Friday, 31 December 2010

Monthly Horoscopes: January

The first signs of the year, Capricorn and
Aquarius, both belong to
that austere planet, Saturn
With the final conjunction of two of the solar system's most serious players, electric-dreamer Uranus and boundary-busting Jupiter, closely followed by a solar eclipse – both within the first week – January starts with a fizz-bang.

To read your January horoscope click here.

I've been fiddling around with a way of making reasonably intelligent monthly forecasts by Sun sign, so tell me what you think.



Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Yin of Capricorn

Winter Moonlight by George Inness captures
the stillness of this time of year.
The end of December. In the northern hemisphere, the darkest, quietest and stillest part of the year. The time when the earth’s energy is at its weakest and we have a little more time to think – reflecting on the year that is ending, and making plans for the year to come.

In the Taoist tradition the winter solstice is when yin - the calm, soft, feminine dark force opposed to shiny, hard, lively masculine yang - is at its fullest. The associated element is water: think of a cool, deep, placid lake. The cool moon is yin, while the fiery sun is yang.

It’s important not to get too hung up on gender when you are thinking about polarities. All of us need a mixture of these oppositional forces, but we will be inclined to be more one way than the other. The aim for a Taoist is to achieve a balance between the yin and yang, using each type of energy appropriately.

So how does this fit with our western zodiac, where at the very moment of fullest yin, the Sun moves into Capricorn?

Friday, 24 December 2010

Why Capricorn Nigella is a Modern Vestal (Un)Virgin

A priestess of the goddess Vesta,
"tutelary deity" to Capricorn.
Here imagined by 19th century
 painter  Lord Leighton.
Capricorns is a dull sign, ruled by that old curmudgeon Saturn – right? It's all about status and work and dads and being sensible bla bla bla. It's government, institutions, corporations.

Well that is all quite true but  there's more to the old goat-fish than boardrooms and account executives. Let me tell you – my understanding of Capricorn was transformed when I investigated its association with the goddess of the hearth, Vesta – and found how strongly she wields her power.

Monday, 20 December 2010

What Astrologers Are Saying About the Eclipse on December 21

I have to admit my heart sank a little when I looked at the chart for the Lunar eclipse on the solstice tomorrow morning. The poor little Moon!

She's all alone out there – opposed by  a firing squad of the butchest planets – Mars, Pluto, the Sun (and his henchman (in this case) Mercury) and being stared down by both Jupiter and Uranus from Pisces. Neptune and Chiron attempt some wishy-washy support from Aquarius, so that's something.

The Moon represents the women in your life, especially your mother. Think about giving her a bit of support, please. It also represents your inner child, your emotional self, and in mundane astrology, the public (under the care of the government).

The Sun is in the final degree of Sag and the Moon is in the final degree of Gemini. Both signs are all about talking, publishing, broadcasting. The last degree of a sign is said to be a culmination of all the energy of that sign, and the Full Moon is all about culmination also. So this is an important eclipse.

Our siblings and neighbours come under Gemini; foreign affairs and higher education come under Sagittarius. Gemini's ruling planet, Mercury, is closely conjunct the Sun at the time of eclipse. So you can see a theme developing. The Wikileaks saga has been under the eclipse's shadow, which began exactly a month to the day beforehand (November 21).

But a lot of good minds have already put some thought into the meaning of this eclipse, so I point you in their direction of some excellent down-to-earth opinions.

Elsa wrote a pithy piece on the 9th and has already been proved pretty accurate. For a much lengthier and more technical take on the eclipse look at Willow's Web. At Janet's Planets there's an excellent piece. The introduction on eclipses in general is especially succinct and helpful. Finally, for a really thorough look at the solstice eclipse, check out Aquarius Papers.

Happy solstice!

Captain Beefheart: Creativity Nurtured by Saturn

Captain Beefheart (far right) and
the long-suffering Magic Band, back in 1969.
A creative visionary died this week. Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) (born January 15 1941 at 4.25pm) was a legendary avant-garde musician and performer and a damn fine painter. 

