Turning Point 1711 – Insight into the Origins of Britain as a World Power

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It is remarkable when one looks at a map of the entire earth and notice how insignificant the island of Great Britain appears, hovering as it does off the north west coast of Europe, neither separate from that continent, nor totally attached to it. Perhaps there is something prophetic about that island’s geographic position, looking westward out to the bleak Atlantic Ocean.

According to the historical narrative, relatively small nations had formed huge empires previously. Taking the accepted history of Rome being founded in 753 BC, this small city state expanded to rule much of the then known world by the second century AD. It is said that the influence of this empire is still strongly conspicuous today, especially in language, culture and government.

Spanish Gold

More recently, towards the end of the fifteenth century, the unification of the two Iberian kingdoms of Aragon and Castille, formed the more powerful kingdom of Spain, which went on to prosper the most from the ‘discovery’ of America by Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) in 1492. Within a mere few decades the Spanish empire dominated the new continent, north and south. Spain became very wealthy indeed during the sixteenth century.

Similarly and perhaps even more remarkably, Portugal, Spain’s feisty neighbour and rival on the western fringes of the Iberian peninsula, not only carved out an empire in South America (Brasil), but went on to dominate trade in the East Indies and to extend its empire to that part of the world and into Africa and its influence as far as Japan.

There are other examples, like ‘Holland’, more accurately called the Netherlands, or The United Provinces at one time, which also was an early beneficiary of trade and settlement in the Americas and the Far East.

Colouring the World Pink

However, no empire was ever as grand as the British Empire. By the end of the nineteenth century it was the empire upon which the sun never set. A schoolboy of the time could look at a map of the world and reflect upon the predominant colour of pink – all those lands, as far afield as Canada and New Zealand, where the British flag flew and the English language was spoken.

It is easy to think of empire building as organic, though this is never the case. A nation, or a people, often have a common purpose, though the vast majority are unaware of it. Nations and empires are steered, often by a few notable individuals and families with ambition and vision.

John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s astrologer who chose the timing of her coronation in January 1559, was one such man. I will merely allude to him here, but suffice it to say that he the first to talk in terms of a British Empire, even though technically the notion Britain was only a geographic, not political reality when he was alive.

Tentative Steps

Nevertheless, it was during Elizabeth’s reign that the first tentative steps were taken by English explorers to establish an empire in the name of the queen. Sir Walter Raleigh was one such remarkable individual who made attempts at settling in North America.

By 1707, the crowns of England and Scotland were legally united, officially creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. At the same time a highly significant war was being fought in large parts of Europe. This was a result of Charles II of Spain dying without an heir in November of 1700. The ensuing war is called The War of the Spanish Succession.

The British fought this war essentially to prevent either France or Austria uniting with Spain, and thereby creating a European superpower. Such an eventuality would have been clearly detrimental to Britain’s ‘interests’. It is an early example of a way of maintaining the balance of power – at least that’s the official line.

After ten years of warfare, the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I died in April 1711 and was succeeded by the Archduke Charles, which effectively ‘solved’ the succession crisis, at least in the eyes of the British who began peace talks. This eventually resulted in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which established Great Britain as a naval and European economic superpower. Out of all the belligerents, only Britain could be said to have emerged from this conflict financially intact.

1710-11 – A Major Turning Point

This period centering around 1710 to 1711 was clearly a major turning point in British, European and world history. Astrologically too, we can see clear signs of the turning of a page, or the planting of a seed.

I draw your attention to the three then still undiscovered planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, all representing other (perhaps higher) dimensional (invisible to the naked eye) aspects of the mind, unity and power. As far as we know, these forces were not known at this time, remaining hidden somewhere in the collective human unconsciousness.

Nevertheless when Uranus met Pluto in September of 1710 and remained close, especially during the spring of 1711 when the Emperor Joseph I died, we see the beginning of a new historical cycle, with Great Britain seizing the initiative at an important time of opportunity. Uranus brings new ideas, change, Pluto the idea of collective power.

The Seed of Power Planted

This Uranus Pluto conjunction happened to be in late Leo, also conjunct the fixed star Regulus, which has had a long association with royalty and royal power.

