Thursday, 30 June 2011

JK Rowling: The Perfect Writer's Chart

JK Rowling - imagination,
talent and wit.
She's the first person to make a billion by writing books. She's ignited the imaginations of about a gazillion children on every continent. She's managed to make a Virgo cool - well, sort of. 

For those of you who are not Potter fans, I'm talking about  the author JK Rowling, creator of Harry Potter et al. The cool(ish) Virgo is Hermione Granger, Harry Potter's brainy sidekick.

Even without a birth time, you can see that Rowling has the perfect writer's chart.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Uranus, Crisis and Commitment-phobes

Brad Pitt managed to have a Uranus half-return that
encompassed both running off with a beautiful
younger woman and settling down to family
life. Very clever.
I have noticed time and again that the mid-life crisis depends entirely on what went before.

The received idea about turning 40 (Uranus half-return) is that, if you're a man, you run off with a bimbo and buy a sports car; if you're a woman, your children now at school, you retrain as an aromatherapist and run off with the yoga teacher. OK - this is one way a Uranus Return might pan out…but what is so wrong about that story?

Times change. A lot of people don't have anything to break free from at 40 except old habits of thinking. A lot of people these days have spent a lifetime as dedicated commitment-phobes,

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Good-bye Peter Falk


Peter Falk gained his wings this weekend. He was born September 16, 1927 in New York.

What a superb actor. Sun in Virgo (craft/a working class hero), Moon (probably) in Gemini (that twinkle in the one good eye).

His Uranus Return is right in the middle of the current cardinal afray; Uranus unchains. I hope Peter Falk is feeling the wind under his wings, now that he's broken free of his body. For some of us, of course (especially cigar smokers and mac wearers), he's already immortal.

Click here for a wonderful obituary by Richard Corliss at Time.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Venus and Serena: Pluto Power

Venus Williams (17 June 1980) born with the Sun kissing Venus, sextiling the charismatic Moon-North Node conjunction in Leo (left.

Neptune is in sporty Sagittarius directly opposite that Venus - again giving her star quality. With Pluto rising, she must have been her own worst enemy until she harnessed that Pluto power to her own game.

Serena Williams (26 September 1981, below) has had a hell of a year - and no wonder with her Sun at 3° Libra, she had a square from Pluto and an opposition from Uranus to cope with. Pluto may have had a go at killing her, but Uranus showed up to help with some hi-tech medical intervention. Oh and there's the little matter of a Saturn Return plus Saturn touching the Sun, with Jupiter, Pluto and Mercury to come later this year and next. She's going to come out of this stronger as a person.

That massive stellium in Serena's house of service makes we wonder what she'll do after quitting the tour. I think it's going to be something good.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Venus and Serena Williams: The Greatest Double Act at Wimbledon

Ah Wimbledon - pock, pock goes the little ball, ahh sighs the crowd, grunt grunts the player, "out" shouts the linesman.

The rain, the strawberries, the tedious interviews ("yeah, I like played tennis, you know") , the lovely game of tennis. In the midst of economic uncertainty and a general feeling of crisis, Wimbledon Week is reassuringly familiar. It's a play that we've all seen many times before; we've even memorised some of the best lines.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Harry Potter Astrology: Hogwarts and the Four Fixed Signs

Ron (Pisces), Hermione (Virgo, obviously) and Harry (Leo)
I'm afraid that my entire family is so gripped by Harry Potter frenzy that it's quite hard to think of anything else.

We started reading it together last winter and now we're are just finishing the sixth book. If ever I have forgotten a crucial detail, I check with my 8 year old, who simply seems to remember all six books pretty much verbatim (Moon in Cancer).


The Harry Potter series is an astrologer's playground, of course, because of Rowling's instinctive grasp of archetypes, psychology and the mechanics of myth.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Greece: Archipelago of Dreams

The island of Santorini
"In tempi come questi, la fuga è l’unico mezzo che rimane per mantenersi vìvi e continuare a sognare.
In times like these, escape is the only way to stay alive and continue dreaming."


The Italian film Mediterraneo (1991), begins with this quotation from the work of the French thinker Henri Laborit. The main action of the movie takes place on a Greek island during World War II. A troupe of Italian soldiers is marooned there and they find themselves living in a beautiful bubble of peace and harmony in the midst of war.

The Greek islands have that effect on the rest of us. For so many of us, they mean escape.

