A client asked for astrological insight on her spirituality. But what she meant by that, she wasn’t too sure. I told her she wasn’t alone in her confusion and suggested that we explore this together. She wasn’t too keen on that, however. For her, spiritualty was too personal.
OK – so I decided to come up with something by myself. It couldn’t be that hard, could it? After all, I do have an MA in the Study of Mystical and Religious Experience (University of Kent, at Canterbury). Revisiting my work from that course, I realised that it’s harder than I’d anticipated – at least hard in the sense of pinning down anything specific about the definition of spirituality.
For the record, here’s my shortlist:
- Finding purpose or meaning,
- Tuning in to soul or psyche,
- Giving over to a ‘higher self’,
- Connecting with deity or the divine.
Granted, I may not know exactly for what I’m looking, but at least, as an astrologer, ought I not know where to look? Astrologically, traces of spirituality (however defined) are bound to show up in one’s natal chart. But where exactly should I start?
Jupiter is the most likely culprit, you say? Sure, why not. As long as you realise that Jupiter looks for meaning in your life – not mine – he is, after all a personal planet.
How about Neptune then? There’s a distinct possibility. Astrological Neptune most certainly has been ascribed spiritual qualities. But if you’re looking for some ‘truth’, then Neptune will be problematic, as I’m sure you can imagine. If it’s one thing about viewing the world through rose-tinted glasses that you can definitely say, it’s that what you see is not what you’ll get.
How about Saturn, then? At least he doesn’t lie. Not only that, but he’s hugely practical and possibly good for my bank account. However, upon further reflection I’m forced to admit that Saturn’s brand of spirituality probably won’t be as uplifting as I’d like. Not only is he dark and dreary, but also associated with death and misfortune. Even if I were willing to overlook that, Saturn is much too keen to point out my weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
If I’m really serious about my spirituality, then maybe I should go for organised religion. After all, they have been established by minds greater than mine. But after consideration, I’ve decided that I’m not that much into the suffering and sacrifice of Christianity and even if I were, I don’t see the worth of a paternalistic god. If He is only going to help those who help themselves, then of what worth is He? Besides I know that ‘believing’ can be dangerous and suspect that it isn’t very spiritual either. I mean, look at the Crusades – they were all about belief – and how ‘enlightened’ were they?
How about Buddhism? That sounds like my cup of tea. Not only have I pretty much given up consumerism but I’m also into yoga and meditation. Yet all that stuff about non-attachment and ego-surrender doesn’t really work that well in the western world, at least not unless I no longer have a mortgage, which unfortunately, I still do.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done much with the ancient mystery religions. Definitely time to revisit those! Whilst I’m at it, modern mystery ‘religions’ like the Golden Dawn have always fascinated me and then – there’s alchemy and the kabbalah!
Once, I knew a Belgian ‘white’ witch who had been a powerful (hereditary) black magician. At the height of his powers, he could kill a man just by looking at him, or at least so he said. Sounds a bit much but I believed him – not the least because he had a Pluto Square Mercury and Pluto sextile Venus – both within seconds of arc.
For some, tapping into outer planetary energies like Pluto comes easy. Presto! Results! Yeah! Yet these energies are particularly dangerous because they will remain forever beyond the personal Ego’s grasp.
Not surprisingly, then, after partaking in a power battle with other black magicians, my friend awoke in the middle of the Belgian Ardennes with 70% burns over his body. He made promise to himself then and there that if he didn’t die, he’d mend his magical ways and he did.
My ‘white’ witch friend learned the hard way that there are two sides to the magical equation. Because of this, he was always critical of ‘New Age’ practitioners who focus only on ‘goodness’ and ‘light’.
Like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the uninitiated usually fail to understand the true nature of the energies at hand and, in their inexperienced hands, things can quickly get out of control. Even in the hands of the very experienced, things can and do go terribly wrong.
I’m only too thankful that I do NOT have Pluto in the mix with with my personal planets. If did, I’d be joining ranks with some seriously powerful witches and ceremonial magicians. That’s much too much responsibility for me and I know it. But what if some ‘goodness and light’ article/post stimulates someone with tight Pluto contacts to play their hand at the game?
