The Astrology of September 2021

Summary

The beginning of the month starts off light and easy – harmonious and bright. Expect breakthroughs and moments of welcome illumination. If you’ve been feeling as if your life hasn’t been on the right track, this could be a time when it starts coming together. But as the month goes on, little cracks start to appear in the cement. The brightness and harmony may quickly go out the window – deals and agreements and understandings that you’d thought were sealed, start to unravel and there won’t be much you can do about it. We’re starting to see the set-up for the end of this year which, come December, will not be pretty.

Details

  • 1 September – Mars opposite Neptune  – this often has correlation with martyrs – i.e. dying/fighting and putting personal sacrifice into a cause into which one champions – there’s a sense of calling and/or purpose – consider this as the ‘Joan of Arc’ transit – alternatively, we might feel at a loss for finding a worthwhile cause or, even if we do, we feel helpless to achieve that which we’d like. Avoid manipulative manoeuvres – your own or being the ‘victim’ of those of others. 
  • 5 -7 September –  Venus trine Jupiter – this is great stuff – Venus is in good shape in Libra and as the evening star, is perfect for dealing with others. Expect harmony, benefit, prosperity, and abundance. Also excellent for business deals, social relationships, and even romance. With Jupiter in retrograde, there may be a feeling of reconciling or resolving troublesome issues from the past. A shift in momentum forward. Just, beware, however, of indulging (and or spending) too much. 
  • 13th September – Sun opposite Neptune – don’t be surprised if you’re faced with questions about where your life is headed – what do you want to achieve and how might you best achieve it? If it feels like you’ve been stagnant, this could be a time for breakthroughs and illuminations. You might even have a moment of illumination. Could be good stuff – again, however, ensure you don’t go overboard. Your mission is your mission but others may not be as inspired as are you.
  • 22 September – Mercury square Pluto – this is an important moment because soon Mercury will be turning retrograde (28th September) – This square goes back and forth (Mercury is stationing) into the beginning of October. The image is one of a bright morning star heralding day break and then stopping – and turning back, heading back into the underworld. Expect revelations – insight – something coming from a dark space – the unconscious – perhaps something you do not want to hear – or something that has been hidden – lies/deception exposed – this will play out over a couple of weeks. Stay as diplomatic as possible (Mercury is in Libra) – it might not be easy though because power games are definitely in play. 
  • 22 September – Sun moves into Libra – the key strength of Libra is social intelligence and this year using it to maximum advantage is more necessary than usual. No one lives in a vacuum so think and act like a team player and although the temptation may be to work solely for yourself, it actually is better for all involved if you work for the benefit of the team as a whole.
  • 23 September – Venus opposite Uranus – this could be a potential challenge for all relationships – tricky diplomacy – strategic, but stormy. Venus is debilitated in Scorpio. This might be a moment of destabilisation and change. This could happen in both the personal and political arenas it doesn’t come out of the blue however – look to where the fault-lines have already been shown. The point is that you might have thought you could cement them, but with this energy, this likely will not prove to be the case.

The Astrology of July 2021

SUMMARY – The action-packed – and let’s face it – difficult T square with Mars/Uranus/Saturn colors the entire month, especially the first week.  If you play games with people, then don’t be surprised if they play games back and win! If this happens, you might well take it as a message that you don’t always need to win and that sometimes, the best approach is to drop back, give ground, and find another way to tackle the problem.

  • 1 July – Mars opposes Saturn – this is about the battle of wills and clashes of authority – me and my ideas and values are better than yours kind of thing – if you’re pushing too hard in any aspect of your life during this time, it can blow up. But if you’re careful and work diligently and ethically with the energies at hand, you can get much accomplished.
  • 3 – 4 July – Mars perfects his square with Uranus – breakthroughs are now possible where you’ve previously had only constraints. Thus this might be a most invigorating and action-oriented time. Just beware of macho releases of energy. Don’t deliver ultimatums with which you can’t afford to follow through. 
  • 5 – 6 July – Mercury squares Neptune one last time – this can be a romantic and fluid period – especially for creative pursuits – this can also be mystical and magical and don’t be surprised if you have special insights – weird synchronicities – that turn out to be spot on. Yet at the same time be extra vigilant of falling victim of deception and unclear thinking (your own and that of others). Remember that, more often than not, we hear and believe what we want to hear and believe whether it’s true or not.
  • 6 – 7 July – Venus opposes Saturn and then makes a square to Uranus – and if you’ve arrived at serious crossroads in love and friendships, it’s a time you can deepen them through mature thinking. This is also a great time for waking up the more erotic elements in our relationships. Equally, it could also be a time to get serious about also health and/or creative projects and endeavours. 
  • 13 – 14 July – Mars and Venus conjoin in the sign of Leo – during this time, we could be rewarded for all our hard work to date – this is perfect energy for mending that which has been broken especially with our romantic relationships. It’s also perfect for moving forward and finding solutions to other pressing problems – this is a very positive time. Enjoy!
  • 17 July – Sun opposes Pluto – perfect for releasing pent-up potential – I can see clearly now – major turning points – also perfect for starting new projects – dig new ground.
  • 22 July – Venus enters Virgo and remains there until the middle of August – during this time, all things Venusian take on a Mercurial air – it’s time to get rational and technical about our relationships and creative projects as well as mundane things like personal care products – thinking like this doesn’t always sit easily with the more sensual nature of Venus – but if you go with the flow, the end result is likely to be practical. However lovely your current shampoo smells, in the not helping if it leaves your hair feeling brittle and dry! 
  • 22 July – Sun moves into Leo where it is dignified and happy –it’s a great time to consider what you can do where you comfortably move into the spotlight and be appreciated for the special person that you are. If your life trajectory needs some adjustment to get back on that path, now is a great time to take actions to make it happen.
  • 22 July – Venus opposes Jupiter – OK, don’t get carried away here – you could spend too much money – eat and drink too much – even get carried away with a health regime. Sure enough with Venus now in Virgo, it’s a good time to get realistic but don’t go overboard. Think before you take action – this is always good advice but especially relevant today!   
  • 28 July – Jupiter slips back into Aquarius – OK, well, he’d been moving forward into Pisces from mid-May through now and we might have gotten our hopes up that we were well and truly on our way. Now, we will find ourselves back to where we were at the beginning of this calendar year. At first, this shift may feel constrictive – but over time, you’ll come to realise that you’re getting a second chance to get accomplish what you set out to do in January. The good news is that now have until the very end of this calendar year to do just that. Hard work and due diligence almost always pay off and they are especially likely to do so with Jupiter in Aquarius.

