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.

 

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According to Colmer (92), the phrase ‘only connect’, the epigraph to Howards End, immediately establishes the master theme as one of achieving harmony. Indeed the importance of bridging tensions across racial, class, and geopolitical barriers is a recurring theme in Forster’s work.

However I suggest that Forster does not always succeed (or perhaps did not wish to succeed) in bridging these tensions. This essay investigates how and why this might be the case in regards to resolving the tension between ‘prose’ and ‘passion’ in five major characters from Howards End and A Room with A View (both novels themselves connected by reference to the English art critic and author, John Ruskin).

Our first encounter with ‘prose’ and ‘passion’ comes shortly after Margaret Schlegel, a liberal intellectual, receives her first kiss from her chalk and cheese fiancé, Henry Wilcox, a conservative businessman. When Margaret finds that ‘the incident displeased her’ because ‘no tenderness had ensued’, she resolves to help Henry bridge the desired gap (HE, 169).

Although the word ‘passion’ is used twenty-three times in Howards End, it is not defined. However given the lack of physical passion in Margaret’s relationship as well as her musings about ‘half-monks’ and ‘half-beasts’ (HE 169), Henry’s ‘soul’ and the ‘whole of her sermon’ (HE 170), I suggest that the passion in question is more spiritual than physical. Although the word ‘passion’ occurs sixteen times in A Room with A View, it is likewise not defined. But given that yet again, there is little physical passion displayed in Lucy’s relationships (her first kiss – RV, 101 – apparently being as much a failure as Margaret’s), I am presuming that for sake of comparison that the passion in A Room with A View is likewise more spiritual than physical although perhaps not quite in the same way or to the same degree as in Howards End. For purposes of this essay, spirituality is presumed to be un-associated with traditional religions, for as Colmer (91) explains, Forster celebrated in all his novels a ‘spiritual aristocracy’ of the ‘sensitive, the considerate and the plucky’, the members of which ‘are to be found in all nations and classes’ and who have a ‘secret understanding between them when they meet.’Unknown

Colmer (90) also notes that the first Mrs Henry Wilcox definitely qualifies as a member of this spiritual aristocracy. I suggest that Margaret might then also qualify given that she was the first Mrs Wilcox’s ‘spiritual heir’ (HE, 90) but that for Mr Henry Wilcox, the businessman who was not ‘spiritually’ as ‘honest’ as Margaret, there would seem little hope, at least not on his own.

I also suggest that although Leonard Bast in Howards End was ‘a born adventurer’(HE, 108) and hence plucky, there was likewise little hope for him because he was ‘poor’ (HE 41). Stone (36), makes clear that Forster was convinced that only the well-off can attend to spiritual concerns. Indeed the narrator of Howards End reiterates this: ‘this story’ deals only with ‘gentlefolk’ (or those obliged to pretend they are gentlefolk) because ‘the very poor’ are ‘unthinkable’ and can ‘only be approached by the statistician or the poet.’ (HE 41).

Although Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with View might initially have been ‘in a state of spiritual starvation’ (RV,5) the narrator assures us that because of her music the ‘passion was there’, even though it ‘could not be easily labelled’ (RV, 28). Lucy continues to struggle with articulating her passion until Mr Emerson, George’s father, reveals that ‘passion does not blind’ (RV 183). With this she finally gets in touch with her passion and by the end of the novel when she and her new husband, George, commence their life together, the narrator assures us that ‘passion’ was ‘requited’ and ‘love attained.’

This brings us to the second half of the ‘prose’ / ‘passion’ equation.

Although in Howards End the word ‘prose’ is used eight times, it is not defined. However given Margaret’s obvious interest in literature perhaps we may justifiably take ‘prose’ to mean at least in part, ‘a composition or passage in prose’ as opposed to poetry (OED A 2 b). In A Room with a View, the word ‘prose’ is used only once and that is in regards to Ruskin who is a common factor for both novels being invoked seven times in Howards End and four times in A Room with a View. Hence I suggest it is not unreasonable to associate ‘prose’ with that of Ruskin. According to Hoy (221), in both these novels Forster tried to do for modern England what Ruskin had tried to do for Victorian England – to redeem her from the repressive forces that threatened to destroy her spirituality through retreat into an idealised view of the classical world, which valued not only high art but also a quality of mind characterized by disinterested contemplation. In other words, truth rises above the rumble and grumble of the everyday material world and hence only detached intellectuals are able to find it.

