imagesThis morning, at 9:04 GMT, we experienced a powerful solar eclipse.

It occurred at 9 Virgo 21.

Unless an eclipse triggers a sensitive natal aspect (i.e. between 5-13 degrees of Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces, or Gemini), or falls on your angles (i.e. cusps of the 1st, 4th, 7th, or 10th houses), you are likely not to feel it too much.

But if it does, then it will function like a power surge, provoking a crisis of some sort, something with which you’ll be forced to deal. For clues, look back to your life experiences during the previous eclipse season 19 years ago in regards to any one or all of the following:

  • Natal Sun: You were born to be the hero of your life story – but sometimes from fear or false modesty, you delegate this role to another. When an eclipse makes an aspect to your natal Sun, you can no longer avoid assuming the starring role in your life. Expect issues with authority figures like parents or bosses, all those to whom in the past, you’ve abdicated your personal power.
  • Natal Moon – Throughout your life, you seek to reclaim the security and safety that you enjoyed in your mother’s womb. You feather your nest, stock the pantry with yummy foods, and surround yourself with all that which makes you feel comfortable. But when an eclipse makes aspects your natal Moon, something – a new living situation, a change in health – will leave you feeling exposed.
  • Natal Mercury: You define yourself through your names, rank , and serial number – your position in the pecking order at home,school, or in the workplace. When eclipses aspect natal Mercury, prepare for a changes  in the way in which you define yourself.  Mercury is the storyteller. It’s time start writing your life story from a different point of view or perspective.
  • Natal Venus: Wouldn’t you just love it if you’d been born with self-confidence, great relationships, fabulous looks – not to mention oodles of cash?! Eclipse aspects to Venus remind you that you don’t always get that which you might think that you deserve. This realisation usually comes through financial challenges, relationship transitions, or flagging self-esteem.
  • Natal Mars: Mars operates as your personal guard dog – protecting your home, your reputation, your family, defining your boundaries. When an eclipse makes an aspect to your natal Mars, the watch dog is stirred up and straining at his leash; take what’s yours, but just make sure no one gets hurt.
  • Natal Jupiter: Do you love an adventure? Taking a chance, making a gamble, an exotic trip to somewhere you’ve never before been? When an eclipse makes an aspect to your natal Jupiter, you’re revved up to have a go, take that chance, do whatever you think is needed to get your life back on track.
  • Natal Saturn: When an eclipse makes an aspect to your Saturn, you may feel worn out and/or discouraged. Maybe you’ve your outgrown your present life  it or maybe you’re still playing by outdated rules? Just remember that you’ll never get anywhere by blaming others for your difficult situation. Regardless of how things got this way, only you can take the positive action needed to make your life better.
  • Natal Uranus: When an eclipse makes an aspect to your natal Uranus, you may feel like a misfit, a clown, a scapegoat – and, well…let’s be honest –  that hurts. Recognising who are and are not your friends, is a key challenge now. Identify only with groups that allow you be yourself.
  • Natal Neptune: Now’s the time to examine your blind spots, examine your faith, and dispute that which you’ve always believed was indisputable. If you’ve been fooling yourself  – hiding away from reality, then expect a wakeup call.
  • Natal Pluto: We all have a darker side; feelings of rage, jealousy, and/or fear. These make us weaker, slaves to our emotions, not to mention allowing those who are self-possessed to further manipulate us. When an eclipse makes an aspect to your natal Pluto, expect to confront the dark side – either in yourself or in those you’ve allowed to embody it for you. Power struggles are the order of the day.

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The composite chart is created by taking the midpoint between pairs of each of two person’s natal planets (in this case the Sun and Mercury) and using them to create a third, new chart. The composite chart is not the same as synastry, which examines how one person impacts the other. Instead the composite chart represents the relationship as a whole giving insight into the dynamics upon which it, as a relationship, functions.

Composite Sun

The Composite Sun represents the thrust of the relationship – its primary purpose and vitality. The composite Sun functions like a lighthouse beacon, keeping the relationship clear of the proverbial rocks. A relationship embodying the essence of its composite Sun will likely be experienced as spontaneous and free. However, when expression of the relationship’s purpose and/or vitality is hindered in some way, it can be a struggle to keep things going.

