Gilding the Roots

Winter Solstice 2020: 21st December, 10:03 GMT

The Solstices and Equinoxes are the great gateways of the year, indicated by the Sun’s passage into the first degree of each of the cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.  These signs are the initiators, inaugurating the new.  We – and our Earth – enter these portals and are conditioned by their energies; they herald the Zeitgeist for the coming season.  So this is a chance to glimpse what is unfolding over the next quarter.

The Winter Solstice is a new beginning.  The life force bestowed by the Sun is withdrawn deep into the dark earth, where it is gilding roots and seeds, energising them in preparation for a new cycle of growth in the year ahead.  It is a time of stillness and restriction (and this year as never before for many of us).  We are turned in upon ourselves as we too transmute the gold of the last year in the dark roots of our beings in a kind of summer of the soul.  We gild the roots by nourishing our soul life with beauty and tenderness; resting, feeding and moving our bodies to release the old year; feeling into the inner life and letting the fertile darkness inspire dreams for the year ahead.  The outward gloom can feel depressing, especially when we identify strongly with the outer realm.  The ‘world’, as it comes at us through mass channels, delivers a toxic overload of stimulation, fear and anxiety.  We need the balance of the inner realm, to attend to quiet and delicate processes that nourish and strengthen us for the outward activity to come.  There is much sunlight to digest and to delight in.  Using the Solstice point of stillness to gild the inner realm will transform our experience of the outer world in the months to come.

December is a busy month astronomically, beginning with a total solar eclipse on 14th,[i] and this will be an extraordinary Solstice, marking the end of quite a year.  The final major conjunction of the three that have set 2020 ablaze happens just hours after the Winter Solstice moment, as Jupiter and Saturn meet on the first degree of Aquarius (at 18:20 GMT), exactly semi-sextile the Solstice Sun and Mercury.  Saturn leaves its own sign, Capricorn on 17th December, after three years’ working in tandem with Pluto to raze obsolete social structures and systems of authority.  That work is not over: Pluto continues it until March 2023.  But Saturn’s movement out of Capricorn de-intensifies our conscious awareness of those processes.  A planetary conjunction is the beginning of a new cycle, and the meeting of Jupiter and Saturn (creating a great ‘star’[ii] – it was a Jupiter–Saturn conjunction that alerted the Magi to the birth of the Christchild), sets a new, Aquarian tone in the social world.  The positive register of Aquarius is humanitarianism, idealism, orientation towards the future and communal endeavour.  Aquarius turns us towards the group.

We know about individualism and where it gets us.  Human evolution consists in overcoming separation and learning to work together.  Time to contribute to group vision, to align with and honour group contexts, in whatever form they take in our lives.

The challenge of this under current restrictions is obvious.  Technology (also ruled by Aquarius) as a tool can assist us but it cannot be a substitute for our coming together for real.  Planet Earth is about physical manifestation.  The Earth Path runs through the body, which is the locus of consciousness.  There is no source of consciousness for you outside of your own body.  Aspects of human presence can be technologised: I can see and hear you (most of the time) on Zoom, but at its best it is a pale approximation of being together.  Real human presence is enlivening; when it is technologised, it sucks.  The channel of connection leaves us devitalised and subtly shut down.  When I am physically with you there is an exchange of energy between us; when I see you Online there is an exchange of energy between me and the technological interface we are using.  We’re making someone rich, but our connection is impoverished.  This new emphasis on Aquarius challenges how we feed our group connections and also how we manage our relationship with technology.   The tendency towards technologisation in all aspects of life is likely to strengthen, so we have to become adept users, discerning and deciding where our human energy is flowing.  As a counter-balance we need to preserve our commitment to physical reality (and to reinstating and exploring our freedoms of association and assembly in the real world, which, stunningly, have disappeared across much of the globe).  The danger is that we are buying into ways of being that are reflections of reality.  This obscures and confuses our sense of physicality, which in turn distorts and glamorises our perceptions.  Our perceptions give birth to our realities.  They are always unhinged, but throw virtual reality into the mix, and perception becomes machinic and non-human/inhuman, utterly fantastical.

Virtual realms readily serve the lunar consciousness.  The Moon has no light of its own; it bestows no life.  It is a reflector, just as the virtual world reflects and refracts reality.  The Sun is the source of life; it organises and integrates all aspects of our beings.  Our energy and attention have to orbit around the solar principle (our Sun sign), which relies on the body as the source of consciousness, not on the picture of a body, however brilliant the resolution.  There is no way around this: we are either embodied or we are avatars with little connection to the possibility of consciousness.  This feels like a fork in the road.  Will we choose fantasy or reality?  It takes great presence of mind even to make that choice, and let’s be clear, it is a choice that has to be made and remade consciously and consistently throughout each and every day.

Where’s my attention flowing?  To what am I giving my energy?  What is my relation to my body, the physical world?

At the Solstice moment all the planets are confined within 149 degrees of arc, leaving 211 degrees gapingly empty, giving a highly subjective mood to the chart; Mercury is ‘combust’ (close to the Sun), which also undermines objectivity and rationality.  This is a time for feeling and sensation.  The planets are bookended by Venus in Sagittarius on one side and Uranus in Taurus on the other.  This is interesting as Venus is disposited by Jupiter, and Jupiter by Uranus, bringing extra heft to the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn.  The highly sensitive midpoint between Venus and Uranus, which are straining against each other in a tight quincunx, is occupied by Neptune in Pisces in a conjunction with the Moon, consecrating this moment, offering access to a vision of our interconnectedness and to the spiritual reality that lies behind the apparent world.  This is something to treasure.

Neptune rules epidemics – it shows us how we are all mixed up with each other.  It erodes boundaries.  We can lock down for the rest of our mortal lives but we cannot prevent interaction and interchange, they are fundamental to life.  Neptune, ultimately, is impersonal love.  It inspires artistry, intuition and imagination, and at the Solstice, it is with the Moon giving an experience of boundless inspiration at one level, at another a massive sacrifice made by the people.  Use intention to tune into the register that you prefer.  This is intensified by exact aspects from Mars and Pluto to the Moon (the square between Mars and Pluto is exact on 22nd December).  This seals the potency of this great moment that forms the portal for the next quarter.  It feels like we are being lifted out of our lower, chatterbox minds (Mercury combust) and inundated with the light of spiritual love, where we all are truly One.  It is an invitation to live our lives with an awareness of this level of illumination, which both asks for and gives a lot.  The other possibility is to surrender to overwhelm, sacrifice, delusion and the endlessness of loss.

Next year Saturn will make three squares with Uranus.  This is the tension between the forces of conventional control and the breakthrough force of doing things differently.  Clinging to the known might feel like the safe option, but it only makes us easier to break, especially when situations are changing at speed and it looks like we are heading into a pacey 2021.

Our values and resources, our relationship to our bodies and to the land that sustains them, and also the technologisation of physical processes and sensations are major themes for 2021, arising from Uranus’ slow journey through Taurus.  The future is being fomented in our hearts, minds and wills right now; the future is woven from the threads of ourselves.  We are powerful, and our hopes and intentions shape the future that we and our descendants will experience.  Likewise our fears, anxieties and neuroses are also being stirred into the pot.  Meeting ourselves with maturity and compassion, and dealing with the things that pull us out of shape are gifts to the future.  Gilding the roots of our beings at the Solstice is a great place to start, asking ourselves, what is it that wishes to be born?