Most certainly Leonard Bast believed this to be the case; he felt that ‘if he kept on with Ruskin’ not only was he ‘being done good to’, but that he ‘would one day push his head out of the grey waters and see the universe’ (HE, 45). But Bast fails in his quest, killed by a ‘shower’ of the very books he believed would redeem him (HE, 295). Perhaps this was because as Colmer (102) points out, Ruskin not only promoted intellectually fuelled classicism but also ‘preached the gospel of work to invest the new forces of industrialism with value’. Interestingly this would seem compatible with yet another definition of ‘prose’ – that which is ‘plain, simple, or matter-of-fact’ (OED A 1 b) for as I understand it, with Ruskin came serious questions whether definitions of ‘culture’ could include the plain, simple, matter-of-fact rumble and grumble of everyday life or whether it could now only exist above and beyond. Hence for purposes of this essay, I posit that the message of Ruskin’s prose in both Howards End and A Room with a View is that to be valuable, intellectualism must be put to good use through the gospel of work (the word ‘work’ being used an amazing eighty-five times in the former and one hundred eighteen times in the later).

Although it was ‘work (that) Bast wants’ (HE, 206), I suggest it might not have been the type of work that Ruskin had in mind. Colmer (102) suggests that unlike Ruskin who believed that work must not be reduced to mechanics but instead be intrinsically linked with the enjoyment of that which it produced, Forster could see ‘work’ only in terms of counting houses and because Bast was a clerk, as he himself acknowledged, ‘there’s nothing’ he is ‘good enough to do’ (HE, 206).

Although Henry Wilcox may not have strove to be an intellectual as did Bast, he virtually embodies the gospel of work – he and those like him are ‘(s)ane, sound Englishmen! Building up empires’ (HE, 215). As readers we are reminded no fewer than five times that Henry Wilcox is a man of business and by definition this means he is engaged in ‘serious employment’ (OED II 9 a). However if Ruskin requires the marriage of intellectualism and valuable work, this would seem not enough for Henry for he had neither ‘fine feelings’ or ‘deep insight’ (HE, 187); he was a very ‘practical fellow’ indeed and hence ‘more tolerant’ than ‘intellectuals’ (HE, 133).

Likewise it is not enough for Margaret. However much she may talk about work (for example lecturing her brother, Tibby, regarding work as the cure for his empty life (HE, 100)), Margaret remains a secure member of the leisured middle class. According to Colmer (102) this is one explanation why Margaret was attracted to Henry Wilcox; he ‘embodies the importance of work’ which Margaret appreciated but, despite her extension of the gospel of work to women (HE, 100), she failed to take it up personally.

Even if Margaret was not able to ‘connect’ on her own (i.e. by failing to take up ‘serious employment’ she had not personally embraced the entirety of Ruskin’s prose), I suggest that she ‘connected’ through marriage. I suggest that similarly it was through her marriage to Henry that the first Mrs Wilcox connected her ‘passion’ with the ‘prose’ for however spiritual she might have been, she possessed no prose of her own – she was neither an intellectual nor engaged in ‘serious employment’, her ‘idea of business’ being ‘why do people who have enough money try to get more money?” (HE, 82).

In regards to Henry, although Margaret concludes that ‘he had refused to connect’ (HE, 301), I would aruge that he has done. Although he had once refused to give Howards End (arguably itself symbolic of ‘passion’ with its mysterious ‘pigs’ teeth stuck in the trunk’ of the ‘finest wych-elm in Hertfordshire’ (HE, 65)) to Margaret as requested by the first Mrs Wilcox on her death bed, in the final paragraphs of the novel he gives Howards End to his new wife ‘absolutely’ (HE 310). Although he might not have accomplished the ‘connection’ on his own, he was able to do so through marriage.

Like Leonard Bast, Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View is addicted to her Ruskin. When she first arrives in Florence, she is reluctant to consider what might be beautiful without guidance from him (RV, 19). But as she got into her own stride at Santé Croce, she dropped her pretence to intellectualism and was soon advising Mr Emerson that his son, George, ‘wanted employment’ to get over what would appear to be his existential angst (RV, 26). Whether her rhetoric regarding employment matters, I remain uncertain for unlike in Howards End, the thrust of Lucy’s ‘prose’ was neither the (1) intellectualism inspired by Ruskin (although she did experience her inciting events in Italy) nor (2) the gospel of work. I suggest that Lucy was faced with the other definition of ‘prose’ – that which is ‘plain, simple, or matter-of-fact’ (OED A 1 b). Indeed Colmer (44) suggests that the conflict confronting Lucy was that between naturalness and conventionality and I suggest that in breaking off her engagement to Cecil Vyse and eloping with George, the man she loved, she bridged the tension between her ‘passion’ and ‘prose’, albiet perhaps a different ‘prose’ than that bridged by the characters of Howards End.

