imagesThe Babylonians believed Saturn, or Kronos, to be the ghost of a dead sun and hence the oldest spirit in the heavens. Saturn is thus considered the place where ‘created matter’ first manifests; it symbolises the laws defining and delimiting material manifestation.

The alchemist’s journey is focused on breaching these laws – or passing through the so-called ‘serpent’s circle’ of Saturn – in order to break through transient time and return to the Golden Age of eternal youth and divine benevolence.

In ancient lore, references to this Golden Age are numerous.

Hesiod tells of:

A golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Kronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil: miserable age rested not on them . . . The fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things. . . .

Similarly writes Ovid in the sixth book of his Metamorphoses:

In the beginning was the Golden Age, when men of their own accord, without threat of punishment, without laws, maintained good faith and did what was right. . . . The earth itself, without compulsion, untouched by the hoe, unfurrowed by any share, produced all things spontaneously. . . . It was a season of everlasting spring.

The messenger of Saturn is the black crow. It symbolises the beginning of the ‘Black Phase’ of alchemical transformation, or Nigredo, the period when light gives way to darkness.black crow

It is in this darkness that we find the fertile soil of new birth. Indeed, the word Saturn comes from the Latin – serere – meaning to sow or plant. Because Saturn marks the boundary between personal and transpersonal (cosmic) powers, it is the alchemists most important planet being equated with both the beginning and end of the Great Work.

Psychologically, Saturn forces acceptance of the limitations of human mortality. Paradoxically, we are unable commit to life until we can face ‘who’ and ‘what’ we really are rather than that which we’d like to imagine. This in turn bring us to the threshold of whole new phase of life, or octave (Saturn being the 7th ring and hence transgressing it ushers in the next octave); each phase or octave leaving further behind the gross material of bodily incarnation in favour of the more subtle matter of our spirituality.

pitagorat1Astrologically, it is with Saturn transits/progressions (especially Saturn returns) that we often commence the ‘Black Phase’. Inevitably this is easier for those with Saturn in the air and fire signs (Gemini, Leo, Aries, Sagittarius, Libra, and Aquarius) for these individuals are more able to keep the ‘faith’ that in the end, everything will be OK.

However for those like my heroine, Judith Shakespeare, who have Saturn in earth signs (Virgo, Taurus, and Capricorn) or water signs (Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio) the Black Phase is much harder because these individuals are too close – too emotionally wedded – to their EGO needs and desires that are being swept away.

Alchmey‘So as above then as below’ is a basic tenet of all occult work.

That inherently there is both good and bad in all things created is a tenet underlying the work of alchemists and Jungian psychologists alike.

Put these two tenets together, and you get an incredibly elegant step-by-step formula on how to create ‘gold’ from your unperfected self.

The heroine, Judith Shakespeare, of my new novel, Love’s Alchemy, has long been interested in both psychology and alchemy. Whilst still a teenager, she’d concluded that it was possible to change, perfect, and redeem  Picture 1herself by marrying psychology with alchemy through astrology.

Jung (himself a competent astrologer) believed that the ‘great work’ or magnum opus of alchemists was akin to the process he coined as individuation – whereby one deliberately works against the natural order of things to create the ‘Self’, an internal structure that will provide a ‘feeling of standing on solid ground, on a patch of inner eternity which even physical death cannot touch.’

The alchemists start with the elusive ‘first matter’, or Prima Materia in Latin. This is the most confusing concept in alchemy and even alchemists find it difficult to define it. Luckily, however, in regards to astrology determining the Prima Materia is easy; it’s your birth chart ! Like alchemists with their Prima Materia, your goal is to take each piece of your natal chart apart such that it can be purified, transformed, and reunited again into a perfect whole.

The first part of the process commences with the ‘Black Phase’ or Nigredo and the first stage of Nigredo is known as calcinatio.

Calcinatio is a fiery, burning process governed by Aries/Mars during which the dross is burned off to purify rather like the process during which diamonds are formed.

