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Monday, 21 July 2014

Alex Trenoweth goes to the Astrological Association's Conference 2014

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Happy Birthday Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is one of my favourite authors. On top of being so damn good at what he does, I love it that he has kept old notebooks so he can remember how stories evolve and change with life’s natural progression. As today is his birthday, I thought I’d give him the “Growing Pains” treatment.

Ian was born on 21 June 1948 at 8:30 am in Aldershot, United Kingdom (Rodden Rating: A; Collector: Rodden). By star sign, his Sun didn’t quite get under the solstice wire to be in Cancer. At 29 degrees 48 minutes, his Sun is in Gemini. Ian’s ascendant is in Leo, meaning the Sun is the Lord of his chart so by progression and solar arc, it would take on a more particular meaning. Typically, a person with a Leo ascendant cannot help but be noticed and actively seeks the limelight. However, for Ian, this manifests in a very different way. For starters, two other planets are in conjunction to his ascendant (Saturn and Pluto) making the Sun their ruler too.

Further, with Uranus conjunct his Sun, Ian may have felt compelled to avoid attention and insist and doing things in his own and unique manner, contrary to what others may have wanted. He would have detested being ‘handled’ by others. This conjunction is opposite his Jupiter and Moon in Sagittarius. A Jupiter-Moon conjunction usually indicates a person who is naturally optimistic and has perpetually itchy feet. As a child, Ian lived in several different countries due to his father’s army postings. Around the time of his first Jupiter return in 1958, he and his parents were living in Libya but they returned to England later that year. Ian may have felt either been over indulged or ignored as he grew up. Either way, with Sun conjunct Uranus, he may have been attracted to the idea of revolutionising the world through his communications in a playful, trivial way. The Moon and Jupiter opposing this deepens philosophical thoughts and interests, perhaps leading to over confidence and a strong desire to take risks. All handy traits in a man who is listed amongst the top 50 writers in Great Britain—and unexpectedly (at least to an astrologer), his work reflects his chart. Remember, natal planets carry their energy as they transit another planet.

Ian’s first book, The Cement Garden, is a fairly good manifestation of this complicated opposition. Published in 1978 as Jupiter transited Uranus, Sun, Mercury and Venus, it tells the tale of four children who bury their mother in cement to avoid being taken into to foster care. The children survive the rather onerous task of keeping this terrible secret as well as raising themselves.

His next book, The Comfort of Strangers, was published as Jupiter squared the stellium in Gemini in 1981. Curiously, the couple featured in the book, Mary and Colin, are in a relationship that is undergoing its first Saturn square (7 years). They befriend another couple who clearly have “issues” in relationships that ultimately lead to Colin’s death. Ian married shortly after the book was published but the relationship collapsed 13 years later under the strain of his success or, in astrological terms, the marriage didn't survive the first Saturn opposition. 

The Child in Time (1987) was written as Ian was fighting for custody of his children (the marital breakdown had been a long and arduous process). Published during the waning phase of the Jupiter cycle, the main theme is that of an author of children’s books who loses his only child in the supermarket. He becomes obsessed with space and time travel and leads to him seeing a vision of his parents as a young couple before they married.

It is easy to see how his subsequent novels follow the Jupiter cycle: The Innocent (1990—Transting Jupiter conjunct Saturn), Black Dogs (1992—transiting Jupiter conjunct the stellium in Gemini), Enduring Love (1997—transiting Jupiter opposing Saturn), Amsterdam (1998-- transiting Jupiter opposing Saturn, the last in a series of three), Atonement (2001—Jupiter conjunct Saturn) and Saturday (2005—Jupiter conjunct Neptune).

As Saturn came to transit the stellium in Gemini in 2007, On Chesil Beach was published. This tells the tale of a couple with vastly different backgrounds end up splitting up on their honeymoon over a sexual misunderstanding.

But it is Solar which wins the prize for best transits: When it was published in 2010, both Jupiter and Saturn were square to his natal Sun.

Ian also has a conjunction of Mercury and Venus in Cancer, in dissociate aspect to the Sun and Uranus, perhaps giving him an interest in History and a keen eye and ear for human emotion. He has kept his early writing notebooks as a means of keeping track of how his stories evolved. He has said Atonement began as a science fiction book set two or three centuries in the future (thus pleasing his Sun conjunct Uranus!). It is utterly fascinating he eventually released the book written entirely from the point of a view of a woman through various stages of her life.