Equally fascinating, the other remaining undiscovered outer planet, Neptune, was for a time in conjunction with the benefic Venus and in very good aspect to Uranus and Pluto from Aries. I think this gave a kind of other worldly blessing to the birth of the new enterprise. It’s fascinating to think that the god Neptune traditionally ruled the seas and from this point on Britannia certainly did rule the waves.

I think the relationship of the three outer planets at this juncture perfectly symbolise the sign of the times, the changing of the guard and setting the scene for the next century or so.

Other significant events at around the same time were, among others, the founding of The South Sea Company on March 3 1711. This was a public/private company created to consolidate and reduce British national debt, something which none of the other participants in the War of the Spanish Succession would have. Remember that important conjunctions are good for starting something new.

The Origins of Steam Power?

Another intriguing development was the invention and application of what was called the ‘atmospheric engine’ by Thomas Newcomen in 1712. This steam driven device was initially used to successfully pump out water from tin wines in the south west of England, particularly Cornwall. It is not difficult to grasp the significance of this invention and its later use in the first steam locomotives later on.

There were also reports of the first successful hot air balloon flight at this time by a certain Bartolomeu de Gusmao. Although this occurred indoors, the fact that it happened at all is highly significant. Uranus, after all, is said to rule the air and scientific invention.

I think there is evidence here of the burgeoning ‘power’ of the three outer planets and their generational influence on human culture, an influence which would gain in impetus as each one was subsequently discovered over the next two hundred years.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

The Outer Planets – To Use, or Not to Use

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I may have touched upon this before, but I have been experimenting leaving out the outer planets in astrological interpretation.

I have to confess it has not been easy. The school which I studied with thirty years ago fully incorporated Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, if not some asteroids and Chiron.

So when I began to leave out these outer planets, it felt a little bit like riding bare back. It felt uncomfortable, as if I was missing something. Right now I’m not entirely sure which way to go, which isn’t good, because I want to affirm my astrological philosophy after all these years. But it is good to remain open minded.

Deleting?

However, I think I am gradually coming around to the decision to leave them out. What is the reason for this?

I have never been comfortable with the interpretation of the outer planets, their supposed influence. Of course, as far as we know, the ancients did not know about them, so they were not used.

Then boom! Uranus (called Herschel at first after the astronomer who had been tracking him) was discovered in the late 18th century, around the time of the American, French and Industrial Revolutions. Hm, so Uranus is associated with revolution, sudden change, right? Well, perhaps.

Revolution, Mysticism, Extremism

Then in the mid 19th century, Neptune was found, around the time of further revolutions around 1848 to do with socialism and what is now called Marxism. There was also a sudden surge of interest in the area of mysticism. Around 1850, it really did seem like a new world was being born.

Come 1930, little Pluto was discovered. And we know what was to follow after that. Pluto has ever since had dark, underground associations of hidden extreme power and violence.

Gradually each of these new planets were seen by many astrologers as higher octaves of the planets. Uranus was thought to be the higher octave of Mercury, the planet nearest the sun on our solar system model. Uranus was therefore was about mental breakthrough, inspiration, invention.

Higher Octaves

Similarly Neptune was seen as the higher octave of Venus (love, unity) through meditation and Pluto was associated with Mars (energy) in a more transformative pose. I have never been completely comfortable with this thinking.

For one thing, we know these luminaries are there but they are not visible to the human eye. Are we not in danger of ascribing them too much astrological influence? Yes, invisible things can be very powerful. But astrology is about luminaries, things you CAN see. Simplicity can be a blessing.

Some use the outer planets in a lesser way, see them as purely negative, revealing by sign and house position where we will experience problems, perhaps a bit like a negative fixed star. For example, Uranus might reveal where we feel alone, isolated; Neptune warns us of deception and confusion; Pluto where we might be in danger of self destruction. The difference, of course, is that you can see a fixed star.

Bad Influences

If we return to the time of the discovery of each of these planets, we could strongly argue that if the finding corresponded with a major shift in human activity as seen through the accepted historical narrative, such as revolution, then maybe these planets’ ‘influences’ are indeed negative.

And as well as all the above, didn’t the old ‘system’ with seven luminaries have a certain beauty, balance or resonance about it? The discovery of Uranus in 1781 and its incorporation into astrology, did indeed disrupt everything.