Psychologically, this is accomplished by frustrating your natural desires and passions (i.e. deliberating frustrating your EGO) so that you no longer are able to get your own way). It was never going to be easy to recognise (much less eliminate) your childish beliefs that everything wrong in your life is the fault of someone else.

As you become increasingly unable to blame others (i.e. project your own frustrations outside yourself) and are forced to look inside for the answers, you are literally stewed in your own ‘juices’ – frustrated and trapped – until the fire that lit your anger burns itself out.

alchemy lab 7Hence this stage in the alchemical process is often depicted as wolves with their paws cut off (instincts frustrated), serpents devouring themselves, lions eating suns, or the King being boiled alive

Needless to say this is a dark time of life and is often characterized by feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and depression – as you finally give up your egoistic struggle and slow down long enough to take that all important look inside.

Judith addresses The Black Phase or Nigredo in the first few chapters of Love’s Alchemy when because her Mars is so strong (with Scorpio rising, Mars is her chart ruler which is then also found in the zodiac sign of Scorpio which it rules by sign and triplicity), she finds herself more trouble than she’s ever known.

Like I said, this never was going to be easy.

part of fortunePractice makes perfect and so yet another analysis of the Part of Fortune – this time for Madonna:

In summary, to make lots of money you want:

  • One of the rulers (sign or term) of the Part of Fortune strong in the chart (by rulership or exaltation).
  • One of rulers in an angular house (1st, 4th, 7th, or 10th) preferably conjunct the angle).
  • The primary ruler (strongest of the rulers) also making tight aspect to an angular Part of Fortune.
  • Another the rulers also making an aspect to the Part of Fortune.
    ____________________________________________

 

  1. Madonna’s Part of Fortune is 25 Virgo 41 = ASC – Sun + Moon by Day.I013319.QG_Eddhd7AVhWUvAU6kiDw.c2atw.250
  2. Mercury rules 25 Virgo 41 by sign and Mars rules it by term.
  3. Mercury and Mars are the rulers of Madonna’s Part of Fortune.
  4. In Madonna’s chart, Mercury is in rulership in Virgo and on the ASC (and hence in the 1st house which is angular) BINGO – tick points one and two in the make lots of money summary above.
  5. Mercury does not make an aspect to Madonna’s Part of Fortune. Oh, well, too bad. No tick for for point three in the make lots of money summary.
  6. However Mercury is closely plugged into all the angles (ASC and MC) – and it is functioning extremely strongly (and effectively because it’s in rulership) in Madonna’s life. Good.
  7. In Madonna’s chart, Mars is at 15 Taurus 23 and cadent in the 11th This is not particuarly good nor is it particularly bad.
  8. However Mars does make a wide trine to the Point of Fortune. So a partial tick to point four in the make lots of money summary above.
  9. As this is a diurnal chart (Madonna was born just after sunrise), we look to the Sun for more information.
  10. The Sun is in the 12th house (cadent – not so good) at 23 Leo 07 in rulership – The dispositor of the Sun is also the Sun (this is always the case when a planet is in rulership). DOUBLE BINGO – another tick to point one in the make lots of money summary above.
  11. The Sun does not make an apsect to the Part of Fortune. You can’t have it all.
  12. Can Madonna make pots of money? You bet.
  13. Is this accomplished through her profession or vocation?
  14. Let’s see:
  15. Mercury is the ruler of her (Gemini) MC.
  16. So tick one for Mercury.
  17. The Moon (11 Virgo 30 and also ruled by Mercury and in the 1st house – angular and conjunct the ASC – good, good) is applying next to Mars.
  18. So tick one for Mars.
  19. No planet is ‘at the bendings’ (i.e. square the nodal axis at 24 Libra/Aries).
  20. Mercury is in greatest dignity (by sign and term) and it forms part of the Sun’s rather good doryphory (Mercury, Moon, Jupiter, and Venus).
  21. Hence Mercury rules Madonna’s profession.
  22. According to Bonatti, Mercury in its own terms suggests ‘the person will have rank and share in secret knowledge’. He further goes on to suggest that if Mercury is also in rulership, ‘they will be very honest and sober’.
  23. Traditionally Mercury is associated with merchants (buying & selling). In more modern astrology, Mercury is associated with communication of all sorts – and because Pluto (OK – that’s cheating using a modern planet – forgive me?) is closely conjuct Madonna’s Mercury, whatever she communicates will resound deeply and powerfully in the collective. This is further amplified by Mercury’s close sextile to Neptune, planet associated with performers and dreams.
  24. In summary –  Mercury, the dispostior of her Part of Fortune as well as her profession, is in rulership by sign and term. Mercury is angular and conjunct an angle (the ASC). Mercury is plugged tightly into all the angles (ASC and MC). Mercury is also the ruler of the MC which suggests she is known for her fortune and ability to communicate. Madonna would have been even more successful if Mercury (or Mars or the Sun) had closely aspected her Part of Fortune (however Mars does make a wide 10 degree trine so it does help in part).