A good magician works with the forces of nature – not against them. He knows the difference of what he can and cannot change. A good magician full well knows that there are ‘dark forces’ in the universe and, whilst he may not actively seek them out, he is prepared to deal with if needs be.
A friend of mine has a Mars/Neptune conjunction in a wide square aspect to his Sun.
Most of the time, we get on very well and after many years, I can honestly say that he is a good man.
However, in our more difficult moments, I’ve rightfully called him a bully – one who knows just when I’m feeling down or ill enough for him to get under my skin and take advantage of my (temporary) weakness. Not only is this very hurtful but it’s also very scary. I’ve always thought this poor behaviour had something to do with his Mars/Neptune and after rereading Liz Greene on Neptune, I now know why.
Mars needs to fight. But with Neptune, Mars needs to fight for something more than his personal ego concerns.
Mars/Neptune connects with the collective dream making this the perfect aspect for performers and politicians. Mars/Neptune works the group energy – hypnotically and rhythmically – folks are mesmerised. But when Mars/Neptune channels his mesmerising energy down darker paths, disaster results. Witness, Charles Manson.
Mars/Neptune are natural enemies. This is because Mars is selfish and Neptune is selfless – clash – conflicting interests!! So when Neptune gets the upper hand (which is inevitable), we can expect feelings of impotence that breeds rage. An impotent Mars behaves ‘badly’ – beating up on Neptunian ‘victims’ – so frightened is he of Neptune’s power. This is the essence of religious fanaticism – unreflective spiritual yearnings get caught up in a good fight. My friend rants and raves about this all the time. He hates anything ‘religious’ with a passion – especially the passionate fervour it can stir up.
It only makes sense that what he finds most disturbing is something already in his psyche. If he didn’t ‘relate’ to whatever it is that he find so disturbing in some meaningful way, he would take little or no notice of it. If I try to explain this to my friend, however, I doubt that I’ll get very far. With Sun in Aquarius, he absolutely refuses to be ‘told’ anything.
Liz suggests that both Saturn and the Sun are the ‘antidotes’ to a poorly behaved Mars/Neptune. Saturn brings much-needed discipline. Because my friend’s Mars is in Scorpio (water), the discipline he needs will be both intellectual and creative. The Sun brings morality and ethics to the table. Archetypal Mars is the ‘henchman’ to the Sun and is hence meant to serve solar values/purposes. Mars without a strong Sun to boss him around runs amok – Mars may be a knight in shining armour but he definitely requires direction.
Certainly, my friend has both intellectual and ethical capacity. After all, this is what Sun in Aquarius is all about. It’s hard to conceive of an amoral Aquarian – even if you don’t agree with his morals. Luckily, my friend’s Aquarius Sun is tied in (by square) to his Mars. This makes him idealistically motivated – good – if not easily frustrated and ‘temperamental’. But his Saturn is in Aries where it is ‘in fall’. This suggests that self- discipline will never come easily. The good news is that he still can learn self-discipline – albeit the ‘hard way’.
Bottom line is that my friend has the capacity to restrain his wayward Mars. His first step is to find a ’cause’ which he can champion – the more Aquarian (forward-thinking and egalitarian) his cause, the better. If he did this, his self-worth would rise immensely in his own eyes. His Sun would amass enough strength to direct his ability to mesmerise for positive change rather taking out his angry impotence on me.
Quite how I can encourage this in someone so ‘willful’, however, I remain at a loss.
Any suggestions and/or ideas?
With the Sun in Virgo (worry-wart) and the Moon in Taurus (fixed, stiff, rigid), today and tomorrow are Nine of Swords days.
In the Joie de Vivre tarot deck, we find Woe, sitting in a tree, frozen by fear. If only he would look up and see the bright flowers on the branches above him, he might feel better. But it would seem that he chooses instead to keep his eyes firmly fixed on the harpies surrounding him.
A change in his perspective would make all the difference. But Woe hasn’t yet learned the wisdom offered by the tarot suit of swords – a troubled mind will bring nothing but troubles. Truly, you’re a prisoner of your thoughts.
The Nine of Swords is the most difficult of the deck. It’s reputation as one of ill-omen is well-earned. It is with this card that we plunge in the depths of unconscious conflicts, hidden complexes, and deep-seated neuroses. If you’re not careful with this energy you might even manage to drive yourself mad!