The Astrology of June 2021

This is a big month with an eclipse, the summer solstice, a Mercury retrograde, and Saturn coming into square with Uranus. Overall, it’s a good time to make lemonade when life delivers you lemons – and if have the patience to do it well, you might discover that lemonade is tastier than ever you could have imagined.

  • 2 -3 June – Venus moves from into Cancer and almost immediately makes a potent trine with Jupiter. This is a very beneficial time. Perhaps you make a new friend or align yourself with a powerful ally. Expect positive social connections which means you will likely have an easier time than usual getting along with others. In need of some good news? This trine could bring it with you. But beware. There really can be too much of a good thing and with Jupiter involved, it’s easy for this to happen.
  • 5 June – Mars moves into opposition with Pluto. This could be a difficult time and coming off the good feelings of a couple of days ago, we may refuse to see it coming. Bad things coming into forefront – scandalous – exposure – volatile energies exploding. But to be honest, it’s now time to confront that which we’ve been avoiding – emotional catharsis is in the cards. At the same time, it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. Think of this period like experiencing a violent thunderstorm in mid-summer – scary and potentially dangerous – yet after it’s over, the air is clearer and everyone feels better.
  • 10 June – Solar eclipse – in Gemini on the same day that Mercury goes cazimi (i.e., Mercury’s centre moves with 17 minutes of arc of the centre – the heart – of the Sun) – this is big news for the Gemini area of your natal chart. It’s a moment of rebirthing – resetting – and moving forward again. With a new moon in Gemini, we can concentrate on starting anew –  especially with things involving technology and  communication – a new way of doing things – especially of doing business – use this time to launch new venture!
  • 11 June – Mars moves out of its fall In Cancer  (where it has been since the end of April 2021) and into Leo. This is a huge shift in energy – and especially for those with Leo rising. Nonetheless, all of us will benefit. This is a wiser Mars – like fine wine, Mars has been ageing well – lessons have been learned and processed. Now all things Mars (i.e., asserting yourself) go easier. When you stand your ground, you’ll make fewer (or less violent) waves. Just try to avoid taking self-aggrandising stands – and/or belabouring a point just to bask in the sun for little bit longer. Come from the heart in service to all, and you’ll do just fine.
  • 14 June – Stay cool – muster your patience – be flexible and curious – this could be the biggest event of the month. Saturn forms a challenging square to Uranus. If you’ve been feeling like every time you’re ready to really move ahead – make serious progress – break barriers and then out of the blue, someone or something comes along and you are held-back, know that’s exactly how it should be. This is because Saturn and Uranus are playing an unfriendly game of push and pull skittles on and off all calendar year: rebellious energy hits the conservative brick wall. It’s all around us and it’s also in our personal lives. The next time these two planets come together like this will be in December 2021. In that moment, you’ll finalise what began at the beginning of 2021 calendar year. Now is NOT the time to let your frustrations get the better of you. If you push through blockage regardless, you’re likely to break something that could have turned out to be quite valuable. Instead, consider that this ‘obstacle’ may be actually working in your behalf – delay now is a good – and not a bad – thing. You’ll find out how it plays out in December and so for now, the better you can roll with these punches, the better it will turn out and – here’s the really cool thing – it might well turn out to be much better than ever you  could have imagined.
  • 20 June – Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere – but even for those in southern hemisphere – know that the symbolic point here is that the Sun is crossing a major point of transition. This is the case for all of us – wherever we are geographically. The long and short of it is that this is a major turning point in the year. This is an excellent time to start something new – launch a new chapter in your life. Plan ahead and use this energy to your best advantage. 
  • 21 June – Jupiter turns retrograde and starts moving back toward Aquarius. OK, here’s the deal. We’ve been enjoying the happy fruits of Jupiter in Pisces (its home sign of rulership) since mid-May, which has functioned in large part as a ‘get out of jail free’ card. The energy will shift back again (until end of December 2021) – so take care. If during the past month you’ve been pushing your luck and getting away with it, that might now all come to a screaming halt! Forewarned is forearmed.
  • 23 -24 June – Venus now opposes Pluto just did Mars earlier in the month. Quite possibly some healing is now available – especially for women and/or the feminine. This also brings deep change (intensity) in our relationships – home, hearth, and family – potential catharsis yet also potential power plays. Tread lightly. A little goes a long way. Get out of the way of the steamroller well in advance and take extra care that you don’t unwittingly join forces with a steamroller.

