Occult Aspects I

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month and next I am continuing the loose Neptune theme of the last few months with a post on the connections between planets which are not visible in the birth chart. We will also look at the astrology of Amelia Earhart, David Bowie, William Faulkner and Anne Frank. 

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Fair warning – the techniques outlined in these two messages are more suitable for students of astrology at an intermediate or advanced level of study. For beginners these techniques could not only be confusing but also overwhelming because they yield more detail to an already complicated and detailed situation. Essentially we will be looking at the birth chart using a microscope to see some of the cellular structure or the wiring under the board. Understanding these articles is also helped by an understanding of mathematics and geometry, although in the modern world computers make the labour in this unnecessary. That said, however, beginners in astrology can still benefit from learning about these techniques – you may be one of the few who just gets it straight away, or you may just file it away and look at it again at a later point, as I did.

Both of these messages, this one and next months, will explore ways in which the objects (planets and Lights) in the birth chart can be connected to one another in ways which are not immediately readable from looking at the chart itself. They are also an advanced course in the topic of astrological aspects. We might term this entire field ‘occult aspects’ because they are aspects hidden from view as far as looking at a chart is concerned. This month I will talk about declination and the importance of parallel and contra-parallel aspects.

DECLINATION

To begin with it helps to identify what declination is by reflecting on the following – most people know that the Moon goes around the Earth about once every 28 days, giving rise to our word month. It’s also widely known that during that time there will be a period when it is filled with light as a Full Moon and a period when it can’t be seen at all, called the New Moon. The New Moon occurs when the Moon is in relatively the same position as the Sun in the sky, so she is not visible during the day because she is washed out by the sunlight nor is she visible by the night because she has descended below the horizon with the Sun. She has basically disappeared from view for a few days because she is very near to the Suns positioning in the heavens. It is also common knowledge that from time to time the disk of the Moon passes directly in front of the disk of the Sun, eerily covering it and giving rise to a total eclipse. The total eclipse of the Sun was one of the most fearsome and awe-inspiring occurrences in the skies of the ancient world and in early times it could create panic.

Fortunately, this was not a monthly occurrence! It is in fact comparatively rare, with most times that the Sun and Moon are in the same place in the sky being simple New Moons and not eclipses. The reason for this is that most times the Moon will be passing either above or below the Sun, not in front of it. In astrological and astronomical terminology this is called a difference in declination, a degree of distance north or south of the equator, projected into space. This celestial equator is a Great Circle around the Earth, and I will come back to it in a moment, for now its important to understand that this is different to the Great Circle of the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun through the sky over the course of a year (actually caused by us going around the Sun, so seeing different backdrops of stars behind it). The ecliptic is where we get our zodiac positions from, in other words it is the central column of the zodiac. The ecliptic circumnavigates the sky around the Earth through the 12 constellations that also inform the 12 signs of the zodiac, which are seasonal divisions measured from the twin equinoxes and twin solstices, the places on the ecliptic where the time of sunlight and day is equal, or at its zenith or nadir, compared to the time of darkness and night. These signs of the zodiac are named after the constellations, but they are not the same thing. They are instead 12 divisions of the year, 3 parts for each of 4 seasons, measured from the soltices and equinoxes. This is the tropical zodiac used in western astrology, the sidereal zodiac uses the constellations instead, however both zodiacs arise from and are centred upon the Great Circle of the ecliptic.

Although we draw the zodiac from this ecliptic ring formed by the annual passage of the Sun against the backdrop of the stars (in the sidereal zodiac) or the seasonal rhythm of light and darkness, growth and decay that this delineates through the year (in the tropical zodiac), the solar system is a highly complex organism composed of interlocking cycles (including orbits, rotations on axes and boundaries between light and dark), and this is not easily represented on a piece of parchment or paper. As an example, the three dimensional ‘donut’ shape of the zodiacs ring is ‘squished’ and loses its three dimensional form when it is pressed into a two dimensional birth chart. The donut becomes a flat circle. Simply put, we can no longer see if the Moon is above or below the Sun when there is a New Moon. In fact, we can’t see this kind of relationship for any of the objects in the chart, because they have all been pressed down into a circular ring when they were once sprinkled throughout a three dimensional torus. Objects which once had a height in the sky have all been compressed and thus lost their distinctions by height.

Working with declination is how we restore this dimension to our work with the chart. Declination is a measurement of distance north or south of the celestial equator, which as I stated above is simply the equator of the Earth extended into space, forming another Great Circle. Declination is sometimes expressed as a plus or minus value instead of a north and south value respectively and it is measured in latitude, not longitude like the positions of objects in the zodiac is. Depending on when and where you are viewing it from, the Sun can be anywhere between 23°28’N latitude of the equator, or 23°28’S latitude of it (it can go very slightly over this number as it’s not exactly precise, but it is never further than 24° N or S). These are the boundaries on either side of the equator that we call the tropics, named for Cancer and Capricorn because these are the tropical zodiac signs that the Sun enters when it reaches them. If we also extend the tropics into space like the equator, the Sun never climbs higher north or south of these two tropical rings. During the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, as the Sun enters the sign of Cancer, it is at 23°28’N declination, which is as high as it can get in the northern hemisphere. It is the height of summer. During the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere the Sun is 23°28’S declination, entering the sign of Capricorn, and as low as it can get in the sky in the northern hemisphere. It is the depths of winter. During the equinoxes (day and night equal) the Sun is entering Aries (start of spring) or Libra (start of autumn) and crossing the celestial equator, switching hemispheres and heading towards the extreme north or south of its travels, the solstices. It will be at 0° of declination. The southern hemisphere keeps to the same timing (it shares the equinoxes and solstices with the north) but the seasons are switched with their opposites – winter to summer and vice versa and autumn to spring and vice versa.

Visually what this means is that the Earth has a donut shaped ring around its middle within which (from the surface of our planet) the Sun can be visible and it will never climb higher or lower than the edges of this torus. The apparent path of the Sun when viewed from Earth – the ecliptic – will always be within this torus. So the Great Circle of the ecliptic can be 23°28’ above or below the Great Circle of the celestial equator, but never more than this. We can imagine this as a donut shape within which (looking out) the ring of the ecliptic is threaded like a string or a strand of spaghetti, following the path of the Sun, and it is moving up and down from the middle band of the donut over the course of a year, forming a spiral as the Sun moves from top to bottom as well as around the inside. From the outside, it looks like this (all images in this article should expand when clicked):

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Essentially, from Earth the Sun has a boundary or region in the sky beyond which it cannot pass unless the tilt of the Earth is itself catastrophically changed, or (even worse) we are knocked out of orbit. However every other object – including the Moon – is free to pass this boundary of 23°28, north or south, but most of the time they won’t do so as their orbits around the Sun are pretty much on the same plane in the solar system. The Moon is the most likely to range beyond the Suns boundaries in the sky because it is going around the Earth and not around the Sun. In other words, most of the orbits around the Sun are like the rings on a vinyl record, one which is only slightly warped. This means they are more often than not inside the 23°28’ (23.4°) boundaries, north or south – although their declination can be different from the Suns, they will still frequently be within the same zone that the Sun is confined to. This also means they generally only pass through the same backdrop of constellations that the Sun passes through, the main 12 of which are the zodiac constellations. These 12 constellations are therefore the Suns celestial family, for it never visits the other major constellations that shine beyond the zone it lives in, or only touches their edges. For example, there is no zodiac sign for Ursa, the Bear, because the Sun is never seen in the constellation of the Great Bear, it’s way too far north of the celestial equator. This is a manifestation of the Solar Logos, the body and intelligence of the Sun expressed as a celestial being. It defines the zodiac as the primary evolutionary coding of conscious life on this planet, the astral family of this life. Light from all of this family is within each thing that is born and lives here, animate and inanimate.