Pisces-Sept07-DE7863sAR800Is the urge to spirituality innate?

Carl Jung certainly thought so.

He suggested the need to make connection with something greater than yourself is only make you feel truly alive.

One way to look for this connection is through your natal birth chart. You must be prepared, however, to look further afield than Jupiter and Neptune –  the ‘usual’ astrological significations of spirituality. Remember that every planet represented in your chart, was once a god or goddess in his or her own right.

Naturally this isn’t easy – getting in touch with the numinous. It could even be dangerous. As Liz Greene has always been quick to remind us, personally expressing the energies of outer planets like Uranus, Neptune and Pluto can not only be overwhelming but pathological.

So for now we’ll stick to the inner planets – are you up to the challenge?

To get an idea how this might work for you, look at your strongest and most influential planets (by sign and house placement)– and don’t forget the ruler of your ascendant – your chart ruler. For example, with Libra rising focus on your Venus. If your Sun is in Leo (the Sun rules Leo), then look there. If your Jupiter is in Cancer (where it is exalted) then focus on that.

While reading the rest of this post, lease keep in mind that for these purposes, ‘spirituality’ = finding a sense of meaning and purpose through connecting with that which lies beyond your ken.

 

Sun Solar energy is key to how you bring spiritual urges into personal expression  – this is accomplished not by sacrificing your ego, but by honouring it. You are every bit as much a part of creation as everyone – and everything – else. Because, as myths of ancient Egypt remind us, the Sun passes through the underworld (below the horizon) each and every day, your solar experience of spirituality could even manifest as a life and death struggle.

 

For example, with Sun in Scorpio you might undergo psychoanalysis –or act as a therapist (or shaman) for others in this way. That which you extract from working with your unconscious (for example, by dream work) may give you a sense of that which lies beyond.

Moon Lunar energy manifests through feelings of belonging and shared experience. Get tactile – get earthy – even organic – the lunar experience of spirituality is not about flying off to some lofty place – but about embodiment. The connection here is through the circle of life – in this earth plane.

 

For example, with Moon in Taurus you might  go to classes in yoga, undertake communal gardening, or even practice Zen Buddhism. The more you get in touch with your shared physical world, the more you’ll feel in touch with the lunar version of the divine.

Mercury With Mercury, spirituality is about discovery, solving problems, and making connections.  This doesn’t have much place in Piscean religions like Christianity because to question too much is considered to destroy faith. But as the great astronomical shift from the Age or Pisces into the Age of Aquarius progresses, Mercury can be expected to again take centre stage. For the power of ‘comprehension’ was worshipped as a god by the ancients– through the development of language and the discovery of how to harness ‘tools’ like the wheel.

 

For example, with Mercury in Gemini you might take up blogging – not just the kind where you shoot off the first thing that comes to mind, but that which takes research and serious consideration.

Venus The key to Venusian spirituality is not only that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but also it can be found everywhere. In this regard, beauty is not just pretty or cute or nice – but that which literally brings tears to your eyes. Real beauty (once a key component of the ‘sublime’) by the very nature of the experience takes you ‘out of yourself’. Take your cue from the Renaissance whence art was considered not only the most natural expression of spiritual feeling but also the containment of the quintessence of reality.