The Western Esoteric Traditions (Part 5)

My summer reading: The Western Esoteric Traditions: a Historical Introduction by Nicholas Goodrick – Clarke (Oxford University Press – 2008).

In this series of blog posts, I’m tracing the Western Esoteric traditions through history, with special attention paid to the contribution of these traditions to the work of Carl Jung.


By the 16th century, the distinction between Ficino’s natural magic and demonic magic starts to blur. 

First stop, is the German humanist Johannes Reuchlin, who builds on Ficino’s magic and Pico’s work with the Kabbalah.  Now the power of words, figures, secret rites, and holy names comes to the fore and teachings in Hebrew become justified in the Christian community. 

Next up, is monastic abbot, Johannes Trithemius, who was a follower of Reuchlin and his work. Now, Christian humanists turned their attention to angelic magic, and Trithemius gives precise instructions on how to summon angels to gain knowledge from them as well as use them to send long distance messages.[1]  His 3 book treatise, Steganograhia, dealt with progressively more powerful spirits demonstrating how they are invoked by prayer, incantation, and precision timing:

  1. in his first book, he warns about the dangers of dealing with the spirits of air because they are both arrogant and rebellious,
  2. in his second book, he enumerates the spirits governing each hour and day,
  3. in his third book he connects all of the Angels and spirits with the seven (visible) planets.

Trithemius also dabbled in prediction and prohecy. His message was that each progressive age (measured in Platonic months of 2480 terrestrial years each with reference to the procession of the equinoxes through the 12 Zodiac signs), would be governed by a particular angel. Knowing his angels, as he did, this allowed him to envisage major currents in political and religious change throughout human history. His underlying thesis was that God, as the first intellect, had delegated these various angelic governors to oversee these fixed periods.

As far as history was concerned, Trithemius was unfortunate. In the end, his notoriety became confused with the legend of Doctor Faustus, which became world famous through the 17th century play (of the same name) by Christopher Marlowe.

Enter Henry Cornelius Agrippa, born in Cologne in 1486, who ushers in the 2nd Golden Age of Hermetic and Christian Kabbalistic practice. Not only does he spread the word through his travels and teachings, but having finally settled in Northern Italy, he is involved with the translation of more ancient works that become accepted into mainstream Christian thought and practice. In his mind, this was only right, convinced as he was that these writings would bring men back from intellectual pride and despair into humble acknowledgement of God’s goodness. The benefit of this approach is clear: with such mastery and revelation, men would regain the upper hand over nature, which had been lost with the antics of Adam in the Garden of Eden.

As Dr Liz Greene points out, Jung was familiar with Agrippa’s work on angels and it did influence his work with Philemon, his ‘daimon’, in Liber Novus. In this, Jung took the view from Jewish magic that ‘guardian angels’ could be pretty much the same thing as one’s daimon, which could be determined from one’s natal or birth chart.[2] This conclusion, however, was harder for him to reach than one might think, given that, as Dr Greene notes, guardian angels are usually understood to be ontologically separate from the human soul. The idea that one’s guardian angel may also be found within is on the fringe, although it is found in the work of Agrippa, where it was demonstrated that through appropriate theurgy (in keeping with the mundus imaginalis of Iamblichus) one is able to invoke his or her angelic ‘higher Self’.

Unfortunately for Agrippa, he (along with other adherents of this 2nd Golden Age) gets caught out in the crossfire of the Reformation, wherein with the new Protestant ideal, the focus is now on the frailty of man and no longer on his confident, hubristic Neoplatonist magic. Nonetheless, Agrippa’s legacy lives on, which leads us to the next link in the chain, England’s John Dee and Edward Kelly.

As advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee enjoyed support and great freedom. Hence, he was a major intellectual force in Elizabethan England. This makes perfect sense. He possessed a library of over 2,500 printed books and 170 manuscripts including the complete works of Marsilio Ficino an edition of the Corpus Hermeticm. As a result, there is no doubt  he was well versed in the current state of the hermetic and kabbalistic arts. Yet as his own major work, Propaedeumata Aphoristica (1558), made clear is real interest lay Arabic and mediaeval Oxford natural science, suggesting as he did that the celestial influence on the everyday lives of men on earth was direct cause and effect rather than sympathetic.  “Whatever exists in actuality spherically projects into each part of the world rays, which fill up the universe to its limit.” 

Overtime , however, hermetic and kabbalistic thought did leave its mark on his work, most famously in Monas (1564) which scholar, Frances Yates, suggests was really a type of magical amulet infused with astrological power, its purpose to bring the human psyche into unity. It’s important to note that other scholars offer a similarly interesting yet competing analyses of that work. 