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PARALLEL OBJECTS

This being understood, when two objects in the sky are in the same hemisphere (i.e. both are north of the celestial equator or both are south of it) and they are at the same declination or within 1° of one another by declination, then they are parallel to one another in the sky.This parallel relationship, which cannot be seen in the birth chart, is closest to a conjunction aspect in nature because it joins the two planets together and unifies them in some way, they are on parallel tracks of flight like two birds in the sky. We can think of planets in parallel as being in a kind of invisible conjunction, no matter if in the birth chart they are in a conjunction, trine, square, or any other aspect, or not in aspect at all. If these two objects are in a conjunction in the chart, however, the parallel between them will serve to intensify and scale up the effect of that conjunction, putting an ! over it similar to the emphasis produced by placing the conjunction on an angle like the ascendant or midheaven. This is because if you were to look at it in the sky a parallel conjunction is an exact occultation between the two objects (like an eclipse) with the nearer object passing in front of the more distant object. It really looks like a conjunction in the sky when you look at it, because the two objects are occupying the same position relative to the view from Earth. In a non-parallel conjunction the objects will be separated because one will be above the other in the sky.

Take a look at this birth chart for Amelia Earhart, below.

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Note the close conjunction between the Moon and Pluto in Gemini (the sign of traveling). They are in a conjunction, with only 3° of separation. You might think they were next to one another, until you look at the declination. This is shown in the box in the top left corner below the breakdown of the Elements and Modes. After the symbol and name of the object (Moon, Sun etc.) there is a column showing its position in the zodiac (longitude) and the column next to that is the column for its declination. There you can see that the Moons declination is listed as +26° while the declination for Pluto is listed as +12°. This means they are in a conjunction but they are not parallel. When you look at it in the sky it looks like this:

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The thick white line in this image near the bottom is the celestial equator. The blue line curving around the top of the picture with the tropical zodiac signs on it is the ecliptic, the path of the Sun. Notice that, even though they are both positioned on the relatively same point of that curved blue line, the Moon is about twice as far away from the thick white line of the celestial equator as Pluto is – in terms of distance from that white line, Pluto lies about halfway between it and the Moon. That’s a considerable distance when you look at it visually. It means that she has a close conjunction of the Moon in Pluto but that it is not parallel. It’s a regular conjunction.

Compare this to the chart for David Bowie, where the Moon and Pluto are both in Leo (the sign of the entertainer) but there is a gap of 9° separating them – probably still a potent conjunction, especially given the presence of Saturn forming a bridge between them, but not one that would be especially strong without Saturn.

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Until you look at declination. In this chart I have put a red circle around the declination data, in case you had trouble finding it. There you see that both the Moon and Pluto are a +23°. They are parallel. When you look at this in the sky this chart looks like this:

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First, notice the distance between the Moon and Pluto. That is the space of 9° between them in the zodiac, which is measured along the ecliptic, the blue line that bisects the image from left to right, passing through Regulus. Now notice the celestial equator in the bottom left portion of the picture, the thick white line. When you measure the distance from the Moon to this line, and then measure the distance from Pluto to this line, they are about the same. That’s the parallel between them. Notice how Saturn is slightly closer to that white line. That’s because its declination is not +23° but instead +19°. This means that the conjunction between the Moon and Saturn is not a parallel conjunction, and nor is the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto. This creates two bridges between the Moon and Pluto in this chart, one which is formed by the connection by conjunction that they both have with Saturn, and one that is formed by their parallel with one another. A third connection between them is that they are all in Leo. A fourth is that all are in the constellation of the Crab, sometimes called the Cradle, or the Scarab. These stars are connected with rebirth and the reinvention of the soul. 

So what we call a conjunction is perhaps more properly referred to as an alignment, a close positioning relative to positioning on the Great Circle of the ecliptic, but not relative to the Great Circle of the celestial equator. A true visual conjunction is relative to both, and its called an occultation in astronomy and a parallel conjunction in astrology.

It’s worth stating again that objects in the sky can be in any aspect to one another or in no aspect at all, and still be in a parallel to one another. On its own a parallel relationship between two objects that have no other aspect with one another can usually be left out of discussion if time is a constraint. It only becomes powerfully significant if the nature of the parallel between the two planets somehow underscores a theme that is more obviously and strongly represented in the chart anyway, or is an issue at hand for the person because of transits or progressions. A parallel does have some important differences to a conjunction, though, and I will get to those. However, a conjunction and especially a close conjunction between two objects who are also parallel to one another is an exceedingly powerful conjunction that should be given extra weight in consideration of the chart as a whole. When you have a lot of conjunctions to consider, for example when you are dealing with a chart where there is a stellium, a multiple conjunction of four or more objects, then looking for parallels can help you to sort them and to focus on what really stands out. Later I will have more to say on how to interpret the different combinations. For now, we need to look at a mirror of the parallel.

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CONTRA-PARALLEL OBJECTS

The mirror image, reflection or opposite of parallel is when the two objects have the same declination (or within 1° of being at the same declination) but one is north (or positive in declination) while the other is south (or negative in declination). This means they will both be the same distance from the celestial equator, but on different sides of it. This is called contra–parallel. Again, planets do not have to be in an aspect for them to be contra-parallel, and they can also be in any aspect to one another in the zodiac. It is therefore possible for objects to be in a conjunction but also contra-parallel, or in a trine and contra-parallel, etc.

Here is an example of a contra-parallel conjunction from the chart of Nobel prize winning author William Faulkner. He was born with the Moon at 28° of Virgo (a writers sign) and Jupiter at 23° of Virgo, with Mercury between them at 26° of Virgo. All three of them are in a conjunction with one another. By declination the Moon is at -3° while Jupiter is at +3°. Mercury is at +0°, positioned precisely on the celestial equator. Here is how that looks in the sky.

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Notice how the Moon and Jupiter are about the same distance away from the thick white line, the celestial equator, but on opposite sides, while Mercury is placed upon it. The Moon and Jupiter are in a contra-parallel conjunction, while Moon and Mercury and Jupiter and Mercury are in a simple conjunction which is not contra-parallel. Notice also that the Sun is centred on the ecliptic ‘(always, because it’s the Suns path) but is also not that far away (1° of declination) from the celestial equator – Faulkner was born just after the September equinox. The equinox occurs when the Suns path (the ecliptic) crosses the celestial equator, and we can see this in this picture because the path of the ecliptic (the blue line) has just intersected with the path of the celestial equator (the white line). We can also see that it is the September equinox rather than the March equinox because at the point where the intersection of these two circles occurs, the glyph for the sign of Libra appears on the ecliptic. A skilled astrologer or astronomer can read time as well as location from images of the sky, although location is harder to pinpoint.

To help you visualise all of this here is the same image zoomed out so that you can see all of one side of the Earth including the horizon line which divides the sky (the black area) from everything which is below it (the green area). It also shows the latitude and longitude lines (black coloured lines) used in map references.