Composite Mercury

Composite Mercury symbolises the manner and method in which communication occurs in the relationship. It also describes the nature of the decisions that the parties take regarding their relationship. In natal charts, Mercury is meant to be in active service to the Sun, feeding it with all information necessary to fulfil its purpose. In the composite chart, Mercury does exactly the same.

Composite Mercury/Sun

Composite Mercury/Sun in conjunction, trine, and sextile aspects favours verbal communication in a relationship; expect similarity in thinking. This aspect also allows the partners to maintain a helpful detached attitude when discussing their relationship although this strength can quickly become a weakness when feelings and emotions not easily reduced to words are overlooked. When composite Mercury/Sun are in square or opposition, expect miscommunication (whether or not purposeful). The parties to the relationship may well feel as if they’re speaking at cross purposes; what is said by one is not what is heard by the other.

Transits

When composite Mercury/Sun is affected by transit, the connection between the purpose of the relationship and the communication feeding it undergoes change.

Example

Current transiting Neptune/Saturn square – (active November 2015 – September 2016)

Saturn = reality; duty and responsibility, respecting boundaries, integrity, discipline, mastery, doing the ‘right’ thing.

Neptune = unreality: dissolution, delusion, deception, denial, and dreams.

With Saturn in square with Neptune, there is no easy way to bridge the gap between dreams and reality; at times it may become impossible to tell the difference. The primary question with transiting Saturn square Neptune is exactly what is ‘real’.foggy-head-sign-by-geralt-at-Pixabay-e1439240445328

In regards to relationships, it won’t be easy to answer this question because most folks never seriously question the purpose of their relationship much less whether that purpose is being fulfilled. The composite Sun should help in this regard because it symbolises the relationship’s purpose but this won’t be easy to access when the communication feeding the understanding/realisation of that purpose is (at best) murky.

Both Saturn and Neptune are in mutable signs at the moment and hence the foundation upon which that communication is built during this transit is even shakier that it otherwise might be. However, if those with composite Mercury/Sun effected by this transit can avoid getting caught up in typical Neptunian past-times like escape (into computer games, TV, or whatever), alcohol, drugs, and/or other forms of denial, then Saturn can provide them the focus and stamina to get their relationship even more creatively back on track.

 

The HermitAfter the many ego excesses of Leo, it’s time to drop back and regroup and what better energy with which to do this, than with pure Virgo.

In the tarot, Virgo corresponds with the 9th card of the Major Arcana, The Hermit.

The Hermit is a venerable and mysterious figures of solitary intention. Leaning on his staff, he pauses to hold up his lamp (of intellect) and drive away the darkness (of ignorance).

Contrary to popular belief, the Hermit is not a lonely, sorry individual bereft of family and friends. Quite the opposite. He is the kind old wise man whom others eagerly seek out.

But in many respects he does stand alone in that he separates himself from the crowd so that he’s no longer controlled by their moods and desires.

To be like The Hermit does not mean you must renounce society.

But what it does mean is that you must stand aside from it long enough to turn on your own lamp ti discover who and what you really are.

What would you do, be, wear, or think if no one else were watching?

What would you spend all your time doing – not for money to be gained from it – but for the pure joy of doing it?

What would it feel like to forget all your troubles?

This is not to suggest your troubles have gone away – but only that if you can use the energy of the new moon in Virgo wisely, you and your troubles will no longer one and the same.

The TowerWith the Sun in Virgo (perfection) and the Moon in Leo (aspiration), today is a ‘Tower of Destruction” day.

Throughout history, there have been plenty of examples where hubris (i.e. excessive self-confidence, OED, n) has been the cause of a disastrous fall. Check out The Icarus Syndrome by Peter Beinart for insight.

Yet if in today’s world we’re pushed to ‘be all that we can be’ (and more) then where ought we draw the line between well-deserved success and hubris?

Meditations on the Tarot (A Journey into Christian Hermeticisim) provides a thoughtful answer:

Every Christian has been taught that man was ejected from the Garden of Eden for desiring more ‘knowledge’ than God wished to reveal.

Yet why was it so important to have such knowledge?Meditations on the Tarot

Origen (circa AD 185) suggests this is hard-wired in our souls – i.e. we are built to push the boundaries of nature with the purpose of breaching them – i.e. for example through scientific research.

According to the Hermetic tradition, this is dangerous for if God wished us to have such knowledge, He would have revealed it.

Does it mean that we should never strive for more than we’ve been given?

