Latest Entries »

label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] New Moon, New Year 2014 jpegThis year the New Moon fell slap bang on the New Year giving extra impact to all those new year resolutions.  The chart shows the powerful stellium in Capricorn with the New Moon conjunct Pluto and Mercury, giving us the chance of either a powerful hangover (Pluto/Mercury) or some profound and life changing ideas (Pluto/Mercury again).  The stellium gains extra energy from the cardinal square with Jupiter in opposition and Mars and Uranus square.  The ideas are big (Jupiter) and have some ground breaking energy (Uranus/Mars) about them.

For me two things are happening.  Jupiter is homing in on the fourth house in my chart and my living room project has reached a breakthrough point.  Breakthrough is just what we expect with Uranus opposing Mars.  Ideas that had been gently mulled over in a general kind of way but had no real traction, have suddenly come into focus, goods and services have been ordered and dates for activities set.   The room is likely to be a bit of a mess (Pluto again) for a couple of months, while we shift stuff out and redecorate but by the New Moon on 1st March the deep reds, the sale price Chesterfield and even the Ottoman lights and Turkish rug should be in place – a sort of Gothic harem palace you say?  Lets wait and see.

The other bigger and longer term idea is the MA at Canterbury in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred.  Again something I had been vaguely aware of for some time.  Applications for the autumn are open now.  Time to go for it!


I have always loved music but never been quite sure in what sense it was important. The rock generation thought music could save your living soul but it seemed to need more than just music to do that. Some went to India and found guru’s and ashrams. A few became noted spiritual leaders themselves. So was the music a lead in a positive direction? What part did it play? When my mother was very old and frail, failing in her faculties, I bought her a set of CD’s by Don Campbell in the hope that these might give her pleasure and shift her state in a more tranquil and positive direction. I have no idea whether this worked. Last night I watched James Rhodes playing the piano for individuals in a mental hospital; exploring his own history of mental illness and wondering whether his music might touch these people in a positive way.   All four individuals seemed to have moved to a place where it is ok to have feelings in spite of the fact their feelings had a great part to play in their institutionalisation.  Some had gone there because of unruly feelings that led them in to harmful places. Now they were preparing to leave. The music spoke to them of feelings that they would encounter ever more strongly as they returned to the world. Rhodes choice of piano music was moving for me.  I remembered how much I loved to hear my mother play the piano and wanted to play it myself.  The piano was a secret repository for emotions that were unsafe to express.  Schumann was especially personal because of his own split musical personalities; Eusebius and Florestan. Follow this blog – more to come;)

When I started studying astrology, way back when… Mercury seemed such a limited little planet; all about news, post it notes, phone calls, memos and meetings; not much depth to this little character I thought.  Even the addition of rulership of the nervous system simply added to my sense of Mercury’s abstraction.

Now, it seems that Mercury is taking over my world.  “The mind’s its own place and makes a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven”, as Shakespeare said and it really seems to be true.  Why is that?

Well Mercury governs both the way we think and what we think about.  Let’s look first at the way we think.  One thing I rarely hear discussed is the business of laterality; literally our left or right handedness.  A person who is right handed will pass their sensory input from their hand directly to the left brain, which favours logic, language and analysis.  A person who is left handed passes their sensory input directly to the right brain which favours wholes, living systems and life stories.  The difference was illustrated for me by different ways of dealing with jigsaw puzzles or kit building.  I am a right handed left brainer.  I follow the instructions on the pack, checking all the parts are present and then following the steps to assembly.  A right brain dominant, left hander I know opens the pack and works from the picture, sensing how the thing works as a whole and building intuitively.  The same principle can be applied to left or right eye dominance (which eye do you use to look through a camera viewfinder?) or even left or right ear dominance (do left ear dominant people appreciate music more or does it depend on a right brain preferred mode of processing?).

In the chart I link this matter of dominance to the first and second houses.  The first house is our physical presence and the second being the gifts and resources we gain from this.  It adds an extra twist to the second house business of how we earn a living.  My left eye dominant friend earns his living from working with images.  How apt that seems to me.

In terms of what we think about, that is also of vital importance.  Check out the address given by David Foster Wallace to aspiring graduates in 2005 called “This is Water”.  You can find the audio on Utube.  He reminds the students that however well they’ve done, however smart they feel, their liberal arts education has not consciously prepared them for the challenges ahead.   Once they achieve their challenging, graduate level job and live the kind of life that brings them, they can waste a lot of time thinking negative, judgemental, stressed out thoughts.  Or they can take control of their thinking for their own benefit and that of others.