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The contra-parallel is most similar in nature to the opposition aspect. Therefore, an opposition aspect that is also contra-parallel is an extremely tight and powerful opposition that will become a major life task for the person who carries it with them. It will be a “true” opposition rather than just an opposition in the zodiac, because the objects will be on diametrically opposite sides of both the celestial equator and the ecliptic. If the orb between the two planets in opposition is very small or exact, then a contra-parallel between them will tighten the screws considerably, locking them into an opposed relationship. Again, from an interpretive standpoint the effect will be similar to having the opposition placed at one of the angles such as the ascendant or the midheaven, but with the twist that it can do it in any of the houses/temples. It will also become dominant over other oppositions which are not in a contra-parallel relationship.

Here is the chart of the famous and tragic diarist Anne Frank.

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You can see that her Sun in Gemini is in opposition with her Saturn in Sagittarius, a sign of a sober spirit enduring hardships and burdens, but they are quite the distance apart with the Sun at 20° of Gemini and Saturn at 27° of Sagittarius. At 7°, the opposition should be fading out leaving her with more room to maneuver and less confinement. However, the declination of her Sun at +23° and her Saturn at -22° puts them in a contra-parallel relationship which, for practical purposes, seems to have completely negated that 7° of distance and made her life an archetypal example of the tragedy and hardship that Sun opposite Saturn can bring, while still showing us something positive about the human spirit in her philosophical musings and her sad, private words that have left a lasting legacy. Here are two images showing the contra-parallel opposition (two are required because the Sun and Saturn are literally on opposite sides of the globe).

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In this first picture note the position of the Sun towards the upper left and its relative distance from the thick white line of the celestial equator below it. Also note the position of Uranus because it will be useful as a reference in the second image, below.

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In this image the globe has been rotated but you can still see Uranus towards the top. More importantly you can now also see the position of Saturn in the lower right, about as far below the thick white line of the celestial equator as the Sun was above it in the previous image.

A couple more things before we move on – notice from the birth chart for Anne Frank that the declination of the Sun was +23°07’. Remember that I said that 23°28’ is the limit that it reaches from the celestial equator, and you will realise that Anne Frank was born a few days before a solstice. Additionally, you can tell that it is the June solstice, because the Sun is at +23, not -23, and so it is almost as far north as it can climb.

And, isn’t it incredible that the people of the ancient world had this all figured out, merely by observation and meticulous record keeping, often on stone tablets or hundreds of thousands of bits of dried out parchment or leaves? That they not only knew all of these things, but went to the incredible effort of building monuments like Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and the Giza Plateau, just to express it in an earthly form? Does this not by comparison make our own city planning look like the result of children let loose in a nursery filled with plastic building blocks? We often think of ourselves as the pinnacle of human development, and certainly to our knowledge this is true technologically, but it is not true in others, and it may not even be true scientifically or culturally. The knowledge and centuries of time required to work all this out without basic technological tools and just water clocks for measuring the passing of time, and the effort then required to then express it in monuments, for whatever reason, surely gives us pause for thought about the comparative sophistication of our own efforts, and our own modern vanities. We may have a more complicated understanding now than we did then in some areas, but in flattening the splendor of the sky onto a two-dimensional birth chart, we lost something – an appreciation of height and depth that was innate to people of the ancient world because they did not look at charts, they looked at the sky. And they were patient, observant and very, very smart compared to what most people believe, they had to have been.

INTERPRETATION: WEIRD SCIENCE

Ok, your brain is likely well exercised by this point, so what now? What to do with this? 

As far as I’m aware not much has been written about the nuances that arise from the combinations between different aspects, parallels and contra-parallels – most interpretive stances on the matter of declination simply state that a parallel is like a conjunction and contra-parallel is like an opposition, and they interpret parallels and contra-parallels between two planets very similarly to those aspects. There is little distinction made between a Sun and Moon conjunction and a Sun and Moon parallel. They are read the same in most takes on the subject.

However, this ignores the reality of the situation in the sky. There is a difference, as the examples in this post should help to make clear. A conjunction usually takes place in a single sign, perhaps two different ones if the conjunction takes place near a sign boundary, but if it does involve more than one sign it is limited to any two adjacent signs. For example the Sun and Moon conjunction could take place in Libra with both the lights in Libra, or it could be that one Light is in Libra and the other in Virgo or Scorpio, the two signs either side of Libra. Thats because a conjunction is limited by the orb of a conjunction, usually about 7° or 8° of longitude, the degrees of the zodiac.

But parallel and contra-parallel declination is measured in latitude, and even though it has a tight 1° orb of influence by latitude it has no restrictions of orb by longitude at all. It is unfettered from the zodiacal sequence, and thus a parallel can exist between the Sun and Moon (or any planets) in any combination of signs. Similarly, a contra-parallel can exist between two planets in any signs, not just signs in opposition. Thus the parallel and contra-parallel represent hidden paths that can exist between two objects, allowing hidden messages to be passed between them. They add a more individual potential to planets and Lights because they enable them to communicate with each other in unconventional and special ways, bringing all kinds of zodiacal combinations into play which resemble conjunctions and oppositions but are given an extra twist by potentially being in exotic sign combinations. The parallel and contra-parallel therefore potentially express far more individuality and strangeness than a conjunction and opposition can. They also represent a refreshing challenge for the astrological mind – how does one interpret a conjunction between a Sun in Taurus and a Moon in Leo, or an opposition between Jupiter in Aries and Mercury in Pisces, for example? The result is a chimera, a hybrid creature that is more of a unique animal. The parallel and contra-parallel are like a magical potion that can produce strange and unusual results. This is wild magic, difficult to define. It’s powerful, transmutative stuff.

Added to this zodiacal chaos is the fact that parallels and contra-parallels not only occur alone but can also occur when the two objects concerned are in aspect. There can be parallel and contra-parallel sextiles, trines and squares, as well as conjunctions and oppositions. Taking all of this into consideration it becomes clear that there is actually a tremendous amount that can be written about the contra-parallel and parallel, many volumes more than the often repeated “like a conjunction or opposition”. In fact the entire topic is a goldmine just waiting for an astrologer to tap into both in terms of research and professional focus.

With all of this said there is a process that you can go through which will help you to reach an interpretation involving parallel and contra-parallel declination. This is my process which I have arrived at through 30 years of practice with astrology and about 20 years of practice with declination.

First, make a list of all of the parallels and contra-parallels in the chart. Many astrological programs can compile a report showing this information for you. Don’t be tempted to experiment outside of the 1° orb – declination does not involve a full 360° like the zodiac does and the distance between objects in declination can be much shorter over longer periods of time, so the 1° orb is the most practical one. Let it go even if it is 1°01’ of orb in declination.

Next, make a tier 1 grouping of all the parallels and contra-parallels which exist between objects that have an aspect with one another in the birth chart, no matter what the aspect is. Put everything else into a tier 2 grouping. If the tier 1 grouping is very large and requires some organization you can prioritize it either by the size of the orb of the declination (so that 0°45’ of orb is ranked higher than 0°55’, for example) or by the following scheme: Lights, chart ruler, angular planets, the rest. You can prioritize the second tier the same ways if you need to. 