[i]               14th December: total solar eclipse on 23° Sagittarius;

17th December: Saturn moves into Aquarius;

19th December: Jupiter moves into Aquarius;

21st December: Solstice and Jupiter–Saturn conjunction;

22nd December: Mars square Pluto on 23° Aries/Capricorn.

[ii]               They are visible in the southwestern sky in the early evening: look for a very bright star with a fainter one to the east and somewhat higher.

The Faith-keeper

Jupiter conjunct Pluto, 12th November 2020

We are at the dynamic moment in which an inner-world change is beginning to precipitate into an outer-world change; whether the change is carried to completion depends on our not interfering, and on our seeking guidance from the Sage [Higher Power] … and following it. (Carol K. Anthony)

All photos reproduced with kind permission of Rachel Burch Westcountry Photography

A big year, 2020: three major new planetary cycles beginning after a hiatus of eleven years. It began, in January, with Saturn and Pluto meeting on 22° Capricorn, whose signature has been lockdown and the structural crises precipitated by, of all things, a virus.  In April and June, Jupiter met Pluto on 24° Capricorn and their third and final meeting occurs on 12th November on 22° Capricorn, revisiting the very degree of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction.  (The third new cycle to begin is Jupiter-Saturn, meeting in Aquarius on the Winter Solstice.)   A year, then, when we have seen an extraordinary focus on Capricorn, described by Alice Bailey as ‘this most material of all the signs … the battleground of the old established order and habits and the new and higher inclinations and tendencies’.[i]   It is in this sign that ambition and the hunger for status become most craven, but Capricorn is also the sign of Initiation, when spiritual aspiration supersedes the clammy-handed, worldly variety.

Pluto’s voyage through Capricorn is revealing the havoc wreaked by excessive materialism, and exposing the degree to which the hidden underpinnings of our systems of control and governance are rotten.  Materialism, in essence, is a worldview from which spirit and a sense of the sacred have been excised: if you can’t see it or measure it, it doesn’t exist.  The rationalism arising from this worldview can take us very far in investigating, explaining and designing metrics for our lives on Earth, but it doesn’t touch the question that gives us our humanity: ‘Why?’ (let alone, ‘What’s the point?’)  In fact it leaves us in a senseless universe of random activity where human longing for meaning and order can seem, at best, romantic.  This is a great perversion of truth and one that causes immense suffering.

Jupiter is the planet that quests for meaning and faith.  Its work is to seek expansion and opportunity, to discern the patterns, laws and principles that lend coherence and significance to life.  Jupiter in Capricorn is in its ‘fall’, exhibiting its lowest register of expression, which can be characterised as being on the make, in pursuit of self-gratification and the devil take the hindmost.  Jupiter’s buoyancy, magnetism and love are blocked here and it takes some kind of crisis to drive Jupiter’s expression to a higher register where it may once more operate as the stalker of faith in life.  Pluto is that crisis, calling time, switching the lights on and kicking out the reprobates at Jupiter’s party, driving the register of Jupiter’s expression higher by dragging it down into the depths.  Depth awareness is the challenge and the gift that Pluto brings.

Pluto demands a change in Jupiter’s loyalties and it poses a question to all of us: is your ultimate concern for your little life and your material satisfaction or are you able to raise your sights to include a concern for other lives and for the deep wellbeing of Life in general?  Pluto is subjecting Jupiter and Capricorn to a process of relentless regeneration, impelling us to include the non-material, the subtle, the Unseen in our context of significance.  I don’t say it lightly, but economic hardship has a role to play in the readjustment of our values, harsh as that is in people’s lives.   Jupiter is a wonderful resource as a meaning-maker and a faith-keeper; it shows us the grain in the wood of the Way It Is, the path of becoming that allows the creative power of life to flow into our world.  These qualities of meaning and faith we sorely need now.  Pluto’s way is to drill down and drive things deep.  It is injecting Jupiter into this fraught degree of Capricorn, in order to wrest from it understanding and the opportunity to shift our register.

The Jupiter-Pluto conjunction is the focal point of a cardinal t-square, squaring Mars in Aries on one side and Venus in Libra (conjuncting the Moon) on the other, suggesting a stand-off between self and other, masculine and feminine, war and peace.  This could manifest as acts of aggression, particularly towards women; it points to a predicament in our understanding that habitually sees the Other not only as separate but as a threat to Self.  Such polarisation is painful, as we have been witnessing in our social and political culture generally, and is a distortion of the truth of our fundamental interconnectedness.  Our suffering is in proportion to our denial of that truth. 

The possibility of this grand finale of 2020’s conjunctions in Capricorn is that we begin to share a sense of our current opportunity and determine to have faith in our shared future.  We need both faith in life (Jupiter) and spiritual aspiration (Capricorn) to go through the challenge of the present moment.  The lunar consciousness (which pertains to our habits and emotions that keep us clinging to security, stuck firmly within the compound of the known) is ever the saboteur of our ability to find our way forward.  It is essentially neurotic and obstructs the Way It Is; it is strengthened by our departure from real-life encounters in the physical world in favour of the virtual realm, which is only ever a reflection of the real just as the Moon’s light is only a reflection of the Sun.  Our current evacuation of embodied experience is a danger for us: the human task it is to bring spiritual forces to the physical world, not to the panoply of attention-harvesting devices to be found Online!  Quite simply, we need to be connected to each other and to physical reality, just to be OK.

At one level the signature of Jupiter-Pluto is the ruthless control of the impulse towards freedom.  It is for us to remember and embody the Way It Is, which is in essence free and beyond external constraint.  Our experiences can, if we choose, be used to hone our attention and our appetite for the meaning, faith and freedom that Jupiter bestows.

[i] Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology, Lucis, 1951: 170.

The Way of Zig-zag and Subtle

Autumn Equinox

22nd September 2020, 13:32 GMT

Just as the ocean always tastes of salt the truth always tastes of freedom. (Buddha)

We are summoned into being and becoming by the dance between Earth and Sun, reflected in the equinoxes and solstices.  Marked by the Sun’s entry into the cardinal signs of the zodiac (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), they are created by the great circle of the Sun’s apparent path as it intersects the great circle of the Earth’s equator extended out into space.  They define our experience of the natural year and help give us roots in that reality. Through these gateways of the year pour the energies of initiation, inaugurating new patterns and new possibilities for human consciousness.  These pivotal moments hold the potential for recalibration and repay our deep consideration.

Autumn Equinox 2020

What a harvest we have to contemplate this year.  Major new planetary cycles have begun in Capricorn (Saturn/Pluto, Jupiter/Pluto) exacerbating fracture lines in our systems of organisation and governance.  These lines of fracture are not injuries, though they may reveal pathology; they are openings to an insurgency of new energies that will flow/is flowing as obsolete structures crumble.  We’re in crisis, it’s absolutely clear, and crisis brings reorientation.  We’re all part of that reorientation.  The future can only be woven out of our deeds and consciousness (thoughts, feelings and awareness).  We all have creative power to bring forth intent from which the future can be made.  Equally, we all have fear, anxiety, anger and inertia, from which the future will also be spawned.