That his personal library included work by Johannes Trithemius about spiritual (angelic) planetary governors as noted above, did suggest that he was interested in Angel magic . But because he lacked the clairvoyant gifts, he needed intermediaries hence entered, Edward Kelly, a talented medium who most certainly had a reputation for walking on the dark side. There is evidence that the believed that the noises come of voices, operations, and even dreams that he had during the period of working with Kelly were indeed the good Angels bearing genuine messages from God. He felt confident in this given that his experience tallied with those recorded by Agrippa. Reuchlin, and Trithemius.

Interestingly, although the stigma of being a conjurer finally did stick to Dee, there’s little evidence that either he or Kelly attempted to command the angels with whom they were in contact, to do their personal bidding. Although there is plenty of evidence that Dee was much more interested in learning the secrets of creation through his angelic encounters than in obtaining spiritual illumination. This does, then, leave a suggestion that like Kelly, Dee had been drawn to the darker end of the occult spectrum.

(to be continued)


[1] The word angel is derived from the Greek aggelos, or ‘one going’ or ‘one sent’, a ‘messenger’. Aggelos is sometimes used in translation for the Hebrew mal’akh, or ‘messenger’. Biblical applications of the word, both in Hebrew and Greek, refer to certain heavenly intelligences. Whom God employs in the office of messengers to carry out his will amongst humanity. Not surprisingly, the Christian conception of angels stems from much earlier Jewish ideas of God enthroned in a celestial palace, with various coming and goings on heavenly journeys with chariots. For more, see, Angelomorphism and Magical Transformation in the Christian and Jewish Traditions by Alison Greig (pp 129-144); in Culture and Cosmos: A Journal of the History of Astrology and Cultural Astronomy, papers from the 2013 Sophia Centre conference, special double issue on Celestial Magic, vol. 19 , Number 1 and 2, Spring/ Summer and Autumn/Winter 2015

[2] Green, Liz; Jung’s Studies in Astrology: Prophecy, Magic, and the Qualities of Time. London: Routledge (2018), pp.104-105.

The Western Esoteric Traditions (Part 4)

My summer reading: The Western Esoteric Traditions: a Historical Introduction by Nicholas Goodrick – Clarke (Oxford University Press – 2008).

In this series of blog posts, I’m tracing the Western Esoteric traditions through history, with special attention paid to the contribution of these traditions to the work of Carl Jung.

Byzantine Legacy

After the fall of Rome in the 4th century AD, Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, became the new centre of culture and learning and, as the result, the Alexandrian Hellenistic esoteric tradition got a facelift with an Arabic rendition of Hermes Trismegistus, The Emerald Tablet. As such, the words ‘so as above, so as below‘ became cemented into Western esoteric tradition and with them, the idea that the same forces work on earth exactly as they do throughout heaven.

As Peter Marshall observes, The Emerald Tablet is nuanced version of the creation myth of ancient Egypt with Ra symbolised by the sun and told the names of creation by Thoth, symbolised by the moon, who by uttering them brought them into existence in the single act of adaptation by reversing, as did the ancient Egyptians, the familiar Western notion of ‘Mother Earth’ and ‘Father Sky.’[1]

This opens the way for the alchemical allegory of the chemical wedding of the sun and the moon , Sol and Luna. More of alchemy in later posts, but for now it’s enough to set the scene for this development with a deep awareness of the beauty and magnificence of the creation as well as firmly cementing the four classical elements of earth, air, fire, and water into Western esoteric tradition.[2]

Marsilio Ficino and the Hermetic Revival

As the Byzantine Empire declined in the 15th century, the centre of culture and learning shifted westward, to the city of Florence where humanist thought paved the way for the revival of Platonism.[3] As wealth and patronage played such an important part in the advancement of learning in that time, it’s little wonder that with aid from Cosimo de’ Medici, the leading merchant-prince of the Florentine Republic, Marsilio Ficino now takes centre stage.

Ficino had been searching for a type of spirituality that fit his needs and in Plato’s work, he found it. With the backing of Cosimo, Ficino began to translate original Greek manuscripts into Latin. It was during this endeavour that he got his hands on a copy of the Corpus Hermeticum. At that time, it was believed the Hermeticum was much older that it has turned out to be. Thus Ficino and his followers regarded Hermes Trismegistus as a contemporary of Moses and as such, the work was seen as a philosophia perennis, which although predating Christianity, anticipated its arrival. Doubtless, this allowed the ideas in that work to be more palatable to the Church.

The result was an intriguing cosmology, or a psychologically spatial orientation of that which is ‘me’ as well as that which is other than ‘me’, that put God at the top of a hierarchy populated by orders of angels, the planets, and the elements as well as various types of plants, animals and minerals. 

But what made Ficino’s cosmology unique was the role to which he assigned to the human soul. In keeping with Plato’s Symposium, in which Socrates identifies love is an active force holding all things together, Ficino attributed this active influence of thought and love to the human soul, which he believed could reach out and embrace all things in the universe. More than just a formal intellectual model, this new cosmology acted as a map for the travels and ascent of man’s individual soul. In his own contemplative life, Ficino gave personal and practical slant to this idea and combined it seamlessly with his Christianity. 

For thus our soul becomes most like to God, who is wisdom itself. According to Plato, in this likeness consists the highest state of happiness. 