The difference between the first-tier and the second-tier is that the first-tier admits more accessibility. The presence of a major aspect in the birth chart alongside the parallel or contra-parallel gives the hidden connection a way to express itself in recognizable form. It makes it easier for the person to recognise what that connection is and to communicate it to others. However there may still be challenges with this process if the aspect is a square, an opposition or difficult conjunction, and the influence of the parallel or contra-parallel will add a unique spin to the conventional interpretation of the aspect. Objects in parallel or contra-parallel in the second tier will be more difficult to access and define as well as communicate to others. However, the strangeness and wildness of their magic will be undiluted and far less conventionally expressed when it does find a way out. It can bring a spark of genius and an innovative twist on what we expect.

Pay special attention to any parallels or contra-parallels which involve either of the two Lights, as these can be very important to address. Also pay close attention to parallel conjunctions and contra-parallel oppositions of any kind as these will be especially strong, particularly if the orb of the conjunction or opposition is very small, so below 4°. People who are born during eclipses will display this in their charts, but others can too, as any two planets can have this relationship.

In building up your own general interpretation of parallel and contra-parallel it is helpful to meditate and reflect upon the following contrary combinations:

A) a conjunction that is parallel compared to a conjunction that is contra-parallel.

B) an opposition that is contra-parallel compared to an opposition that is parallel.

In the first case, a conjunction that is parallel is like a super-conjunction, but a conjunction that is contra-parallel implies that the two objects have a degree of separation and so there is potentially more objectivity in being able to view them as separate parts. They will be like two particles locked in orbit around a nucleus, rather than a fusion of two objects into a nucleus. They may merge and disengage periodically.

In the second case an opposition that is contra-parallel is like a super-opposition, but an opposition that is parallel implies that there is some kind of hidden alignment between the two objects in opposition which can be called upon to help them cooperate more. While the super-opposition can become a super support structure for the entire chart, providing lasting stability and strength through the long process of bringing opposing forces into balance, an opposition that is parallel is often easier to find balance with but trickier to keep in balance because it is less firm than the super-opposition.

After thinking about all of what I have said here for a while, you should be able to move forwards in your interpretation of other aspects which are parallel or contra-parallel and when you do this you will have embarked upon a journey into a wondrous territory of astrology which has seen very few visitors. There is one more thing I would like to tell you about before you go, however.

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OUT OF BOUNDS

I wrote earlier that:

“every other object including the Moon is free to pass this boundary of 23°28, north or south”

That’s important. What it means is that while most of the time the sky wanderers of our solar system are found within the same regions of the sky that the Sun is confined to, sometimes they slip outside this net. They go beyond the gaze and watchful eye of the commander and roam into foreign realms. The teenager goes away on holiday, leaving the nest to get away with things “off the record”.

Remember also that I said that the Moon goes beyond this boundary more than the other objects do, because it is going around the Earth and not around the Sun. That was only partly true – Pluto is also moving beyond this boundary quite often, and this is because of the incline of its orbit into the plane of the solar system, within which most of the other planets have their orbits.

When a planet goes farther north or south of this boundary then the Sun can, it is called “out of bounds”, meaning the bounds of the solar realm. It is sometimes even venturing into the territory of non-zodiacal constellations and collecting exotic forms of Light for the Sun from places it cannot visit itself, for ultimately it will always return to the solar realm to deposit this experience.

The general interpretation used by astrologers for an out of bounds planet or Moon is that it will act wildly and eccentrically, as if touched by some aspect of Uranus, but in my practice I find it more useful to consider where the planet is venturing into, where is it going where the Sun does not shine, and how will that affect its tropical zodiac sign position? In cases where the planet is only a short distance away from being over the boundary of 23° 28’ (which is most of the time), then it wont have ventured very far beyond the borders and will be collecting something from the zodiacal sign constellation, albeit an outlying part of it that is more exotic than the usual fare. This will give an inventive and creative spin to the expression of the zodiac sign, it will operate slightly outside of the box but near enough to it to be able to easily make sense of it as an expression of that sign. However in cases where there is an extreme venturing beyond this boundary, the object can visit star constellations that the Sun does not reach at all and in these rare cases there is something even more exotic being collected. It is still being collected for the tropical zodiac sign that the object is located in, and the object will still therefore express itself as its tropical zodiac sign nature inclines it to, but there will be a part of that object that operates without regard to the usual rules. This can be very good or very bad for the person, and the rest of us. It depends on how they choose to handle the fact that they are (in reality) somewhat outside of the rules as they apply to the rest of us, and what the innate behaviour of that planet is when it is given its freedom. A topical example of this is Donald Trump, who, with his (strongly placed) Mercury out of bounds, has (for example) no problem with claiming that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any supporters. It happens to be half-true, half-jest, in mercurial style. He also gives us many more obvious examples of the behaviour of someone with Mercury out of bounds. 

I hope that this explanation has been clear and that it excites you enough to begin including declination in your astrological work. Below I have given you a list of individuals who have notable parallels or contra-parallels so that you have some resources to begin looking into. Their chart data is available online.

Although this is an intermediate or advanced lesson in astrology, computers have made working with declination a lot easier in the modern world, and if our technological progress continues in the coming century it seems likely that it will become even easier and perhaps even find its way into the mainstream comprehension of astrology. If some kind of holographic or 3-D display technology breaks through we may finally have the ability to display the sky in a form that truly represents its complexity and shape, which may be truly revolutionary for astrology by doing away with the need for birth charts as we know them now. Parallels and contra-parallels would then become part of what we can see when we look at a map of our births, partly restoring the visual origins of astrology.

Where are the parallel and contra-parallels in your astrology? Are there any out of bounds planets, or the Moon? How do these factors play out in your life? Have fun considering these things, drop a comment or question below if you wish, and thank you for your time. Also, a very special thanks, always to the generous people who support this site through Patreon, you are the best!

Next month, more occult aspects!


Research Suggestions

Donald Trump (Sun and Uranus in parallel conjunction in Gemini, Sun and Uranus in contra-parallel opposition with Moon in Sagittarius, out of bounds Mercury in Cancer)

Ted Bundy (Moon and Mars in Sagittarius in parallel conjunction, Moon and Mars both in contra-parallel opposition with Uranus in Gemini, Pluto in Leo trine and contra-parallel Moon and Mars in Sagittarius)

Paramahansa Yogananda (Mercury and Venus parallel conjunction in Sagittarius, Mars in Aries in contra-parallel opposition with Saturn in Libra, Pluto in Gemini parallel Virgo ascendant).

Alexandre Dumas (out of bounds Moon in Taurus, Mercury in Cancer parallel Leo ascendant, Mercury in Cancer parallel sextile with Mars in Taurus, Mercury parallel Chiron in Sagittarius, Venus parallel conjunction Saturn in Virgo)

Christopher Reeve (out of bounds Moon and Mars in Sagittarius, Sun and Mercury in contra-parallel conjunction in Libra, Jupiter in Taurus contra-parallel Chiron in Capricorn, Uranus in Cancer parallel Pluto in Virgo).

Edith Piaf (out of bounds Moon in Gemini and Mercury in Sagittarius, Moon contra-parallel Mercury, Sun in Sagittarius parallel Venus in Capricorn, Uranus and the Dragons Head in parallel conjunction in Aquarius, Uranus/Dragons Head in Aquarius contra-parallel Pluto in Cancer).