What is more, it is my contention that Uranus is not the ruler or even co-ruler of Aquarius. The nature of this sign has been subjugated over the last two hundred years, from a serious minded forward thinker, to a wacky professor or flower power hippy – all because of the so called cranky ruler Uranus. Aquarius is traditionally the sign of hopes, dreams and wishes and group objectives. How are these Uranian?

Difficult Associations

Similarly, mystical Neptune has been associated with ‘dreamy’ Pisces and powerful Pluto with the much maligned Scorpio. The tradition of assigning two signs each to the planets, Mercury through Saturn, is ancient. I now believe it should stay that way. Tradition is important whilst remaining open minded.

So at this juncture my purpose is to leave out the outer planets, including Chiron (which is what… a comet?), along with the asteroids.

With each interpretation, if any outer planet does indeed form a major aspect, I will consider mentioning it, but will not include it on the chart. Treating the outer planets a bit like fixed stars might indeed be the way to go – but that is not decry those clearly visible luminaries, which have had a place in many forms of astrology for millennia.

Nevertheless, I feel the outer planets do seem to have influence on us all in a transpersonal sense – though not necessarily in a benevolent fashion. I intend to highlight this is in a number of forthcoming articles.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

 

Rethinking Astrology: A Yearning for Simplicity

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Whilst there are long existing schools of astrology, most astrologers tend to be very individual with their own particular nuances and practices.

I have been fascinated by astrology since my mum brought home a women’s magazine from the sad clear out of grandma’s house back in the 1970s. The publication contained one of those very basic sun sign forecasts which we are all familiar with. The slight difference with this one, was the little write up at the top of the piece regarding ruling planets. From that point I was hooked.

Thanks Grandma

I’ve often thought it was Grandma who led me down this winding path, even if it was through her death. I did go on to study astrology in many varied ways, with two schools and digesting countless books and manuals. However, it is true to say that especially in later years, I too have developed my own approach, which does bear certain similarities to other modern astrological trends.

Firstly, I have become more interested in ‘traditional’ astrology, which is largely based on Hellenistic or Ancient Greek astrology. The reason for this is the often confusing plethora of house systems on offer these days, the use of fixed stars, asteroids etc. I crave simplicity. This is not to say that various house systems don’t have relevance, or that fixed stars and asteroids have no place. All I’m saying is they are not necessarily for me.

Whole Sign System

So today I invariably use the Whole Sign house system, which is in fact pretty much the original house system. This means that if Aries, for instance, is rising, the WHOLE of that sign becomes the first house beginning at 0 degrees. From that point each house proceeds in 30 degree segments. The actual ascending degree, let’s say 15 degrees Aries, remains an important point in the chart within that first house, as will the the other angles in theirs.

Now I did say that I did not utilise asteroids or minor planets. That said, I have come to realise Chiron’s usefulness as the ‘wounded healer’, so I usually use him.

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Similarly, the Moon’s nodes certainly are a strong karmic pointer. And I still use Pluto, even though he has been degraded astronomically to the status of minor planet. That said, with the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, I do not regard them as serious rulers of the signs Aquarius, Pisces and Scorpio. I still tend to favour the traditional rulers, purely because of the beauty of the original system of rulership, from the intimacy of the Moon ruling Cancer, to the far out, impersonal Saturn ruling Capricorn and Aquarius on the outer limits.

Orbs

And as far as the orbs of aspects, I tend to restrict them to a few degrees. For the sun and Moon, no more than five and for the planets no more than three. After all, the tighter the aspect the more powerful and obvious it will be.

I generally use this approach for both individual interpretations and for events, such as general elections and their like. Once again, if other astrologers wish to explore the use of minor planets, fixed stars etc to much greater levels, then so be it.

I also like to produce (although not always) the square ‘medieval’ or Renaissance looking charts. I don’t know why but there is something artistically comforting in displaying the information this way, even though it may not be technically or visually as accurate as a round one.

You see, my own particular Aquarian mind yearns for more simplicity the older it gets, a life that’s stripped down and straight forward. That to me seems like a good pointer to the future.

copyright Francis Barker 2020

The ‘Brexit’ Election Chart – Positive Indications? Astrology Musings

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So finally the United Kingdom has an election to ‘clear the air’ surrounding Brexit and Parliament. But will it solve anything?