Of course not. The StarAccording to Hermetic wisdom, it is absolutely necessary for us to work and grow – to think and await the ripening of our thoughts – to cultivate and maintain ourselves as we would care for our garden – wherein we realise all will grow and be harvested in its own time.

So why do we push ourselves more than we push our gardens?

Hermetic wisdom suggests that (through ignorance), we identify ‘self’ with ‘ego’ – ‘I’ must have this or that because ‘I” want it (not because I need it or because it is good for me but because I WANT) – and such behaviour is further fueled by advertisements suggesting you should want whatever is for sale for no other reason than because ‘You’re worth it’.

Danger – danger – danger !!!!

What will you be ‘worth’ after your personal fall?

If on a ‘Tower of Destruction’ day, you’re tempted to push beyond your boundaries- beyond the bounds of your own nature  – and like Icarus, fly too close to the sun, resist and be heartened.

In the tarot, the card following ‘The Tower of Destruction’ is that of The Star’ – a kneeling woman with two urns being poured in equal measure so as to achieve balance and equilibrium.

IShakespeare's Richard IIIn the times of William Shakespeare, the ‘stars’ were always a force with which men must reckon. There’s no doubt that in those days, the world was viewed as ‘fated’ – and whether this was a reflection of the ancient cosmos where the gods pulled all the strings or an inherent recognition of what Carl Jung would later posit about the covert operations of the unconscious, we will never know.

But we do know that the idea of ‘fate’ as shown in the ‘stars was woven oft through his work:

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,

Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky

Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull

Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.

(All’s Well that Ends Well, 1.1.209), Helena

Having just finished reading Shakespeare’s play Richard III, I wondered how Richard was ‘fated’ to stack up?180px-Richard_III_of_England

Ptolemy identified six levels of fame/success:

  1. Kings & Princes

Both luminaries in masculine signs and at least one of them to be found in an angle. This alone is pretty good. However – as well, they (both) be attended by a doryphory (including rays)  composed of all five planets – then this is REAL GOOD. In addition this rank is helped if the planets in the doryphories are also in the angles or configured with the MC.

  1. Chieftain

The Sun only masculine with the Moon feminine and only one of them in an angle. If both, however, have good doryphories as described above, then the person will reach chieftain level, with the power to judge life and death. NOTE – a good doryphory has  benefics in good shape or on angles (or ruling them).

  1. Governor or Commander

If the natal chart has the luminaries as for a Chieftain but the doryphories do not involve the angles, these people will not be invested with sovereignty, but will reach eminence.

  1. Civil Leader

If neither of the luminaries be in the angles, but both have good doryphories which are in the angles or ruling the angles, they will have a leadership role in their community. Councillor, President of a club, Mayor of a small town and so on.

  1. Undistinguished

If however, neither luminary is in an angle (Sun still masculine and Moon feminine), and the attending planets are not involved with the angles by placement or rulership, then the person will lead a humble life.

  1. Lowest Level

If neither luminary be found in a masculine sign, nor in an angle, nor attended by any benefics they will live lives of “quiet desperation” and obscurity.