 

For example, with Venus in Libra, you might take a course in art history or even learn to paint and draw. If it’s beautiful to you, then it carries some aspect of the divine for you and your job is to appreciate that for what it is.

Mars Most are familiar with the image of an angry god – just have a look at the Bible’s Old Testament. But Martian spirituality can also manifest in heroic undertakings like ‘fight’ for what is ‘right’. The trick here is to make sure you’ve really got a grip on whatever it is that for which you’re fighting = with Mars, it easy to get lost with  ‘might’ makes ‘right’.  Important civilizing qualities like tolerance and understanding are not Martian things.

 

For example, with Mars in Aries you might volunteer to work in a rape crisis call centre or train to work as part of an ambulance or other rescue team– anything what will get you into touch with the many manifestations of violence and aggression will help you to understand that the divine truly has many face.

Jupiter Astrological Jupiter can function as your personal connection to the ‘divine plan’ – however it is that you perceive it.The idea is to plug into the ‘global context’ – to become connected with that which is truly outside yourself. When you find meaning in the greater patterns of the world, you’ve found the path to your own spiritual growth.

 

For example, with Jupiter in Sagittarius, you might take up the study of comparative religion – with the expectation that learning about the many manifestations of ‘Divine’ across time and cultures might will help you to get a grip on what’s right for you.

Saturn Saturn is oft associated with the teachings of traditional religions because it is so keen on ‘following rules’. But don’t forget that Saturn can also focus its quest for spirituality through other types of laws like those of science or society.

 

For example, with Saturn in Capricorn, you might  become involved with your local church. Not just in a superficial way like as an usher, but perhaps as a layman or Sunday School teacher.  Similarly, if you don’t already have a career in law, you might want to become a magistrate or justice of the peace. You’re looking for anything that takes you out of your ordinary sphere of influence while still retaining structure.

Uranus Uranus imparts the need to get a glimpse of what lies beyond the veil (i.e. the tarot  High Priestess).  The mystery lies in how all the parts fit together – the here and the now and the above and beyond – there’s a connection for certain – and it’s the job of Uranus to find it. Unlike with Saturn, Uranus can never do this through organised religion. Structure and form are merely bonds for Uranus to break – it its urge to greater and more powerful revelations.

No example is given here because the energy of Uranus is considered too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Aquarius rising, look to Saturn as the traditional ruler.

 

Neptune

 

Neptune searches for unity through ‘meltdown’ and dissolution of the ego/self. Christianity is perfect for Neptunian seekers – especially the mystical side of the tradition.

 

No example is given here because the energy of Neptune is considered too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Pisces rising, look to Jupiter as the traditional ruler.

Pluto Pluto represents the face of spirituality bound up with evolutionary processes – this is the ultimate of the survival of the fittest.  Read the work of Teilhard de Chardon – who not only was a Jesuit priest, but also a first class philosopher and palaeontologist.

 

Again, no example is given because the energy of Pluto is too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Scorpio rising, look to Mars as the traditional ruler.

   

 

astro_32gw_03_debra_20131110.44231.21411Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend a seminar about solar returns with Lynn Bell right here in Oxford (compliments of the Oxford Astrology Group). As usual, Lynn was brilliant.

I was also fortunate enough to have my current solar return (SR) chart used as a example in class – I say fortunate – tongue in cheek – for what it bodes for the coming year may prove difficult.

Keeping in mind the SR chart is a set of instructions showing what I need to accomplish during the year and how best to do it, I start by looking at the SR Ascendant at 15 Sagittarius.

This falls into my natal 6th house – so for me, it will be a 6th house kind of year – suggesting lots of hard work to be integrated into my daily routine. For more information, I look to the placement of Jupiter – the chart ruler of this SR.[1]

Jupiter (JU) is exalted (highly elevated) in Cancer and conjunct the Moon (MO) which not only rules Cancer but is also in Cancer. This little (mutually receptive) conjunction is extremely powerful and bodes well for emotional happiness and security.  JU/MO is also an aspect of the fertility goddess and because at my age it’s not likely that I will become pregnant, this probably has to do with my ‘creative child’ – my recently finished novel – The Curve of Capricorn.   Not only that, but according to Lynn, MO/JU is about wish fulfilment = this year I can make my dreams come true (agents and publishers take note!).