The chart set for the opening of the polls at 7 am, December 12 2019 at Westminster, London, is fascinating, not merely for the fact that a full Moon has just occurred, a sign of culmination and change.

In this chart Sagittarius is rising. The first house in mundane astrology is usually indicative of the nation as a whole. I would tentatively state that this indicates that the nation is in a good, expansive mood, ready to move on, make positive progress, Sagittarius being the mutable fire sign. The sun is also in Sagittarius, underscoring this point.

A nation more informed and expansive?

Mercury is within orbs of a conjunction with the rising degree, perhaps a sign that the nation is at last more fully informed, open minded and conscious about all the pros and cons of Brexit, what type of Brexit it wants and where the country as a whole should be going. Mercury is, however, in the sign of its detriment, which traditionally is less positive.

Interestingly Mercury is ruler of the 10th house, which (along with the MC or midheaven) is to do with the government. Maybe this is a further indication that the government has succeeded in tapping the mind of the nation and its people during the campaign.

Promises, promises

With Sagittarius rising, Jupiter is the ruling planet. Jupiter is found in Capricorn (the sign of its fall) in the 2nd house of the economy and finance. This would, by and large, seem positive (despite the fact Jupiter is in the sign of its fall), that practical (Capricorn) considerations have been made and discussed and that there may be serious potential for some important trade deals (2nd house) in the offing, for example.

Jupiter makes a fairly tight positive trine aspect to Uranus in the 6th house, which may indicate that the government could pull certain surprising ‘rabbits out of hats’ in regard to trade and the economy in general, perhaps with the promise of securing large numbers of extra jobs in its manifesto, for instance – a usual ploy though.

That said, Jupiter is also ruler of the 4th house which stands for the opposition parties, who therefore may also benefit, or give a much better showing in terms of results than anyone predicted. It’s difficult to say which will come to fruition, although at present I would favour the government, especially as Neptune is found in the opposition’s house (4th), which implies a confusion of ideas and ideals.

Venus in the pit – a positive effect?

The MC or midheaven is also a strong indicator of the government’s standing. In this chart it is in Libra, whose ruler is Venus, which, very interestingly, is making a tight triple conjunction with the daunting Saturn and Pluto ‘diabolical double act’ in Capricorn in the 2nd house.

Venus is termed the lesser benefic and actually sits nicely between baleful Saturn and penetrating Pluto, perhaps acting as a kind emollient, softening influence, maybe even allowing for more positive change politically (Capricorn) and economically (2nd house), as a result of this election.

What is more, returning to the full Moon, or the sun and Moon opposition, which I talked about in the previous post, this Venus, along with Saturn and Pluto, form an interesting semi sextile (30 degrees) aspect to the sun and is also inconjunct or quincunx aspect (150 degrees) to the Moon.

To my mind this shows Venus (in conjunction with Saturn and Pluto) having the potential to positively offload the great tension of the situation in the election, the full Moon, and plough it into beneficial news and results politically and economically, along with Pluto’s potential to ‘drain the swamp’ and Saturn’s ability to begin to build again. We shall see, it’s tempting and all too easy to read too much into this, but fascinating nevertheless.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

*If you would like your own astrological report creating please contact on leoftanner@gmail.com

Astrology Musings: the Creativity of Victor Hugo

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Writer, poet, dramatist, novelist, essayist, painter, architect, critic… his creations include ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, and the novel ‘Les Miserable’. Few creative geniuses of the 19th century – or at any time – were as eclectic as Victor Hugo.

So what made him tick, astrologically speaking?

I have homed in most particularly to his 5th/11th house axis: love, luck, life (creativity) versus hopes, dreams and wishes – if you will. These themes were to dominate his creative life and his political interests.

Compulsively creative

Here we have the Sun, Pluto and Venus in a loose conjunction in Pisces in the 5th, opposed by Saturn in Virgo. Mercury is also in Pisces in the 5th house in aspect to the expansive Sagittarius Moon and inspirational Neptune.

The 5th house is largely to do with creativity, the children of the mind as well as the body. Pisces is hugely imaginative, sensitive, intensified by Pluto and beautified by Venus in the sign of its greatest flowering – its exaltation. He had a compulsive need to create, an energy which also extended into his emotional life.

