On This Day 1577 – Francis Drake Sets Off On His Circumnavigation of Earth

red and black wooden chest on white sand
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Sir Francis Drake combined several roles, from pirate to sea captain, privateer to explorer. He perhaps typifies the ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit of the Elizabethan Age at the birth of the first English and subsequently British Empire.

One of his most daring exploits was a successful circumnavigation of the earth from 1577 to 1580. He set off with just five ships, including the Pelican which he was on board. He did soon include another ship, however, under the captaincy of a Portuguese, Nuno da Silva, who knew well some of the sea routes around the Americas.

To Elizabeth and the English, Drake was a hero, a continual threat to the Spanish fleets and their gold. To the Spanish, however, he was often referred to as ‘El Draco’, or the Dragon, also probably because of his warlike and privateering exploits in the Spanish Main.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Astrology Musings: The Virgin Queen?

Elizabeth_I_when_a_Princess
By Formerly attributed to William Scrots – wartburg.edu, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=686176

The reign of Elizabeth I is, I suspect, as much about propaganda as it is truth.

After all, the time of her coronation was decided upon by none other than Dr John Dee, magus, diviner, astrologer, the inventor of what came to be known as the British Secret Service. He was also the instigator of the notion of ‘The British Empire’. More of that in another piece.

But what of ‘The Virgin Queen’s’ nativity, her birth chart. Being a royal princess, her birth time was duly noted, even though Henry VIII was reputedly less than happy that Queen Anne Boleyn had dared to give birth to a daughter.

Fecundity and Popularity

Quite fittingly, the Virgin Queen, as she became known later, was indeed born under the sign of Virgo, the Virgin. It was right up high in the ninth house, so she was always likely, thanks to her birth, to be well known abroad (ninth house foreign affairs), often notoriously amongst her enemies.

The Moon in Taurus in the fourth house, close to the nadir of the chart, also comes into play here, I feel. Taurus is fertile and the Moon is well placed here. Is this the origin of the myth of her fecundity? I think it certainly stands for her popularity with her own people.

Queen of Heaven

She was also portrayed as Astraea, queen of the heavens from ancient pagan myth – not Christian at all, but this was very much in vogue at the time with the likes of John Dee and other Renaissance men plucking the strings, through their magical science and the giants of creative literature, such as Marlowe and Shakespeare.

Her ascendant is Capricorn, and therefore her ruling planet is Saturn, the great taskmaster. Capricorn rising brings responsibility, often hardship, privation, a willingness to see things through for some greater prize; in this case, we are told, it was England itself, its preservation from outside rule.

An Unhappy Place

Saturn in Cancer in the seventh house reveals the equally serious and responsible attitude she had in her dealings, diplomatically, but also in her relationships. Saturn in Cancer is in its ‘detriment’, its not a happy place.

It symbolises a potential lack of family, caring, loving, nurturing – but it also creates a dogged hardness of spirit, purely through harsh experience, a resigned sense of making do emotionally.

Here we see also the coldness that was dealt her when she was a princess. Her mother was executed when she was little more than a toddler. She was imprisoned and came pretty close to being executed herself, it would seem, during the reign of her half sister, Mary.

So in many ways it’s surprising she ever made it to the throne.

Intelligent

It transpires too that Elizabeth was one of the most intelligent rulers England has ever had. She could debate with the best of men, speak and write several languages fluently.

For this we should look at Mercury and Venus high up in Libra in the tenth house of career. Mercury is trine Mars in Gemini and this creates a ready wit, mental versatility, a charming, diplomatic manner and intellectual potential, all of which could be put to good use in her reign, as it was. She was the epitome of pragmatism, which became her method of survival in a man’s world.

And in Love with Love

Venus in Libra is all about love, diplomacy and indecision. She was in love with love, if you like, and so high up in the chart, there was also a danger that it might get out to the public. At times the love and diplomacy melded into one, sometimes in the most bizarre ways. In the end she could not decide.

Nevertheless, the harsh screening of that Capricorn ascendant, Saturn in Cancer in the seventh house too, would always manage, somehow, to keep some kind of reign on her romantic flirtations and dalliances. In her heart, we are told, she devoted herself to her people and to England: that’s Venus in Libra.

And Saturn in the seventh house could mean of course, a lacking in the marriage, or even the denial of it.

 

*If you would like a personal astrology report, please contact me at: leoftanner@gmail.com for details.

 

Poem: Kit

Famous posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiave...
Famous posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Somebody stopped me
in the Canterbury street, like a hand
on my arm which took me
by surprise. Two dark eyes full of
verve, like air fanning fire, arresting
me with their stare,
a challenge written with an effulgent
quill; in my mind I saw it tripping
over pages with invention
in sweet candlelight.

So many years before, a Kentish king
knelt before the altar in solemn
genuflection, and now
you, your head brimming with catechism
and heady charm, speaking out like
Machiavelli, Paul becoming
Saul to declare another truth
in your eyes, in mottos and tatty trinkets
of shop windows, which only repeat
your daring pose in ignorance

poem © copyright David F. Barker 2013

Grieving


Anne Boleyn? Hans Holbein the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

(a response to Holbein’s sketch,
purportedly of Anne Boleyn)

So, is this really you? Those full lips
well kissed, I have no doubt,
your pretty duckys hidden, fit for ravagers
we call kings. Holbein’s profile, it
simply shines your intelligence, courts
with language, love and ideas,
perhaps a little too much for kings
and enemies to take, at a time
when your sex are meant to be
little more than slaves and vessels
for petulant princes.

But no one can stop me grieving:
I imagine you blink, turn
and smile at me. Oh,
you are strong and keen, yet tender
and kind like all mothers
and lovers should be. No wonder
other men may have dreamed
on those lips, carried away
by your verve, which only victors
ever get to call treason. Now I wish
I could touch your fine chin
and whisper: “Elizabeth—
remember Elizabeth!” My words
vanish into air like justice, while you
stare blankly through Traitor’s Gate;
but this little girl takes the better part
of you, better than any king before
or since, of this abject state

poem © copyright David F. Barker