Mamma Mia: the effect of Greece on foreigners is legendary.
In May we start arriving, the Germans and the Austrians, the Swedes, the odd Brit and the Danes; by June the beaches are covered with bodies the colour of toast. Then the charter flights come in to Kos, Mykonos or Rhodes, Thessaloniki, Agios Nikolaus, Kalata, bringing their loads of pale northerners here for two weeks of ouzo, olives and sun to return home brown (or hog pink), rested, revived and filled with the pure magical light of Greece.

How is it that, ravaged every summer by the depredations of mass tourism, Greece is still so very lovely? The hills smell of wild thyme, the sea is the colour of heaven and the lovely lisping language of Sappho (sort of) lilts on the soft Adriatic zephyr. Hellas – where Europe comes to dream.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Astrology of Now: Get Up, Stand Up

 "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote that about 250 years ago. Ask yourself: how am I free? how am I a slave?

Uranus, the planet of freedom, is in Aries, the sign of the individual.

Pluto, the planet of enslavement, is in Capricorn, the sign of government (and big institutions).

They are in a tense square angle all summer - something's got to give. But the contact is not exact; the planets are dancing in and out of each other's way, teasing, daring, irritating. Then in the autumn and winter, they'll give you some time off to think. But next summer, bang: freedom or slavery? Could go either way.

Look at your own chart and ask yourself, "Where in my life do other people hold the power (Pluto)? And how can I assert my freedom (Uranus)?" Really look at these transits. If you have planets 0-10 degrees (especially in Aries, Capricorn, Libra and Cancer, but actually in all signs.) you will have been feeling the power already.

Happy birthday, Aung San Suu Kyi

Nobel prize laureate and heroine of the Burmese opposition Aung San Suu Kyi celebrated her birthday this weekend. She was born on June 19, 1945.

I wrote this piece about Aung San Suu Kyi back in November.

And this piece about the ugly Burmese regime's use of astrologers.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Take a Pilgrimage to the Delphic Oracle

The priestess of Apollo - the oracle at
Delphi - imagined by the
Victorian painter JW Waterhouse.
Imagine that you are a rich resident of Alexandria in, say the second century AD. Your culture is Greek with a dash of Egyptian; your rulers live in Rome. But you have a dilemma - I don't know - you make this bit up. Are you thinking of marrying? Going into business? Emigrating? Adopting an heir?

You ask your soothsayer, a fellow Greek, for some advice. After casting your chart, he turns a little pale and suggests you consult an oracle, a good one. You could go to Siwa, in the Western Desert – or you could go to Delphi, the centre of the world, the omphalos.

The greatest oracle in the world at that time was Delphi, nestled in a fold in mighty Mount Parnassus. This cave in central Greece was where kings, tyrants, emperors and legends went to hear the priestess of Apollo tell them their fate.

Only once a month was the priestess available – that was the 7th day after the New Moon, the day of Apollo. Delphi was also closed for three months. That meant there were only nine days available in the year for oracular predictions.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Astrology Works

You may not have noticed it, but I've been having a bit of argy-bargy in the comments section of a previous post. As a rule comments are interesting, supportive, informative but never attacking, so what's going on with those planets and me?

Mars, the planet of rows, is exactly on my MC, my public persona.  Go figure…

Damien Hirst and Charles Saatchi: Market-makers

The establishment's darling Damien Hirst
The king of contemporary art in Britain is Damien Hirst, who morphed from enfant terrible to the richest artist who has ever lived in a matter of a decade or so.

Despite his repeated efforts to shock the bourgeoisie, Hirst has been clasped emphatically to the establishment bosom. The blockbuster Tate show during the 2012 Olympics is going to be a Hirst retrospective.

And that love affair began almost right away.

Hirst was incredibly pro-active and businesslike from the off, organising a group show that launched his own career and that of several of his friends in the summer of 1988.  The bourgeoisie found that he shocked them in all the right places. His timing was impeccable. It was as if there had been a Hirst-shaped hole in the art-firmament just waiting for him to slot in.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Gemini Self-Portraits: If Pictures Spoke…


Yes - three of the artists do look as if they are just about to speak to us down the centuries. That is what you'd expect from a Gemini Sun. But I'm not sure any of them are going to say anything too complimentary. More along the lines of - well - I'll leave that up to your imagination.

Frankly, moody is the word that comes to mind when I look at these people.

The thing that always strikes me about this intense self-portrait by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is just how modern he looks. I can imagine running into him at the check out in my local supermarket (dressed in leather).  Look at how beautifully he's drawn his hand.