Ficino, a letter written to Cosimo de Medici 

Most importantly, in the hands of Ficino, the Hermetica offered the opportunity to gain power over nature, through what is now known as natural or sympathetic magic. For Ficino, this magic was most easily accomplished through astrology. He believed that the planets and all things celestial, sowed the seeds of God’s divine plan into the material world through archetypal energies resembling rays. Wisdom, one’s key to happiness, would come from judiciously absorbing as many different rays as possible.

By withdrawal from earthly things, by leisure, solitude, constancy, esoteric theology and philosophy, by superstition, magic, agriculture, and grief, we come under the influence of Saturn.”

Marsilio Ficino

As Dr Liz Greene reminds us, not only was Carl Jung very familiar with Ficino’s work, but he relied on it extensively in his own work in the Liber Novus. For example, the Old Scholar, with whom Jung communicated in that work, was a grief-stricken recluse, echoing the Ficino’s association of Saturn with grief and solitude.[4]  As noted in an earlier post, Jung’s most important spiritual guide in Liber Novus, who was known to him as Philemon, was a Saturnian figure with Aquarian leanings. As Dr Greene also reminds us, Philemon provided Jung with his wisdom, his insight, and his understanding of the workings of the psyche – in essence his own cosmology – which Jung then translated into his psychological theories. Philemon’s approach to all of this through astrology, is directly traceable to the work of Ficino. [5]

Pico della Mirandola and the Kabbala

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a contemporary of Ficino, upped the ante in developing an even more powerful variety of Renaissance magic by incorporating into Ficino’s approach, the Jewish Kabbalah, a mystical concept used by Kabbalists to signify the self-emptying aspect of the creator.

God (known as Ain Soph) withdraws his Light in order to create a vacuum allowing a single thread of his Light to traverse the darkness in a series of ten concentric circles called Sephiroth – collectively known as The Tree of Life.  Each Sephira, connected by twenty-two pathways, acts as a vessel containing some of His Light; thus each represents an aspect of God.

For the Kabbalist, the ‘Tree’ is not only a diagram of God’s unfolding creative impulse, but also a path for spiritual union with the Divine.  Legend has it that after the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, angels brought the Kabbalah down from Heaven to teach Adam how to recover his primal bliss.

Although primarily a system of contemplation, the Kabbalah also has a magical side. As a means of approaching the Sephiroth, seventy-two angels could be invoked by one knowing their names and numbers as well as the appropriate arrangement of Hebrew words, letters, and/or signs.

According to Pico , Ficino’s natural or sympathetic magic was weak and ineffective unless used in combination with the Kabbalah. He said that whereas natural magic aims no higher than operating upon the material world and the stars, the Kabbalah can be used to operate beyond – to influence the super celestial spheres of angels, archangels and God (the first cause), Himself. Such practise however, could be dangerous and the ecstasy that results may cause the death of the body, a way of dying known as the “Death of the Kiss.”

Not surprisingly, Jung’s spirit guide, Philemon, was also knowledgeable with the Kabbalah. It was shortly before Jung’s kabbalistic vision of uniting the divine male and female, that he’d experienced a serious heart attack in 1944.[6] Indeed, the English occultist, Dion Fortune, attributed her well known book, The Mystical Qabalah, to the wisdom that Philemon had communicated to Jung.[7]

I would commence my mental rehearsal up the sacred names, and would suddenly find that I was aware of mental pictures only… I maintained my concentration on the images arising in consciousness, and did not allow it to wander… Out of the Sky over the water a vast angelic figure began to form, and I saw what I felt to be an archangel bent over me in a vast curve.

Dion Fortune

In his famous Oration on the Dignity of Man, Pico marked the change between the medieval mind and the modern mind; man alone has been given by God the freedom to make of himself what he will, and it should come as no surprise, drawing on the that overwhelming message of the Corpus Hermeticum, that in doing so he should strive to become like God, to know God as an equal – because only like understands like. The stage is now set for the develop of further invocational magic.

(to be continued)



[1] Marshall, Peter. The Philosopher’s Stone: A Quest for the Secrets of Alchemy. London; Macmillan (2001).

[2] As Peter Marshall suggests, nothing stands more powerfully than the words of the Emerald Tablet themselves:

  1. True it is, without falsehood, certain and most true. That which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above, to accomplish the miracles of one thing. 
  2. And as all things were by the contemplation of the one, so all things arose from this one thing by a single act of adaptation.
  3. The father is therefore is the Sun, the mother the Moon. 
  4. The wind carried it in its womb, the Earth is the nurse thereof. 
  5. It is the father of all the works of wonder throughout the whole world. 
  6. The power therefore is perfect. 
  7. If it be cast on to the Earth, it will separate the elements of the Earth from that of Fire, the subtle from the gross. 
  8. With great sagacity it doth ascend gently from Earth to Heaven.
  9. Again it doth descend to the Earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior.
  10. Thus thou wilt possess the glory of the brightness of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly from thee.
  11. This thing is the strong fortitude of all strength, for it overcometh every subtle thing and doth penetrate every solid substance. 
  12. Thus was the world created. 
  13. Hence there will be marvellous adaptations achieved, of which the manner is this. 
  14. For this reason I am called Hermes Trismegistus, because I hold three parts of the wisdom of the whole world. 
  15. That which I had to say about the operation of the Sol  is completed.