Now, if Woe were a friend of yours, what advice might you give to him?
Buck up? It can’t be that bad? There’s always a solution?
With the Sun in Virgo (discerning) and the Moon in Aries (daring & defiant), today and tomorrow are Queen of Swords days.
The Queen of Swords is not only tenacious, but also prone to being argumentative. Nothing escapes her all-encompassing gaze.
She possesses more than ample intellectual capabilities to process what she’s learned. Because she is by nature an independent woman, she is oft seen as secretive and aloof.
If truth be told, she likes it that way because, as the result, she owes her allegiance to none but herself. Most of the time, this serves her well. After all, if she’s to accurately discern the motives of others, she can’t afford to be, herself, emotionally involved.
Yet her life isn’t always easy and it’s safe to say that sometimes she resents her reputation as being dangerous or even cruel. The truth of the matter is that she’s neither intolerant nor narrow minded as her detractors would have you believe.
The best way to use this energy, is to make keen observations about your environment. With help from this queen, it won’t be hard. Just ensure that you use any conclusions you might draw from such observations in an ethical way – else you may find yourself caught up in the nasty thorns of this queen’s beloved rose garden. Never forget that the suit of swords in the tarot deck stands both for justice as well as destruction.
In your astrological chart, the MC or Mid-heaven marks the highest point that the Sun will reach on the day that you were born. In this respect, it represents the point for which you’re always aiming – call it what you like – dharma, calling, vocation, and/or personal path to enlightenment.
The energy symbolised by the zodiac sign on the MC (along with the condition and placement of its ruler), must somehow be integrated into your life. The MC is a very public place. It represents that for which you will be known and remembered. Make your choices with care.
Transits over your MC will trigger events helping you along your way:
- Transiting Uranus will force you to stop singing the ‘party line’ and finally forge your own path.
- Transiting Saturn over your MC may make you feel uncomfortable/vulnerable on your present path – testing you until you finally figure out where/how you’ve been going wrong. If nothing is wrong, then now you become the authority figure. Well, done, you will have earned it.
- Transiting Neptune on your MC will throw you into a fog of confusion until you emotionally connect with the right path. The transition won’t be easy – prepare for sacrifice of some kind.
- Transiting Pluto over your MC will force you off your current path unless it’s already right for you; should you be one of the lucky ones, then Pluto crossing your MC will put you in a position of immense power – be careful, please, how you use it.
Descriptions / Example
|Mars||Mover/shaker – break out and make something happen – think Bill Gates – win and lead – find something for which you can act as the champion.|
|Taurus||Venus||Build your own world around you – leave a big footprint – think King Henry VIII – possess and secure – your achievements must be enduring.|
|Gemini||Mercury||Build a bridge linking two different worlds – communication/commerce the more innovative your approach, the better – think Jane Austen and Paul Mc Cartney.|
|Cancer||Moon||Make the world safer, less hostile – preserve and protect – banking, politics, conservation, medicine, history – families & groups of all sorts – belong. Think John F Kennedy and Mahatma Gandhi.|
|Leo||Sun||Be the centre of attention – make your mark – be creative, charismatic, unique – do things your way – exercise your personal will. Think Frank Sinatra and the Marquis de Sade.|
|Virgo||Mercury||Use your mind to make something reality – the expert who pares down, cuts back, & reorders – be always of service. Think astrologers like Nick Campion and Isabel Hickey, inventors like Leonardo da Vinci, and politicians like Margaret Thatcher.|
|Libra||Venus||Needs other people for help along one’s path – individual connections unlock the door that remains firmly closed until the right ‘partner’ comes along. Think Fred Astaire (and his partner, Ginger Rogers).|
|Scorpio||Mars / Pluto||Uncover, discover, withdraw, struggle to seize power & always be passionate. Life is dangerous – live it to the extreme – go where others fear to tread. Think Carl Jung, Marie Curie, James Joyce, and William Styron.|
|Sagittarius||Jupiter||Needs to open up a new vision of the world – make it a brighter, better place – push boundaries, have confidence that you’re ‘right’. Find solutions. Think Alexander Graham Bell, Emeline Pankhurst, William Lilly, Robespierre.|
|Capricorn||Saturn||Take charge, wield authority – be a founding father – others will come to you for validation- of all the zodiac signs, you have ‘destiny’. Think George Washington, 1st president of the United States.|
|Aquarius||Saturn / Uranus||Take a new direction – open doors – replace old ideas with new – overthrow the status quo, bring something into societal consciousness – make things up as your go along. Think Anna Freud, Mary Shelley (Frankenstein).|
|Pisces||Jupiter/ Neptune||Need to get lost totally before finding one’s path – this is obligatory – a rite of passage. Make something unordinary into something ordinary. Live your fantasy. Think actress, Judy Garland and artists, Max Ernst.|
Recently, a friend told me how she’d hurt her back after a difficult week. Not only had she been exasperated with her aging mother but she’d had a nasty argument with her partner. Playing the astrological angel, I relayed ‘important’ information about how transiting Neptune was setting off her natal T-Square – Saturn (backbone), Moon (mother), and Mars (anger).