Perhaps as a child during the first Saturn squares (he had a series of three), he suffered an illness or there was a significant change in the family structure (natally, Saturn is square to Chiron in Scorpio in the 4th so this would have been activated by Saturn transits). Whilst it is safe to say he didn’t bury his mother cement, the first Saturn square (as well as the first Jupiter opposition the year before) is an important developmental milestone and the memories of events around this time can have a lifelong effect.

The fourth house can describe the family home, in particular the mother, and consequent emotions surrounding these themes: according to Wikipedia, in 2002 he discovered he had a brother who was six years older than him. Although his mother had been married to a different man, the brothers share the same biological father because she had had an affair before her first marriage. When her first husband died, she married the brothers’ father. Transiting planets carry forward the energy of natal positions. So Transiting Saturn opposed Ian’s Jupiter when he found out about this family secret but it was at his second Saturn return (he had a series of three conjunctions) and fifth Jupiter return when this became public. The second Saturn return and fifth Jupiter occurs around the age of 60. It is the only time in a human life that the returns coincide. Astrologically, it is a time of reflecting and acting on the wisdom accumulated to that point. Ian dealt with this ‘outing’ with true grace—an achievement no doubt assisted by the Jupiter and Saturn returns.

The following year, in 2008, Ian came under criticism for his comments on Islam which he felt had been misinterpreted: “Certain remarks of mine to an Italian journalist have been widely misrepresented in the UK press, and on various websites. Contrary to reports, my remarks were not about Islam, but about Islamism – perhaps 'extremism' would be a better term. I grew up in a Muslim country – Libya – and have only warm memories of a dignified, tolerant and hospitable Islamic culture. I was referring in my interview to a tiny minority who preach violent jihad, who incite hatred and violence against 'infidels', apostates, Jews and homosexuals; who in their speeches and on their websites speak passionately against free thought, pluralism, democracy, unveiled women; who will tolerate no other interpretation of Islam but their own and have vilified Sufism and other strands of Islam as apostasy; who have murdered, among others, fellow Muslims by the thousands in the market places of Iraq, Algeria and in the Sudan. Countless Islamic writers, journalists and religious authorities have expressed their disgust at this extremist violence. To speak against such things is hardly 'astonishing' on my part (Independent on Sunday) or original, nor is it 'Islamophobic' and 'right wing' as one official of the Muslim Council of Britain insists, and nor is it to endorse the failures and brutalities of US foreign policy. It is merely to invoke a common humanity which I hope would be shared by all religions as well as all non-believers.”


Jupiter in Sagittarius is well known for foot in mouth disease on issues surrounding religion and politics. Hillary Clinton also has Saturn in Leo and Jupiter in Sagittarius. Although these Saturn has different dispositors, (Ian’s Sun is in Gemini and Hillary’s in Scorpio), the bolshie honesty in her politics and his writings share similar themes.

Happy Birthday Ian!!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Educating Elliot Rodger

Warning: Yes, this is grim stuff. I’ll be writing about Maya Angelou over the next couple of days so you can come back to visit then. My sincere condolences to those directly affected by the murders. I decided to write this as a means to understand troubled young people. Of course not everyone born the same day and time as Elliot Rodger would commit such awful crimes but if we can understand the person, we can limit the damage done to them by providing them with alternatives at crucial times.

NB: The birth time I used is 8am because he said he was born on the morning of 24 July 1991 in London in a video he posted.

One of the things I emphasise about using astrology in teaching is that it’s always important to check the balance of Jupiter and Saturn for the learners in question over the entire academic year. Elliot Rodger’s placement of Jupiter was unusual and for the sake of making a point, I want to demonstrate the possible impact this might have had on him. Most importantly, I want to suggest how we can avoid creating potential monsters.

Elliot was born with Jupiter in Leo and Saturn in Aquarius (but not in opposition), both planets in fixed signs which essentially means the native does not adapt well to changes. For the academic year Elliot Rodger was born (starting September 1990), all of his fellow learners would have had Jupiter in Leo. This is unusual because normally in an academic year, the learners fall in two adjacent signs.

