Monday, 27 September 2010

A Fairytale Ending for Milibands

Once upon a time there was a miller who had three sons. When he died his oldest son took the mill, his middle son took the donkey, and that left the youngest son with nothing but the cat.

Well, we know who got the better deal in the end.

Puss-in-boots helps the youngest son to get the princess, the gold and the deluxe property with some land attached. And that's how it always is in fairytales; in the end, usually after being dismissed as a fool or a wastrel, the younger son gets the prize.

So it comes as no huge surprise (to those of us outside the Westminster Village) that Ed Miliband beat his older brother David in the Labour Party leadership contest.

Friday, 24 September 2010

How being an astrologer is like being gay

Because at some point you have to come out of the closet, being an astrologer has something in common with being homosexual.

"What do you mean "in the closet"?" I hear you ask.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Lady Gaga vs Madonna

Can you believe the shoes?
Lady Gaga has finally sauntered onto my middle-aged radar by wearing that outrageous dress. Wow - it's punk and glam rock simultaneously! She's got chutzpah.

Every generation has (at least) one - popstalala with ass and attitude. So it's pretty obvious that Madonna and Gaga are versions of the same archetype. They love dressing up. Both are also Italian Americans (what is it about convent school), both shake their booty, both mistresses of the music video, both copy (sorry pay homage) to previous stars - oh and both sing tunes sometimes.

Above all, they are very very ambitious and successful image-makers. 

So how do those planets stack up? 

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The subtle knife

Whenever I go past the alley of trees in this picture, I think of how somewhere between them may be the
Sunderland Avenue, North Oxford,
Summer 2010.
gateway to a parallel Oxford. In His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy, Will Parry, the boy hero, creates an invisible portal into another dimension by cutting a hole in the air with the "subtle knife". The spot where he does it - between two hornbeam trees - is just up the road from where I live.

In the books, there are two Oxfords: Will's, which is ours, and Lyra's Oxford which is what this place would be if the world worked in a slightly different way. Lyra's Oxford is familiar, with its river and canals, its ancient university but strange also. For example, everyone who lives there carries his or her daimon, something like a soul but not quite, in the shape of an animal.

And we have had our own invisible portal this summer. The planets lined up for a few months in a pattern that gave us a glimpse into the future. The gods pulled back the curtain, and have now pulled it to again, while we digest what happened between May and the end of August.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

A little girl names the dark lord

Hades (Pluto)
Oxford is a small town with a famous university in the middle of England. But it's much more than that too. It's the centre of a web of influence that stretches forward and backward in time and across continents. This influence is intellectual and political, but also poetical and myth-making. It's the last of these that interests me.

A small example of an Oxfordian contribution to this mythmaking is the naming of the planet (or ex-planet) Pluto.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Synchronicity, dreams and a case of exact astrological aspects

I'm going to tell a story that starts off badly and ends up well.

Last night I dreamt that I was the only person left in the world and I could not find anything with which to kill myself.

I woke up abruptly, terrified, with these words going through my head:

"The world will not end with a bang or a whimper but in silence.

What can I do?

Nothing but pray."

This is the third apocalyptic dream I have had this summer, so you can imagine how uneasy and frightened I felt in the dark of the night. I held my daughter tight and listened to her sweet breathing before falling back  to sleep.

Then this morning, unusually, we decided to drive her to school. As we were parking outside the unprepossessing suburban church that is attached to her school, we saw a stream of middle-aged men leaving the building.

"What are they doing here at this time of the morning?" It was coming up to 8.30.

"Looks like they've been in a meeting."

"Where are the women?"

"Maybe they're masons or something."

"Hey, isn't that the Bishop of Oxford?"

"Not sure I'd recognise him."

"Look! Look! It's the Archbishop of Canterbury."

I bounced out of the car and called, "Good morning."

The Archbish, looking little bewildered, turned and politely said, "Good morning" to me.

Daughter and Darling meanwhile hurtled onto the pavement into the path of the Archbishop of York, who stopped for a chat.

"Are you having fun?" he asked. It's true we were all laughing, because it seemed so funny somehow to see the Church of England's top brass at the school drop off on a suburban street.

"Yes," replied Tinella, who is only five.

"So what have you been doing in there?" asked Darling.

The Archbishop smiled. "Praying, of course," he said.

Neat, huh.

And where's the astrology?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The generation that won't shut up

Gustave Doré's Red Riding Hood.
Usually, conversational gambits at the school gates go something like this:

"How is Ermyntrude settling in?"

"Isn't the traffic awful?"

"A bit nippy this morning eh?"

Not the most thrilling set of references. So when I noticed two mothers of my acquaintance in a heated huddle and overheard the words "Pope, nuns and nonsense", I had to sidle over and ask some questions.

Judging by my extremely scientific straw poll of two, Catholic mothers are getting militant.

I quote: "If all the priests were women and the helpers were men, we wouldn't have these paedophile problems."

"They are all still in denial.  Because they are so cut off from the real world, they don't understand how serious abusing children is. They think that if they all pretend it hasn't happened, then maybe it'll go away."

Silence. Complicity. Shame. Paedophile priests relied on children's silence to hide their crimes. And according to government inquiries in Ireland, the US and Canada (among others) this abuse had gone on for decades and it was endemic.

So this set me thinking, who broke the silence? And why then? And why now?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A few more examples of Jupiter and death

After my last post, I thought I'd check to see what Jupiter was doing at some famous demises. Naturally, the psycho-analyst Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) came to mind. He had some interesting ideas about the end of life. In particular, he was of the opinion that we were quite likely to carry on in some way. In other words, the death of the body was simply another step on the journey of our souls. I had a hidden link to him in my last post - here's another.

So, transits when he died?

David Cameron, Jupiter and death

David Cameron with his first son Ivan in 2002.
Ivan died in 2009.
It's remarkable how often in families a death and a birth happen in quick succession. Poor David Cameron lost his father today just weeks after his wife gave birth to that darling baby.

My wise friend Judith, who has seen a chart or two in her time, maintains that she's never known the death of a loved one without a transit from that most benevolent of planets, Jupiter. This seems strange since Jupiter is not traditionally associated with death at all. It's supposed to be the "greater benefic" bringer of jollity and luck. Death is the domain of the reaper Saturn. But Judith knows what she's talking about.

Take a look at UK Prime Minister David Cameron's chart.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Newspaper horoscopes: should you bother?

Desire Dehau reading a newspaper
by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1890). They didn't have
horoscope columns back then but it's a nice picture.
I wrote this a while ago for a pilot partwork, but I think it's worth republishing.

Every day in newspapers and on the internet, thousands of words are printed forecasting the day’s events for the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Is there any merit in these sun sign snippets?

Friday, 3 September 2010

Why I love Mercury retrograde

Yes - it's that time again. Mercury is retrograde, so astrologers say don't put anything in the post, don't sign contracts, don't buy computers, don't make plans bla bla bla. If you paid attention to that you'd be spending about a fifth of your year sitting on your hands waiting for flying boy to start going in the right direction again.

In my experience every Mercury retrograde is different, and it's a big opportunity to press the pause button in one area of your life and assess what's going on.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


Ripe apples drop about my head; 
The luscious clusters of the vine 
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;