Lucille Ball (Moon out of bounds in Capricorn, Leo Sun parallel Pluto in Gemini, Mars in Taurus parallel Dragons Head in Taurus, Jupiter in parallel conjunction with Dragons Tail in Scorpio, Uranus in Capricorn contra-parallel opposition Neptune in Cancer).

On Art & the Love of Life

Greetings and welcome back to Journeys! In the spirit of late October this months sharing will be about the rich world of feelings and emotions, with a special focus on their relevance and importance in the arts, magic and spiritual realisation. For students of IIH I will be sharing information on the astral body and the Water region of the mental body.

The magic circle, by John William Waterhouse

In beginning to set out my thoughts for this writing I find myself searching for a word or phrase that doesn’t seem to exist, at least in English or German, the languages I know. It’s an important word for an important thing that most of us will recognise, especially if we are involved in anything related to the arts, but really everyone should recognize it in different ways. Although some words come close or communicate parts of it I’m unable to come up with a word or a phrase that encapsulates it precisely, so instead I’m going to present you with several examples of this unnameable thing and hope that you are able to understand what I am referring to as well as to recognise it in your own experience.

Let’s start with the actor or actress preparing to take on a role using something like the Stanislavsky method wherein they have to inhabit the role from the inside. They will use various methods to explore the different aspects of the role, trying to find their own unique way into that character so that they can express it realistically, for example they might use improvisation with other actors to explore how their character might behave in various situations, creative visualizations to imagine themselves as the character in different circumstances, or practice emotional recall of their own personal experiences (love, loss, etc) in an attempt to relate those emotions to those of their character in a particular scene, and so on. In all of this work the hope is for a magical moment when everything just ‘clicks’ and the character comes to life for the performer. It might never come – and that’s ok – but if it does the circumstances under which it does are slippery. It might come during make up when they put on the long blond wig for the first time, or at some point during rehearsals, or while they are relaxing in the bath. Sometimes it can be triggered by a random event or a chance meeting, but however it comes there is no mistaking it, even though it is different every time and always just as mysterious and thrilling as it always is. Suddenly, the characterisation is real for the performer and so it can become real for the audience so long as the performer follows that guidance where it leads. Interestingly when this occurs it frequently has a cascade effect on other performers, especially those who have roles closely related to our own within the performance.

Similarly, there are the countless stories of writers who experience the same process with the characters in their novels. In the beginning of writing about these people they are near complete strangers. Gradually, like shards of pottery being excavated carefully from the ground and reassembled, they reveal themselves in greater detail and their overall shape, colour, motivation and history become clearer and clearer in the mind of the writer. The critical point occurs when these characters, which we must remember have been entirely crafted by the imagination, start to decide things for themselves and so become drivers of the plot, potentially taking the story in unforeseen directions. Like windup toys the author has invested them with life by priming their mechanisms to such a degree that what was deep inside them energetically is exposed, unleashed and made manifest, taking control of its own innate destiny. The fragmentary pottery shards have been formed into a vessel that can actually hold wine. Again, this can happen at any time and under all kinds of circumstances and it is always mysterious and thrilling. And again, interestingly, when this happens to one character within the narrative it frequently cascades over into other characters like a benevolent virus.

Another example – the dancer hears music that they have never heard before and seduced by it they begin to move their body to its rhythm. At first there is a level of thinking involved but as the dance proceeds the dancer finds himself or herself in the intuitive flow of the music, able to perceive what is coming next even when the music shifts or stops dramatically. It’s like living one second ahead of the beat. The dance itself has become a living thing bridging the dancer in some kind of entanglement with the music, and the body moves without thinking. Thinking, like plotting for the writer, interrupts the moments, chokes off the inspiration. The musician can also feel this thing happening when they ‘lose themselves’ in the playing of an instrument, a strange term for what feels essentially more like finding oneself in it.

One more example which many people will recognise – you walk into a room and there they are, someone whom you just know is going to be important in your life – a lover, partner in business or just a friend – and despite the fact that you know zero about them, somehow they instantly stand out from the crowd even without having spoken a word or even moved. It’s beyond sexual attraction or mere personality, it’s instead like you already have history. It doesn’t always have to be agreeable, but whatever it is it is just there. This is like those times when you just know your train is going to be late that morning without having checked the schedule, the times when you know seconds ahead who is calling or messaging before the phone even rings, and those times when you know what is going to happen moments before it does but not with enough time to say so, despite the fact that none of these things are logically predictable. If this is just chemistry, neurotransmitters, animal magnetism or the instincts of rivalry its pretty darn smart stuff that immediately knows all kinds of freaky details about things that it has no business knowing.

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In all of these moments there is some part of us that is perceiving and recognizing emotional truth. It’s not a guess, not a fabrication, not a coincidence and not uncommon. In fact I would argue that we are doing it all the time but we fail to observe it. You might call it a bullshit detector, but it is more about detecting truth than its absence. It requires no explanation because when it happens it is its own explanation – we simply know it for what it is, which is something truthful to us. Words can be used to describe it, even to evoke it in the case of the writer, but it is innately beyond words. It feels like living poetry.

In the artistic examples there is also something going on as a result of this recognition of emotional truth – something intangible or imaginary takes on a life of its own and the artist becomes its midwife, partner or instrument. This is a more magical phenomena which arises when enough emotional truth and enough resonance with something that feels significant to us is accumulated that we connect with something fundamentally transcendent and apart from ourselves and it expresses itself as a living intelligence with a will, an act of astral animation. For the film maker this often happens in the editing process – the film itself comes to life with the assemblage and orchestration of its musical score, cuts, effects, choice of takes and more importantly through the sincerity and truthfulness of the creators with respect to a guiding vision that calls all the shots.

When audiences then witness something that has been invested with enough emotional truth, they recognise and resonate with its significance and the living force of the creation leaps off of the page, screen, stage or recording and grows in power as it is freed into the world to reproduce. Every person will be free to draw their own particular nuances and draw their own meaning and truth from that experience, but it will all be facilitated by the combined work of the artists and creators in initially doing the same thing. In my view, it has ceased to belong only to them. It now belongs to everyone who encounters it as well. What they make of it may be very different to what the creators intended, which is called controversy, or more rarely creative genius because it is open to various interpretations, but the creators can always be grateful and satisfied if people perceive meaning and significance in their output.

In every act of true magic there beats this moment, this unnameable conviction that what we are doing is undeniably true, for it is this faculty that causes the magic to feel real to us, and thus to eventually become real in substance to others. In the hermetic view this faculty is intimately connected to the Akasha principle as it manifests through our ongoing astral experience, which is perceived through the Water Element region of our mental body. In other words it is a property of our having an astral body or soul which is able to directly experience the truth of the astral realm, and our ability to perceive and then correctly interpret the truth we encounter with this astral awareness is a property of the Water Element of our spirit or mental body. We can have a very strong and highly developed astral body capable of coping with a vast array of astral force, but if the Water Element of the mental body is not clear and strong then we will lack the ability to discern the truth of what we feel. It can also easily overwhelm us because we will not have the discipline of detaching from the experience to actually observe what it really is – we will just be taken by it, like a swimmer in a riptide or whirlpool. This could make us vulnerable to manipulation by resonant astral intelligences that are able to deceive or delude us. Most commonly these people conflate their own subjective truth with objective truth – they assign meaning to the experience which is theirs and theirs alone, meaning which represents personal truth and is instead perceived as a universal truth. To see the deeper, more universal truth of the astral we have to have a maturely developed Water Element awareness in our mental body, the body which perceives and thus informs. This comes through enlightenment, through lifetimes of spiritual contemplation and practice, but there are a vast number of techniques for training both the power of the astral body and the clarity and purity of the Water Element region of the mental body. I am going to share some with you here.