I cannot even begin to imagine the energy it would take to teach such a class. Jupiter in Leo learners like to think they are the king or queen of learners and everyone else is just their hired help. They need to feel they are constantly being presented in the best possible light because otherwise, their  egos are damaged. In Elliot’s chart, Jupiter’s ruler is the Sun and is also in Leo conjunct Chiron and opposed to Saturn. Elliot would have been hyper-sensitive to any perceived attack on his ego. And to him, those in authority—parents, teacher, the law--posed the greatest challenge to his damaged sense of self. This is going to kick off during any transits to this opposition. Can you see where Elliot’s problems might have started? Everyone in the class is competing to be the star of the show. Inevitably, there were going to be some very bruised egos.

Saturn’s placement in the sign of Aquarius was the same for everyone in Elliot’s academic year. Pupils with Saturn in Aquarius like to play the game of “Let’s see how many people we can outrage today.” They take great pleasure in seeing how far they can push the rules. In my book (“Growing Pains” sorry for the infomercial), I compare Saturn in Aquarius pupils to Dr Frankenstein, the man who eventually came to think he could do better than God by replicating life. To do this, he had to bend a few little rules such as grave robbing for body parts, driving himself crazy with exhaustion and upsetting the Church (just for starters). He built his man but it was hideously ugly and no one liked it. So Victor abandoned it. Unsurprisingly, the creature pursued Victor to demand a little explanation for his predicament and to make Victor accountable for his actions. Teachers and parents of Saturn in Aquarius pupils must teach their children that if they are going to bend a few rules, then they must take responsibility for the monsters they create. To a certain extent, this is a hard lesson for all children but it is particularly difficult for Saturn in Aquarius pupils because they convince themselves they are not really human and therefore don’t have to follow the same rules as other humans.

According to the limited biographical details available, Elliot moved from England to America when he was 5. Although transiting Jupiter would have been making a series of conjunctions to his natal planets, transiting Saturn was making oppositions to his hyper sensitive Sun and Chiron. For any other child with natal Jupiter in Leo, a move such as this should have been a great chance to show off. “Hey look at me!! Listen to my accent!! Cool, innit?” But for Elliot, who would be eventually diagnosed as suffering from high functioning Asperger Syndrome, human interactions could be very complex. Transit Jupiter would have made a single conjunction to his natal Saturn around this time. Everyone around him would have concentrated on what made him inferior to everyone else instead of celebrating his uniqueness. He may have felt he had no chance of getting the kind of attention he felt he deserved and this would have been terribly painful to his fragile ego. Remember, the condition of Jupiter and its ruler (the Sun) are carried forward in transits. A transit does not override the natal position. As Jupiter began to oppose its natal position, this little boy with an already bruised and vulnerable ego might have been reluctantly pushed out on the stage even more because he was a little different to everyone else. No wonder he complained of being bullied and humiliated. Jupiter in Leo wants to be admired not ridiculed. To make matters worse, Jupiter opposed its natal position three times later that year as he approached his sixth birthday.

In April 1999, the year of his parents’ divorce, Elliot experienced his first Saturn square as Saturn transited the sign of Taurus. This particular transit is about accepting the human body for the simple physical pleasures it can bring: eating on schedule, going to the toilet when needed, sleeping when tired and staying in bed when you’re sick. Elliot had already learned that being human is not much fun. It hurt when people refused to accept that he was a great person who deserved the utmost respect. So how would a child with not only a bruised ego but Asperger Syndrome to boot react to this challenge? I would have thought there would have been a period refusing to accept the bit and saddle at this time. Already mistrustful of people, he would have completely rebelled against all things human until being forced to submit. It would have been a pretty humiliating notion. Jupiter in Taurus squared the natal Saturn position a few months later which may have prolonged the resistance to being like everyone else. By this time, his lawyers have said his parents had sought multiple therapists since this time. They knew something was very wrong.

