Haiku copyright Francis Barker 2020
I’ve wings on my heels
I closely follow the sun
I reveal your mind
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
It is fairly clear to me that the timing of the opening of the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London, was certainly by design. I contend that this event encapsulated the then zeitgeist, thereby setting in motion a new world at all levels.
We need not be surprised by this. Astrologers had for centuries been consulted as to the most propitious time, astrologically, to begin a new project, a marriage, business, government, reign, or even country.
One of the most well known examples is John Dee’s choice of day and time for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I of England on January 15 1559. We can speculate as to the wisdom of his choice, although historians have certainly been highly favourable when writing about the so called ‘Virgin Queen’ ever since.
When I found out the the date and timing of the opening of the Great Exhibition, I immediately looked at the chart – and was astounded, though not entirely surprised.
I will begin with the date itself, May 1. May Day has long had traditional pagan associations. In fact it would appear that this date was considered the most important of the year until fairly recent times, so we are told. The festival of Beltane celebrated the turning of spring into summer, usually involving fertility rites, bonfires, even sacrifices.
Then during the 19th century this same date became associated with international workers rights and the advance of international socialism. So at the very least, the choosing of this date is most intriguing. Even Queen Victoria herself made reference to “strengthening the bonds of union among the nations of the earth.” There was an internationalist flavour to this and all world’s fair events like it.
John Bull at his apogee
So let’s get into the meat here. By all accounts the exhibition opened around midday, soon after Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their entourage entered the Crystal Palace. At this juncture the Taurus New Moon was only a few hours old, with both of the major luminaries conjunct the Taurean Midheaven of the chart, the part of the chart signifying goals and ambition.
A new Moon, or the ensuing hours after it, are traditionally thought to be the best time for new beginnings of any kind. In Taurus, anything to do with money or construction will be favoured, as long as it is also well aspected. The Moon is said to be exalted in Taurus, at her most fecund, promising further success.
This is highly symbolic timing for the beginning of this exhibition. It was not only to exhibit to the world the technological, economic and cultural hegemony of Great Britain for the next six months, but was meant to set the course for the remainder of this very ‘British century’, John Bull (Taurus) literally at the apogee, if you will. Taurus loves to establish and have firm footings.
Pax Britannica – Great Britain ruling the waves
Appropriately enough too, royal Leo is on the ascendant loosely conjunct the fixed royal star Regulus. This makes the Sun ruler of the chart, as befits this very royal, if not imperial project. Although Queen Victoria was to lose her consort Prince Albert in 1861, she went on to become probably Britain’s most famous monarch – and Empress of India.
Interestingly, there is also a Venus Mars conjunction in Aries in the 9th house of philosophy, enterprise and long distance travel. The thrust of Mars is given a certain belligerence in his own sign, plus carte blanche to take it to the furthest corners of the earth.
The presence of Venus here adds a kind of benevolence too, maybe even the idea of Pax Britannica, the British Empire on which the sun never set. Great Britain ruling the waves (and pretty much everything else) indeed, as she proceeded to do for the next seventy five years.
Revolution meets irresistible force
However, this chart works on many layers, some of them quite deep. Around six weeks earlier in late March 1851, Uranus and the then undiscovered Pluto made the last contact of their recent coming together in Aries, a sign which is also strongly associated with England and Great Britain.
For example, the Christmas Day chart of 1066 set for the coronation of William I of England, has Aries on the ascendant. Many astrologers believe this chart still has much resonance today, and the Venus Mars conjunction in Aries in the Exhibition chart also links up with the 1066 chart’s action oriented Aries ascendant.
Now Uranus and Pluto meet up around every 172 years, so this represents a highly significant time astrologically. On the face of it, no one knew about the existence of Pluto at the time. Both Uranus and Pluto are still close together in the 1851 exhibition chart, straddling the Aries Taurus boundary. What is more, around the same time Saturn passed over both of these outer planets in late Aries and early Taurus.
With this I believe we get into some pretty deep territory. Since the discovery of Uranus in 1781, this planet became associated with sudden change and upheaval. Hence the revolution in France and the so-called Industrial Revolution, for example. It is as if an awareness of or need for change had suddenly entered our collective consciousness – the notion of ‘progress’, technologically and culturally.
Superconscious, transpersonal – or magical power?
However, if we think of this new discovery as a higher octave, or rather a superconscious (transpersonal) aspect of communicative Mercury, we might also get a better understanding of principles like insight, breakthrough and invention.
Maybe we have here the ability to draw on transpersonal energies – Uranus representing the initial breakthrough beyond the limiting boundary of Saturn, even if Ouranos, the old sky god which the new planet was named after, is in fact, ironically, the father of Saturn in myth.
Perhaps the discovery, or even rediscovery of Uranus, is symbolic of the return of the magical power of the older gods.
