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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

On Learning How to Smile Again

I just had my teeth whitened.

Now before you sarcastically tell me that that’s the most astounding news you’ve heard all day, let me add that I’ve found a lot of reasons to smile more these days.

And maybe you still want to go to the next blog to read about Scotland, Syria or Iraq. And that’s fine: thanks for stopping by and au revior.

So why am I smiling (you must want to know because you’re still reading!)?

I’ve had the most astounding 3½ months of my life. I’ve had a lot of rest, saw Barry Manilow and Wynton Marsalis in concert (not at the same time of course), performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, started Don’t Sweat It, Planet, attended the Faculty Of Astrological Summer School at Exeter College (Oxford University!), started my own school of astrology, written a new book and have just returned from speaking at the Astrological Association’s conference about my book (I know, I know: not that again!!)—and all on the verge of going on the trip of a lifetime to speak at ISAR and SOTA. I decided I wanted to do what was important to me in the manner that was important to me.

For the past year, Jupiter has been transiting my natal planets. It should have been one of the happiest years of my life but instead, I can’t recall being more miserable. Jupiter in Cancer means understanding that we are all connected if not by blood (and if you think about it, we are all related to one another by blood) then by a certain belief that what affects one person, affects everyone. Jupiter in Cancer finds confidence and strength in looking after everyone and everything. To be denied that makes a person with a stellium in Cancer very unhappy indeed. In fact, I’m rather astounded I was able to put up with things as long as I did. So I closed that chapter with great deliberation in my Book of Life and moved on. Was it scary? Yes, at times. Am I glad I did it? Great Goddess, absolutely yes. And although I wish I had done it earlier, I can understand why I didn’t because I learned one hell of lesson: never compromise on what’s important.

And if you want to know what’s important in your life, have a good look at Jupiter in your natal chart!

It’s (almost) funny that I’ve been an astrologer most of my life but that never occurred to me. This is exactly why it’s so important for astrologers to engage with other astrologers, to talk openly in a language we understand and to learn from each other. Otherwise the point of the lesson gets lost. As anyone who speaks more than one language will tell you: to understand the language, you have to practice the language. I spent a lot of my time sometimes speaking the language a little bit and a lot of time being unhappy because I wasn’t allowed to speak the language.

But those days are over and hallelujah for transiting Jupiter on my natal Mercury (also my ruling planet). I’m going to crow about astrology like a motherfucker because I’m free to do so!!

I’m off to the US for seven weeks Thursday week. Bookending my trip is a speaking engagement at ISAR and a speaking engagement at SOTA. I’m landing in Phoenix Thursday evening and speaking Friday afternoon. Then I’m hanging out with my astro homies for the weekend, culminating with a party at Ray Merriman’s house. Then I’m embarking on a seven week tour of the US: Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, San Diego, Tijuana, LA, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Bozeman (for Yellowstone), Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Austin, New Orleans, Atlanta, Niagara Falls, Port Huron, Kalamazoo, Memphis, Nashville, New York City, Halloween in Salem and leaving for the UK from Boston and anywhere else en route I damn well please!! I’ll be updating via this blog, facebook and twitter.

Between now and my flight to Phoenix, I have an exam to finish, an article for Frank Clifford’s book to polish up and a little something for In the Loop. When I return from the US, it’s looking like I have another year packed with teaching, speaking and writing gigs peppered with jazz band practice.

So thank you Jupiter for the courage to take those leaps of faith!! Whoever learned anything by playing it safe?

I leave you with a few highlights of my summer so you can see why I’ve been smiling!!

Here are a few of us at Oxford University for the FAS Summer School!

My Facebook page for Don't Sweat It, Planet

More jazzy stuff (you can just about see my hat!!)

Having a drink with Rob Hand!!
The advertisement for my classes!

Me and Frank Clifford at the Astrological Association's conference (we are personifying Mars In Scorpio!!!)