An even more potent version of mind over matter is offered by The Master Key System.  This book was written over 100 years ago.  In some respects its machine and business language gives it a kind of steam punk spirituality.  All the same as a model of the power of the mind it’s big – a real Mercury/Jupiter combo.  What it says is that the conscious mind, what we think about all the time, colours our subconscious mind in subtle ways.  This in turn is communicating with the Universal Mind, that out of which all minds emerge, to bring us back that which we may be subconsciously imaging.  We know from a study of the chart that the chart makes an image of our world.  Our experience brings the planets currently transiting and progressing through our nativity back into our experience in vivid and dramatic ways.  Then again the way this happens is not entirely pre-determined.  The chart lays a kind of geological foundation for our lives but development takes place on this foundation all the time.  Perhaps the particular kinds of development and the particular experiences we have of transits and progressions are coloured by that little fellow Mercury and our habitual relationship with him?

Charles Haarnel, the author of the Master Key System tells the following story on the subject of mind power.

“When I was about thirteen years old when Dr T. W Marsee, since passed over, said to my mother:  “there is no possible chance Mrs Andrews. I lost my little boy the same way, after doing everything for him that it was possible to do.  I have made a special study of these cases, and I know there is not possible chance for him to get well.”   My mother turned to him and said: “Doctor, what would you do if we were your boy?” and he answered, “I would fight as long as there is a breath of life to fight for.”    That was the beginning of a long drawn-out batter, with many ups and down, the doctors all agreeing that there was no chance for a cure, though they encouraged and cheered us the best they could.  At last eh victory came, and I have grown from a little, crooked, twisted, cripple, going about on my hands and knees, to a strong, straight, well formed man.  Now I know you want the formula, and I will give it to you as briefly and quickly as I can.  I built up an affirmation for myself, taking the qualities I most needed, and affirming for myself over and over “I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy.”   Frederick Andrews.

He goes on to say “Whatever you desire for yourself, affirm if for others, and it will help you both.”  A sentiment I think David Foster Wallace would agree with.

Douglas Adams

Thanks to google for reminding us all that today (Monday 11th March 2013) is Douglas Adam’s 61st birthday.  Happy Birthday Dougie!

Adams is, of course, a Piscean, but notice the cluster of planets with his Sun.  He has a near exact (cazimi) conjunction with Mercury and Jupiter, along with a close conjunction with the north node.  This suggests bags of imagination (Jupiter and sun in Pisces) plus the ability to spin a good yarn on the back of it (Mercury).  North node brings success in putting this across.  Pisces can have a dreamy eyed universal quality and Jupiter makes an excellent guide.  Perhaps its feisty Mars in Aries that images the freedom loving hitch hiker touring the universe.

Sadly google are imprecise about Adam’s birth time and place.  If anyone knows this information I’ll be happy to post an amended chart.

Night sky in March

A quick update on the most recent ROE talk on the Night Sky in March.

On this occasion I learnt that the Equinox does not necessarily literally mean equal night (and day).  This is related to the width of the sun’s disc itself and the effects of refraction and means that we can actually see the Sun after sun set!

Another thing that was news to me; a crescent moon with the “horns” turned up and to the right is a morning view of the moon.  In the evening a crescent moon will turn it’s “horns” up and to the left.  (But surely an evening moon will be a waxing crescent whereas the evening moon will be waning?  What say you?)

The big news this month however is that, we just need a break in the evening clouds in the west, to have a chance of seeing a comet with the naked eye!

I gather comet Panstarrs has already been visible in the southern hemisphere and you can find the pictures and a viewing guide here.

On 10th march the comet passes the Sun (from our point of view) and can then be seen each evening just after sunset and gradually rising higher in the western sky, passing to the left of the square of Pegasus and then onwards and upwards towards the Andromeda nebula and to Cassiopeia.  I would think a good view to the western horizon would be ideal.  Perhaps Craiglockhart Hill or even the Braid Hills, looking west.  To get a sense of what the square of Pegasus looks like open the link and scroll down to the image.

Pegasus was a winged horse who was born from the head of the gorgon Medusa when the hero Perseus chopped off her head.  His father was Poseidon the god of the Oceans and he was said to bring food to the muses.  For more on the star lore of Pegasus see what Deborah Houlding has to say here:

wishing you clear skies


Seven Ages of Starlight

This programme on BBC 4 is a very lucid description of the life cycle of a star.  I was however, a little taken aback at the uncritical adulation awarded to Nicolas Copernicus for his “discovery” that the earth goes round the sun.  Students of history will realise that this presentation is a little simplistic.  For something to be discovered, we must have a pre existing idea that it is there.  It’s rather like the discovery of America by Columbus.  He had an idea that land would be there.  He thought it was India rather than America but he was still proceeding on a theory that the world was round and therefore he could sail to India without having to round the southern tip of Africa.