The equinox energies underscore opposition (as shown by a cardinal t-square: Mercury in Libra opposes Mars, in its dignity in Aries; both planets are closely squared by Saturn and Pluto conjunct in Capricorn).  We are witnessing various stand-offs between alienated positions. Crunch time.  Oppositional thinking (right/wrong; good/bad; pro/anti; me/you, etc.) is not only wasteful of energy, but is also an exercise in disowning aspects of ourselves and projecting them on to others.  Judgements made on this basis cannot be helpful.   We are in oppositional times and are divided as never before, behind our masks and in our bubbles.  We are at great risk of separation and disconnection from each other, our rights and freedoms heavily and increasingly circumscribed.  The painfulness of this is expressed by the equinox Sun’s opposition to the Wounded Healer, Chiron, in Aries, the sign of self and self-isolation.  Chiron brings the potential for wisdom to arise from this experience of being locked in the prison of Fortress Self: the honouring of all relationship, and the realisation that it is only in our connection with other beings that we exist at all.  We are not to be found outside of relationship.  United we stand, divided we fall.  Disconnection creates fertile ground for polarisation.  Inflamed by confusion, anxiety and fear, the current experience of separation from one another readily becomes estrangement.

The old order is coming down around our ears.  This is particularly acute now as Saturn (order, security, authority) moves through the last few degrees of Capricorn in conjunction with Pluto, intensifying our experience of restriction and clampdown.  It transits into Aquarius finally on 17th December where it will make its hopeful conjunction with Jupiter just over eight hours after the Winter Solstice moment.  The current acclimatisation to authoritarian control asks us to exercise discernment (for example, to ask ourselves, “What makes sense and what does not?”)  There is a vital need for us to engage in bringing in new ways of being and doing, but we are still labouring under the spell of the old order.  “The King is dead!  Long live the King!”

What is authoritative to you?  To what, to whom and for whom are you responsible?  What is power/powerful in your life?  To what or to whom do you bow?

Things look bleak, yes, but doubt and despair shut down the creative power of life, which needs our hope, open minds and hearts to work its magic in the world of experience.  We can’t judge things by appearances, “for the way of the cosmos is zig-zag and subtle.”[i]  Our human weakness for thinking the worst creates oppressive ideas and false beliefs that inhibit the power of the cosmos to flow into us, leading to exhaustion and depression.  There is surely a better use for our amazing imaginations.  If we are pulled out of shape it may be that we are labouring under false apprehensions and need to bring them to the surface and break their spell, in order to be in a state of greater truthfulness and freedom.  The Buddha’s words (above) may guide us in discerning truth from falsehood.

For example, there are so many different positions people take on Covid: the challenge it brings is unique to each of us, depending on the reality we inhabit.  The truth of the situation is, I suggest, impossible to discern on the basis of information.  Truth, actually, may be different for each of us.  So there is a need to cultivate openness of mind.  How do we discern what is real and truthful?  Information and leaning heavily on the rational mind can only take us so far.  Its harvest cannot satisfy our whole beings.

At present we are experiencing a crisis of disconnection from each other: as families, as colleagues, constituencies and communities of people in all their many and various forms.  The effects of this, we may come to see, are far more serious than any infection we’re trying to control.  The autumn equinox is marked by the Sun’s entry into Libra, sign of right relationship between I and Thou.  The current “social distancing” of I and Thou cultivates separation, disconnection, judgement and suspicion.  Oppositional thinking in turn foments conflict and polarisation.  Libra is always alerting us as to what unifies us, intent on healing the breach of all that divides.  Libra’s work is to identify the razor-edge path that exists between extremes: the Middle Way.  To walk this path integrates and resolves polarities, encouraging the emergence of a balanced relationship between I and Thou.  Ultimately, we need to find ourselves in the other and the other in ourselves, withdrawing projections and reclaiming our wholeness.  In this way we can enter into the truth of our lives and our connections.  The work of integration is definingly human, for it is our species that walks upright between the poles of Heaven and Earth, their crucial means of energetic relationship.

Between Heaven and Earth

Libra’s love of justice and harmony may really serve us at this time if we choose to use it, encouraging us to keep reaching out, building bridges of human warmth and empathy when so much is breaking those bridges down.  We need each other; not just because we are social creatures, but because the evolution of the human project is towards group consciousness: we need our groups, tribes and circles, to give ourselves essential developmental experiences.  It has been a necessary stage in evolution but we need now to move away from the thraldom of sovereign individuality and build alliances, kinships and communities of shared endeavour.  Keeping apart from each other (whether in fear, out of misplaced courtesy or from simply towing the line in a compliance culture) can only takes us in one direction – backwards, and fast.

Venus (ruler of the autumn equinox) and the Sun occupy each other’s signs, strengthening conscious awareness of the present injunction to work creatively with the I/Thou relationship, to sense the path of integration that becomes visible when we balance the energy of the warrior and the peacemaker, self and other, Aries and Libra.  There is much fire in the equinox chart; a fiery drive is at work that could easily mitigate against harmony and co-operation. This drive asks us to hold our intent with clarity and to deal with our own emotional reactions soberly.  Failure to steer the will may result in explosions of aggression.  In this way, the need for harmony and balance are increasingly brought into our conscious experience.  We only know what balance is because we go in and out of it.

At times when circumstances hold us apart, let’s break the spell of separative consciousness.[ii]  We’re so readily forgetful that we belong to each other and to all life.  Hence the need for some recalibration, which is certainly what we’re getting this equinox, with no fewer than six planets retrograde (Mars, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto).  This feeling of stewing in our own juices dissipates somewhat as the planets begin to turn direct (beginning with Saturn on 29th September), but it continues to mark our experience until the Winter Solstice when a lighter, less entrenched mood is created by Saturn’s arrival in Aquarius.  A chance exists now to take a good look at where we’re at; it isn’t comfortable but it’s certainly useful in doing the work that’s needed to locate and orient towards the Middle Way.

Fortunately, we have our communities and lives of our own to honour and enjoy. If we will only look away from the news and the headlines, and focus upon our own lives and our own direct experiences, we will see …  human kindness and goodness … and from this place inside ourselves create a new reality to live in, not at some remote future time, but now”.[iii]

[i] Carol K. Anthony, A Guide to the I Ching, 215

[ii] Separative consciousness might be defined as identification with the personality conditions and the seeming separateness between living beings.  Astrologer, David Matthews has offered the analogy that the soul takes on a personality (for the purpose of gaining experience and developing consciousness) as an actor takes on a role; separative consciousness holds sway when we identify with the role/personality as our truth, forgetful of the spiritual reality of our soul forces.

[iii] Suzanne Rough, Letter of the Month: August 2020, Emphasis mine.

Peak Retrograde: A Strange & Perilous Year?