Add that inspiring Neptune in his first house in good aspect to communicative Mercury in the 5th house, and we can see just why Hugo was so creatively multi-faceted; he seemed to be able to draw on a vast well of inspiration from all the ages as well as his own.

Social justice ‘warrior’

However, as I said earlier, the triple conjunction of Sun, Pluto and Venus is opposed by a very strict, disciplined Saturn in Virgo in the 11th house of societal issues, and is in a loose conjunction with Jupiter in the last degree of Leo.

This great conjunction occurs every 20 years and is often tied to the ‘birth and death of kings’. It certainly relates to political cycles and, so tensely personalised in his birth chart, is an indication that he was always in tune with, or perhaps we should say troubled by, the great political issues of the day, which indeed he was.

His Saturn is also ruler of his 3rd and 4th houses of communication and home and family. So this may also relate to the fact that his parents never seemed to get on, a lingering dichotomy in his life which must have had deep psychological effects.

Controversial yet popular

All this, plus his ruling planet Mars in ‘off beat’ Aquarius in good aspect to revolutionary Uranus in Libra, may also be indicative of the themes he used in many of his writings; he was an outspoken and harsh critic of the political and social injustices during his life and was not afraid to court with controversy. He went into exile in Belgium and then the Channel Islands in the 1850s.

Despite such controversy, he was a hugely popular writer amongst the people, even in his own lifetime and there was a massive outpouring of grief when he died in 1885.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

source: Astro-Databank

*Contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com if you would a personal astrological report.

2020 Vision: A Landmark Year? Astrology Musings

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In the extraordinary and at times unbelievable worldwide political climate, astrologically symbolised by the up and coming conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn in mid January 2020, we have got used to expecting the unexpected.

Saturn and Capricorn stand for the existing political structures. Pluto, by its very nature, is said to be transformative, at best a difficult though necessary cleansing, at worst a drastic enforcer of change which threatens to bring down, or rip up virtually everything – root and branch.

Intriguingly, this conjunction falls close to the Moon’s south node, which has strong karmic associations. What might this mean?

A pivotal year – a time to nurture more

Well, the south node represents where we have come from as a civilisation; being in Capricorn, it shows our satiated materialism, almost to the exclusion of anything else. Pluto involved here shows that we must change, transform, ‘drain the swamp’.

In karmic terms, we must begin to look towards the north node in Cancer, to begin to redress this imbalance.

Cancer stands for nurturing, our family, our origins: in other words, I believe it is telling us to go one step back to allow us to go two forward. We need to understand where we have come from and what we once had, which is now in danger of being lost forever. This period, around the beginning of 2020, may well be the ‘dark night of the soul’ time, in which many of us realise we must change – events may force us into doing so throughout the year.

Dangerous soup

Add to this ‘dangerous soup’ the on going transit of Uranus (sudden change/innovation) in Taurus (finance), another earth sign, and the political and economic instability for the next few years seems assured.

The next few years are very likely to see many serious ups and downs in financial markets, which might well bring ‘innovations’, such as digital or cryptocurrencies, more quickly into the mainstream. Whether such changes actually bring good and long lasting benefits to humanity, however, is debatable.

A spring of conflict?

2020 also sees Jupiter in Capricorn for most of the year and will be joined by Mars in the spring for a few weeks, the latter period quite possibly being the most volatile, politically, economically, even militarily, of all.

However, by the end of the year, most particularly around the exact ‘grand conjunction’, which occurs every 20 years, between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius on December 21, we might, just might, begin to see a light at the end of the long tunnel.

Apart from one instance in 1980/81, when this conjunction occurred in Libra, this marks the beginning of a century long stay in air signs for the first time in hundreds of years, since the end of the Middle Ages in fact. What does this mean?

A new age dawning?

For most of the last hundred years or more, the grand conjunction has occurred in earth signs, symbolically encapsulating our materialistic culture, where we have seen huge advances in material science, but not an accompanying positive philosophy to go with it, to make meaning of it. The inception of this ‘new age’ of air, beginning at the end of 2020, might well mean the end of this materialistic age and the final ushering in of a more ‘spiritual’ era.