[3] As Louis Dupre explains in his excellent book, Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. P. 96-97 and 149), underlying the humanist movement in all its variations, is the idea of human responsibility for bringing all creation to its destined perfection. Since the 15th century humanists were focused on finding the right models for telling an essentially unchanging story, it’s not surprising that in their hands, ancient learning again takes centre stage in new form.

[4] For more on this, see discussion at pp. 75 in The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus, (Routledge, 2018) by Dr Liz Greene

[5] Ibid, p. 119.

[6] Ibid,  p. 99.

[7] Ibid, p. 101.

Astrological Anxiety (2)

This is the second in a series of blog posts based on the work of a fabulous astrologer, Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology. I’ve thrown in my two cents here and there as you might expect, but many thanks to Acyuta-bhava for having put this in place in the first place.

To this point, we’ve defined astrological anxiety as follows: ‘I’m warned in advance that a ‘cosmic weather front’ is coming through. OMG, what do I now do?’ In important respects, this anxiety is very much like the existential anxiety addressed by philosophers like Heidegger. As Heidegger reminds us, we expect life to progress with logical linearity over which we remain in conscious control at all times. 

That, however, is not how it works.

When we refuse to accept this, we get into big trouble. Religion is meant to keep us out of this trouble, yet it seems that more often it plunges us deeper in the thick of it. That’s because we fail to understand that true religion is not the same as organised religion. True religion, practiced everyday, helps us to connect with the divine. In the words of Heidegger, to accept that ‘time is no longer a reckonable sequence’ but instead, ‘an inexhaustible inescapable presence’. Organised religion tends to tempt us to move closer to this understanding only in great times of personal need and/or the major religious events/festivities like (for Christians), like Christmas and Easter. 

We often think that we don’t need religion because we tend to define it with the stuffy set of rules that came along with any religious upbringing/training we might have had as children. But in reality, however much we might like to think otherwise, the religious impulses – i.e., the impulse to connect with the divine plan – is innate – alive and well within us. 

When that impulse is thwarted, (or misdirected)  we not only feel bad (in the sense of suffering), but we tend to act out that impulse in ways that go over the top. For example, thwarted religious impulse can result in religious fanaticism and/or ‘drama queen’ displays of childish superiority. In other words, when our true religious impulse is thwarted, our emotions – the powerful passionate stuff, get channelled in ways (politics, money, obsessive dieting, securing the best schools for our kids, whatever) that do us more harm than ever they could do us good. 

This is where astrology comes in. 

Properly approached, astrology helps us to be sober about our lives in the sense that we make life choices in line with the divine plan, of which, like it or not, we remain an integral part. By its very nature, astrology, used correctly, should thus not make us anxious, but instead quietly confident that we are (or are not) on the right path.

By contrast, if astrology is causing us to stress out about the future, we are not approaching either it or our lives soberly. In this sense sobriety does not mean without great passion or pleasure. What it does mean is that we do not allow our need for great passion and pleasure to drive our lives. 

The upshot of this is that some people are simply not cut out for astrology – be they practitioners, students, or clients. The goal of astrology, handled correctly, is allow us to be content and steadfast in where we’re headed. The goal of astrology is not to aid us in expending energy to attain that which, for reasons we may never understand, is unattainable.

When you find yourself getting worked up about what comes next and asking astrology to help you prepare for it, you’d be better off leaving astrology – and indeed, all forms of divination – alone. 

Astrological Anxiety (1)

This is the first in a series of blog posts based on the work of a fabulous astrologer, Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology. I’ve thrown in my two cents here and there as you might expect, but many thanks to Acyuta-bhava for having put this in place in the first place.

Astrological anxiety – what is it? 

It goes something like this – now with the benefit of astrology, I know a little bit what to expect and that somehow makes everything worse. I’m warned in advance that a ‘cosmic weather front’ is coming through. OMG, what do I now do? This knowing puts a good deal of pressure on me to somehow prepare for the storm but as don’t yet really know what will happen, I can’t really do that. Is the resulting tension I feel the same as existential anxiety?

In many important respects, the answer is yes, it is.

As existentialist Heidegger reminds us, ‘time is no longer a reckonable sequence’ but instead, ‘an inexhaustible inescapable presence’. In other words, real time, unlike time displayed on clocks and calendars, is primitive, primordial, spooky; real time, as understood by Heidegger, is all that man has and will ever have. Scandalously, sadly, said real time is also shorn from otherwise comforting pre-Reformation notions of eternity.

Thus, it only makes sense that having called our attention to this existential reality, astrology serves us best not in trying to tell us what will happen but instead to more fully understand our situation so that when that cosmic weather front does hit, we will be in a position to release false expectations and accept what does happen. To accomplish this, we need to give up our attachment to the qualifiers ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This does not mean that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things alike won’t happen; astrology is not meant to help us to detach from this reality. Instead, astrology is meant to help us to realise there is a divine, cosmic plan – and each of us is part of it even though there are cycles and themes that are beyond us and and our ego-focused view of the world. To develop such a realisation is a mission statement – both for the astrologers but also for clients and students of astrology.

The goal is to develop a mindset that is accepting of both what we have in front of us as well as what is behind of us – a mindset that helps to us to think of our ‘karma’ not solely as gifts and challenges carried over from the past but instead as a divine connection between the past, present, and future.

