The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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Part of our trip around Northern Ireland’s gorgeous County Antrim coast involved a stop at the world famous Giant’s Causeway.

I have to say that it was indeed everything I was expecting, from the cool, wet weather to the very touristy atmosphere.

Simply Stunning

That said, the place is simply stunning. Nothing can prepare you for walking over those truncated basalt columns, watching your step, while eyeing in disbelief that such a place actually exists, spreading out ahead of you towards the sea.

Made a World Heritage Site in 1986, the Giant’s Causeway lies right at the northern end of Northern Ireland.

Official Story

The official story is that it’s between 50 and 60 million years old. In a nutshell, it’s the result of strong volcanic activity causing lava flows which formed a plateau, cooling relatively quickly, resulting in the distinctive hexagonal columns.

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A similar process or effect occurs when mud dries in extreme heat, though you don’t get the height of the columns of course.

So much for the ‘official’ story. Any self respecting local here would tell you that’s all hogwash.

A Battle of Giants

What really happened, perhaps not that many generations ago, is that Finn MacCool, an Irish giant, was confronted by a Scottish giant challenger, called Benandonner. Finn, who couldn’t wait to tackle this upstart, built the causeway to get across the North Channel to Scotland.

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There are basically two versions of the story. In one, Finn beats Benandonner conclusively. In the other Finn runs away from Benandonner after realising that he’s even bigger than himself.

Feminine Guile

So, using some feminine guile, Finn’s wife, called Oonagh, makes out her husband to be a baby, even going to the extent of placing him in a cradle.

Benandonner is fooled by this, thinking that if the baby is this big, then how big is the father? In shock, Benandonner trudges back across the causeway, taking it down on the way so Finn cannot follow him.

Science versus ‘Myth’

Strangely enough, in the corresponding part of Scotland around Fingal’s Cave on the isle of Staffa, there are some very similar columns of basalt.

Now, the scientific community would have us believe that this is merely part of the same lava flow from many millions of years ago. Of course it is.

But I know which explanation I prefer.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Northern Ireland, Small is Beautiful

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Recently we spent a few days in Northern Ireland.

We were based in Belfast, an up and coming city with a proud industrial heritage, particularly in ship building. It was here, of course, where the legendary ocean liner, The Titanic was built.

In more recent times, though, Belfast has been blighted by what was called ‘The Troubles’. Thankfully, those days are long gone but the scars remain. I won’t talk about those times right now.

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No, I want to talk about the County Antrim coast road, which takes you around the northern tip of the island of Ireland.

I have scarcely seen such beauty, anywhere; the fantastic vistas out to sea, atmospheric views across to Scotland and the Mull of Kintyre; the wonderful, secluded, almost deserted beaches.

And then of course sensational spots like the Giants Causeway.

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In fact, words almost fail, except to say that property sales particulars were consulted. Simply wonderful.

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There will be more pictures to follow in future pieces on the fabulous little corner of the world.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Astrological Musings on Mercury – “Stop fidgeting, boy!”

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In astrology Mercury is associated with the signs Gemini, Virgo and the corresponding third and sixth houses of a chart.

Mercury, closely following the sun at all times, is said to represent the mind, how we think, communicate, our nervous system, their strengths and weaknesses depending its conditioning.

Take Luke (not his real name which is protected), a former teacher who’d taken early retirement a while ago. He came to me wanting to know why he’d become so restless and nervous. He explained that he’d always been a bit restless, but especially of late. He knew his birth time to within about five minutes, so I calculated his birth chart.

Raised Eyebrows

Immediately, one of the ‘reasons’ he described himself as restless leapt out at me from the computer screen. His Mercury was closely conjunct a Capricorn ascendant, trine Mars in Taurus, sextile Jupiter in Scorpio. There were no so-called difficult or hard aspects, no squares or oppositions to Mercury. He seemed curious as to why my eyebrows were raised. At the time he came to see me, transiting Pluto had been lurking with intent around his native Mercury for a few months.

Over the years I’ve found it remarkable (a lot of the time) how people ‘speak’ their charts. In Luke’s case Mercury here was doing all the talking!

Mercury in Capricorn represents a practical mind, that likes to spend its time productively; teaching would be one good outlet. Close to the ascending degree and energised by Mars and Jupiter, one might expect the native to be a little fidgety – he was, constantly scratching his head, re-arranging his seating position. He just had to be doing something!

Positive Energy

So with all that positive energy from Mars in Taurus, which only increases the pressure to ‘do something’ practical like making money, and from Jupiter in Scorpio, encouraging him to go deep, plumb the depths of knowledge, it’s probably not surprising that Luke was a bundle of unresolved, nervous energy which now ceased to have a proper outlet or channel.

“Can you write?” I asked, rather glibly, picking at Mercury’s communicative qualities.

He nodded. “Yeah, I do it all the time.”

“Professionally?”

He shook his head and laughed. “Just jot things down and scribble, you know.”

But I could see something opening in his eyes, some kind of realisation.

“Don’t get me wrong,” I said, tentatively, “I can’t advise you to do anything but what might help is to find a project, a writing project, to really get your teeth into, to fill the gap that teaching filled. Something like that.”

Second Career

He seemed interested, but with all that earthy mental energy, I figured that creative writing might not be the best outlet for him. “Serious themes, perhaps,” I continued, “history, religion, psychology, geography…”

“Ha!” he exclaimed, “I taught geography for thirty five years!”

“OK, apart from teaching it, have you written about it, expressed our own ideas, opinions? Have you done research, for instance?”

“Not since university.”

Chance Meeting

It was around six months later when I met up with him again by chance, not in my house, but in the high street outside a butcher’s shop of all places.

“You were right about the writing, by the way?” he said, smiling nonchalantly.

“Really?”

“I’m a regular contributor to a science magazine now… and I’ve started giving talks on geography and geology for adult education locally. In fact, I’ve been invited up to Sheffield next week to give a talk.”

I tried to disguise my own smirk. It would seem that his native Mercury, which may have given him the impetus to become a teacher in the first place, had now inspired a second career in his retirement, as a writer and speaker. Pluto’s close proximity to his native Mercury at the time, may just have done a little prodding from behind the scenes.

Ultimately, I think this example also shows a need to look for the obvious, stand out features of a birth chart first. “Keep it simple, boy!”