America needs a new dream

There are a lot of different astrological charts for the United States floating around out there, but the one most commonly used, and the one I prefer, is called the Sibley chart which has Sagittarius rising.  The rising sign, also called the Ascendant because it was ascending at the birth moment, marks the identity and personality of the entity.

Sagittarius is the sign of expansion, optimism, and let’s face it, self-righteousness.  Sagittarius can have a tendency to believe that it knows what’s best for everyone, because after all, Sag is the Searcher of Truth.  That doesn’t negate the beautiful qualities of Sagittarius to inspire and elevate, but there can be a bit of arrogance around a person who thinks they know what’s what.

The self-righteous component of this influence has inspired the expansion of the nation across the continent in the name of the “Manifest Destiny,” regardless of the death and destruction that was wrought in its wake.  The American Dream started out as a right for every man, woman and child to pursue their dream of liberty and happiness, but has evolved into the desire for every citizen to own several high definition television sets, enough cars to fit in their 3-car garage, a vacation home, and a mansion.

This is all being altered by a transit of Pluto to the Midheaven in the US chart.  The Midheaven represents the government of a country, but it also represents the nation’s role in the world.  This cycle began last year and the second phase of the cycle is coming up this summer.

The progressed chart shows the evolving nature of an individual, and in a mundane chart it reveals the ways in which a nation community is changing.  The Ascendant (describing the persona) in the progressed chart is getting ready to move from Leo into Virgo.  The US Progressed Ascendant has been in Leo since January 1973.  January 1973 marked the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Watergate trials, and during the following years the political and cultural landscape of the United States changed considerably.

Leo is the sign of self-expression and the development of the indivdual ego – there is an inspirational quality with Leo but also a tendency towards egotism and a self-centered approach to the matters of life.  Before the US progressed Ascendant entered the sign of Leo it was in Cancer, where the national identity was all about national pride and tribal loyalty.

When the US progressed Ascendant moves into Virgo in October of 2011 there is likely to be a greater shift towards service and humility.  The Pluto in Virgo generation has just begun taking positions of power in the government (Obama is one of those), and their number will continue to increase in the next few years.  Virgo is the sign of thrift and caution, and I suspect that we will see a big change in the American Dream at that time.

Perhaps we can forget about the bloated and selfish materialism that the American Dream has become and focus instead on Virgo virtues:  Intelligence, good health, care in our personal lives. thrift and savings, serving others and protecting animals and children.

Abortion doc murder: painful reminder of the abortion issue

With the furor over gay marriage and health care reform taking precedence over the past few years, the battle over abortion has faded into the backdrop of American society.  But just as the conjunction of Chiron and Neptune is culminating, the murder of one of the few doctors who performed late term abortions as he worshipped in his church is bringing the abortion discussion back into the public consciousness.

Jupiter is the planet that gives us the desire to play God.  Jupiter, you may remember, was King of the Gods, and his exuberance and confidence often gives us the feeling that we ARE King of the Gods.  Jupiter is the planet of righteousness and judgement; the dispenser of laws and the creator of theology.  In the Judeo-Christian mythology, Jupiter is Yahweh, the harsh god of justice, where Neptune is Jesus, the god of compassion and love. (The original Jesus bears very little resemblance to the Jesus of the militant right wing and Christian terrorists.)

The addition of Jupiter to the Chiron/Neptune mix is very visible in the murder of George Tiller on May 31st. The Chiron/Neptune conjunction is reaching down into the soul and exposing old wounds so that they can be healed, and this can happen on a global level, a national level, a family level and as individuals.

Tiller’s murderer, Scott Roeder (born 2/25/58, Merriam Kansas, time unknown) was a member of several anti-government and militant anti-abortion groups.  Those who knew him said that he believed murder to protect the unborn was justifiable homicide.  Roeder’s birthchart shows the Sun conjunct Mercury in sensitive Pisces.  Pisces is known as the sign of the Saint and the Sinner, because its tendency to blur the boundaries of reality can be channeled into a spiritual life or a life of escapism.

In any case, the sense of Self is often weak in those with the Sun in Pisces; they often prefer to blend in with the people around them.  This is exacerbated by the conjunction of the Sun to Mercury, which doubles the shapeshifting qualities of Pisces and can create a guile that is very effective.  Rupert Murdoch has the Sun conjunct Mercury in Pisces and he has used this ability to adapt to his environment to very successful ends.