- “All very interesting”, was her response. “But what am I to actually make of it?”
- Good question and one that I’d failed miserably to answer.
- Apologies to my friend & let’s try again, shall we?
A T-Square is an astrological configuration involving at least 3 natal planets locked in ‘conflict’ of some sort – the component parts of my friend’s T-Square break down as follows:
- Mars/ Moon – a strong personal will intensified by emotions and an inclination to sincerely act on those emotions. This tends toward being involved in quarrels whether or not of her own making.
- Moon/Saturn – self-control in regards to emotions – as well as a tendency toward being circumspect, considerate, and conscientious. This can, however, lead toward feeling inhibited and lonely.
- Mars/Saturn – military endurance coupled great powers of resistance. Concentrated bursts of energy to meet specific challenges that overtime will drain overall vitality.
Put these all together and we find a recurrent theme of inhibition, repressed feelings, constant underlying state of dissatisfaction. This is overlaid by intermittent bursts of energy to overcome difficulties that deteriorate back into an overall lack of determination. Drained vitality manifests in illness or injury.
In this T-Square, Mars and Saturn are in opposition to each other and both are in square to the Moon. This leaves the Moon as the ‘release’ valve for the compressed energy generated by the aspect as a whole and given that the astrological Moon represents the body as well as the ‘mother’, it’s understandable how my friend sustained personal injury in conjunction with frustrations involving her mother. That Saturn rules the bony structure (i.e. backbone) only makes sense – my friend’s injury was in her back.
The remaining piece of this astrological puzzle –and perhaps the most important – is what transiting Neptune has to do with setting this all off. After all, couldn’t it equally have been a different planet involved by transit and/progression?
Astrological Neptune represents the urge to transcend our separate self and merge with something greater. This something ‘greater’ can be society at large, the cosmos in general, or one’s personal sense of the divine. The idea is that Neptune urges us to ‘lose’ ourselves, dissolve ego boundaries and return ‘home’ – in this sense, ‘home’ might taken literally as returning to the ‘womb’ (where we had no separate sense of self) or more metaphorically as the ‘Garden of Eden’.
By transit, Neptune blurs/dissolves the boundaries between ‘self’ and ‘other’ in order to show us another way of ‘being’ in the world. It does this through dreams, deceit, deception. I liken this to the tarot trump card, The Moon, which depicts a desolate landscape that is both dreamy and eerily scary. In the Marseilles Deck, the picture includes murky waters in a moat complete with two barking dogs guarding the gate to a castle and a crawfish (symbol of the subterranean depths) with outstretched claws.
Undoubtedly this is an irrational world where the rational boundaries between past, present and future fail to exist. One might choose to look at the journey through this world as either a spiritual adventure or a philosophical consideration of meaning of Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave. I prefer to look at this psychologically – in the sense that there is something about the unconscious dynamic of her T-Square friend cannot face or otherwise does not wish to see.
Transiting Neptune has delivered my friend some much needed breathing space to come to terms best she can with issues regarding ‘mother’, ‘mothering’, repressed feelings and/or anger. Doubtless any insight garnered during this time, will benefit her relationship with both her mother and her partner. I also hope that it will help prevent further illness and injury.