In both his chosen fields he excelled with a wild, uncompromising non-conformity. It was as if he was plugged straight into the creative source. 

His chart his super earthy, as befits someone with a voice that seems to come out of the bowels of a mountain. Venus, mistress of the arts, is in Capricorn tightly trining expansive Jupiter and stern Saturn in Taurus. 

This puts Venus and Saturn in mutual reception, that is they are both stronger and working together better, because they are in each other's signs. Saturn working with Venus gave Van Vliet the discipline to make art happen. He worked hard himself and made his band practice until it nearly drove them all round the bend. Saturn also gives his work authenticity – which in turn is what makes him so special. (See his chart at the end of the post)

Saturday, 18 December 2010

8 Good Things to Do with Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius

Mercury back through Sag means review the map of your life –
or plan to take a trip that you've taken before.
So last week, I found myself watching the first series of the West Wing, which wasn't a bad way to enjoy the messenger planet's review of the sign of government. But I've got to tell you, it all seems very long ago – and unintentionally ironic.


The West Wing was on TV
from 1999-2006. How things change!
With Mercury going back through the early degrees of Capricorn, I was also thinking more generally about fathers and sons (reading The Chosen) and our relationship with authority (Wikileaks and the London riots). Both good things to do with the retrograde through the sign of authority. I found myself contemplating death rather more than I'd like when Mercury conjuncted Pluto, too, and frankly the atmosphere has been well, claggy.




On the up side, a friend, who runs an import business, took my advice to "consider her assets", and realised that she had failed to include her stock when calculating her end of year accounts. Ooops. Turned out she was making a healthy profit instead of a mingey loss. Yippee.




Tomorrow, Mercury goes back into Sagittarius, and its time to review, reaffirm and readjust things horsey. If you know where Sagittarius is in your natal chart, review the things associated with that house.  I'll be talking to my sister, who's Sun is in Sadge.


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Astrology of Now: Honour Thy Father or Else!

Riot police in Parliament Square.*
The god Pluto wears a helmet of invisibility.
Are you enjoying the ferocious fisticuffs between Mercury, Mars and Pluto?

Speedy Mercury is thought and words and youth; Mars is war and action; Pluto – well, he comes like a shadow in the night, carries a big stick and represents power.

We are seeing a war of words over cyberspace; and Pluto at war with Mercury on the streets of London. Stay light on your feet kids.

Here's another way of looking at it: Pluto's the bonfire; Mars is the match; Mercury fans the flames. If you find you are exchanging strong words with someone, remind yourself that this transit will pass – and refrain from letting it come to blows.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Death and the Maiden

Death and Life, Gustav Klimt 1911.
Death catches up with us all – but in what guise. As a virus? A car crash? Will it come slowly or will it be sudden? Are our days numbered from the moment we are born? Medieval astrologers certainly believed they could foretell the hour of your death.

The Renaissance German
artist Hans Baldung painted many
versions of death and the maiden.
I think it would be dangerous to do that now. But they lived closer to death back then. A human lifespan was shorter, a child's survival into adulthood a small miracle. They lived at a time when Europe was ravaged by plague, war, flood and famine. The horsemen of the apocalypse cut down the young and the old; the beautiful, the good, the wicked and the sinful – without discrimination. So perhaps they were more comfortable with death than we are.

But still we remember: death visits everyone – even the fairest. This is a motif in our collective unconscious that juxtaposes horror with beauty. The story of a young woman's untimely death recurs in art, myth, music and literature – from Persephone's abduction by the god of the Underworld to the seamstress Mimi's death in La Boheme to Lucy Westenra's spoilation by Count Dracula to the quiet passing of Beth March in Little Women. (If you fancy a good cry, link to Mimi.)
Made by Hans Schwarz in about 1520,
this carving shows death embracing
a young woman.