In Roeder’s chart, the conjunction of the Sun and Mercury is opposed by Pluto, the lord of death and transformation.  In opposition to the Sun, Pluto often denotes a childhood of abuse of some kind and a pattern of compulsive behavior.  In a person who is on a path of self-understanding, these patterns can be broken and the power issues balanced internally.  But in a person who is motivated solely by instincts and reaction, the challenging aspect of Pluto becomes the victim who becomes the perpetrator.

Often in a heinous crime such as this we find a transit of Jupiter, giving the individual the confidence to commit a crime that has long been a fantasy.  In Roeder’s case, Jupiter along with Chiron and Neptune all made a trine to Roeder’s progressed Sun.  The fact that the murder took place in a church leads one to think that Roeder likely fancied himself executing the Will of God under Jupiter’s influence.  With the confidence of Jupiter as an ally and with Yahweh’s “eye for an eye” proclamation as his inspiration, Roeder made his move.

Skywatch for June is posted

Skywatch for June is posted and you can read it here in its entirety.  The first few paragraphs refer to the Chiron/Neptune conjunction which many of you have been reading about right here.

To sign up to receive Skywatch every month in your email box, including a translation into English from Astrologese, visit my website.

Here is a tidbit from Skywatch this month that will bring you up to date on planetary events for the first week:

The outer planets spend about 5 months in retrograde motion every year, and for the past thirty years or so, the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) have traveled retrograde during at least a portion of the summer months. The outer planets are also called “transpersonal” planets as they govern areas of life that are often outside of the boundaries of our personal experience.

When planets are retrograde, their influence becomes more subtle; more internalized. It can be more difficult to achieve momentum in the areas over which the planet presides. It may be necessary to apply a greater conscious intention to areas of life ruled by that planet. When all three outer planets retrograde at once we are often forced to perfect a part of our life that has been neglected and which is holding us back from evolving as individuals.

As June begins, Neptune has just turned retrograde along with Chiron. The two have been traveling together in Aquarius since February of 2009 and made their closest approach to a conjunction on May 26 before retrograding in unison. Jupiter will remain tightly conjunct Chiron and Neptune as well and will retrograde on June 15th to catch up to the other two. The three planets will remain within 1 degree of orb until the end of July, and their influence will continue into the beginning of August before they begin to separate (until they align once more in 2010).

For many of us this event has opened up a call from deep within the soul for a life with more meaning and a greater awareness of our spiritual nature. Jupiter is still within range of the conjunction, helping to add flame to the spiritual fire. Not everyone will experience this triple conjunction the same way – for some it will be extremely painful; for some it will feel exhilarating and blissful, and for some it will be a roller coaster ride between extremes of sensation.

Maintaining an understanding of the underlying nature of this planetary event will help to navigate this period with greater clarity. Chiron and Neptune are both soul teachers but they operate with different tools. Chiron is the teacher of wisdom; he opens up the inner doorway to retrieve aspects of our soul that have been lost or hidden from us for quite some time. Neptune reminds us that we are indeed spiritual beings having a physical experience on Earth; we are inspired to dive into the depths of our soul and connect there with the Divine seed that lies within our core being. In order to accomplish the lesson of Neptune, we must walk through the fire of the Chironic experience.

Jupiter expands this process for better or for worse. If we are momentarily retrieving an old wound, Jupiter will open up the doorway for a more complete experience. More painful, yes; but also more effective. Once the healing process is complete we experience the joy of a total alignment between the body, mind and spirit and a blissful Oneness of being.

When transiting planets aspect the triple conjunction they activate it in a variety of ways. On January 2 and for a few days before and after, Venus will harmonize with the conjunction which is likely to facilitate the potential in the conjunction to integrate a deeper wisdom into our lives. Venus is the planet of attraction, and in a harmonious aspect like the sextile which will be in force at this time there is a beauty and a creativity to everything that happens.

A trine of Mars (action) to Pluto (depth and transformation) on the 4th will provide a few days of energy and focus that will help us to utilize the good energy that Venus has brought.

The Sun will square Saturn on the 5th which brings us face to face with our responsibilities that day. We may feel more solitary than usual and more serious, but there is also potential on that day to accomplish a great deal and work towards our goals.