However, Pluto remains in Capricorn until 2024 before finally entering Aquarius. In 2026 Uranus moves into Gemini and Neptune moves into Aries. In other words, by around the mid 2020s, a far more positive vibe begins to resonate in the world. Perhaps, in some real sense, if the so-called Age of Aquarius has a true beginning at all, then it might just be around 2025/6.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

If you would like your own personal astrology report, or would like one for a family member or friend, please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com

 

Mozart – Sheer Genius – Astrology Musings

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was no mere child prodigy. In his short life he produced 41 symphonies, 17 piano sonatas, 20 operas… in fact around 600 works in total. He is, perhaps, the greatest known musical genius of all time.

He was born with Virgo rising, very useful for artists of all kinds, especially where attention to detail is paramount.

Astonishing talent, inherited genius

Astonishingly, the north node of the Moon – which along with the opposing south node, is often regarded as a karmic point in a birth chart – is virtually exactly conjunct his rising degree in Virgo and almost exactly opposite Uranus on the descendant in Pisces.

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Uranus is often equated with genius, amongst other things, and being exactly conjunct the south node, it symbolises a born genius, someone who has inherited some astonishing, unusual gift. However, it is one thing to have the potential, quite another to realise it. Thankfully for all of us, his talent was spotted early.

In astrological terms, one is supposed to head more towards the north nodal position in the ‘present’ life, in Mozart’s case, right on the ascending degree, meaning that he had to push himself forward, realise his unique ability in music and composition.

The Virgo Pisces axis is particularly symbolic here, with Uranus and descendant (DC) in vast, inspirational Pisces and the ascendant (AC) in exacting, attention to detail Virgo, the perfect axis for bringing spiritual dreams into earthly reality, in his case in the form of music.

A wellspring of inspiration from the subconscious

His ruling planet, Mercury, which is also house 10 and MC ruler (career/life direction), was found in Aquarius conjunct his Sun in house 6 – opposite Neptune in house 12.

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In many ways this substantiates the nodal position above on a different level. Here is the unconventional person (Aquarius), a natural workaholic too (Sun conjunct Mercury with Saturn nearby in house 6), but in contact with the spiritual numinous (Neptune) from the subconscious (house 12) in the form of music.

I find this remarkable and may attest, in astrological terms at least, to his genius and what the nature of it might be. His Venus trine Mars will also give him much creative energy and potential.

Another interesting feature of his chart, is the exact conjunction between the Moon and Pluto in Sagittarius in house 4, in good aspect to Jupiter in Libra in house 2. I think this basically represents an open, friendly manner, but probably with caustic edge at times. He would appear to have had a good sense of humour and keen on the odd bawdy joke. This aspect might also represent an interesting family and home life, plus ancestry.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Stockhausen: Neptune, Uranus and the Nature of Genius. Astrology Musings

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Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the most important composers of the 20th century, was also one its most controversial. The outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are generational in influence, but if one or more of them touch sensitive parts of our birth chart, they can put us in touch with powerful trans-personal energy.

According to his known birth data, he was born with Leo rising, with a Leo Sun exactly conjunct Neptune.

A fount of inspiration

Here is a powerful, creative individual, with a personal connection to the numinous through Neptune, with all the inspirational, spiritual qualities associated with that planet. He was certainly a major visionary in musical terms and has had a huge influence on jazz and popular music as well as classical.

As we have seen previously, Neptune is invariably prominent in some way in the birth charts of creative artists, but he was clearly no idle dreamer.

Practical application

With Mercury and Venus in Virgo in house 2, the latter trine Jupiter in Taurus in house 10, he was very keen to apply his undoubted inspiration practically, effectively, in detail, and to disseminate it, not only in way to earn a living, but in building a successful career out of it. Indeed, he was also a fine writer and communicator too, teaching his ideas successfully. Without this grounding effect, his genius may well have been lost to the world.

What is more, revolutionary Uranus was very close to the MC (midheaven) in Aries in house 9.

The shock of the new

This midheaven point is traditionally associated with the career or life direction and with Uranus in Aries activating this very personal angle of his chart, we can see the unusual, avant-garde, revolutionary and pioneering qualities he brought to bear in his career. Revolutionary literally means turning upside down: he essentially did this, being a pioneer in the sphere of electronic music.

More than once, his music has been described as ‘disruptive’ (Uranus) and unfathomable (Neptune). He also has Mars in good aspect to Uranus, bringing much supportive, instigating energy and (in Gemini) variability to his repertoire.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Gustav Holst and ‘The Planets’ – Musings

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English classical composer Gustav Holst’s most famous work, The Planets, is a testimony to his lifelong fascination for and interest in astrology.