If we consider the then undiscovered Pluto to be transpersonal power, as opposed to the personal expression of energy as seen in Mars, and all the potential danger that represents, then I think we get some idea as to the real significance of this new cycle which took place in Taurus in 1850 and into 1851.
It is almost like the magician Uranus utilising the deep power of Pluto for future use without mankind being aware of such subterranean force. Saturn passing over both just afterwards is acting like a coalescing agent of this transformative energy in the material world, a changing of the guard and setting the scene for decades ahead.
Every conjunction of Uranus and Pluto marks the beginning of a new cycle which appears to manifest in our world as a force for social and cultural change, but especially since 1851. The energies of transpersonal change and power come together as an almost irresistible force. People will argue as to the benevolence, or otherwise, of this energy.
It would appear the power of this conjunction was being felt at least a year or so beforehand too. Look at the revolutions of 1848, for example, the biggest uprisings Europe as a whole had ever known, at least according to the known history. And even though little political change actually transpired as a result, the cultural significance in the long run was indeed manifest.
Setting the seal and precedent
We can therefore see that the Great Exhibition of 1851 did indeed set the symbolic seal of the times, showcased in the almost unbelievably magnificent Crystal Palace. The exhibition closed in October 1851. Then, remarkably, the great cast iron and glass edifice was transferred to another site in London. It seems little was beyond these Victorian engineers.
So ultimately, I believe the chart set for the inauguration of this important event is indeed highly symbolic. The next six months encapsulated Britain’s inheritance from the old world, yet more importantly, presaged her empire’s predominance in the world and the true beginning of ‘globalism’.
The beginning of globalism
Significantly, in the same year of 1851, we also see the establishment of the prime meridian of Greenwich, making London the de facto capital of the world.
It was around this same juncture too that one of the most important French literary figures, Victor Hugo, made a prophetic speech in regard to the idea of a united Europe. Even though such a ‘dream’ has never quite come to fruition, we can perhaps see the germ of this idea developing around this time, those first steps toward a global world.
The superpower which was Great Britain at the time was only nominally patriotic, in my opinion. Yes, Britons at the time could be proud of their empire, yet the real reach and purpose of this manifestation was to create a global world where the nation state, ultimately, would become redundant. The pros and cons of this movement are debatable.
The next meeting of Uranus and Pluto was in the mid 1960s. By then the idea of Pluto’s transformative power had entered our mainstream consciousness, having been discovered in 1930. This foreshadowed the next stage of social and cultural change – but that’s another article.
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
The older among us may remember the clarion calls of the late Sixties, the so-called cultural revolution, pronouncements that the New Age of Aquarius was dawning, an age of peace, love and freedom. So what happened?
Furthermore, speaking as an Aquarian sun native myself, although I strongly recognise certain accepted traits of the fixed air sign within myself, such as detachment and forward thinking, I have never felt comfortable with some of the more eccentric and bizarre character associations of Aquarius and this supposed Aquarian Age.
In reality, no one knows when this Aquarian Age will begin. Maybe it already has. The dates suggested have ranged from late medieval times to anywhere as far ahead as 2300 AD. Not so precise, is it?
What’s It All About?
And what is it all about anyway? It’s all to do with the phenomena called the Precession of the Equinoxes. Each zodiac sign is a thirty degree segment of the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the sun around the earth. There is a zodiac sign behind the very slowly receding point of the Vernal Equinox around March 21 every year. This is all part of The Great Year, a period of time of almost 2600 years, where each sign takes a bit over 2000 years to recede behind this Equinoctal point. This is caused by the earth’s ‘wobble’ as the sky spins at an angle of 23.4 degrees around the pole star, from our perspective.
At this present time, we are said to be somewhere around the transition of the sign of Pisces, the fishes, into Aquarius, the male watercarrier. The past 2000 years of the Age of Pisces have been dominated by the sign of the fishes, Christianity. Christ has often been symbolised by the fish, ichthys in ancient Greek, where each letter encapsulates the divinity of the Saviour. The fish symbol was important to early Christians hiding from authorities who regarded them as a danger, even subversives.
Naturally, such a supposition of astrological signs ‘affecting’ human culture is controversial. Admittedly, there were plenty of other events going on in the world over the past 2000 years that were not tied to Christianity. Considering this, and the massive time window given to the threshold of this Aquarian Age, I have long since been cynical about this particular astrological theory.
But I am willing to concede I may be wrong. I am a practising astrologer. I am also a realist. To make prognostications as to whether we are in, or are about to enter the Age of Aquarius, we should surely be clear as to what we should expect to see. Firstly, I do not agree with all people’s interpretations as to the character of the sign of Aquarius. Peace, love, freedom and understanding may be all fine ideals, but are they Aquarian? And have we seen any of this since the late Sixties, for example? I will let you be the judge of that.