Astrology helps us here. For example, you might think of the astrological symbolism as an expression of the ‘thought forms’ in the mind of God. When you reflect upon this more deeply, you might see astrological symbolism as something more more transcendental – more meaningful than how much money will “I” have (or not have) tomorrow and/or will ‘I’ get this or that job or marry this or that man/woman. 

One of the significant benefits of this deeper approach is to flip ourselves out of the Ego-based game of ‘ how much more do I need to do – or get- have ‘ (i.e., the Western  ‘rat race’ – also known as ‘who’s on top and who’s on the bottom) and into a more serene, conducive state of true ‘happiness’.

As the Buddhists are happy to remind us, happiness doesn’t mean not having more, but instead means not surrendering one’s entire peace of mind to having it.

(to be continued)

Astrology of May 2021

Beauty and Harmony:

Overall, this is good stuff and after all we’ve been through with Covid-19, et al, it’s about time. Some tough choices to make but a lot of help in making them – just don’t go overboard and as always, when signing any contract, always read the small print.

  • Major event – the Sun is in square with Saturn – this starts now and goes through the 3 May – this is a serious energy – you’re meant to be getting to grips with something important – and, also, in conjunction with the waning last quarter moon, letting go of something that no longer serves your – this may be difficult – but you’ve now reached the cross-roads and have to make a choice which way you will go. 
  • 4 May – Mercury changes sign from Taurus to Gemini – this is huge because later on 29 May, Mercury turns retrograde in Gemini and then later a solar eclipse 10th June in Gemini – everything Gemini in your charts is highlighted! This is a huge period of change in all things governed by Mercury – communication, travel, and making connections of all kinds. 
  • 8 May – Venus also enters Gemini – the goddess of harmony and beauty – buffers that Mercury in retrograde. Perfect time for buying and selling and the signing of contracts. Positive energy!  
  • 11 May – New moon in (Venus-ruled) Taurus adding more harmony and beauty to the picture and with the Moon exalted in Taurus, expect a happy time all around especially reorganizing, revisioning, and stabilizing things in your life are highlighted. A good time to purchase all things techie – phones, computers, et al – even signing up for that new course you’ve been thinking about. 
  • 12 May – Mercury makes a trine to Saturn – more good stuff – great for finding your mentor – or even being a mentor – a stable, grounded energy – so make the best of it.
  • 13-14 May – Jupiter leaves Aquarius and moves into Pisces – a taster of things to come next year! Jupiter is in its own sign in Pisces – great for starting new projects – growth and development – movement where before you might have felt only logjam.
  • 16 – 29 May – the Sun goes through the last degrees of Taurus (this might be a choppy time – some difficult fixed stars involved) as well as Mercury going retrograde – in square to Neptune – pay attention here – there is real potential for illusion and delusion – but equally, potential for spiritual growth as long as you remain grounded. BEWARE – don’t go overboard with anything.
  • 24 May – Saturn turns retrograde – it’s a second hurrah for Saturn in Aquarius – if things have been slow and hard for you to date – this retrograde might help you to recover some lost ground before moving forward again.
  • Major Event – Lunar eclipse on 26 May at 5 Sagittarius – close to the South Node and a square to Jupiter in Pisces – this is about finding faith in the inevitable – rally behind your losses – and you’ll come out stronger as the result. 

Character & Calling (Part 3)

My winter reading: James Hillman’s classic The Soul’s Code – In Search of Character and Calling (Random House, New York, 1996).

Daimon often comes to us as we are children with an unexplained fascination or unusual ways of play. I was taken very early with writing short storeys about my friends in my imagined exploits we would solve mysteries like Nancy Drew and her chums. Later I went on to become a lawyer in international tax com of all things. But as retirement loomed, I started writing fiction again with all the enthusiasm I once had as a child. In this, I was lucky. Others are not.

The point Hillman makes is not to squeeze this enthusiasm out of children using the excuse that they need to be socialised in order to perform from an early age as their parents and teachers would want. Just give kids enough room to experiment and grow into that oak tree that their individual acorns had laid out for their lives and not surprisingly, to accomplish this they need to put down some very strong roots in order to support future growth into their potential. 

But as Hillman points out, allowing this is difficult for us in the West, because we cling so strongly to what calls the ascensionist model – in other words – up is good and down is bad. Yet this is not the way of Damon or soul. As the Zohar, the main Kabbalist book, makes clear, zimzum, or the self-emptying aspect of the God, known as Ain Soph, traverses downwards through the darkness in a series of ten concentric circles called Sephiroth, collectively known as The Tree of Life. 

Likewise, Plato and his Myth of Er emphasizes this downward assent. Having arrived from previous lives, all the souls mill about in a mythical world awaiting their new lot, or portion of fate. For example, the soul of a mighty warrior chooses the life of a lion whilst that of a young woman runner, choose a lot of an athlete. When each of the souls have chosen their new lives according to their lots, they are assigned a daimon and without looking back, descend to earth to enact their lot. 