Venus enters Taurus on the 6th. Taurus is one of the signs ruled by Venus (the other is Libra), and for the next month or so we are governed by a love of fine and beautiful things and inspired by creative beauty. This is not a particularly good time to go on a diet, because Taurus loves fine food and Venus can be particularly self-indulgent in the signs of its rulership.

Mars is also in Taurus now, and our drive and desire (Mars) is for stability, peace and pleasure (Taurus). Venus is aligned with Mars for much of the month, moving into a conjunction which peaks on the 21st. With Venus and Mars conjunct for much of the month, our social life is likely to be energized and even the homebodies among us will have a stronger desire for interaction with others.

Susan Boyle: The meltdown and her next chapter

Susan BoyleThe meteoric rise of Susan Boyle has been like a fabulous firework which rockets into the sky out of nowhere, explodes itself across the heavens, and then falls to earth again forever changed.

You can read more about Susan’s birthchart and astrological profile here, and about how the current planetary cycles affected her meteoric rise.

Over the past week there were signs of trouble; stories of meltdowns and of Susan being rushed to a safe house where the stress wouldn’t overwhelm her ability to compete in the final round of Britain’s Got Talent  last night.  As mentioned in my profile of Susan, she has a sensitive opposition between the Sun (conscious mind) and the Moon (emotional sensitivity) which shows a tendency to be somewhat reactive emotionally. This is exacerbated by a square of Mars (aggression)  to the Moon and Sun, especially because her Mars is in the nurturing sign of Cancer where its aggressive instinct does not get a strong outlet.  There is often a pattern of resentment and built-up anger that results.  This is particularly true for someone like Susan with an Aries Sun, ruled by Mars, who needs to be able to clearly express that inner aggression.  This is not the chart of someone who responds well to stress.

At the time of these meltdowns Susan was experiencing a transit of Mars over her Venus. Venus describes the way we interact with others, and Mars of course expresses our aggression and our ability to defend ourselves, so when Mars hit her Venus exactly on May 27, there was an eruption.

The Midheaven is the point in the chart that describes our career and public life, and in the progressed chart (the evolving chart that shows how our career life changes) her Midheaven is nearly exactly squared by Pluto, the planet of transformation, right now.   Pluto cycles change our life forever, but not always the way we choose.

We have seen in American Idol that it is just as often the runners up that have the most spectacular career success.  The problem with becoming an overnight sensation is that one does not develop the inner resources (Venus) to be able to manage the personal attention and exposure of fame.  Susan Boyle has a fabulous voice, but she lacks the people skills and the tough skin required to launch an immediate career in the public eye. Hopefully she will be able to use her talents in a way that will help her to evolve both personally and professionally.

Traditional vs. “Modern” Astrology

astrologyThis article was originally posted in July of 2007.

Somewhere along the line astrologers split into two camps as some moved forward into humanistic or psychological astrology (leading into evolutionary and transformational astrology) and some moved backwards towards traditional or medieval astrology. Rob Hand was one of my favorite authors, and his book Planets in Transit is still one of the very best resources available on that subject. In 1992, just as Uranus and Neptune conjoined in Capricorn where the flood of new ideas (Uranus) confused and befuddled (Neptune) established conventions (Capricorn), Rob began a study and collection of ancient astrological texts called Project Hindsight. I’ll come back to Rob Hand in a moment.

Modern astrology has its roots in the work of Dane Rudhyar, who pioneered the concept of self-actualization through the astrological system in what he called “humanistic astrology” which was more psychological in nature than the predictive astrological system of the past that was more event-oriented than person-centered. Although Rudhyar had studied and written about astrology since the 1920s, it wasn’t until the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the 1960s that he revolutionized the astrological world with his book The Astrology of Personality. Rudhyar had been influenced in the 1930s by the archetypal studies of Carl Jung and depth psychology, and he utilized these ideas in his revolutionary approach to the new astrology.

Chiron’s discovery in the late 1970s brought with it the ancient idea that the key to healing is found within the wound, accelerating the movement towards an astrological system that
provided healing of psychological wounds. The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) became known as the “transpersonal” planets which accelerated that personal growth and healing from outside of the individual, and the inner planets were revealed as functions of the inner world of the person.