When everything is fluid and nothing can be known with any certainty, hold your own. …When all there is, is knowing what you’re feeling, hold your own. …  When storms are coming – hold. …  This whole thing thrives on us feeling always incomplete.  (Kate Tempest)


Times of retrograde activity present an opportunity to change, to lift our lives out of the tracks of habit, resistance or indifference and chart a new course; “to shoulder the future from the rut of the present into some better pathway” (as Robin Hobb has written in another context).  Over the summer we are seeing an increasing number of planets in retrograde.  By early September we shall have seven planets retrograde simultaneously (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and the Centaur, Chiron).  This is not unprecedented (the outer planets are retrograde for months at a time), but is a bit unusual.

retrogradePlanets are said to be in “retrograde” motion when, due to the relative motion of the Earth, and from a geocentric point of view, they appear to be travelling backwards.  Astrology is founded upon a geocentric perspective; appropriate enough since this dear Earth is not just where we live but the source of all sustenance.  Retrograde activity means that planets seem to travel back through degrees of the zodiac they have already transited in direct motion, and which they will transit once more after the period of retrograde motion.  So certain degrees of the zodiac will be visited by a planet at least three times, intensifying our experience and giving us time to work with what is unfolding, to review our reactions and, vitally, to recalibrate our responses.

We have had our eye on 2020 as a big year for challenge and change due to the beginning of three major new planetary cycles, after an eleven-year hiatus: Jupiter/Saturn; Jupiter/Pluto; and Saturn/Pluto.  Two of these three cycles begin in the Virgo-ruled last decanate of Capricorn, suggesting an impact on work, health and service.  Indeed, all the “frontline heroes” we’ve rightly heard so much about exemplify Virgo, the willing worker.  Beneath the surface, though, this planetary activity represents the creaking and cracking apart of an obsolete system whose structures of authority and models of power no longer serve.

Now, as we head into a season of retrogrades, a time of particular significance opens up in this strange and perilous year.  Peak retrograde (in August and September) gives us a chance to reflect upon and recalibrate our lives, and the choices, resources and values they reflect.  The arm of the law is long and intrusive at this time of pandemic, as many rules are applied to how we conduct our lives.  Rules don’t allow for nuance, and the public, it seems, cannot be relied upon to use common sense.  So this is the way it has to be: a little bit arbitrary, a little bit nonsensical.  But we follow the rules because, well, hell, the global economy’s been shut down by this thing so we ought to be afraid and we ought to do everything we can and we might be close to someone who feels really vulnerable.  BoJo called this virus is an “invisible mugger” and no one wants to get mugged.  A compassionate response is a beautiful thing.  Our concern for the susceptibility of the immune responses of known and unknown others is touching – if that is what is going on here.  Fear and danger are not one and the same thing; there is a distinction to be intuited.  Much anxiety and fear are encouraged by the public discourse around Covid 19 and we all need to hold our own in check. Power demands compliance; we can at least be questioning about what is being required, how situations are being narrated, and why, and not simply yield to commands in the name of compassion.

buffetWhile we shield, mask and socially distance we are also changing the emotional temperature of our social interactions, getting a little more disconnected.  This asks us to reach out to each other, to confirm our connections, in the face of the current interruptions.  Our social culture has been shown to be very malleable.  Things we’ve done forever – like hang out huggermugger in groups sharing dips’n’chips (shocking!), drinks, kisses and all sorts – suddenly feel alien.  Even going into a shop might feel like something you’d rather not do.  An atmosphere of suspicion hangs like a mist around public space.  I step into the street to let you pass in case you feel threatened by my germ-ridden presence.  I don’t feel vulnerable, but I’m bothered that you might be, so I’ll give you the swerve.  Out of compassion.  Or is it an impulse more slippery, obedient or anxious than that?  This impulse can be manipulated.  The compliance culture is not a new thing, but it is reaching more deeply into our private spaces and behaviours.

This is not an evidence-based statement and the science is probably not behind me when I say, “As you believe it, so it is.”  We can, however, observe how we scrabble around to furnish our points of view with the veneer of rationality.  Any position you care to take you’ll be able to find authorities who speak both for and against it.  The points of view that tend to prevail as rational, realistic and sensible are those that sit plausibly within the narratives of our knowledge culture; these become authoritative, persuasive.  Views diverting from the cultural consensus readily seem ridiculous, even preposterous or dangerous.

Consensual reality is a matter governed by Capricorn (authority, governance, the System).  Our highly various experiences of, and responses to, the pandemic show that we all exist within differing realities.  The assumption that there is an overarching Actual Reality that can be described as indisputable, though an incredibly powerful one, is being blown apart in the common mind.  Of course, it was ever thus: we inhabit our own realities founded on subjective experiences, perceptions and interpretations; however authoritative we may claim our personal views to be – they remain just that, personal.  There may well be an actual reality out there that we are all experiencing and interpreting, but this is a matter of conjecture no matter how tight our scientific method.  Even experts disagree.

The ground-breaking planetary activity of 2020 in the sign of Capricorn is fracturing our realities, showing them to be striated with beliefs, longings, fears and assumptions of all kinds.  This is really challenging because as Nietzsche pointed out 144 years ago, “The will to truth … [may] finally prefer a handful of ‘certainty’ to a whole cartful of beautiful possibilities.”[i]  Michael Tanner elaborates, “[Nietzsche] says there can be no facts, only interpretations.  In other words, we should realise the extent to which our drives and desires colour all our dealings with what we like to think of as a reality existing entirely independently of us, which we can neutrally investigate.”[ii]

As Pluto’s journey through Capricorn purges systems of power and control, breaking down our fundamental notions of authority and consensus, “reality” is being revealed to be a product of perception, belief and other predispositions.  The ground shifts beneath our feet and a new freedom arises: to interpret our lives freshly, to re-imagine and dream into new futures, to respond to a more authentic source of authority.  Hold on to the possibility of that freedom.  As you believe it, so it is.

[i] Beyond Good and Evil (1886), Penguin, 1990: 40

[ii] Introduction to Beyond Good and Evil, 19

Summer Solstice 2020

20th June, 21:45 GMT

The solstices and equinoxes are the great gateways of the year, indicated by the Sun’s passage into the first degree of each of the cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. These signs are the initiators, inaugurating the new. We – and our Earth – enter these portals and are conditioned by their energies; they herald the Zeitgeist for the coming season. So this is a chance to glimpse what is unfolding over the next quarter.

merrivale summer solstice sunset

picture credit:

At the Summer Solstice the Sun is at its northernmost point from the celestial equator, and so at the peak of its power in the northern hemisphere: the longest day. Maximum illumination. The Sun’s entry into Moon-ruled Cancer marks the Solstice moment, creating a strong energetic rapport between the two luminaries. The Moon rules the Summer Solstice. Just nine hours after the Solstice, the Moon conjuncts and eclipses the Sun, (this New Moon eclipse of the Sun is not observable from Earth). Prior to this, at the Solstice moment the Moon is exactly square Mars, warrior planet of will and drive. Mars energises the Moon, heightening emotional reactions amongst ‘the people’, creating a charge that the Moon will carry to the Sun as a challenge to leadership and consciousness. As Mars is now beleaguered (being conjunct Neptune in Pisces – a very watery situation that is difficult for the Red Planet) there is a mood of thwarted will, frustration and anger. Individual drives and desires are running counter to what serves the good of all, as expressed by Neptune and Pisces.[1] The opportunity here is to raise the vibration of Mars, aligning our effort and determination with the highest good: compassionate action. This might mean breaking out of lockdown in order to stand with others for a cause; equally it could mean observing lockdown and resisting sending your kids back to school even if you are climbing the walls. However it manifests, we are really feeling the rub!