Just after his 11th birthday, Elliot’s Jupiter transited his natal Sun and Chiron. Jupiter transits blow everything out of proportion. He would have felt no one liked or cared for him. As Jupiter opposed his Saturn, he may have felt the very people who could have helped him the most (authority figures) were in fact out to get him. He had his first Jupiter return around the time of his 12th birthday. To return to any place you have been before will undoubtedly bring comparisons to the previous visit. By this time, Elliot had had a very rough ride. No one appreciated him for the regal figure he thought himself to be. And quite frankly, his previous behaviour didn’t give anyone any reason to do so. But this kid does not get that.

During adolescence, some very interesting things start to happen neurologically. The brain starts developing as fast as it did when the child was a toddler. The folds of the brain start to deepen, indicating the child is going to develop more complex thought processes. This would have been the ideal time to start working on reversing some of the habits Elliot may have developed to cope with rejection. But there is a great arrogance with Jupiter in Leo and as Jupiter transited natal Mercury (also in Leo), it’s very possible Elliot would have convinced himself he knew better than everyone else. To make things worse, adolescence is a time when everyone thinks everyone is watching them and taking an interest in what they are doing. But for an adolescent with Elliot’s astrological signification, this becomes far more apparent.

For modern Saturn in Aquarius pupils, by the time Saturn reached its opposition in Leo, they were already fascinated with the internet, high tech gadgets and probably at one time or another expressed an interest in bizarre experiments or conspiracy theories. As a collective whole, they may have preferred communicating with people via mass media instead of face to face interactions. As a society, this was a new concept and Elliot’s generation of learners were the first that might have felt the internet was created just for them. It fits perfectly into what a Saturn in Aquarius child would like: joining anonymous internet groups who could validate the bizarre theories (and no matter how weird your theories are, you can always find a group on the internet to validate them). For Elliot, this was his chance to be the shining star he always knew he was. Better yet, authority figures would have no idea what he was up to.

In the summer of 2004, Saturn opposed Elliot’s natal Neptune and North Node, the same position Jupiter would be in when he committed his crime. This is a bit like holding up a mirror so one can see one’s destiny. And Elliot didn’t like what he saw. Allegedly this was the summer he met Monette Moio, now a model and the scapegoat for Elliot’s rage. She doesn’t even remember him, according to her father but Elliot said in his manifesto she bullied him by rejecting him. Monette’s father says “this kid was really disillusioned” to think his daughter would bully him.

About a year later, Saturn approached opposition to its natal position, it passed over his natal Sun and Chiron, an agonising reminder that others didn’t see Elliot Rodger the way he saw himself. Usually adolescents with Saturn in Aquarius pupils start to realise they want to put a bit more effort into looking good as Saturn opposes its natal position. In his manifesto, Elliot indicated that around this time was the first time he developed a crush on a girl.

Jupiter made a series of three conjunctions to his natal Neptune in 2008, allegedly the year Elliot started to write his manifesto and made plans to kill. Conjunctions indicate the start of a cycle, so it begins with a very damaged, very deluded ego. By the summer of 2013, Jupiter opposed Neptune. It’s a bit like a culmination of everything that has happened since the conjunction. Fuelled by vodka, he went to a house party to give “the female gender one last chance to provide me with the pleasure I deserved from them,” he said in his manifesto. Of course, the girls ignored his drunken advances. Elliot snapped and tried to push them off a ledge but instead other party goers ganged up on him and pushed him, breaking his ankle and losing his beloved Gucci sunglasses and a prized necklace in the process. When he returned to the house to retrieve the items, he was greeted with insults and jeers. This was the flashpoint of his crime.

A year later, Saturn transited his natal Pluto in Scorpio. For Elliot, his Saturn represented the perceived pain and suffering of rejection by the people he felt should have loved and adored him. Pluto has the great potential to transform us if we use the power in the right way. The mythical Hercules, when slaying the deadly Hydra, realised he wasn’t getting anywhere by slashing her heads off (because three more grew in its place). He had to get on his knees and lift her to the light to kill her. With Jupiter in Leo and all its accumulated humiliations this was not going to be an option for Elliot. No matter how many nice things he had, they were just not going to get people to like him. Elliot Rodger’s monster was his own cruelly damaged ego represented by natal Jupiter in Leo. Transiting Jupiter was in a wide opposition to his natal Pluto but almost exactly conjunct his natal South Node when he took his revenge out on innocent people. This aspect, amongst other factors, may have led him to believe that his hideous act might somehow earn him the respect he deserved. It might not make sense to us but Elliot Rodger may have seen it as his final chance.



Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Barry!!!

I’ve been a Barry Manilow fan ever since “Read ‘Em and Weep” came out in 1983 (and Barry did it way better than Meatloaf had done a few years before—that’s why Barry’s version made it to #18 in the Billboard Hot 100 and Meatloaf’s did not. Read that and weep, Meatloaf fans).

Spending hours listening to and rewinding a song on an old style cassette player to get all the lyrics was a lot of hard work but I eventually did it. I also loved the video and fell in love with Barry in the only way a silly sixteen year old girl could. Now back then, Barry had a bit of competition: there was Elton John (who hadn’t come out back then) and also Dennis DeYoung (of Styx) who sent my heart aflutter. But before Boy George irrevocably replaced all of them, Barry was my man.

So how fabulous is it that a complete Saturn return later, I finally get to see Bazza live at the London O2? Well, let me tell you, it was nothing short of magical. He sounded great, he looked great—and not a bit like the over botoxed, plastic surgery addicted monster the press likes to portray. For goodness sake, the man is 70 years and has practically lived his life on stage. He wants to look good! For me!! OK, not just for me but I still reckon Barry would marry me if he had actually met me (oh feel the jest).

In honour of the still delectable Barry, I’m giving him the Growing Pains treatment.


Barry’s “A” Rodden Rating birth chart indicates he was born on 17 June, 1943 at 9:00 in Brooklyn New York. With Jupiter in Cancer, he would naturally want to learn by extending himself emotionally and could only take risks if he felt the support of his family and other loved ones. Although his mother divorced his father when he was young, Barry was very close to his maternal grandparents and he reportedly idolised his mother who he imagined was a martini-drinking sophisticate even though she was a travel agency secretary. It is appropriate for a man known for writing music to send millions of “Fanilows” in ecstasy to have Jupiter in the 12th house.

With Saturn in Gemini, he may have felt he had a particular important message rather the frivolous kinds normally associated the sign of Gemini. Saturn in Gemini pupils learn very quickly that if they’re going to say something, they had better know what they’re talking about. They polarise into know-it-all academics or pupils who are terrified of looking stupid so they never open their mouths. Barry has indicated in interviews that his goals were to be involved in music that outlived him, a very “heavy” statement about music from a man labelled, “The King of Schmaltz”. Although Barry has had some very successful collaborations, with Saturn in the 11th house, it is interesting these have often served as springboards for his solo performances. One of the more notable features of Barry’s chart is the Saturn-Moon opposition which forms the spine of a kite formation in his chart. Thus every time the opposition is triggered off by transiting planets, all the planets in this formation are affected.

Barry’s first of three Jupiter oppositions (in Sagittarius) came about 6 months before his 6th birthday and ended a few months before his first Saturn squares. Oppositions give us a chance to look at how far we’ve come and what more we need to do to achieve what we want. With Jupiter transiting in Sagittarius, Barry may have gotten the first notion that he wanted to become involved in adventures that would enhance the meaning of his life. Of course, this would provide a very broad range of choices (in true Sagittarius style) but is interesting that when his first Saturn squares hit a few months later, Barry chose to get involved in music.

During his first Saturn squares (also a series of three), the first just before he turned 7 years old, Barry learned to play the accordion. Hardly a sexy instrument or an easy one to carry around but like stringed instruments and the piano, it makes a suitable choice for a child who doesn’t have front teeth (remember Saturn rules the teeth).  The other advantages of playing the accordion is that chord structures—a sizeable bugbear to overcome if you play an instrument that only requires reading one line of music at a time—are learned. And, the accordion is also a rhythmic instrument. All handy skills for a future musical superstar who would go on to sell 58 million records worldwide.

Barry had a series of three Jupiter returns throughout 1954, the first quite a bit earlier than an astrologer would expect at 11 years 3 months but finishing at the more typical 11 years 11 months. The return of any planet to its natal point marks a time of taking stock. Whereas the oppositions give us time to decide what we need to do, returns provide us with the opportunity to evaluate. With Jupiter, the planet of growth, it is a time to actively search for ways to expand whether this is done consciously or unconsciously. Although much more research needs to be done, the growing phases of the Jupiter cycles may contribute to physical variations that take place during adolescence and further, the secondary variations related to confidence and risk taking that result.