In summary, Forster does not always succeed (or perhaps did not wish to succeed) in bridging the tension between the (1) ‘passion’ or the spiritual side of man with the (2) ‘prose’ or more rational, material side. With Leonard Bast, I suggest that he not only failed but that he wished to fail in order to emphasize that blind intellectuallism will never win the day and besides, Bast was never to be admitted to the ranks of the spiritual aristocracy because he was poor. With both Margaret and Henry, the connection is made but not on an individual basis for each lacked an essential ingredient in the the ‘prose’ / ‘passion’ equation. Likewise although the first Mrs Wilcox possessed ‘passion’ (in the sense of belonging to the spiritual aristocracy), without her husband she failed to possess ‘prose’ and the connection could only again be made as the result of marriage. Similarly Lucy Honeychurch was neither an intellectual nor an adherent to the gospel of work however her remit was somewhat different; the prose she was meant to achieve was to put aside the pretence of convention in favour of a ‘plain, simple, and matter-of-fact’ approach to life that allowed her to follow the dictates of her own heart. Lucy demonstrated her success in bridging the ‘prose’ and the ‘passion’ when she refused to marry the man society had chosen for her in favour of the choice of her own.

________________

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Forster, EM. Howards End. New York: The Modern Library (1999): (HE).

Forster, EM. A Room with a View. New York: Penguin Books (2000): (RV).

Colmer, John. E.M. Forster, the personal voice. London: Routedge & Kegan Paul. (1975).

Eagles, Stuart. After Ruskin: The Social and Political Legacies of a Victorian Prophet, 1870-1920. Oxford Scholarship Online (2011).

Hoy, Pat. C. ‘The Narrow, Rich Staircase in Forster’s Howards End’, Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 32, no. 2/3 Summer-Autumn, (1985) pp. 221-235.

Stone, Wilfred. The Cave and the Mountain: A Study of E.M. Forster. Stanford: Stanford University Press (1966).

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.

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.

 

Judith rests on the 2nd day_001Time-travelling back from 21st century Oxford to Elizabethan England to work with the Queen’s conjurer, Dr John Dee, Judith Shakespeare’s classical/medieval astrology (and alchemy – but that’s another post) must be up to snuff.

Hence the following is my new heroine’s astrological character profile of herself:

  • I’m curious, forthright, flighty, flirty, and very engaging (Sun/Venus in Gemini – angular in the 7th house).

According to Bonatti, a Sun in Gemini:

‘…shows person who is exceedingly practiced and expert, teaching many things and giving orders, learned men and women who are able to debate academics and many who will be aware of celestial matters. They are good with numbers, magic, astronomy, divination and chemistry.’

  • I’m also hard working and highly effective – (Sun/Venus in square with the MC – i.e. plugged into the angles).
  • Having said that, I do get bored easily (Saturn in Scorpio). I realise that as the result of this many (especially my wretched sister) think that I’m lazy. And indeed whilst this is one of much chief frustrations, nothing could be further from the truth.
  • I am a veritable dynamo – up for every challenge –  I’m determined, feisty, formidable (Scorpio rising = Mars is chart ruler – Mars in rulership by sign and triplicity – conjunct Saturn ). Folks (except for Master Williams whom I unfortunately meet within the first few pages of my story – ARHGGG!) realise they can’t push me around.
  • I’m secretive (Scorpio rising) but what’s wrong with some privacy? The good news is that with this configuration, readers can be assured that because I’ve chosen to write my story for them, it’s a story worth their reading.
  • I do have a tendency to get a little hot under the collar.
  • According to Bonatti, Mars in the terms of Mercury (& out of Sect): ‘This person is hot-headed and their reason is clouded.’ 
  • The good news however is that with such a strong Mars, not only am I sexually powerful and alluring, I enjoy breaking social taboos – steamy sex scenes here we come!
  • With Moon in Leo, I’m strong, proud, and courageous. Because of this (and despite all that Scorpio), I do try to be honest and sincere and one of my proudest achievements is that because of this, I’m often put in positions of great trust.
  • However with my Jupiter in fall in Capricorn, I also often let people down. Sorry.

According to Bonatti, a Jupiter in Capricorn (out of sect) :

‘This placement of Jupiter leads to the person suffering injustice and many failings in business dealings. They may be corrupt and ruined of life.

  • The big unknown however is the effect of that seriously malefic North Node conjunct my Sun/Venus in Gemini.

According to the Liber Hermetis (attributed to Hermes Trismegistus):

The Nodes bring errors and turbulence of life.

 

 

 

Judith Shakespeare

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