In astrology, this is described by the passage of Venus through the sign of Scorpio; and echoed when she encounters the planets Pluto or Saturn. This year, Venus has spent an uncomfortably long time in Scorpio. Right now she is in the final few weeks of this difficult transit, having spent months going back and forth here.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

7 Good Things To Do When Mercury Retrogrades in Capricorn

Take a leaf out of Rodin's notebook
and have a little think.
Here's one of the simplest ways to use astrology: work with the energy of the retrogrades.

So hurray, Mercury retrograde is here again, so it's time to re-think, re-evaluate, review and renegotiate.

This time Mercury is going back in Capricorn (10-19 December) and then into Sagittarius (19-31 December). Here are a few things to do when the planet of communications, speed, siblings and backchat goes into the big brother sign.

Remember that Merc retrograde is more about planning and reflection rather than doing, unless it's a matter of re-doing. Get it?


1. Take a hard look at your current career.  Is it going as you planned? Is there anything you should readjust? If you seem to have just fallen into something, now is the time to make a plan to get out of it. If you have already made a plan, and followed it meticulously, yet you're still unhappy, rethink the plan. You may also find that frankly your career is not in your hands, so you are forced to rethink.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Wikileaks and That Cheeky Mercury

Sometimes astrology is really simple. Take the Wikileaks leaks.

Last round was the Iraq War logs. I wrote a pretty dark blog about those at the time. It was during that very intense period in late October when Mercury (communications) was in Scorpio, the sign ruled by Mars (war) and Pluto (death).

This time Mercury is in Capricorn. And yes, it's all about internal government (Capricorn) communications (Mercury).

Monday, 6 December 2010

City of Books - ha!

St Giles at Dusk by Francis Hamel.
For more of his Oxford views click here.
Sometimes, on a winter evening when the yellow lights in the buildings that line St. Giles cast a glow on the frozen street, I like to to imagine that I can see through the walls of stone. And behind the skeletons of the plane trees, in the high-ceilinged rooms, I  know there are rows and rows of books.

Oxford is lined with books. There are millions and millions of them here. Every college has its own library – many of them extensive, many very beautiful. I think of Christ Church and All Souls in particular. There are 38 colleges.

Books are the city's life blood and the heart of Oxford is the Bodleian, the great library founded by Thomas Bodley in the reign of Elizabeth I, which has continuously grown since 1598. Today this library houses 11 million items. It's the second biggest library in Britain and one of the largest in the world.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Astrology of Now: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be

So it's been seven years – May 2003 to be exact. What a lot has changed since Uranus, the planet of future forward, went into the final sign of the Zodiac, Pisces.

Courreges, 1960s. Well, that was
when we thought the future was shiny.
Uranus was in Virgo, opposite where it is now.

Seven years ago many of us were in a completely different place from where we are now – emotionally, financially – even physically.

But the thing that has changed universally – for every single person I talk to – is our idea of what the future holds.

Today, in the final month of 2010, we are collectively more uncertain about what is around the corner than I can remember in my lifetime. I am writing from the point of view of a Westerner, living, compared to much of the world, in luxury, safety and security. But the truth is, I'm no longer sure that everything is going to stay that way.

And as Joni Mitchell once wrote: "You don't know what you've got till it's gone."

Now I think, that despite fears of global warming, terrorism and overpopulation, we used, deep down, to believe the world was becoming a better place. Maybe not a steady upward curve, and maybe not without difficulty and arguments, but generally two steps forward and one step back.

Because in many ways, the world had improved beyond imagining in the past 30 years or so.

So what happened to the future? And will we get it back.



Now clearly much of this change in perspective is due to Pluto momentous entrance into Capricorn in 2008 and the disintegration of our economic system.

But Uranus is the planet of the future, of change and of revolution and also of hope. He's called "the Awakener". And Uranus has been shaping our dreams.