It should come as no surprise that in keeping with the Myth of Er, Hellenistic astrologers devised clever ways to delineate one’s lot using his or her natal chart. Some of these techniques have come down to modern astrologers, notably, the Lot of Fortune (or the Moon) and the Lot of Spirit (or the Sun). The former pertains to the natural flow of events in our lives whilst the latter describes change that occurs because of our intention. So, for example, if the Lot of Fortune describes how much money we are likely to make, the Lot of Spirit describes how we will choose our vocation and answer our calling. 

Hillman reminds us that the decent down into earth for soul is painful and costly and riches and fame never seem to really compensate. He uses Judy Garland as a case to illustrate his point. Judy was born into a showbiz family and at age 2 1/2 years of old, she had her first successful performance singing Jingle Bells. The immediate rapport she garnered from her audience cemented her calling, which she herself said “was inherited”. As Hillman also reminds us, it was the superlatives that betrayed her. According to one and all, during the height of her success, Garland was the best of everything. Even Garland herself said “I’ve done everything to excess.”

Yet as Hillman also points out, Judy Garland may have grown up but she didn’t grow down, as is required for soul. Always, she held on to America’s most treasured drug – the myth of innocence – the psychology of denial. Hillman tells us Garland’s acorn belonged “over the rainbow” and it was little wonder that her real life of drugs and chronic loneliness ended on a toilet the night of 21-22 June, the apogee of the solar year, the brightest light and the shortest night. 

Looking briefly at Garland’s natal chart, we see that her Lot of Fortune is at 21 Capricorn 15, and is thus very strong. Not only is in angular (7th house) but its ruler, Saturn, is very strong (angular, exalted, and in rulership by triplicity and term). Saturn also benefits from the rays (by sign) of three of the four benefics (Sun, Moon, and Jupiter). It is however, out of sect (Saturn is a diurnal planet and is in the nocturnal part of this chart). This suggests that in the natural flow of events, such as making money, Garland would do very, very well – which of course, she did  – but with Saturn being out of sect, this success would also be out-of-balance tending toward harmful excess, which of course was the case. Her Lot of Spirit, at 0 Capricorn is likewise strong also being ruled by Saturn. 

Perhaps it is only when we look at her daimon, which because Cancer is rising is the Moon, that we can understand fully why her life took such a tragic course. At 29 Sagittarius, Garland’s Moon (or daimon) is in an anaretic degree. Planets in the anaretic degree are known as ‘destroying’ planets, often causing difficulties, crisis, overcompensation, and poor choices. Perhaps this is an example of what Hillman has already promised to discuss, a situation where daimon is not good but instead bad?

I wonder why it happens to some and not others – definitely worth investigating further, don’t you think?

(to be continued)

The Year Ahead

It’s the first day of the brand new year and many are turning their thoughts to what it might bring. Basically, two planetary players set the stage – Uranus and Saturn with a couple of guest appearances from Jupiter, which may provide a much-needed ‘get out of jail’ card as well as fanning the flames of authoritarian anarchy.

The star lore relating to the zodiac signs of Aquarius and Taurus put together pretty much tells the story:

Aquarius

According to the Greek astronomer, Aratus (270 BC), Fomalhaut is at the Pourer’s (Aquarius) feet where it forms part of the fixed cross of the four Royal Stars of Persia – the ‘watchers’ or guardians of the sky (angelic powers). Bernadette Brady (Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars) considers Fomalhaut to be rather like the legendary Persian warrior, Zal, who although seriously out of step with society (a white-haired man who’d been raised in a bird’s nest), managed (through his usually considerate behaviour) to win the heart of the beautiful princess, Redabeh. Even though the odds were against the couple, Zal persisted and, eventually, they were allowed to marry. A lovely story complete with high ideals and lofty visions. None-the-less, a serious clash with mainstream thought and authority (tradition) was needed to achieve their ideals (progress). Let’s not forget that Aquarius is ruled by two very opposing energies – (1) Saturn (authority) and (2) Uranus (rebellion) and both are in play together this year.

Taurus

The brightest star in Taurus, is Aldebaran, which ancient astrologers considered to be of the nature of Mars, the warrior. As such it is especially poignant in respect to military men who achieve great things whilst at the same time, making dangerous enemies. Brady gives the example of Niccolò Machiavelli, the 15th century statesman who wrote The Prince, the classic treatise on gaining and holding political power. Brady points out that Machiavelli’s initial rise to power and prestige was followed by a stark reversal of fortune marked by accusations of conspiracy and treason. History tells us that these accusations were false and that Machiavelli was an upright and honest citizen of highest integrity. Brady suggests this implies that sometime in his life, he had succumbed to temptation to behave with less that utmost integrity. Equally, however, I suggest that it could be that a more classic scenario was at the base – when one rises to power, he/she will make enemies if for no other reason than hubris, pride and jealousy.

Summary

It’s time to break down the barriers – do things radically different – and like it or not, that’s what will happen – expect militant clashes with authority, rebellion against the establishment, the absolute refusal to toe the party line and/or maintain the status quo. The ideals driving all this may sound lofty and at some level that may be the case. But don’t forget that not far behind will be a clash of egos – acts of hubris – and good old fashioned lust and greed – of a degree that could well make your head spin. And oh, by the way, if you find yourself presented with the perfect ‘get rich quick scheme’, do yourself a favour and turn away. Maintaining integrity is the key to getting through 2021 in one piece.

Somewhere, I have the biography of Niccolò Machiavelli. Sounds like it may be time to read it!