Albrecht Dürer, aged 28.
And speaking of intense hands, here's Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) having a bit of a moment. You can just imagine him staying up late and looking in the mirror. I think it has some of the neurotic energy of a true air sign freak-out.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Syria: The Arab Spring Boils Over Into Summer

This morning tanks rolled into a small village in northern Syria and started shooting at villagers randomly. How can a government turn its guns on its own people? 

Modern Syria is an invention of 20th century mapmakers and politicians. The political boundaries of  the country may be firmly defined now but it could just as easily have been an entirely different shape, or part of a much larger country - "Greater Syria" - that included Lebanon and Iraq, or even Jordan and Israel.

Alawite Women at the beginning of the 20th century.
They are a fascinating group with
beliefs that synthesise ideas from several faiths.
Syria is tribal: Druze, Sunnis of various persuasions, several brands of Shi'ite, several of the oldest Christian sects in the world and Catholics, Kurds, Armenians and, in the old days, Jews, all lived together, sometimes in harmony and sometimes in hatred. That makes it a very different kind of place from, say, Egypt, which is astonishingly homogeneous.

It can be easy to start a civil war in a tribal country.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Monthly Horoscopes: June 2011

This month I want to focus on the eclipses, now and at the beginning of July, because they will activate certain parts of everyone’s chart. Quite often eclipses manifest as events over which we have little control, but if you’re prepared, you may be able to take advantage or at least be ready to go with the flow. 

I think of them as a bit like an inebriated uncle at the family get-together. Could be good, could be bad. He might stand up and sing Danny Boy and make us all cry with the beauty of it, or he might try and punch your Dad. 

The uncle's character is determined by the sign of the eclipse. So a drunk Gemini can be chatty but mischievous, whereas a tipsy Sag tips over into the maudlin, lecturing mode all too easily.

We are currently in an eclipse season which is working across Sagittarius/Gemini and Cancer/Capricorn. Eclipses come in groups, repeating a pattern in the same pair of signs usually in three blocks over about 18 months. We are at the tail end of the Cancer/Capricorn set and moving into the Sagittarius Gemini set.

One effect here is quite simple., the eclipse action is moving from a cardinal axis to the mutable axis. If you have a mutable chart  (many planets in Gemini, Sagittarius, Virgo or Pisces) you will be more effected. If you have a cardinal chart, the pressure weakens slightly – although you still have the current intense outer planetary set-up to deal with and the final eclipse in Cancer in July.

Lunar eclipses tend to be more emotional – or to do with the women in your life – and Solar eclipses are more practical or to do with the men in your life. Total eclipses are always stronger.
Of course, if you have planets at the degrees activated the effects will be stronger.

Here are the dates and the degrees of this set of eclipses.
June 1 – 11° Gemini Partial Solar eclipse
June 15 – 24° Sagittarius Total Lunar eclipse – with the Sun at 24° Gemini, of course, so both sides come into action
July 1 – 9° Cancer Partial Solar eclipse

When you look at the dates in your horoscope remember that eclipse effects work for at least two weeks after the event, so I’m using the dates as a reference point, not an exact timing. Click here for horoscopes by sign.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Mercury's Magic Minstrels

Some songwriters are storytellers.

Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Ray Davies of the Kinks were all born in the 1940s under a Gemini Sun. Take a look at these charts – the differences are as intriguing as the similarities.

Ray Davies, writing about the neighborhood,
commenting on the times (3rd house)
Unlike so many of their contemporaries, who have died, moved on or been forgotten, these guys are still performing and writing.

Geminis, as we all know, are the Peter Pans of the zodiac. Maybe carrying on doing what you were born to do is one way of staying young forever.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

How the God of Liars Feeds the Soul

Pippi Longstockings, teller of tall tales, eternal child
and a favourite of Mercury. This is a still from
the Swedish TV series
For the Romans Mercury was the protector of thieves and liars. He is that trickster god whom we find tiptoeing through the backdoor of so many cultures: he is Loki, Anansi, Odysseus, Brer Rabbit.

With his silver speech, he makes us to believe the unbelievable; do the risible; see what is not there. This is also the gift of those ruled by Mercury.

At it's lowest level I'm talking about the saleswoman who persuaded you that the silver-spangled thong and granny glasses was a good look.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

My Own (Small and Rather Pleasant) Partial Eclipse

The Lizard, Cornwall
You never know just how the movement of the planets is going to shape your day to day experience, no matter how much time you spend poring over ephemerides and reading reference books.

Here's what I mean.