Lockdown has intensified our collective awareness of the private and public spheres. The commitment required to take to the streets at this time may help facilitate a seachange in our social culture. The expressions of protest and defiance in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement across the world are remarkable. Mars entered Pisces in mid-May and at the time of George Floyd’s death was in an exact sextile with Uranus, planet of rebellion and iconoclasm, in Taurus (ruling the neck/throat). Mars/Uranus are keynotes of unpredictable aggression, and Pisces saturates the event with the spirit of sacrifice and martyrdom. Mars/Neptune in Pisces helped to heave Edward Colston into the waters of Bristol harbour; he came down as Mars, approaching conjunction with Neptune, squared the Sun, and was recovered as the Sun squared Neptune.


The Dark Moon is always a fertile time for the planting of seeds; its potency now, at the Summer Solstice, is considerable since it is also in conjunction with the lunar North Node, which transited into the last degree of Gemini early in May having been in Cancer since November 2018. The North Node indicates growth experiences: the nourishing direction.   Amazingly many people around the world have been going through a really intense Cancer experience (Cancer rules the domestic sphere, the inward world), locked down in our homes, getting strongly acquainted with the strengths and weaknesses of our domestic situations. Now we are consciously re-orienting towards Gemini, which is the sign of local interaction, communication, education and trade. We may feel like following the line of least resistance, indicated by the South Node of the Moon in Gemini’s opposite sign, Sagittarius, which rules living it up, freedom and long-distance travel. Sagittarius can be cavalier – eat, drink and be merry – especially in the face of straitened economic circumstances. Let’s have a blow-out and the devil take the hindmost. But the North Node will be strongly advising negotiation, intelligent troubleshooting and really giving our attention to situations within our local environments. This is not the time for sunshine holidays! And normally buoyant Jupiter, ruling the Sagittarian South Node, is struggling in the sign of its fall, Capricorn, which brings restriction and confinement. Now is the time for review and recalibration: Mercury, Venus Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are all in retrograde; Neptune is stationary, turning retrograde on 23rd June.


Such retrograde times are wonderful opportunities for dreaming up the most brilliant outcomes that we can imagine from the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Wishing for life to return to what it was prior to Covid 19 risks being blind to all the shortcomings embedded within our old ‘normal’. Lockdown birthed amongst many a will to do things differently, to find healthier and more compassionate ways of being, operating with values beyond individualism and greedy materialism. Remember all the talk about birdsong?! We need positive visions of the future! The ongoing emphasis in Capricorn is still defining our overall context (being the locus of major new cycles beginning this year). Jupiter and Pluto make three conjunctions in 2020, the second of which comes up on 30th June.[2] Jupiter’s principle is expansion; it is freedom seeking. Its journey through Capricorn is disciplining Jupiter’s normally boundless optimism, urging caution and realism. Its struggle to find grounds for faith and meaning in life may actually serve to create grounded, thought-through visions for future expansion. The conjunction with powerful Pluto purges Jupiter of frivolity, hammering home the injunction for systems of authority to get real, to be accountable. Pluto is revealing and intensifying the effects of boom and bust economics that underpin our socio-political organisations (and the State). Jupiter is the signifier of foreign influences and, hence, of globalisation, the positive and negative underpinnings of which will increasingly be hitting us between the eyes. Pluto may intensify Jupiter’s impulse to break free of restriction and we may well see public displays of this impulse met with authoritative kick-back. This will serve to de-legitimise systems of governance, because the status quo’s own obsolescence is breaking it apart under the aegis of Pluto’s evolutionary pressure.


Political clampdown is the motif of 2020. Its benign manifestation, lockdown, may begin to look rather different as we move through the year. Saturn (authority structures – ruler of Capricorn) has moved into Aquarius: the State now has to be perceived as humanitarian. It retrogrades back into Capricorn in July, leaving the sign finally on 17th December, just four days prior to both the Winter Solstice and its own conjunction with Jupiter on 0° Aquarius: the times they are a-changing!


Kate Hubert

[1] Neptune is the esoteric ruler of the Summer Solstice and therefore indicative of activity in the subtle realms at this point.

[2] The first occurred on 5th April on 24° Capricorn, the second (with both planets retrograde) occurs on 30th June again on 24° Capricorn, and the final one takes place on 12th November (on exactly the same degree – 22° Capricorn – as the great Saturn-Pluto conjunction of 12th January).


A New World?

Spring Equinox 2020:  20th March 03:51 GMT

A massive question mark hovers over just about everything that has been held to be certain for years. We have felt the inward strain of the question mark; it has led to countless protests and demonstrations, only to return to the stifling embrace of the status quo. Now it feels like change gonna come. Odd to write about wintery Capricorn in the spring, perhaps, but it is strongly emphasised throughout the whole of 2020. * This is the sign of organisation, structure, governance and authority. In January this year it hosted the much-heralded meeting of Saturn and Pluto, beginning a new 33-year cycle relating to our social and political experience of authority. These two heavyweights can be crudely summarised like this:

Saturn: concretisation, restriction, status quo, society

Pluto: regeneration, destruction, empowerment, healing

Pluto’s healing force is relentlessly breaking down the organisational systems of Saturn, bringing an insurgency of what is radically necessary for the health of all life forms.

Spring Eq 2020 graphic

This Spring Equinox is the moment when the forces of daylight – the Sun (consciousness) – overpower those of darkness, marked by the burgeoning growth of spring. It happens when the Sun enters the first sign of the zodiac, Mars-ruled Aries, making Mars the ruler of the equinox portal. As the Sun enters Aries this Friday, Mars is exactly conjunct Jupiter on 22˚ Capricorn (the precise location of the Saturn/Pluto meeting in January, releasing more of its considerable force!) and very close to both Saturn and Pluto. What a powerful line up! Mars and Jupiter are the dynamic duo. Mars has the effect of triggering action, while Jupiter expands and inflates whatever it touches, having a really energising effect on Mars’s directive force. The equinox brings us a deeper awareness of the new territory we are in, and asks us key questions. What is authority and what is its source? How do we create reliable structures to serve us now? To whom and to what are we responsible?

Toxicity and obsolescence are being driven out of our social systems in order to create the conditions for regeneration; the breakdown of the body (personal or politic) creates conditions for radical healing. This is Pluto energy, which has been active in Capricorn since 2008, marked spectacularly by the global financial crisis. Saturn’s function is to separate, differentiate and harden forms (creating boundaries and structures, but eventually causing them to become brittle and break apart). Lockdown is a typical Saturn response.   The gesture now suspends the status quo in order to be able to reinstate it later. Saturn always feels safer when everything’s nailed down. The deeper message of Saturn/Pluto in Capricorn, however, is that the status quo is, in and of itself, pathological and its disease is now being driven out. The system of order is being deep-cleaned and, in the process, will be thoroughly transformed as rottenness is eliminated. This is healing.

Mars always prompts the need for direction and clarity of intent. We need to know what we are trying to do, and why. It gives us great energy and effectiveness. Jupiter asks for perspective: a broad horizon of understanding. Its gifts are optimism, faith in life and the ability to perceive underlying, unifying principles. Undirected, Mars becomes aggressive. Unheld, Jupiter inflates the aggression of Mars. We ourselves are the directors and holders of these planetary forces; collectively we determine their register. We help when we have clear intent, when we know what we’re about and why; when we act with faith in life.