This wish-fulfilment theme is echoed by Chiron (the wounded healer) making an almost exact trine (TR) to my SR MO.  Chiron is in the 3rd house suggesting writing as a healing aspect and of course JU/MO in Cancer suggests healing as well.

HOWEVER – that MO in Cancer is also caught up in a cardinal grand cross (four planets in square aspect with each other) which signifies frustration and tension big time. Because it is a cardinal grand cross, I will have to actively take control else I suffer at the hands of those who would control me. [2]

The planets forming this cardinal grand cross are heavy hitters – the Sun (SO),  Moon (MO), Pluto (PL), and Uranus (UR) and in this configuration they spell a frustrating attempt to free myself from my prior identity (as a lawyer) in order to honor my new writerly ‘self’ (as symbolized by the SR SO in opposition to UR  suggesting the need to adopt a new self-image).[3]

This theme of the new ‘writerly’ self image is echoed with SR SO in the 9th house (publishing) about to conjunct the MC (profession and public image) in three months. [4] Once that SR SO crashes through into the 10th house of career, there is a reasonable chance I’ll have some claim to ‘fame’ – exactly what that will entail  is suggested by the MC in Libra (LI) and the placement of its ruler, Venus (VE), which is conjunct the fixed star Zubenelscemali (which associated with the Northern Scale in the constellation Libra, is translated into ‘The Price to be Received”).

While the Southern Scale in Libra is a true malefic (sounds bad and doubtless worse than it sounds), the Northern Scale (and with it Zubenelscemali) is considered a very fruitful and prosperous star – associated with riches, honor and good fortune.

All this sounds fantastic – but that cardinal grand cross suggests it comes at a price and because my SR has a predominance of water planets (Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio),this will be highly emotional.

That 11th  house VE is in conjunction with Saturn (SA) in Scorpio – suggesting the only way to deal with it is through serious emotional transformation at the deepest levels.  Because I have little water in my natal chart, emotions have never been my forte.

But because of all the water in my SR chart, I have a unique opportunity in 2013-14 to accomplish emotional integration and because the SR chart ruler is JU, I’m thrown back to that JU/MO in Cancer in the 7th house of relationship.

Because JU/MO are in conjunction, there’s a real chance for success – and because of its placement in the 7th house – doubtless this has something to do with my marriage.  I can’t forget that JU/MO is very healing – especially in Cancer which itself suggests care and support.

Also because the SR MO is almost exact with SR UR, Lynn has suggested that my SR goals would be best accomplished by renegotiating the parameters of my husband’s and my existing relationship and building it anew on firmer emotional grounds.

Stay tuned as my 2013/14 SR unfolds over the course of the next ten months.


[1] Some astrologers use relocated solar charts especially if the indiviudal is living far away from where they were born.  Lynn suggests looking at both – but gives precedence to the SR chart calculated for place of birth. Also in my experience, place of birth has much to tell regardless of where you are living.

[2] PL square UR is a current transit for everyone – and it’s the opening or waxing square (reactive and expanding – heading for culmination with the opposition in 2046-2048) for the PL/UR conjunction in VI (1963-1966). – As Liz Greene puts it (The Outer Planets and Their Cycles) – these two planets together suggest an urgent need to destroy old forms and attitudes – a striking out for freedom (UR) that will be obsessive and quite possibly violent (PL).  In other words, whatever isn’t working can no longer last and to facilitate change in this regard, ‘control’ is the by-word.

[3] SR Mercury in Libra (LI) is in the SR 10th house – reinforcing my self-styled image that I be known or identified as a writer – and because Lynn suggests that SR charts be read much like horary charts – the fact that my SR Mercury is conjunct the Arabic part of ‘sudden advancement’ would suggest that as a ‘writer’, I’m about to become known.

[4] Lynn advises progressing the faster moving planets toward perfecting their applying aspects as one would do with a horary chart.