Barry’s mother remarried when he was 13 years old and he changed his name from Barry Pincus to Barry Manilow at the time of his Bar Mitzvah. His step father introduced him to jazz and big band music and crucially, Barry began taking piano lessons. His first Saturn opposition was preceded by a conjunction to his natal Moon. We usually view this type of transit as being a negative experience and Barry has said in interviews that it was around this time that both his mother and stepfather began drinking heavily. Experiences during adolescence have a lifelong effect on us because crucial areas of the brain are developing and creating the synapses that hold the memories of these events. Although the adolescent Barry might not have realised the significance of these experiences, the habits of a lifetime were being created.

Whilst very unhappy on one level, other areas of Barry’s life were thriving. He started writing his own music and formed a jazz band even though he was “looking over his shoulder and wondering what was going to happen next” during this time.

In 1961, both Jupiter and Saturn opposed his natal Jupiter when he started attending Julliard and began work on his first musical adaptation of a melodrama entitled “The Drunkard” which eventually became a long running off Broadway hit. For the next cycle of Jupiter he worked as a jingle writer for companies such as State Farm insurance, McDonald’s and Band-Aid. At Barry’s first Saturn return, he began working with Bette Midler as her musical director, arranger and pianist. As Jupiter again opposed itself in 1973, he had persuaded her to allow him to be the opening solo act for her US tour.
In 1974, transit Saturn made a series of squares to its natal position and to the Moon. Square aspects force an individual to do something productive and arguably, this time was the most industrious time of Barry’s life as he released two successive hit records and was the opening act of Dionne Warwick’s set at the Schaefer Music Festival in the summer of 1974.

But it would appear Barry was still a troubled adolescent marked by his mother’s drinking. As transit Saturn made a series of conjunction to Barry’s natal Chiron from 1977-78, he wrote and released one of his most famous songs, “Copacabana,” a song about Lola the showgirl who lost the love of her life, then her youth, began drinking herself half blind and eventually lost her mind. He also released the song “Even Now,” a melancholic song that could very well be about the son who still misses his absent mother. Barry Manilow still confesses on stage that this is his favourite song to sing.

Even now.




Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Yup, my Jupiter return is finished. . .

I've said it before but I'll say it again. . .I loved my Jupiter return. I had three conjunctions of transit Jupiter to my natal Jupiter so what could be just a fleeting thing actually lasted for nearly a year. In that time, I published a book, wriggled my way into the AA conference, ISAR and more recently State of the Art astrology conference in Niagara Falls, visited about 15 local astrology groups both great and small but perfectly formed. I finshed it at the Astrological Lodge of London with a barnstorming delivery of a lecture to my home crowd.
This 12 year cycle of Jupiter hasn't been too bad either: I started a new career in teaching, got divorced, bought a flat and did a lot of travelling. Yes, I had a bit of a re-boot because the Jupiter cycle before that was a bit of a no starter. I did achieve my goal of moving to England (within a few days of my second Jupiter return--which I hadn't realised was happening at that time) and I had children but I was--or at least felt--really stuck.
I'm writing this down because I can be a little hard on myself and can let ingratitude enter.
Yes, I had a shit day. I'm tired, discouraged and pretty pissed off. Yup, my Jupiter return has definitely finished and now I have to deal with Saturn doing the boogie woogie all over my fluffy cosy Neptune. What does that feel like I hear you ask? Well it feels like I could use a drink and if it weren't a school night, I might have two or five. It feels like someone has abused their authority and kicked me in the teeth.
Oh wait, that IS what happened (except the part about having two or five--it is a school night after all). 
On a completely different note. . .I forgot all about Sun on Algol this year. As far as I know, nothing much happened. Except these people were walking around with decapitated swans on their heads. . .


Oh and I just wanted to thank all the people who have subscribed to my blog. I'm not always so moany. Most of my days are really good and Whitsun break is coming up so I'll have the mental space to update a bit more often. Oh yeah--and I got a new computer too!! An Apple Mac if you must know--in all this time, I've been a Microsoft girl.
And I really needed to read this:

Now I think I can go home in a better frame of mind.