The Wonderful Mr Charles Dickens – Astrology Musings

After the mysterious William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens is probably ranked second in the all time greats of English writers — though to compare them is difficult as they lived more than two centuries apart and wrote in differing genres.

Neither is it possible to do a credible analysis of the Bard’s birth chart as we don’t know when exactly he was born, whereas we do know when Master Charles Dickens arrived in this troubled world.

Virgo Rising

It must have been pretty cold that late winter evening in 1812, in the famous port of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. At the time, the mutable earth sign of Virgo was rising on the eastern horizon. I think this pretty much correlates with a known part of the great Victorian writer’s character.

Virgo is always seen as analytical and critical, fussy and fastidious, with the keenest eye for detail and thereby a quick learner. The rising sign gives a good idea as to our approach to life, not necessarily revealing our inner nature.

As the young Charles grew up, this grasp of minutiae was serve him especially well, though this same quality might have led him along many different routes, not necessarily along a literary one. Virgo’s approach could be said to be scientific, though Charles basically lacked a full formal education of the time, for which we perhaps ought to be grateful; had he received one, he might well have chosen a different path and we might never have heard of him.

A Tale of Two Writers

Intriguingly, this may be one of two factors which the young Charles shared with Shakespeare of Stratford Upon Avon, who also appears to have not finished his own formal education. We do know that Dickens worked for a time in a law office in London, which some suspect the young Bard also did back in his day, when he too arrived in London during his so-called ‘missing years’. Dickens was a keen theatre goer too and may have grasped ideas of characterisation from that colourful arena. Virgo is a very keen observer indeed.

With Virgo rising, its ruler, Mercury, becomes the ruler of the chart. Interestingly, Hermes is placed in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn in the 5th house. Mercury in Capricorn is practical, realistic, systematic and ambitious.

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A Serious Mind — With a ‘Twist’

But this Mercury is also in a positive aspect with Uranus, ‘the magician’ in the 3rd house, also associated with the mind. In other words, his mind was practically inventive — with a twist of genius, one would suspect.

Mercury in Capricorn denotes a mind which must see definite results from the considerable effort put in, mentally. The 5th house is the creative arena, where children of the mind are hewn, served by the brilliance of Uranus from the third house.

Saturn is also in its own sign of Capricorn in the same house. He is powerfully placed here, underlining the seriousness in which he applied himself to his creativity. At times it must have been a joyless experience — but he was determined to succeed.

Great Expectations

Here then is part of the root of his ambition as a writer; what he may have lacked in education, he made up with in sheer graft and more than a little invention. His prodigious output is testimony to that, with 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, as well as countless letters.

But this is only the beginning of the extent of what was a very well developed mind. If Mercury gives an indication of the general everyday quality of mind, then Jupiter reveals the more expansive and aspirational side.

Showman

Dickens’ Jupiter is found in the mutable air sign of Gemini, high up in the tenth house of goals and career. Here is great flexibility, plus a curiosity and restlessness, a quality which he could apply to his career as a journalist, writer, as well as a lecturer and performer. There was something of the showman about him.

The 3rd and 9th houses are also indicative of the quality of mind. A Scorpio 3rd house in the whole sign house division method, reveals a mental intensity and investigative quality, bolstered here, as I have already stated, by the presence of the eccentric Uranus.

A Well Developed Mind

What is more, the ruler of Scorpio, Mars, is found in fiery Aries in the 8th house. Here is a person of some energy and verve, even a quick temper, but who applies it in the area of shared security, deeper concerns, such as investigation. Had he pursued his early career as a journalist, he might well have reached great heights there too. But he had his own path to follow.

His 9th house (higher mind again) is Taurus, ruled by Venus, which is found in sensitive and sentimental Pisces in the 7th house, closely conjunct the then undiscovered Pluto. Venus in Pisces has strong feelings, an almost spiritual ability to empathise with others, especially so in the 7th house of relationships. He definitely had the ability to put himself in other people’s shoes.

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The Pursuit of Social Justice

Pluto here only deepens this tendency; this may well correlate with his lifelong pursuit of justice for the poor and particularly poor children, whose plight he described so movingly in many of works. To say this man had a social conscience would be an understatement.

Equally, we also know that Dickens’ was a very fine mimic, able to take on the persona of others that he came across; this also correlates with his Venus/Pluto conjunction in Pisces in the 7th house. There is little wonder that when it came to portraying characters in print, he was able to make them seem so realistic, his Virgo ascendant giving him the ability to fine tune those intrinsic qualities of character.

Detachment

I have said a lot already, but not yet mentioned the Sun or Moon, two of the key factors in a birth chart. His sun in Aquarius in the 6th house describes his basic inner nature. Here is a man, who despite his deeply felt compassion for others, could also detach himself if so wished and thereby do greater good. He identifies with work and service to others in this regard, too.

Aquarius is said to be unusual, but I think this has only grown over the past two centuries after an increasing number of astrologers have made Uranus the prime ruler of this sign. I think this is an error.

Emotionally Expressive and Sentimental

Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, but the side of Saturn which plans for the longer future, at a time of late winter in the north of the world when general preparations are made for the onset of spring. Aquarius is a carer too, but not in the same way as the deeply personal uniting principle of Venus in sensitive Pisces.

His Moon is in Sagittarius, very close to Neptune in the 4th house. So here is yet another facet of this multi-dimensional character. He can be emotionally expressive, sometimes overly so and gushing. He is also deeply sensitive and sentimental about issues regarding home, family, women and the past.

A Host of Characters

Here may lie another facet of his ability to write so convincingly about the lives of people in the mid 19th century, aided by several other sensitive areas of his chart I have alluded to above. He writes so well because he feels so strongly. Yet none of this may have been possible if he hadn’t got the ability to compartmentalise, using his considerable intellectual gifts to formally present us with those wonderful creations in print.

Charles Dickens, like all of us, was several characters rolled into one. But his particular chemistry was one which gave sublime literary expression to the troubles and the characters of his time — and for that we must all be eternally grateful.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London – Astrology Musings

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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.

Astounded

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.

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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.

Subterranean

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.

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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

England’s Heritage in Photos: Edenham Church, Lincolnshire – Wonderful Tombs

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The village of Edenham in south west Lincolnshire has a beautiful church dedicated to Saint Michael and All Angels.

My grandfather was born and brought up in a nearby hamlet.

Within the grounds are some wonderful tombs of local aristocratic families.

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copyright words and pictures Francis Barker 2019