My confidence in Copernicus as a great scientist was thoroughly trashed by Arthur Koestler’s book “the Sleepwalkers”.  Now of course Koestler wrote his book in the 1950’s and he had an agenda; he wanted to show that “progress” is not a straight line but has travelled in ups and downs, through quirks of fate.  He writes that “The basic novelty of our age is the combination of this sudden, unique increase in physical power with an equally unprecedented spiritual ebb-tide”.

Now Koestler himself has undergone a process of personal denigration for failings of character and this has helped to undermine the value of his work.  All the same, Copernicus has not recovered in my opinion from Koestler’s damning opinion.  “The figure of Copernicus, seen from the distance, is that of an intrepid revolutionary hero of thought.  As we come close, it gradually changes into that of a stuffy pedant, without the flair, the sleepwalking intuition of the original genius; who, having got hold of a good idea, expanded it into a bad system, patiently plodding on, piling more epicycles and deferents into the dreariest and most unreadable among the books that made history.”  Koestler traces the path whereby the core idea for which Copernicus is famous, took hold amongst his successors.  It was an idea whose time had come, written by a man who was keen not to promote it too noisily.

Koestler credits Aristarchus of Samos, more than 2000 years ago, with setting out the principle that the earth rotates around the sun.  This he says was clearly understood by authorities such as Archimedes and Plutarch.  That the idea did not take hold was due to complex factors such as the availability of the books of Plato and Aristotle throughout the middle ages.  These men developed a cosmology founded on philosophy rather than observation or mathematics.  Plato needed the cosmos to be orderly; an idea that lived for many centuries afterwards.

In pursuit of Aristarchus and other cosmologists of the ancient world, I am off to St. Andrew’s University at the weekend.  There the classics department are exploring ancient cosmologies.  This should be good.


Thinking about the setup of the labyrinth walk this morning, I came to the issue of timing.  Can everyone complete the walk within the session?  Can everyone do this and still take their own time?  The walk is a metaphor for our lives.  All of us are different; we proceed at different speeds, have different backgrounds, and make sense of what is happening in different ways and at different times. When confronted by blocks or challenges we respond in different ways.  We want to make the space for this to be evident; some people will pass us along the way.  We will sometimes pass by others.

And yet people coming to an event like to know when home time will be, when will we finish? Can they also have a complete experience, make the full journey to the centre and return?  Can this be done to time?

Then it occurred to me that life is not like this.  It offers us no guarantees.  Everyone will know someone who has been cut off in their prime.  Do we not feel that this is the more painful outcome; that it is good to have run our full course, lived a full life, rather than be thwarted in this way?  Worst of all is the loss of a child; no chance of full expression, potential unfulfilled.

Then I thought that this experience of being cut off in the labyrinth process might also be a useful experience; a part of the metaphor.  That it would be good to say to people, this might happen.  The labyrinth, like life, offers us no guarantees.  We may find ourselves just setting out, or part way round, while others are reeling in the boundaries we so recently created.  How does that feel? In Meeting today I also recalled the image, often reported, from near death experience; of travelling down a tunnel towards the light.  In the deep psychic reality of the labyrinth, do we in some sense always make this journey and ultimately always reach the light?

Not always in this world though…

A further matter is the business of the journey of return.  Though the journey into the unknown is an achievement and an act of courage, the hero’s return is not always welcome.  When one person grows, questions their assumptions and their scope is extended, the consequences are felt beyond their personal self.  Growth and change reverberate out into their wider system.  This can be experienced as provocative and unwelcome.  Why are you coming back with all this stuff?  Changes may be going on here that affect me!  I haven’t chosen this, why can’t you keep this to yourself?

Systems do not always welcome disturbance.  We may feel we are heroes who have faced our fears but our wider system (home, friends, work…) would rather not know.  It threatens their identity.

I remember reading an article by Margaret Wheatley on the Bhopal disaster.  The CEO responsible at the time was distraught at what had happened and intended to use all his powers and resources to help the victims.  Wheatley’s analysis was that he was ultimately unable to do this because there is a profound conflict of values between his CEO role and his intention. The business he headed up could not retain its identity and continue operating while also making restitution to the people of Bhopal.  Identity is a vital survival trait.  People and systems all feel the need to retain their identity, even if this is ultimately limiting or even destructive.