These are challenging times requiring considerable pragmatism and improvisation. Good news: we are unusually awake and engaged. Bad news: we’re anxious and fearful. GN: what is resilient and lively in our communities is empowered, stepping forward to help. BN: what lacks resilience in our communities and systems is massively challenged…. Our emotional selves are certainly getting triggered and no one is an expert in our current situation. We help ourselves when we pull ourselves into presence: drawing ourselves into our bodies, connecting with sensation and making the connection with the earth beneath our feet. Get closer to the earth than that if you feel agitated. The unfailing steadiness and support of this holding are always available. Enrich life with presence.

Man in virtual helmet . Mixed mediaThe tendency can be, when fearful, to flee presence, vacate the lived reality of sensation and hurl ourselves headlong into anxious imaginings and trawl through online offerings to find out what we should be thinking and doing. Embodied physical reality is increasingly a space we must actively choose to inhabit. It is the source of our wellbeing, our nourishment rest and connectedness. When we flee our physical moorings, we become like leaves in the wind, blown around by whirling thoughts and feelings.  It seems obvious to say it, but you can’t eat, drink or sleep online. IRL: that’s where it’s at!

spring tree

At the Equinox the planets are all squashed into 114˚ of the zodiac, bookended by Mars/Jupiter on one side and Venus on the other. Mars and Venus represent Self and Other respectively. Their midpoint, crucially sensitive, is occupied by Neptune (strong in its own sign of Pisces), whose message is essentially, We Are One: interdependent and interconnected. Neptune’s oceanic force erodes all boundaries and separation, reflecting this truth of Unity; it operates through overwhelm, the ineluctable force of inundation, to wash out the false perception of separative consciousness. Pandemic could well be Neptune’s emblem, for it shows the many and varied ways in which we are connected, every single one of us imbued with global reach and susceptibility to what happens in any and all other places. All life is part of the One field of consciousness. Differentiation and separation, are ultimately, illusory. How precious this realisation!

As we socially distance and self-isolate across continents, it is worth paying mind to Chiron in Aries, conjuncting the Equinox Sun (and powerful at all the cardinal gateways in 2019). Here Chiron expresses the wound of selfishness, the pain of separation in the isolated self. The isolate individual, is a distortion, in the old parlance, a glamour, of Neptune’s deeper truth of Oneness: we belong with each other, participants in Mystery, in Being and Becoming. It is a rare situation that allows this ineffable idea to be so weirdly tangible, suddenly manifest in every action and decision.  Mars/Jupiter make a quintile to Chiron suggesting that the consciousness being generated by the centaur is helping us raise our expression of Mars/Jupiter. We could hunker down in Fortress Self, aggressively pursuing self-serving ends; but we can feel the ways, although in separate spaces/bodies, that we belong to each other and our worlds, and allow faith in life to strengthen and direct us.

Exactly 48 hours after the Equinox, Saturn moves into Aquarius, sign of humanitarianism, bringing a real shift in how we seek to structure social systems. On the very day of the Winter Solstice 2020, Jupiter and Saturn will make a conjunction on 0˚ Aquarius, consolidating this shift away from the hierarchical, avaricious, power over model of society.

How to remain clear and independent in attitude? What are our values? What are our resources? What do we really need? How to be alive and alert to the possibility held out now that we see clearly how fragile and contingent our systems are? It feels like we are in a time out of time, an unworldly space, in which – if we choose to do more than just sit it out – we can touch into the truth of our interconnected reality, and resource the making of new values, new selves, new worlds.

Some links below to content I have found illuminating.–3qW8nroGqE


* Saturn conjunct Pluto 22˚ Capricorn, 12th Jan.; Jupiter conjunct Pluto 24˚ Capricorn, 5th Apr. and 30th Jun.; Jupiter conjunct Pluto 22˚ Capricorn, 12th Nov. Annular eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn.

As you believe it, so it will be

Saturn conjunct Pluto

12th January 2020, 16:23 GMT

If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world. (Noam Chomsky)

Saturn and Pluto have now met in Saturn’s own sign, Capricorn. One cycle ends and a new one begins. These two powerhouses of the solar system meet approximately every 35 years and their cycles are reflected in the relationship between power and authority. Saturn represents the Father: authority, governance, tradition and consensus reality. Pluto is radical truthfulness, necessity and regeneration, and is the deeper, more powerful force. It is giving Saturn a real deep clean. Healing through purging is Pluto’s way and it is purifying our experience of “authority” and, even, “reality”, clearing the negative accretions that cling to the Saturn archetype in our perception, in both the personal and collective realms.

Saturn-Pluto graphic

Capricorn is a practical and pragmatic sign with a concern for effectiveness, providing an impetus for review: what works, what’s broken and what’s currently needed to secure stable progress. Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008, intensifying the review, stunning us with the effects and ramifications of our social, political and economic systems, and driving out the toxicity and corruption concealed beneath the surface of our various authoritative orders – of, in fact, consensus reality.

Consensus reality arises through our shared (and highly conditioned) perceptions. We are conditioned by commonly held beliefs, values and expectations, by our culture, knowledge-production process and education, by media and institutions of the State. This consensus creates the world in which we live, and what we believe to be true and possible. It is both frame and lens for what we take to be the real. Consensus reality should not be confused with reality. We know this because it changes over time. Shifts in perception create shifts in our understanding of reality. When Saturn, representing consensus reality, comes under pressure (as it is massively under Pluto’s now) fracture lines start appearing in consensus reality leading to perceptual shifts: things are not as they seemed. It’s scary when Order is breached, but it opens up possibility and the old order cannot be reinstated. The vacuum created by the fracturing of the old order must not be filled with fear and despair. We are driven now to get real about the effects of how we operate in this earth realm at every level: personal, social, political, environmental. There is a need to act with clear intent and to discipline emotion (fear, rage, anxiety, grief, despair, indeed strong emotions of any kind, muddy the waters and, while human, should not govern and dominate our responses to our situation). The Power of Decision is required, personally and collectively.

What if the fear and malaise and anger isn’t merely being reported by cable news…

What if it’s being caused by cable news?

What if the ubiquitous video accompanied by frightening and freaked out talking heads is actually, finally, changing our culture? … [My note: certainly it changes our body chemistry]

Every time we hook ourselves up to a device that shocks us into a fear-based posture on a regular basis, we’re making a choice about the world and how we experience it. (Seth Godin)

Saturn’s question to us is ever, “To what are you truly committed?” It rewards our clarity about commitment in spades, creating channels of opportunity through which the energy of commitment can flow, empowering our intent and action with discipline, resilence and perseverance. Saturn and its sign, Capricorn, are associated with authority and the rule of the Father. Pluto empowering Saturn may certainly signal a drive towards totalitarian control. But Capricorn belongs to the earthy triplicity (with Taurus and Virgo): it is a feminine sign. Beneath the patriarchal overlay that we’ve inherited as our understanding, we may discern the gleam of a suppressed and repressed goddess energy that Pluto is reviving and intensifying. Imagine a system of authority and governance founded upon the commitment to nourish and sustain the lives of all beings. Imagine a system that had, burning at its heart, the Children’s Fire, requiring judgements, decisions and actions to be taken with a view to the future, unto the seventh generation of descendants.