First, I want you take on board some concepts so that what follows will make sense. The first of these is that human awareness can be said to have three fundamental parts, a physical part which relates directly to the physical senses of the body and all its sensations as well as to interacting with the material world, an astral part which is largely made up of its personal experience (including thought and feeling), which we can call our awareness of nuance and significance, and a mental part which is engaged in the perception and interpretation of meaning, truth and notional concepts. The astral part is an intermediary between the mental and the physical part of the awareness, a transceiver serving to bind the mental to the physical and thus allow both to interact together.

We can conceive of each part as a circle wherein everything inside the circle is a part of us and everything outside of the circle is an unknown or unfamiliar part of the physical, astral or mental realm. Now if we imagine an expansion of our awareness as an expansion of the size of the circle we see that not only is there now more inside of the circle and therefore more awareness of ourselves but also that the circumference of the circle has also expanded so that the boundary of the unknown and unfamiliar has also increased, in other words the more we know the more we learn there is more that we do not yet know. This makes sense, because broader horizons give you more to think about. A closed mind is like a tiny circle that refuses to expand into the unknown, and may actually be collapsing in on itself. An unfit body cannot enable all the things a powerful mind wants to do, and an exhausted or burdened astral creates a blockage between mind and body. The three bodies are not interdependent since the awareness in our mental body will survive our death while our physical and astral body will not, but while we are physically alive we will experience a triple state of awareness composed of all three bodies of sensation occurring simultaneously. This is the great school of life that has souls metaphorically queuing up to take part in it, drawn to the invaluable and irreplaceable power of the tri-fold experience and its lessons, its potential to develop the full integration and expansion of the awareness of these bodies and the realms they pertain to.

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The functions of these three bodies are very complex but here is a simple exercise you can do right now to demonstrate them to yourself. Choose an object in the room with which you are personally familiar. Check out size, shape, colour, texture and (if applicable) the way it smells and tastes. This is your physical body interacting with the physical universe, the universe we pay most of our attention to. It’s simple enough at first glance but actually incredibly complex, as any physicist will tell you. Now think for a moment about what the purpose of this object is, why it was created if it was created by human hands or what its function is in nature if it was not. This is your mental body interacting with the mental realm – human beings perceive the mental realm in terms of the purpose or meaning of things. If you object was a monitor, the purpose or meaning is one of displaying things. It is also pretty simple, and the concept of a purpose or meaning is something that most people will share in common. Yet like the physical universe the mental universe is infinitely vast and thus composed of an infinite variety of meaning so what appears pretty simple is again mindbogglingly complex once you scratch the surface – all ideas ultimately connect together and finally coalesce into one singular idea, the idea of infinity and hence eternity Finally, consider what your object communicates to you personally, your personal connection to its meaning and physical form. It is composed of all of your personal experience as well as what all of that signifies, its connotations. These connotations are how our astral body perceives the substance of the astral realm and because it is a deeply private and personal experience the nuances it has for you resonate only with you, although you can still find common ground over its meaning with other people who have had similar experiences with a similar object. It is also, as any amount of refection on your chosen object will demonstrate, profoundly complex and evocative of a response that we feel. It touches and stirs us on a mysterious sensory level – the astral body.

Finally take another look at your object with this understanding of these things and note how you are seeing them as one integrated experience each time you look at the object but that you are habitually focused so much on the physical input that the other parts slip into the background. Then, close your eyes and think about the object, noticing that while you are now only imagining your objects physical form its astral and mental nature is intact and unaffected. Also, notice that when you perform these exercises with animate living things the situation is more complex – with plants the meaning or purpose of the plant is not so easy to define, it requires much deeper reflection to get beyond the surface meaning that we attribute and which is really part of its significance and nuance, its astral nature. This is even more complex with animal life forms, including humans. This is because of the increasing complexity of the mental body of these things compared to inanimate human created objects. Their astra-mental body circles are bigger. Consider this fact alongside the evolutionary idea of chemical and mineral components making up the basis of carbon based life forms, with increasing biological complexity in plants and animals. The physical body is an expression of the mental (and astral) bodies. The physical form of a thing is an expression of its innate nature, its meaning and purpose. Simple concepts form simple bodies. 

Each of the bodies can also be examined through the lens of the 4 Elements, the Fire, Air, Water and Earth regions of the respective bodies, physical, astral and mental. The Fire region of each human body is situated in the head and neck area, the Air region in the shoulders, upper arms and chest, the Water region in the abdomen and the arms from elbows to wrists, and the Earth region from the hips to the soles of the feet. These Elemental divisions also occur in the physical, astral and mental realms.

Now we have to add the concept that each of these realms is filled with living beings many of whom are in their own way capable of being aware of us while we ourselves are currently largely blind to their existence, in denial actually. One of the ways that they have of communicating with us are the arts, but others include mediums, psychics, shamans and other sensitives who are able to act as intermediaries and interpreters. The astral realm is particularly powerful because it exists at the intersection between the physical and the mental realm like a cosmic crossroads or an exhange rate mechanism. 

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Finally, we can now see an explanation for the examples I gave at the start of this post. If a human being is putting out a particular thought with a strong enough feeling, beings will come to play. But the human has to put in all the work, or the muses wont show. If you are doing something you love and you are consistently disciplined about doing it, they will eventually come and give life to what you are doing, whether it is with words, music, dancing, art or life in general. This does not deny you the source of creative power in your work, that’s all still your work, it’s just that the moment when it comes alive is always involving the drawing of one of these beings into the process. It’s their intelligence that possesses the imaginary character and drives it, effectively attempting to persuade its author to follow it to an innate, immanent destiny which only it may know until the appointed time comes to reveal it to the writer. It’s their power that bridges the body and soul of the dancer and musician with the living intelligence of the music itself, so that they become one. Cupid is essentially real, being an intelligence of the art of love who is drawn into the radiation of light created by two lovers who are innately destined to be joined. When these beings do show up you will know it’s not just you anymore, and you should be grateful that they are there. Some of these dwellers in the astral sea are little fish but some are leviathans, and when we are patient and quiet and blessed enough to get the attention of one of those it can be very difficult to bring it to the surface, but very joyous too, and this is the creative process. It’s also what we are attempting to do in life, our lives intended to be works of art in its highest form, creative expressions of love for life.

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All this being understood, the astrology depicted in our natal charts focuses on our astral body but because our astral body is an intermediary body our astrology expresses all three levels of life, the physical astral and mental, as a singular and unified whole. Astrology doesn’t communicate all of our physical circumstances (for example it doesn’t describe our physical gender or our skin colour) nor does it describe all of our mental circumstances (it doesn’t display our degree of enlightenment or maturity, for example), but it does describe some physical and mental things because some of those things arise from or involve significant astral circumstances, and it fully describes our astral circumstances. For example our experience of poverty may arise from a blockage in our astral body which will be depicted in our birth chart. The birth chart will also show our relationship or attitude to those things which it does not directly show, for example even though it does not show our skin colour or gender it could easily show our attitude to and personal experience of being that skin colour or gender. Astrology literally does not care what skin colour or gender you are, only how you personally relate to that.