Food for thought.

One of the facets of the labyrinth that appeals to me is the business of being stopped in our tracks.  The labyrinth is a single path leading to the centre.  This gives us confidence at the outset that we will achieve our goal, as compared with a maze, that offers us alternatives along the path without certainty of success.  The labyrinth takes a circuitous path.  Now we think we are heading for the light, now we have to stop and turn away from it.  It reminds me of Michael Lutin’s weird image for Saturn in Libra “Columbus sails to the west to find the east”.

My inspiration is also drawn from the Dark Mountain project.  This has that sense that the world is rushing headlong to environmental doom, coupled with the sense that we don’t have a ready fix.  It offers a cultural and poetic response to our reality.  There is the chance to stop and notice what is happening, to share with others, to cultivate a grounded sense of what is real.

This also says that our whole world needs to stop, will be stopped by our own destructiveness.  So what happens then?  Many of us are not adept at change, particularly when it touches our emotions.  The change process has been compared to grieving.  We may be losing more than just routine activity; perhaps our friends and companions or our sense of purpose and usefulness.  We may need to grieve for all the energy we have invested in something that now is cast aside.  This facet of the change process is now so common it is almost the source of a new kind of healing work.  For instance William Bridges work on transition.  He describes a process akin to the labyrinth.  One minute we are piling along, “doing away” as they say in Scotland, the next we are confronted by an end stop.  This generates its own confusion.  Bridges calls it the neutral zone, although we may feel anything but neutral while in it.  Redundancy is often not an affordable option cash wise, just as it is not a viable option emotionally and psychologically.  We thrash about at the end point, unable to see the direction we need to go in.  This situation obtains until our feeling life catches up.  Not always happy feelings but the deep sense of what is real for me, as lived on the Dark Mountain.  Feeling is vital to energy and only this takes us forward in our new direction.

I recently discovered Jodi Lorimer, labyrinth researcher and author.  Her book  “Dancing on the Edge of Death” is on order now but may take some time to arrive from the US of A.  Meantime I listened to the two radio interviews posted on her website.  Fascinating stuff.  Soon I was exploring pre historic cave systems, bull worship, recumbent stone circles in Aberdeenshire, the Minoan and Greek cultures and the work of M C Escher.  All this is clearly just a taste of what is to come.
I had thought of a journey into the unknown.  The caves were literally a journey into darkness.  There could be bears in there or sabre toothed tigers.  Why did the cave painters favour bulls, or were they bison or aurocks?
I had thought of dead ends, return points, circling around the centre, like a planet round a star.  The planet doesn’t hold a straight course when seen from an earth based perspective.  It strides forward but then recoils as if drawing breath before the next push.  Do we also alternate, working and resting, striving then pausing for food, alone and then in company; our lives a rhythmic Celtic pattern rather than a straight line graph.
Lorimer reckons the labyrinth must image something deep in our psyche to have such an enduring relevance.  The image is adaptable to our needs and time – once a place of shamanic power, then a crafted prison, then the pathway of planets, an image of cosmology, then a ritual for sailors or a spring fertility path, more recently a path of meditation.
It seems to be a pathway of both life and death.  Like a whirlpool, I feel drawn in.

Life past the peak?

Peak in relation to oil and Transition Towns has to do with the rate of flow.  As Dr Mandy Meikle told us, being told we have a million pounds makes us feel rich.  If we can only spend £10 a day we feel poor!

Peak in this sense applies to lots of things that we use regularly.  It applies to oil and gas; it applies to minerals; it applies to food and water.  Whatever we want on a regular basis has to be supplied at a rate that meets our needs, for us to feel satisfied.

Once we pass the peak production of any of these things, some people will start to lose out.  Indeed many people lose out already.  We appear to get by with ignoring this because, in practice, we deem these people politically unimportant.  (A moral scandal!)

The peak of oil and gas will pass; probably has passed.  In this new world we will need to count our wealth in different ways as we start to lose out on the things that oil and gas does for us.  Will we count it in:

  • Beauty
  • Friends
  • Supporters and carers
  • Our ability to demonstrate our skill and apply it for service
  • Honouring our truth
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Joy
  • Laughter
  • Inspiration
  • Self expression
  • Having a voice
  • Listening
  • Capacity for extension in skills, learning and courage???
  • How do the Buddhists count happiness in Bhutan?