Predictably, after the “New Age” explosion of the Uranus/Neptune conjunction there was a backlash in the astrological world against modern astrology which, rejecting the classic attributes of certain planets as “bad” or “good” and instead as tools for change, they considered “mushy” and unscientific. As most conservatives do, traditional astrologers find comfort in the past and are reluctant to move forward into the unknown, which they find frightening and without regulation. A recent interview with Ben Dykes on the fabulous Skyscript site reveals a basic lack of understanding of “modern” astrology that is found in non-astrologer skeptics:

First of all, I believe much modern astrology is plagued by a lack of clear instruction, inconsistent and unclear delineation techniques, and rather poor predictive techniques. Now, the idea that there is something lacking technically in modern astrology, might seem strange. There are so many books, so many authors, so many different ways to do astrology! But what I found was that much of it is treated either anecdotally, or subjectively, or without the sense that one can know whether one understands what is being taught. I felt as though I ought to have some vivid personal “feeling” about, say, what Virgo was. Since I didn’t have this feeling, I thought maybe I was hopelessly doomed to fail at astrology. [While it’s true that there are many different approaches to modern astrology, there certainly is a basic understanding of the twelve zodiac signs.]

Consider that there are many psychological or pseudopsychological approaches to astrology – but what if one is not a Jungian (or Freudian, or whatever)? Or there are scads of asteroids and other new bodies – what justification is there for using them in the ways they are, not to mention as substitutes for the traditional planets? For instance, why should Pluto now cause difficulties with power and violence, but not Saturn? Nowadays Saturn has been demoted to being the planet that kindly points out our limitations. [This is incorrect – Saturn is known as the “Celestial Taskmaster” who is often far less than kind.] Or one is supposed to use mental associations of symbols in order to delineate – but how do I really know whether this native’s Moon has anything to do with blood, water, vaginas, caves, witchcraft, and all the other possible associations one can make (I’m thinking of Liz Greene here)? [It’s hard to believe that Mr. Dykes has read Ms. Greene’s work, in which I have never seen vaginas or witchcraft mentioned although she may have thrown in a cave or two.] Again, plenty of modern astrologers insist they have their own personal ways of doing things – but why should the stars obey us, rather than the other way around? [Again, this shows a complete lack of understanding of the way modern astrology has evolved. Astrologers have not commanded the “new” outer planets; their influence has been clearly noted through painstaking research and observation.] Finally, there is so much emphasis on a native’s character, that astrology seemed plagued with self-absorption. [This is the same argument that has been made about all of the “self-help” processes since the birth of psychology in the 1930s, along with the discovery of Pluto.] This is especially true in people’s dependence on the trans-Saturnian planets to explain, and find pleasure in, their own problems. [ Explaining the problems is only the first part – the second step is in using this knowledge to help the individual work through those problems and heal dysfunction.]

Rob Hand has a better understanding of modern astrology, which he practiced before rediscovering and falling in love with the ancient texts. Rob says:

The single most important advance in 20th century astrology was the recognition that astrology actually could be used as a tool for human potential and self-actualization. There may be some of this in Jyotish, but there certainly is not any of it in Hellenistic, Arabic or Latin medieval. All three of those traditions were completely oriented towards dealing with everyday, mundane situations. But Dane Rudhyar in particular introduced a radically new way of thinking about astrology. Closely related to his astrology is the idea of psychological astrology. I do not share the contempt that many traditionalists feel for psychological astrology. I think it is extraordinarily important. My only criticism of it is that in the hands of some of it’s less competent practitioners it has been an extremely mushy sort of astrology where anything can be made to mean anything, depending on the emotional frame of mind of the client and the astrologer. The language of 20th century astrology as a language tends to be imprecise, vague, inarticulate and unclear. But the goals of 20th century astrology are absolutely commendable. …

As with everything else, balance is the key. Many traditionalists are disturbed at the lack of educational foundation of modern astrologers, as they should be. Before we can step into the future we must understand the past. But remaining rooted in the past because we fear the unknown is short-sighted in the extreme. There is no doubt that human understanding and knowledge is growing by leaps and bounds in all areas of life, including a scientific understanding of the workings of the universe. Why should astrology, the study of the planets, not keep pace with this?