The mould of patriarchal authority is being radically challenged. We see young women holding power in new ways on the world stage. The Earth itself is insusceptible to the rules, laws and norms of human-made authority, being always essentially wild and free.

We are instrumental in making of this Saturn-Pluto energy what we will. How we imagine power and authority operating in the world has an effect. Our hope, love and sacred intent for the highest good are real powers in the world. We can lend our weight, if we wish, to feeding the forces of powerlessness, materialism, greed, need and totalitarian clampdown. Or, we can use the power of imagination – and action – to invoke and honour the long-denied and demeaned sacred feminine and bring light, love and compassion into our lived experience of Order and authority.

I am imagining the Goddess insurgent, bringing us guidance and inspiration about how we might organise our practical lives with a deep and open awareness of the truth that we are all part of a complex interconnected process. We are One. The life of the great One must be served.

As you believe it, so it will be.

Kate Hubert, Awen Astrology

Intentions Count

Winter Solstice, 22nd December 2019 04:21 GMT

The darkest time, the longest night… Life forces at this time of year are extremely retracted, things appear to be dead or in suspended animation; we are held, sometimes uncomfortably, in stasis. It is in this time of restriction that our Sun, “great giver of all that is”, reaches the extent of its descent and is effectively reborn, initiating a new cycle of growth and renewal. Darkness is fertile. Stillness allows for a movement inwards which enriches and empowers our intentions (conscious or not) for the year ahead. The Sun at its still point gilds our hearts, minds and spirits. Now is a time for consciously envisioning and dreaming: seeding the future, which gestates within us before it can be born in the apparent world. Time to weed out negativity, to be aware of what future seeds we are nourishing within ourselves. Let the inner gold take hold.


The Winter Solstice delivers a challenge to reboot the will. The Sun, from this point on, will climb higher above the horizon whether or not there is anything worth shining on. Human will – taking action, doing, creating – is required for the renewal of life. If we are in states of despair or disappointment, disillusion or despondency this is the time to ask ourselves what we would like to experience in order to repair negative states – this is then what we need to provide outwardly.

The Bach flower remedy for very great hopelessness is Gorse. Flowering throughout the year, it shines out against the muted palette of a gloomy British winter, and is the remedy associated with the Winter Solstice, initiating the rebirth of new life and new hope. It is also highly resilient and resilience is a gift of Capricorn: this time. Julian Barnard, maker of Bach’s remedies, writes, “Each day, each moment, we express in our outlook hope or pessimism; we either affirm life or deny it.” Here is the choice then: to be life affirming or life denying. At this Winter Solstice gateway, Jupiter, planet of optimism and faith in life, stands with the newborn Sun. If we are positive and purposeful in our activities, Jupiter lends great buoyancy to us at this time.


But let’s not get carried away. The planetary principle of the Earth is strength through struggle. This is not the realm of perfection; very far from it. As John Green says in The Fault in Our Stars, “the world is not a wish-granting factory.” Human beings are both brilliant and appalling; life is both sweet and tough. The way our lives unfold is productive of consciousness, which is pretty much the point. The question is what we do with our perceptions, how we make meaning, how we create contexts of significance that allow us to move through our lives with resilience, faith and courage. Our clinging to strong emotional reactions, whether happy or despairing, gets in the way of life’s unfolding. To like and dislike is the disease of the mind, as Shunryu Suzuki observes.

There is much to mind in our stricken social and political life; it’s hard to be a cheery Brit, for sure. Before the general election I’m sure many prayers were spoken, many hopes fervently wished – to see social justice, climate justice, empathy and goodness served. I’m equally sure there is much despair and bewilderment at the election result. Our prayers and hopes – our clear intent – remain valid. Our job is to cultivate peacefulness and to persevere, to cling to the potential for good in all beings and circumstances and to disperse doubts and anxieties. This is not the realm of perfection, but our intentions count. Hope is a real and vital force in a world that badly needs it.

Regardless of how impossible it seems that a situation might improve, such an improvement can happen if we remain firm and independent in attitude, and open its being possible.  (Carol K. Anthony)

No new major planetary cycles have begun in eleven years; 2020 will see three. The first (Saturn/Pluto) in just a few days on 12th January. Such new beginnings ask for clear and firm intent – because, like a new year, they are times to seed possibility. Saturn/Pluto speaks particularly of structures of authority and power and we need to be conscious of what kind of authority we wish to empower. It may well be that the way we are relating to our circumstances is irrelevant: that there is a big gap between what we perceive as our reality and what is actually happening. Giving up our emotional reactions, loosening the grip of our stories upon us, will help us relate to the real.

A fixed t-square between the Moon in Scorpio, Uranus in Taurus and Venus in Aquarius (note that Venus and Uranus occupy each other’s signs) at the Solstice indicates disruptive challenges to popular conditioning. We may have our security blankets tugged out of our hands; uncomfortable but awakening. Being awake and alert is potent. As Venus is the focal point of the t-square resources and values are foregrounded. Disruptions in supplies create an insistence on finding new ways of relating to our resources and asking what we really need and value. Capitalist economies are founded on ever-expanding growth. The neurotic aspect of this finds a weird reflection in the obesity epidemic and in the ludicrous size of our cars: nutritionless food and tank-like vehicles provide sentience-reducing armour to brave our brave new world.

This t-square also reminds us of the need to create community – new constituencies and alignments between people – that may serve to circumvent some of our frustrations with traditional structures of governance and to open channels to brilliant insights. We belong to one another and to this Earth; the isolated self, the lone wolf, is extinction-bound. Exploring our sense of belonging – to our own localities, to this time, these people gathered here, this deep earth – might challenge and change our perceptions and our values, helping us understand that matters, and even the nature of matter, are rather less fixed than we supposed.

candles at newgrange

Game Changer

Astrology of the Autumn Equinox

23rd September 2019 07:51 GMT

Cardinalis means principal or pivotal. A pivot, we know, is a means by which an alignment is corrected; a turning point. The Cardinal Cross (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) governs the turning points of the year, the Solstices and Equinoxes, when new seasons are inaugurated. These dynamic gateways (marked by the Sun’s entry into the first degree of each cardinal sign) are points of initiation: pivotal, or game-changing moments when alignments may be corrected and new directions inaugurated.

What has until this point held sway may be swept aside, as initiation brings new energetic influences to bear on our alignments, like advancing to a new level in a game. Some game! It is a human task to recognise opportunity and identify what is truly of value in any situation and to safeguard it, while allowing the forces of change to carry off what no longer serves. Pivotal times urge us to engage in this task. The script is in the bin; we are now off script and must improvise on the basis of our core values. What are they? Democracy, tolerance and the rule of law? Much could be said about those values in these times.

What are your core values? What is your vision for the future you want to create?

That we are in a time of crisis both domestically and globally is obvious. We are at the threshold of a major planetary initiation – the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in cardinal Capricorn next January. These two forces meet every 33 years or so and we are currently at the conclusion of a cycle that began in November 1982 – when we were just getting acquainted with what we now know as Thatcherism. (And the last time Saturn and Pluto met in the sign of Capricorn was 500 years ago, when Martin Luther was protesting the corruption and control of the Roman Catholic Church!) The very same degree they meet on in January (22° Capricorn) will also host the meeting of Jupiter and Pluto in next November, exacerbating this stimulation of cardinal energy. We are in an intensifying state of initiation, and much becomes possible if we hold and share clear visions and values of what we want to manifest in the world.