Additionally, although the Moon and Sun stand as overall indicators of the astral (soul) and mental (spirit) awareness respectively, and the ruler of the ascendant can be taken as an indicator of physical awareness, it’s not as simple as that and these indicators are not the sole indicators of astral, mental and physical awareness in the chart, these things are spread throughout the chart and are present in every part of it. Some parts have more affinity for the mental and some for the astral, but no part of the chart is without an astral, mental and physical expression, or solely focused in one realm of expression. While we live and breath in a physical form, every part of us is physical, astral and mental, in differing degrees.

In the course of instruction provided by Franz Bardon the magician is training themselves to perceive astral truth all the time but is primarily directed to develop in this respect at two steps, step 2 and step 7. During step two the astral exercises are focused on developing the astral body and the astral equilibrium and part of this involves transformation of the Water Element, refining the character through various methods. Step 2 in respect to the topic of this post is really about purifying and establishing the power and force of the astral body, which is to say it’s about building up the muscles which allow us to swim in deeper astral waters, muscles which are necessary for later steps. Step 7 however concerns itself with the mental equilibrium and it’s here (in the mental exercises) that Bardon instructs us to develop the Water Element of the mental body. This is the specific part of initiation in which the magician develops their capacity to perceive the objective truth of things, in this case (with the mental Water Element) the objective truth (Akasha) of the astral realm. Thus the two parts involved in the experiences I have described above are specifically addressed and developed during step 2 and then during step 7. Step 2 is mostly about clearing out, sweeping up and putting in order, while step 7 is about broadening the horizons of the Elements, opening the spirit to new levels of interaction with them. It’s the latter part that enables us to apprehend the deeper realities of what we encounter with our various bodies and to recognise truth when we encounter it, among other things. In terms of astral experience the Water Element of the mental body is the detached, perceiving part and the astral body is the receiving and immersive, entangled part.

However this training is to enable a person to perceive and ultimately animate astral significance at will, and to understand this fully. It does not mean that this can only happen when this is the case. So called psychic and spiritual experiences of any kind do not completely depend on a certain degree of development because ‘higher’ (subtler, more ethereal or more illuminated) planes of awareness can always interact with ‘lower’ (denser, more mundane, or less illuminated) ones, most especially through the unifying astral quality of unconditional love. This means that sometimes our Greater Selves and sometimes other entities can enable these experiences for us. Sometimes they just happen because we are working intensely and with focus, like the writer, the dancer or the actress. Other times they are simply thrust upon us or temporarily arise as various factors align. Some of these factors are astrological. Depending on what these astrological factors are they can be affecting just us or millions of people at once, each in a different way, either at birth or at some point in life within a specific time frame.

Venus is one of the major astrological factors in this area because Venus represents the flow of astral force, and being in this flow is a key enabler of these experiences. With a strong and powerful connection to astrological Venus our emotional body, which is the engine of our astral body, is made capable of profound resonance. This means that it will be able to sense the movement, energy and quality of the astral in its immediate environment, so that the person will be able to feel what is happening very directly. Some people are born with this ability to resonate emotionally with what is around them, to strongly sense it with their emotional body, and from an astrological perspective they will typically have Venus in a prominent position in the chart. This means Venus will be in one of her own signs (Taurus or Libra), in her exaltation (Pisces), powerfully positioned in terms of aspects and/or accidentally dignified by her position (for example, conjunct the ascendant or the midheaven or in the 1st temple).

Additionally anyone can temporarily experience a major boost to their connection with Venus as she progresses and transits or is activated by progressions or transits. For example someone who was born with Venus in Aquarius will likely have their Venus progress into Pisces (and so reach exaltation) at some point in their life and then experience an extended phase (lasting many years) of greater flowing connection to what Venus represents, essentially providing a boost to their astral force and their ability to sense resonance. More commonly and universally, transiting Venus will visit each of her signs and her exhaltation every year as she follows the Sun in its course through the zodiac, and every day she will rise and culminate at the ascendant and midheaven respectively, giving rise to short periods every 24 hrs when every living thing at certain locations upon the Earth is made more sensitive to what is resonating in its environment, especially when she is in Taurus, Libra or Pisces. This ‘wave’ of astral force crests at different times in different places but every location on the Earth receives it once every day for about 30 minutes or so, and in the case of Venus on the ascendant it is always within a few hours either side of daybreak. This means it can happen in the early pre-dawn hours of the morning, at dawn, or in the morning hours following dawn. For Venus on the midheaven it is in the few hours either side of the time when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky for that day (not always midday, but often close enough). This is because the position of Venus is tethered to the position of the Sun so that she is only ever a couple of signs at most away from the Sun, often much closer. You can easily figure out when this occurs each day for your location by checking out when Venus rises and culminates there using an on-line ephemeris or chart software. In this way you can begin to observe the ebb and flow of astral force and so begin to develop your sensitivity to it. Magical work designed to increase your astral capacity and to refine it can be timed directly to the times when Venus is in any of the three aforementioned signs and rising or culminating at the place of the working. Doing so can provide a very powerful experience wherein you can feel the magic happening around you in ways you may not have noticed before.

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Transits of Venus through your 5th temple, especially at the time she activates your 5th temple key, are times in which the creative power you have to bring things to life becomes infused with strong emotional power and awareness, and if you are born with powerful planets in the 5th temple you will certainly feel this as a creative draw within which never really goes away. The 5th temple of any chart is transited by Venus in this way about once every year so it is a common enough occurrence to build a ritual around. Such a ritual could involve developing your ability to recognise emotional truth and to give it expression in art or other creative acts. Usually, and I say this from experience both personal and from clients, the annual transit of Venus through the 5th temple is a time in which we fall in love as a way to funnel or express this heightened emotional power, and it doesn’t have to be falling in love with a person it can just as easily be falling in love with a place, a thing, a concept or literally anything. Here there is a subtle queue from the universe about what is really important in life and what the key ingredient is which brings a creative act to life. The Venus sphere (Netzach) is referred to in many kabbalistic writings as ‘the secret of all spiritual activity’ and this is no vain boast.

Venus also has four phases like the Moons lunar phases, a fact which is often a surprise. Like the lunar phases the phases of Venus arise from the interaction with our star the Sun. If she is behind the Sun in zodiacal order (e.g. if the Sun is in Taurus and Venus is in Aries) then she will cross the eastern horizon before the Sun every morning and perhaps be visible in the east as a morning star. If she is ahead of the Sun in zodiacal order however (for example if the Sun is in Taurus and she is in Gemini) then she will cross the western horizon after the Sun every evening and perhaps be visible in the west as an evening star. Additionally, she can be moving in either direct or retrograde motion as either an evening or morning star. The phases of Venus indicate broad phases in the expression of the emotional content of the astral realm, phases which determine the manner in which resonance is experienced and perceived. Her appearances as the morning and evening star divide between those who feel and act on those feelings spontaneously and are thus more Electric in their emotional expression (Venus Lucifer, the morning star) and those more Magnetically focused who feel after the fact (Venus Hesperus, the Evening star), in the dusk of the event, so to speak. Furthermore, the motion of Venus – direct or retrograde – divides emotional expression along external/internal types, i.e. between those whose emotional reactions are internalised and those who typically externalise them instead – so that there is a reflection of the quadrapolar magnet of the Elements in the 4 Venus phases:

• Venus Lucifer direct – spontaneous, consequences are external (Fire analogy)
• Venus Lucifer retrograde – spontaneous, consequences are internal (Air analogy)
• Venus Hesperus direct – premeditated (feeling after the event), consequences are external (Earth analogy)
• Venus Hesperus retrograde – premeditated, consequences are internal (Water analogy)

Further nuances are then added to this in consideration of the Element of the zodiacal sign that Venus is in at any given time. Venus Hesperus direct in Aries is very different to Venus Hesperus direct in Virgo, for example. Both people will tend to realise what they feel after events transpire and to externalise those feelings in some way, but the Aries Venus person may then react in a more direct or combative way while the Virgo Venus person might throw out some criticisms.