And finally, me smiling again!!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

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Facing the Truth About the Past Can Set You Free

So said my tweet and facebook page today.

Lately I’ve been wondering what to with my blog. I’ve been a blogger of some description since 2005. My first blog was a personal one, a sort of journal of the difficult time I was going through. When I passed through that difficult time, I stopped writing entries. Which, on reflection, seems disloyal. The blog represented me and the circumstances around me. But I didn’t want to be known or remembered as yet another woman going through the same tiresome problems that anyone could read about in any women’s magazine article closely related to the subject of “How Not to Wreck Your Life”. I wanted to move on.

My current blog was supposed to chronicle my astrological adventures and to use (so-called) humour to illustrate planetary aspects. For awhile this kept me entertained (I’m sure no one else laughed) but I was starting to feel it was time to grow up a bit. So my entries became a bit more serious and thoughtful. But I was still wondering how I could make astrology accessible to non-astrologers but not reduce it from a vast, rich field of knowledge to twelve sentences for a star sign column.

Recently, I’ve had time to think, plan and finally implement the next step. That’s right, implement. And I’ve decided, with the Moon in Sagittarius, I didn’t want to wipe out my journey as an astrologer. I didn’t want to pretend this example of the Uranus Square Pluto aspect wasn’t funny:

But it is time to grow up a bit.

I mean, if we’re going to put up with people like Richard Dawkins and Dara O’Briain opening their ignorant mouths to ridicule and trivialise astrology when they are sitting there with £300 watches on their wrists and a top of the range mobile phone all primed to tell them what day it is, then it’s time for me step up to the plate.* Or maybe get someone to bat for me.

And that’s when I finally understood the point of social media. BOOM! (as my new facebook friend Piers Morgan would say). I get it: We astrologers have got to keep trying to get our message out there: Astrology is not only useful but dead helpful. It’s not about predicting the future but making the future better. C’est tout.

Whoa, I bet a lot of people fell off their perches over that last sentiment (not c’est tout). I can’t tell you what your future is going to be. I can only tell you how to make it better (or worse—it depends on what mood I’m in). But if you’re paying me, I’ll tell you how to improve the situation (or at least tell you how to employ damage restriction).

So this was my next thought: I have the skills and knowledge but not the right connections to reach enough people. The easiest thing to remedy this would be to give in and get going on a star sign column.

The harder and more complicated thing would be to do something different. Whoever said I was easy?

Having already made (soon to be legal and official) myself Company Director at Apothecary Press UK,  I made myself the CEO of “Don’t Sweat it, Planet”. For now, my company will be updating via the usual social media sites. From 27 August, “Don’t Sweat It, Planet” will take over the East London field of astrology in education via my astrology school (I was going to call it an “Academy” but I just found that far too ironic and doomed to failure). And, as soon as I can manage it, I will be broadcasting a short two or three minute segment via my you tube channel.

For those of you thinking: “OMG, what’s gotten into her. . .” my solar return has Aquarius rising. For those of you thinking: “Dear Lord, I see too much of her already. . .” Tough. I also have the Sun conjunct Jupiter for the whole year. Get used to it. Oh and just check out by progressed ascendant on my natal Jupiter and my progressed Jupiter conjunct my natal Sun. Did I mention my book?

So these days I’m following my own advice and making the best out of what looks like a promising year. Subscribe to my blog or website to keep up with me or if you’ve always wondered if there was more to star sign columns but were afraid to ask.

Wondering how to improve your future? Or maybe you’d like to learn how to do it for yourself. Contact me via my website, my facebook page or twitter. We'll make an app't, discuss your needs  and I'll help you find the best path for you (via phone, email, Skype or recording). Share my blog, website or you tube channel or come to my classes and we can start talking discounts.

*Astrology is all about how to manage and keep track of one’s time and it’s no coincidence there are 12 hours in a day and twelve houses and signs in astrology. We’ll leave twelve months in a year out of it as that’s a sort of the result of a poor calendar system.

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!!