One of the problems is that since around 1781, with the discovery of Uranus, most astrologers have come to put this outer planet at least equal to, or above that of Aquarius’ traditional ruler, Saturn. I think this is a mistake. I concur that Uranus certainly does have a revolutionary influence, causes sudden changes, often turning things upside down in the process. But is this in any way Aquarius, the Fixed Air sign? I strongly contend it is not.
So I don’t believe Uranus has ‘rulership’ of any sign and neither do Neptune and Pluto. They are generational influences because they move slowly through the signs, Pluto taking around 248 years, influences we have become consciously aware of since their discovery (or perhaps rediscovery).
The Two Faces of Saturn
For me Saturn has two sides. After all, apart from the sun and Moon, every planet down to Saturn was given rulership over two signs: Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo, for instance. So on one level Saturn may be Satan, the Greater Malefic, virtually evil personified as in the ancient myth of Cronos (Saturn) devouring his own children. On another level, he is the symbol of limitation, for ages considered to be the outermost planet and therefore symbolising a kind of barrier, the furthest reach, where all things are stopped, crystalised and slowly brought back. He is a kind of brake, bringing things down to solid earth so they can be accounted for. The latter I suggest is the Capricornian Saturn, a necessary function of life.
The other side of Saturn is the one which has rulership of Aquarius, the more ‘positive’ side. Aquarius is traditionally the sign of hopes, dreams and wishes, in other words objectivity as opposed to Leo’s subjectivity of sheer life enhancement. If Leo is artistic, Aquarius is scientific, liking to rationalise, codify. The same fundamentally materialistic Saturn, which is associated with the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn, shows this more ‘positive face’ in Aquarius. He is objective, the planner of the future, a practical idealist, as befits the fixed air sign of serious communication and association. Aquarius is fundamentally human. The outright eccentricity often tagged to Aquarius is wrong in my opinion. Strong aspects from Uranus to the planets or angles in a personal chart, would most likely explain any eccentricities of nature.
So, if this indeed be the case, any age of Aquarius would reflect the serious, objective and associative qualities of that sign. These are conspicuous by their absence at the present time.
The Grand Conjunction
That said, what we do have towards the end of this year, 2020, is the Grand Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurring at 0 degrees Aquarius. The Grand Conjunction of these two planets represents a cultural correction point every twenty years, setting a general theme for the up and coming period. This on top of the ‘earth shattering’ Saturn Pluto conjunctions earlier in the year, so symbolic of the nadir of political and economic turmoil and you have a year of major significance, a year of historic transition and migration, if you will. I feel this has nothing to do with entering any new astrological age ruled by Aquarius, with all the ill defined thresholds of each sign within the Great Astrological Year of about 2600 years.
The occurrence of this Grand Conjunction every twenty years or so, invariably, although not necessarily wholly, migrates from one element to another every 150 to 200 years. For the last 180 years, apart from 1980/1, the GC has occurred in earth signs. From this year of 2020, it will be within the air signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius for around 140 years. This will be a major transition, marking a cultural shift, a probable explosion of philosophical and spiritual thought and technological progress, as befits the communicative and expansive air signs.
So from 2020 right through well into next century, we will undoubtedly undergo a vast, and, I truly hope, positive transformation, perhaps akin to what we are told about in the Renaissance. Precursing that time, during the 13th and early 14th centuries, there was a similar preponderance of Grand Conjunctions occurring in air signs.
I believe that right now, in 2020, as we are currently living through one of the most momentous times in ‘history’. We are indeed at the threshold of a new age, a new cycle, which bears much renewed hope for humanity. At a time in the near future, we will be able to look back at this hiatus point with a bit more Aquarian objectivity.
What is more, bearing in mind that by the middle of this decade we will see all the outer planets in ‘positive’ signs too, the world of 2025 and beyond is going to feel wholly different than right now. By then, Uranus will be in Gemini, bringing great invention to technology and all forms of communication. Neptune will be in Aries and Pluto will move in Aquarius, both lengthy transits forever changing our ideas about humanity and spirituality, who we are as individuals and how we relate to the collective ‘universe’ – and revealing the truth as to what that universe and this reality actually are.
The Age of Air
What I don’t believe is that this is the much vaunted Age of Aquarius. If anything, we are entering the Age of Air Signs and everything to do with that element, which on the face of it is far more positive than all the earth energy we have been experiencing over the last 180 years, a truly extended period of denseness and negativity. The Saturn Pluto conjunction of 2020 represents the death knell of this ‘dark age’, where gross materialism has ruled outright and brought us literally to our knees.