Richard III

  1. Sun in Libra (in fall) in a masculine sign succedent in the 11th house – OK – but could be better – the 7th house Moon in Taurus is in a feminine sign but it is angular and exalted) so overall this is pretty OK.
  2. This might get him to Chieftain level if the doryphories of one or both of the luminaries is strong.
  3. The doryphory is an interesting technique focusing on the ‘retinue’ of helpers either of the two lights or luminaries (i.e. sun or moon) have in their ‘train’. The more planets in the retinue, the more helpers and if additionally those helpers were themselves strong the more help they could give. Imagine yourself a feudal lord trying to raise an army to fight a foe – the more rich/strong neighbours (i.e. able to raise their own armies) you have supporting your cause, the more likely you were to succeed.
  4. Note that when considering if a planet throws a ‘ray’ into the doryphory, benefics (Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and the Sun) can only do so by sextile or trine and the malefics (Saturn and Mars) can only do so by opposition or square.
  5. Richard III’s solar doryphory (i.e. attendants to his sun at 17 Libra) is as follows: Because the sun’s retinue PROCEEDS him, we look to other planets in either Libra (18 -30 degrees) or Scorpio:
    1. Saturn in Libra (exalted) and succedent
    2. Mercury in Scorpio
    3. Venus in Scorpio (in detriment) yet angular
    4. Jupiter in Aquarius (retrograde) throws a ray into Libra by trine
  6. Richard III’s lunar doryphory (i.e. attendants to his moon at 28 Taurus is as follows: Because the moon’s retinue FOLLOWS her, we look to planets either in Taurus (29-30 degrees Taurus) or Aries:
    1. Mars in Aries – strong by rulership but not angular
    2. Jupiter casts a ray into Aries by sextile
  7. A solar doryphory of four planets isn’t bad – but none of these four are in rulership by sign or term – and although Saturn is exalted, Venus is in detriment (alternative) – but she rules the DSC angle (Taurus). Mercury is reasonable shape and also rules the MC angle. Likewise Jupiter is in reasonable shape in Aquarius and rules the IC angle – so overall pretty good
  8. A lunar doryphory of only 2 planets is not so good – But that Mars is so powerful (albeit also retrograde) that it alone could win the day – not to mention that it is the chart ruler because Scorpio is rising. This means Mars rules this angle. Mars is further empowered by being in reception with the Sun (the Sun is exalted in Aries so that Sun in Libra- charming and strategic – gives all it has to Mars. Being retrograde does not impede its power but will effect the outcome in the sense that this power is never really under control.
  9. Overall, this gets Richard III to chieftain level – but not to King – and that shouldn’t be surprising because although he was crowned king, it was only because he killed off or pushed aside all others entitled to wear the crown. He held the throne for only two years before being toppled himself by Henry Tudor (who’d been smart enough to remain in France whilst Richard was bumping folks off), whose claim to the throne was much stronger.

MercuryIn alchemy, the female mercurial principle symbolises the mutable aspect of natural processes, their fluidity and changeability.

Hence ‘he/she’ (Mercury is oft pictured as hermaphrodite) is known to alchemists as the White Queen.

According to Johannis de Monte Raphim (Deutsches Theatrum Chemicum, Nuremberg, 1728):

“The process laboratory-workers wanted to rule him (Mercurius) and force him into (the) process. But he constantly escapes, and if one thinks about him, he turns into thoughts, and if one passes judgment upon him, he is judgment itself.”

Mercury is prized by alchemists because, as the result of ‘his/her’ own divided nature, ‘he/she’ unites opposites. Keeping in mind that the alchemical process is all about separation, purification, and reunification, we begin to grasp the benefits of Mercury. Keeping in mind that Mercury is poisonous however, we can also begin to understand how (as Johannis de Monte Raphim warns us) it might all go terribly wrong.

Mercury = psychopomp = guide between the unconscious and the conscious.

The aim of the alchemical game is to bring up all the dross and impurities (as shown by your natal chart) to the surface (consciousness) so that you can deal with them. How else will you be able to assemble them, purified, back together again?

For example, the heroine of Love’s Alchemy, Judith Shakespeare, has a Mars/Saturn conjunction in the 12th house in Scorpio.

Mars/Saturn contacts are dangerously flammable:

Mars = passionalchemical symbols

Saturn = fear & inadequacy

Whilst her Mars/ Saturn contact operates unconsciously, Judith’s long-term personal relationships will be disastrous. Initially she is highly passionate (Mars). But as her Saturn kicks in (as it must with any form of commitment), she becomes increasingly cold toward her lover and potentially even violent.

Enter Mercury to facilitate the active dialogue and transference which is at the base of all therapeutic work.

With Mercury, Judith’s Saturn can help Mars become more considered and less impatient whilst her Mars can help her Saturn achieve his carefully conceived plans. It’s fairly obvious then that if Judith is to be successful in her alchemical transformation, she must find someone in whom she can confidently confide.

She and I are both hopeful that someone will be Master Francis, the character who is meant to play the King to her Queen.

Because Mercury, or the White Queen, is so fluid, she needs an active force to define and shapes her – this force is the male principle of sulphur known to alchemists as the Red King.White Queen

The union of Red King and White Queen is often called the alchemical marriage. In illustrations, it is depicted as courtship and sex. Sometimes they are garbed, as if just starting to be brought together, offering each other flowers. Sometimes they are naked, preparing for consummation of their marriage that will eventually lead to an allegorical offspring, that all important elixir, the Philosopher’s Stone.

Does Judith want to find the Philosopher’s Stone?

You bet!!

Will she be successful?

That remains to be seen.

 

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.