn, representing a sort of spotlight bringing our undivided attention to Pluto. Additionally Mercury’s opposition represents communication with and about Pluto, and Mars represents decisive and probing action regarding Pluto. Wherever Pluto is currently transiting in your birth chart will give an idea of the area of life that is undergoing a slow but profound death and rebirth process (what we associate with Pluto). During the last couple of weeks with this four pointed opposition to Pluto — we had an opportunity for more awareness of what is being disintegrated and transformed within ourselves or our lives.
These faster moving planets were acting as triggers, going over the degrees of the longer-term transit of Uranus square Pluto, which is correlated with a groundbreaking turning point for us individually and collectively, as well as now literally with new astronomical information about Pluto. Even though Pluto is small in size (though New Horizons found it to be larger than anticipated) and even though scientists are finding many other dwarf planets out there in space, I trust there is a reason why Pluto is unique and has been part of our consciousness for a long time. I am struck by the heart-shaped landmass shown in the new photos of Pluto and widely circulated and discussed in the media. Pluto is associated with doing the heavy and sometimes frightening psychological work of confronting one’s unconscious shadow parts. But this new mass awareness of Pluto’s heart, suggests that on a psycho-spiritual level, once we actually have the capacity to get a closer view of our own deeply hidden feelings and motives, for instance, as symbolized by this distant and invisible (to the naked eye) body in our solar system, we may also discover a more welcoming and loving part of ourselves that we never knew before.
An Eclectic Approach ~ Modern and Ancient Astrology
There are countless ways to practice astrology and within Western astrology alone there are a huge variety of systems, paradigms, and techniques from which to choose. Throughout the years of my own study and practice I have found that it serves me to remain open to all the different paradigms that I encounter, while also remaining focused and not overly diffused with too many different techniques at once. My biggest learning is always through direct observation, so when it comes to where I put my attention within the wide variety of approaches, my eclectic approach is based on personal experience of the usefulness and relevance of a particular concept or system.
When I began studying and practicing astrology, I was mostly exposed to Modern Astrology and Evolutionary Astrology. This is mainly what is out there nowadays, has many merits, and no doubt still forms the foundation of my understanding of astrology. As time went on, however, I began to encounter more Ancient or Traditional Astrology and I found these frameworks to be equally valuable. For instance, I certainly honor the modern practice of paying close attention to the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, as well as Chiron), as I and many people and clients I know experience monumental internal or external events in our lives that correspond with the transits from these planets. The Uranus/Pluto square from 2012 to 2015 is a palpable example of this, being unfathomably intense for many especially those whose charts were directly lined up with the degrees of this life-changing, era-defining square (By the way, the last exact pass of this square is on March 16th, 2015).
On the other hand, I found that shifting to the Whole Sign house system (the oldest house system known); using the antiquated classification of planets in dignity, exaltation, detriment, or fall; and looking to the ancient rulers vs. the modern rulers, for example — are all undeniably useful to me when I analyze a chart. I didn’t necessarily want to adopt these older techniques, especially ones that appear on the surface to imply a value judgement, but when I investigated them I couldn’t help but notice their definite relevance. Through contemplation I realized that instead of seeing a planet that is in detriment or fall as a “bad” placement, for instance, the classification is rather a tool to acknowledge when an aspect of one’s self or one’s life (as symbolized by the planet) is experienced as inherently more challenging or uncomfortable than other planets that are more “favorably” placed. These challenges are of course not “bad,” just as squares and oppositions (aspects known to be associated with more challenges) are not “bad,” but a planet in detriment, for example, may represent a part of one’s life where one undergoes more suffering and requires more work or adjustment. I view this type of inner work or challenge as part of the divine intelligence within all of Reality, reflected perfectly in the birth chart, and for the purpose of learning and spiritual growth for the individual.
This is a good segue to the last example I will mention, regarding what I resonate with from Evolutionary Astrology. Evolutionary Astrology suggests that the birth chart is a reflection of what is needed for the soul for spiritual growth in this lifetime. My view is that the birth chart is a perfect illustration of one’s karma (the results of past impressions and actions) in this lifetime. The birth chart is literally a blueprint for how one is fulfilling one’s spiritual purpose and direction in this incarnation. Yet it is an illustration made up of symbols and full of moving parts, not a black and white, simplistic, or static depiction. Therefore it requires on-going exploration and can manifest in a multitude of ways, which will also invariably change over time as a person’s consciousness expands. I am always delighted to learn how people are living their charts. it is always more perfect then I could have imagined by looking at the chart alone.
Early on Dec 10, Uranus ♅, the planet of lightning bolt change, revolution, and freedom, turns direct after five months of being retrograde. Generally, when an outer planet is retrograde, its influence is experienced more on the internal level. When it stations (the time period when it slows down and appears to change direction), its influence is intensified and dramatic. Once it turns direct, outward manifestation becomes more apparent. Uranus is turning direct at the very beginning of Aries ♈, the part of the zodiac that epitomizes abundant raw energy and fresh new beginnings. This is a potent shift.
(The following is not comprehensive — just some observations. And it is important to recognize that no one is a pure archetype. The Sun sign holds a central place in the personality but other important factors in the birth chart — especially the rising sign, the Moon sign, and strongly placed planets — combine to make us each unique and complex.)
Aries ♈: to be held back from acting on an impulse, to be suppressed, to be prevented from expressing contentious and/or passionate energies, to be slowed down.
Taurus ♉: to be rushed, lack of financial or emotional security, to be deprived of touch, to be deprived of beautiful sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and textures.
Gemini ♊: boredom, lack of information, being “out of the loop” or cut off from communication, pressure to commit to one thing, having to stay still.
Cancer ♋: no one to nurture and protect, no one to be nurtured and protected by, thwarted from cultivating one’s “baby,” not having a safe and comfortable home.
Leo ♌: no loving audience, not being seen, not being appreciated, not being adored, not enough attention, cold-heartedness.
Virgo ♍: lack of attention to detail, skipped steps, orderless chaos, not adhering to thorough technique and “proper” procedure, lack of refinement, lack of purity.
Libra ♎: having to go it alone with no one to bounce off of, having to make a quick decision without being able to weigh the pros and cons, that which is unjust or unfair, insensitivity, lack of empathy, inconsideration, ugliness.
Scorpio ♏: superficiality, inauthenticity, feeling powerless, revealing vulnerability, failing to do one’s deep inner work, lack of emotional intimacy, lack of meaningful bonding.
Sagittarius ♐: the everyday routine with nothing exotic mixed in, lack of freedom, lack of access to philosophical perspectives, lack of ethics, narrow-mindedness, a life with no adventure.
Capricorn ♑: that which is unrealistic, inefficient, wasteful, impractical, or theoretical only; losing status, losing authority, lack of mastery, lack of having a respectful place in the world.
Aquarius ♒: conformity, exclusive hierarchical systems, social inequity, being confronted with ignorance, self-centeredness, or drama queens/kings.
Pisces ♓: the mundane details of life, no way to escape ordinary reality, lack of inspiration, lack of vision, lack of art, lack of feeling connected with the divine.