The Grand Conjunction’s cycle in Air signs from December 21 2020, marks the beginning of the free – freer, more candid, fairer communication and justice as expressed through Libra; the rolling out of advanced technology for the benefit of humanity and the planet, as expressed through Gemini; and, firstly, a more planned, objective approach to administering the world and its resources, as expressed through Aquarius and positive Saturn. Let’s make it so.
copyright Francis Barker 2020
Gemini, ‘The Twins’, is the third sign of the zodiac, the first of the air sign triplicity and the first mutable sign.
The symbol or glyph of the sign appears to represent two columns, or perhaps the Roman number for 2, II.
Here we also see relation symbolised, the third mundane house of relations, the mind and local environment, also associated naturally with Gemini.
The glyph may simply represent duality; we have two hands, arms and lungs, all traditionally said to be ruled by Gemini.
And then there’s the ruling planet of Gemini, Mercury, the Ancient Greek Hermes, the fleet footed messenger of the gods in myth.
Here we see the essentially communicative nature of the sign. Gemini is of course very often a great talker, versatile, perhaps a ‘jack of all trades’ – but does that mean he or she is really a master of none?
What is more, we also find with Gemini the comic, the comedian, or at least the ready wit, and the mimic, the ability to act and play roles.
In other words, Gemini is capable of being dexterous mentality and physically, quite often both.
Nevertheless, I don’t think Gemini deserves the ‘bad press’ for being a ‘bit shallow’. Except in more extreme cases, where the other mutable signs may also be involved, or a very prominent Mercury, I don’t think this is true.
We just have to understand the function the predominantly Geminian type person carries out. Just as Mercury is the messenger, Gemini’s can bind together the local community in which he lives. He or she can be the happy face who’s always available. That’s good, isn’t it.
He is often out and about, yes, probably doing a variety of things, tasks, jobs, often involving a variety of skills, but this is needed a lot of the time. He will see and know a lot of people and this is what community is all about, isn’t it?
We need Gemini. It’s not so much about duality but being of service. So don’t criticise the messenger too much.
Leofwine Tanner 2019
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.
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!
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
“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!”
With Tchaikovsky also born on this day in 1840, this middle period of Taurus is evidently fertile ground for great musicians and composers.
Born in Hamburg in northern Germany, many aspects of his life and personality are reflected in his birth chart. He is said to have been both an innovator and a traditionalist. I believe we can see the latter in his Sun in Taurus, which though artistic (ruled by Venus), favours the more conventional elements of art and music. His Capricorn Midheaven and Saturn in Virgo, trine his Sun in Taurus in the 6th house, strongly hints at a highly structured, methodical approach to work and career. The latter too probably accounts for his meticulousness and perfectionism which are often referred to. He famously destroyed some of his work, or at least left it unpublished.
However, where might his so called innovative and romantic side stem from? Well, he has Aries rising, which likes to plough new furrows and which traditionally means the ruler of the chart is Mars, which finds itself in emotional, romantic Cancer – which also, incidentally, is conjunct the north node of the Moon in the 4th house: I think he clearly followed the path he was supposed to take.
Even more though, he has a tight Mercury Jupiter conjunction in Aries conjunct the ascendant, sextile Uranus in Aquarius and trine a wide ranging Moon in Sagittarius. Here is the precocious, talented child, a bundle of creative energy and, probably, a very ‘difficult’ child too. Here is great manual dexterity, innovation, flare and sheer raw talent rolled into one. Some might call it genius. Venus in Gemini trine Neptune also evokes an easy romanticism and someone truly inspired at times.
So little wonder then that Johannes Brahms is considered one of the all time greats, to rank alongside Beethoven and Bach.
Having been a ‘qualified’ astrologer for over 25 years, I have never openly advertised as such… until now.
Sure, I have kept my hand in, done numerous charts for friends, family and people at large, sometimes charging, sometimes not. Yet, above all this, I have never thought astrology was working for me. So here, right now, at last I am intending to make it do so.
I have done paid jobs of course, changed jobs several times, worked freelance, tried painting (another hobby) as a sideline, but nothing seemed to satisfy. Maybe it’s the lot of nearly all of us, having to make do with our ‘paye’ jobs without ever feeling satisfied let alone fulfilled. Being an astrologer you might ask, well, ‘couldn’t you tell from your birth chart what you would be best at?’ Well yes I could, I have a prominent, disciplined and vigorous Mercury which allows me to write, to communicate well, so that’s one reason why I’m here. But it also gives me a liking for variety. Also, I do have an artistic and musical side which has found release in painting and playing a musical instrument. But none of this makes a living.
So then comes my second Saturn Return (that gives my age away but that’s another article coming shortly) and that, I believe, is the true catalyst. I need to move on, to start doing the things I really want to do at an age which marks the end of life’s second chapter and, hopefully, a move to better and brighter pastures ahead. If I can help others realise their own potential along the way, then all the better.
So here goes, life’s been a bit rocky of late, rugs have been pulled and doors have slammed shut – but for once I may be heeding the call to a different direction. Wish me luck.