From an early age, his step mother’s involvement with theosophy, inspired him to look beyond perceived reality and examine philosophy. Apart from being a composer, he was primarily a teacher and a trombonist.

Aquarius and astrology

When Gustav was born he had the Moon and Saturn rising in Aquarius. I think this says so much about him. Aquarius tends to be the individualist of the zodiac and anyone with a strong showing of this sign can be somewhat unusual. Holst’s fascination for astrology is quite typical in this regard.

Interestingly, in The Planets Suite, which was completed towards the end of the First World War, it is Saturn which I think is the most successful.

Saturn’s pain and peace

When I was younger I was an avid listener to this work and it was Saturn which most moved me, and I sense that it moved Holst too. This piece is composed like a musical poem and is subtitled ‘The Bringer of Old Age’.

It begins slowly, bleakly, mournfully, then panic sets in to a point of acceptance, which is followed by an unexpected peace as death approaches. It is still quite stunning to my ears, and I think Holst felt this very strongly – fitting then that Saturn should be so prominent in its own sign and on the ascendant. He was ‘in tune’ with Saturn.

Powerful higher mental capacity

That he was very much into philosophy and the higher mind is shown by the powerful Mercury Jupiter conjunction in Libra in house 9, nicely trine his Saturn rising in Aquarius. From this too, I think we can see the composing potential, the all round mental functioning of seeing the small intricacies, and also the big, full picture, plus the hard graft needed to succeed.

Jupiter also rules the midheaven, showing that the above qualities can be chanelled into his life path and career too.

Teacher and composer

His Sun in Virgo gives him a strong central dose of analytical and critical ability too, of course, which would certainly have aided him in composition and Virgoans in general make excellent teachers and worriers.

Venus in Scorpio in house 10 hints at an in depth career in the arts. This Venus is square Uranus and although it may have interrupted his career and relationships with sudden changes from time to time, here too with this tense link, I suspect, lies another indication of a leaning towards astrology; Uranus in some sense ‘rules’ astrology, although personally, I think Saturn is just as important.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Time and Transformation, ‘Draining the Swamp’: Saturn and Pluto Musings

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Saturn and Pluto probably have the darkest associations in astrology.

In mythology Saturn or Chronos (Ancient Greek), devoured his own children for his own protection. Yet it didn’t help him in the end.

Saturn was, until the discovery of Uranus in 1781, the outermost known planet. He sat on the limit, marking time, he was perhaps the ‘lord of karma’, taking nearly 30 years to return to the same part of our birth charts. This is the Saturn return, probably a testing time, but also one of re-evaluation, growing up, taking stock – and looking forward too.

Underworld

Pluto or Hades, has obvious associations with the underworld of myth, leading astrologers to signify such words as ‘deep working’. Further analysis has led many to associate Pluto with Scorpio, the 8th house, though there is still much debate.

In recent years Pluto has been demoted astronomically to minor planet status, along with his twirling sibling, Charon. Yet, despite this there does not seem to be any lessening in the interest and conjecture on Pluto’s astrological significance.

Generational

Like a growing number, I stick to Mars being the ruler of Scorpio. I think the outer planets, so called, are significant but not as fundamental as the Sun to Saturn. They are generational influences.

Yet if Uranus, Neptune or Pluto are prominent by aspect or placement, then these apparently deeper influences come in to play and can be hard to understand and difficult to come to terms with.

Unsettling

Take Pluto’s present transition through Capricorn. At the very least, Pluto’s ‘influence’ can be unsettling, wherever he is found. And right now Saturn is in Capricorn too, approaching conjunction in January 2020.

In mundane astrology, as Capricorn is all about culmination, the establishment, politics, so we perhaps should not be surprised with the political chaos we witness all over the world at the moment. Established parties and political structures do seem to be under threat. In the final analysis, they either change – or die.

Pluto may also be asking us fundamental questions about what politics is for. Who does it serve? Isn’t it all just a charade, a game? If so, get rid of it.

The up and coming conjunction next year might well signify that most of the political crises will reach their apogee early next year, though it will all take years to fully work out, like it has taken years to get to this particular point.