A good character is as important to good fiction as it is to a good life.

Because no matter how moving or clever or fast-paced the story – if you, dear reader, don’t find my characters both interesting and accessible, you won’t continue to read.

Character = Action = Motivation

Syd Field (The Screenwriter’s Workbook):

Great – it’s all about motivation – but how do you find what that is?

With astrology, that’s easier than it sounds.

When I create a character, I first draw up their natal (birth) chart– that way I can get a deep-down feel for who – and what – they are at their core.  Sure I made up their chart– I’m making them up too.  That doesn’t stop my character from possessing the ‘ring of truth’ that (hopefully) keeps you reading.

maslowmaster4ts

Motivation = that ‘something’ (or bundle of ‘something’s’) that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviour –  that which your character wants, needs, or fears that drives the action.

Astrologically, I believe motivation is primarily symbolised by the placement and connections of three natal planets:

  1. Venus = that which your character ‘wants’ – finds pleasing, stimulating, rewarding, validating (affirms her sense of self worth) = Venusian energy is a very selfish energy as it operates through differentiating between self and another (“I’m prettier than she is…”) 
  2.  Moon = that which your character ‘needs’– finds comfortable, nurturing, necessary for continued life = Lunar energy is a very clingy, suffocating energy as it operates through symbiosis and fusion (“I’ll never leave you if you…”)
  3. Saturn = that which your character ‘fears’ – gives him the strength to carry on and establish the boundaries that keep him healthy and whole = Saturnine energy is very uncomfortable as it behaviourally reprograms us through shame and guilt (“You made such a fool of yourself, you won’t do that again soon…”)

Some common motivations associated with the twelve zodiac signs (each manifesting in it’s unique way- which is where ‘character’ really comes in):

  • Challenge = Aries, Capricorn, Scorpio, Cancer and Sagittarius
  • Curiosity = Gemini, Aquarius, Sagittarius, Virgo, and Pisces
  • Competition = Aries and Scorpio
  • Control = Scorpio, Taurus, Cancer, and Leo
  • Recognition/ Security = Capricorn, Taurus, Leo, and Cancer
  • Cooperation/Collaboration = Libra and Aquarius
  • Fantasy/Escape = Pisces
  • Revenge =  Scorpio
  • Reform = Aquarius

For example, Abby (the heroine in my new novel, The Curve of Capricorn) has:

  • Venus in Aquarius
  • Saturn in Libra
  • Moon in Aries

She wants justice (Libra and Aquarius) and forward thinking reform (Aquarius).

She needs challenge and competition (Aries).

But above all, she fears collapsing cultural cornerstones and the loss of not just relationship, but the possibility for true partnership where all the parts work synergistically as a whole (Libra).

And wouldn’t you just know it, it’s precisely that which she fears that Abby’s going to get.

Six key astrological points to consider when sizing up these two men:

 

Mitt Romney (12 March 1947 @ 9:51 AM in Detroit MI)

1)            Pisces Sun – potential for great creativity/sacrifice as well as self-defeating deceit.

2)            Scorpio Moon – master of tactical maneuovers, tenacious, masks secret rage.

3)            Mercury in Scorpio –what you hear is filtered through needs for secrecy and control.

4)            No earth – lack of practicality – difficulty making ideas manifest.

5)            Lack of cardinal signs –lack of innate ability to initiate or lead.

6)            Venus (values) in Aquarius @ MC – emphasis on aesthetics and financial success.

Barrack Obama (4 August 1961 @ 7:24 PM in Honolulu, Hawaii)

1)   Leo Sun – Playful yet dignified –  susceptible to flattery and inability to accept defeat.

2)   Gemini Moon –intellectual and witty – can be glib and shallow – scattered and rote.

3)   Mercury in Leo – what you hear filtered through needs for self-aggrandizement and approval.

4)   Venus (values) in Cancer in the 5th House – emphasis on protecting the herditary nest.

5)   Saturn in Capricorn – hard-nosed ambition, critical and intent.

6)   Aquarius rising – humane, sympathetic, original and refined – overly rationalistic at times.