This Autumn Equinox packs a powerful, cardinal punch. Additional to the Sun entering cardinal Libra (marking the Equinox), we have six other planets in cardinal signs, including a cardinal t-square between the Moon, Venus (ruler of Libra and therefore of the Equinox) and Saturn, all powerfully occupying their own signs. Venus is at the apex of this t-square, squaring the MoonSaturn opposition. The Moon and Saturn relate to the past, as they govern respectively emotional and mental habits; it is these habits that give rise to what we perceive as our circumstances and material situations (i.e. reality). If these habits go unchallenged we are in danger of simply perpetuating past conditions, creating prisons for ourselves. Crisis is a great gift because it urges us to break out of habits. We have to learn at some point or other that our emotional reactions are not signals of truth; our ideas should not to be confused with reality. We really shouldn’t believe everything we think and feel! What we experience as reality is our own perceptual apparatus, thoroughly conditioned by inherited and habitual thought and feeling patterns.

The real [is not] the world as it is […], it is not! It becomes! It moves, it changes! It doesn’t wait for us to change […]. The world, the real, is not an object. It is a process. (John Cage)

The Moon and Saturn (feelings and thoughts) are filters we see through – they condition the “realities” we are able to perceive. We are not able to perceive reality unconditioned by our feelings and thoughts. The consensus reality (Saturn) that we share is the substrate of the world we build together. It conditions our sense of what is possible. “As you believe, so it is,” Saturn teaches. Saturn, currently being impacted by the big-hitting, transformative power of Pluto, signals the breakdown of a certain order. A layer of our consensus reality has become obsolete and is being ripped out, allowing new possibilities to open up. This is revealing toxic content which has been unconscious (shadow); but it also reveals incredible new possibilities, good and bad.

Values (Venus), feelings (Moon) and beliefs (Saturn), if held long enough, take material form in the world. These three are locked into the t-square at the Equinox, pressurising us to interrogate these areas of our lives, and perhaps to think about the ways in which they give rise to the realities we experience. We are becoming. Our world and this Earth are becoming. The emphasis in Libra (Sun, Mercury, Venus) accentuates the need to advocate for justice and peace as we find the path of harmony that runs between extremes. We need to be reflective and relational, diplomatic and conciliatory, our values firmly and clearly enshrined in our thinking and feeling. Mars gives some drive and direction to this project, being widely conjunct the Equinox Sun, in the sign of Virgo, the willing worker. This feels constructive, but under the influence of Mars we need to be directed towards clear, authentic goals, otherwise aggression can erupt. And this is certainly the challenge on the national stage: knowing what we are about and what we want to achieve.

Step that challenge down into your own life and ask yourself honestly, what are you about? What might be your authentic direction?

The influence of Chiron, which I have written much about, continues to be powerful for months to come as it still occupies the early degrees of Aries, aspecting the Sun at all the cardinal gateways until March 2021. The pain and division we have experienced socially, culturally and politically in Britain are a reflection of Chiron’s theme of the incurable wound that drives us towards self-knowledge, compassionate understanding and wisdom. The way in which climate change has entered in popular discourse under Chiron’s entry into Aries (aided by Uranus in Taurus, reflecting radical disruption to resources and the environment) is startling. Chiron always illuminates what is callow and immature, and we can surely see this in our profit-driven, smash and grab culture – and in those people who rise to prominence within it.

Who loves the neurotic dependency and the bland offerings of compulsory multi-national capitalism? All of us? Really? Possibilities of renewal are opening up before our eyes – sustainable, local, community-oriented possibilities – which we are in danger of ignoring because the ecological issues are framed in terms of guilt, sacrifice, denial and loss. Astrology teaches us that sacrifice has another face: the redeeming imagination. We are navigating turbulent waters guided by the media, which thrive on keeping us in states of fear and loathing. It is really hard to remain positive, grounded, resilient and hopeful when you are in a state of fear and loathing.

From the point of pause at the Equinox, we tip down towards the darker half of the year, metabolising the last six months of outward sunlight to transform it into inner gold, illuminating our journey into winter with soul force and purposeful activity. We see the work that is to be done, let’s engage with this mysterious process we call life, with love and hope for all that may be.

Please note: “In the Court of the Fisher King: Chiron & the Wounded Healer Archetype” workshop will run on Sunday 8th December in Ashburton, South Devon.  Contact me for more information or to book a place.

The Wounded Healer – Workshops with Kate Hubert and Wendy Watkins

Astrology, Creativity, Sound, Meditation …

The Wounded Healer archetype is strong right now in our world as Chiron moves through the early degrees of Aries, presenting us with challenges, choices and opportunities about how we deal with what is wounded in ourselves, the collective and our world, and empowering us towards healing and integration in 2019.


Working With the Wounded Healer, 10am to 12.30pm, 14th July 2019, Ashburton, S. Devon

The tutelage of the Sun and the gifts of wisdom-knowledge will be our theme in the next half-day workshop in Ashburton, South Devon, on Sunday 14th July. Please book now!  (Further workshops working with other aspects of the myth on 29th September/ 20th October/ 17th November.) £15/10

In the Court of the Fisher KIng: Chiron & the Wounded Healer Archetype, 10am to 4.30pm             Exeter 15th September 2019 / Ashburton 8th December 2019:

The Fisher King (Keeper of the Grail) is the ancient British correlative of the Chiron archetype, and this legend, with its themes of environmental degradation and the violation of the feminine, is the framework for this workshop. £40 (concs available)

The centaur, Chiron, the Wounded Healer, is the planetary archetype associated with shame and pain: the ‘scar on the soul’. Chiron was conceived when his mother, an ocean nymph, was raped by Chronos/Saturn in the bestial form of a horse. His mother, appalled by his hybrid appearance (human-equine mash-up), abandoned him at birth. From its inception, his story is one of violation and abandonment. Things change when he is fostered by the Sun God, Apollo, who instructs him in the natural wisdom of healing, plant lore and astrology; in the bardic arts of music and poetry; and in philosophy and archery. Chiron becomes cultured and embraces wisdom-knowledge, which calls him into relationship with the earth and the stars: he finds a context of meaning.

Pain is essential to life. We cannot be cured of life. We too are hybrid creatures – part-personality, part-soul, both trapped in time and yet timeless, mortal and undying. We too are wounded: there is no life that avoids pain, shame and suffering. We too are capable of transforming our wounds and finding meaning, compassionate understanding and healing; indeed our deep well-being demands that we do. And astrological Chiron is our mentor in being with suffering and transforming it until we are able to serve others. Our woundedness is the source of our gift to life.

Key to transformation is the education offered by Apollo. As a star, the Sun belongs to a higher order than the planetary bodies, which orbit around it: it organises and integrates all other energies, the supreme constellator. ‘Great giver of all that is’, it brings light and warmth that unfurls us and allows us to engage and to become playful and creative. Astrologically, the Sun signifies our uniqueness, creativity, authenticity and power potential. This playful creativity is a fine way to meet the challenges that Chiron signifies, so that we can begin to find the gold in the darkness of our pain.

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