Revolutionary Times?

It is interesting to note that the last time Pluto was in Capricorn was in the lead up to the American Revolution.

But what about Pluto in personal birth charts?

I know someone who was born when Saturn and Pluto were exactly trine, that is, in a harmonious 120 degree aspect. Saturn happens to be her ruling planet too and is angular, strongly placed.

Transformation

We could say that she was born with the potential to harness practically Pluto’s deeply ‘transformative’ influence in her life. Pluto is in her 9th house, so there is a deep interest in different cultures, philosophical matters, like religion and spirituality, a yearning for the quest, so to speak.

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Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

Nevertheless, right now, both Pluto and Saturn are transiting together in Capricorn, in her first house. I have explained to her about the forthcoming conjunction next year. Here we see symbolised the coming together of the stock taking nature of Saturn and the deep seated need for change, as represented by Pluto.

This has not been easy for her. Some astrologers use words like ‘elimination’ for Pluto; politicians may use phrases like ‘draining the swamp’. But who is to judge?

Existential Need

Yet, I have talked to her about this ‘existential need’ (as she describes it) for readjustment in her life. Saturn is cautious, especially in Capricorn, the sign it rules; Pluto, it would seem, insists on change. So what gives?

Is Pluto really about necessary change? This person is uncomfortable, every avenue that seems open to her appears daunting. So if we do ‘drain the swamp’ in our lives, it is likely to be most uncomfortable. Even bad things, like bad habits, can give us comfort. Routines are Saturnian. The tried and tested.

Have you noticed how quickly time goes with a routine? When you go on holiday for a few days, somewhere different, where you’re doing different things, notice how slow the time appears to go those first few days.

Pluto won’t leave Capricorn until around the middle of the next decade. Our world will be quite different by then. And so will the world of the person I’ve mentioned here. But it will probably be a better world for her and all of us.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Book Review: Musings on ‘A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man’ – James Joyce

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Of course, much has been written about this novel since it was first published in 1916. To call ‘A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man’ (Penguin – this publication) a landmark, would be grossly understating its impact.

So I’m not attempting to go into great depth, all that has already been done. I merely want to convey my own recollections of first reading it, way back in school.

For me, it was this book and D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’ that first truly opened my eyes to what we sometimes call serious literature. Both of them are, in their own way, semi-autobiographies and broke the mould of novel writing.

Story Teller

Naturally though, Lawrence and Joyce wrote in very different ways. I think Joyce wrote more intuitively, in a way which conjured up for me a wholly different milieu of imagery. He is a natural narrator, a story teller like many of his countrymen.

For example, when he describes Stephen Dedalus’ childhood, I get drawn into that world through the use of evocative child-like language; I become that child. I can remember endless classroom discussions about this part of the book.

Living Imagery

And the world of Dublin in the late 19th century, was a very different world from that of the industrial Nottingham area, where Lawrence sets his book.

Although Joyce was to reject almost everything about his upbringing, his beliefs, his writing is nevertheless suffused with that imagery, bringing it alive, like new music as some describe.

So what are we to make of the criticism of those who first rejected his manuscript? The book is, when compared to more classic literature, without doubt somewhat formless and unconventional.

Like God

Yet, those of an artistic nature tend to be like this, especially over the last hundred years or so. I think Joyce, whose approach was understood and encouraged by none other than Ezra Pound, was simply bold enough to open up the taps of his creativity. The artist himself almost becomes like God, a creator in his own right, a bit like the Daedalus of legend, who built wings for himself and his son so that they could fly.

Joyce’s upbringing within the strict bounds of Catholicism, his training for the priesthood, was in retrospect the perfect grounding for such free artistry, once it was released from its captivity.

Ironically, Joyce’s world never seems to lose the colour of his Catholic upbringing, even though he ultimately rejected it. With Lawrence, the harsh, English Protestant world, seems altogether more grim, enlightened by the writer’s love of nature.

Native Genius

Joyce’s innate creativity, held back for so long, could only emerge later like a succession of Michelangelo masterpieces, hewn by the craft and intelligence of a native genius.

Unlike his other classics, Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses, I have successfully completed reading his first great novel.

Even so, one day I intend to finish the former two, although I suspect I will read ‘Portrait’ again before I do that.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019