Another way Venus can be temporarily accentuated in our awareness is when our natal Venus is strongly aspected by a slow-moving transiting planet like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto or the centaur Chiron. A conjunction, trine or sextile from any of these activators can serve to put us ‘in the zone’ wherein we feel more connected emotionally to what is present around us. Even Saturn can be productive here as it enables ‘endurance creativity’ and pressure often produces more. Saturn is also the very definition of keeping it real, and so can greatly assist in being objective. Progressions from the slow moving planets can also have a similar effect on natal Venus or progressed Venus as well as occasionally adding more Water to our dynamic. As normal it is the faster moving planets that have the greater effect by progression and in this the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Mars as well as the progressed ascendant making an aspect to Venus can bring us into greater contact with our own emotional body and so also that of those around us.

A strong Venus, however, will only get you so far – it will be able to feel what is present and to resonate with it, but it lacks the ability to figure it out or to recognise its truth or lack of it. Astral conflation can occur wherein what you resonate with becomes difficult to discern properly because it is tangled up in your own stuff, clouded by your own subjective feelings which are often being played upon by the environment without your cognition. It becomes difficult to separate who you are from what you are feeling or experiencing. This is where the Water signs and other astrological factors can help, like a strong Mercury (which enables our comprehension of astral forms and promotes an ability to detach from the emotions) or Air signs (which add greater detail and detachment to our perception of things). A strong development of these factors of astrology is part of what helps to clarify the Water region of the mental body. The astral body is woven from our mental bodies perception of and interaction with astral substance, from its repulsion and attraction to astral qualities and by how it reacts to various kinds of emotional significance. The Water signs expressed through our mental body are the major parts of our being that make sense out of these astral sensations, while Venus is that part which directly encounters them via the emotional body. This means that by bringing out the purest and greatest expression of the Water signs and by developing your connection with Venus you will be pouring energy into the process by which our unnamed phenomena occurs.

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Of course this is a great simplification and all of our astrology plays a role in all of our experience, and there are various factors which greatly complicate this matter, but it is still helpful to understand the core mechanics in astrological terms. You can use conduction to explore all of this when your Venus key is activated or when your Water signs are being emphasised, but you can also explore it under other activations of other keys. Jupiter activation is particularly helpful, and Neptune activation is also very helpful in this respect though it comes with a great risk of the astral conflation described earlier. Understanding the sign qualities of your Venus provides you with signposts pointing to how you can more safely and easily develop your awareness of emotions, while the sign position of Mercury does the same for your ability to accurately observe and figure out astral circumstances. The Sun sign is overall an indicator of the mental body and the mental matrix, the connecting cord between the mental and astral bodies, while the Moon sign is an overall indicator of the astral body and the astral matrix, the connecting cord between the astral and physical. Both of these cords also have powerful roles in the communication of our resonance with truth between the astral and the mental body.

A brief note here about the use of substances like Ayahuasca, LSD, mushrooms, alcohol, etc. – these mind altering substances can temporarily loosen the hold we have over our consciousness (often at a heavy price) so that it is more receptive to being ‘in the flow’ (just think of any time when you were dancing while heavily drunk), but they take away our control over the experience by overwhelming our awareness and with repeated use the addictive behaviour erodes the ability to be creative at all, therefore they are ultimately damaging to the artistic process and our ability to feel things. They need to be treated with the greatest of respect and never be mistaken as the source of the inspiration they initially facilitate – that source is within us. Creative and artistic inspiration does not come from the lines of cocaine or the cans of beer or bottles of vodka, and thinking that way is a fast track to burnout of all your creative fuses.

A far better way to train your capacity to perceive astral force and to learn how to control it is to adapt some of the mental and astral exercises from IIH by giving them a focus on emotional development. Bardon did not provide specific instructions on emotional development in his book, probably because a) he did not feel the need to write this way for an audience of readers living in the 1950s where the concept of personal feelings held far more emphasis on the ‘personal’ – especially in eastern Europe rather than the US, and b) the exercises of the first book gradually mature the emotional awareness of the magician anyway by exposing it to spiritual realities. For example the process of learning how to transfer yourself mentally into other living beings greatly increases your empathy, and when you learn to sit in one position ignoring any sense of discomfort you are gaining mastery over the emotional state of being comfortable. Additionally the mental chatter we have to deal with in the early mental steps arises from the reactions we have to what we feel about things that are happening, so by attaining discipline over the chatter we are automatically also increasing our emotional discipline. These are all indirect ways the course develops the magician emotionally. However as mentioned above he does specifically instruct the magician to make their spirit more emotional during step 7, he just doesn’t provide any explicit ways to do that because he rightly assumes that anyone actually practicing at this step will be brimming with ideas about how to do it. However even students practicing at step 1 can adapt their practice to include a more specific degree of emotional development and in the modern age I feel that this is actually appropriate to do. The structure of human awareness has greatly changed in the last 70 years with the introduction of electronic technologies and the opening up of psychology and the expression of feelings has created a world in which more explicit guidance might be necessary for some people.

Fortunately this is an easy matter to do. The first exercises of the mental steps of step 1, often labeled as “thought observation” or “thought control”, can easily be adapted towards development of the emotional body simply by giving them an emotional focus. Learn to spend as long as you can simply observing what you are feeling, starting with the goal of 10 minutes and continuing to practice until you can observe it for as long as you wish. Once you can focus your attention on your emotional body for about 10 minutes, begin to learn how to detach yourself and reattach yourself to what you’re feeling. This is a matter of developing a certain ‘muscle’ in your astral body that is able to detach from what you are feeling and simply observe it without being drawn into it and immersed by it. With practice you will discover how to move in and out of your emotional experience at will. It is simply a matter of feeling what you feel, and then stepping back from engaging in it so that you can watch it happening without being swept along. You dance with it, then you stop and rest in the void, listening, then you rejoin it, all under your own control. Outside of meditation you can use music, which has a very direct impact on the astral body, to perform a similar exercise wherein you first learn to focus intently on the way the music is affecting you emotionally and just let it happen, and then develop the ability to detach from that manipulation so that you can observe why and how it affects you. Go to the theatre or a live concert, leave your phone at home, and do the same during the live performance. Live performance is much more vivid and, well, alive than recorded events, and this is important when it comes to the astral force which they communicate.

However the nature of the astral means that recorded events still carry an echo or resonance of the original event which they recorded, a kind of shadow soul which can be accessed and felt again many years after it transpired. It loses much of its power from being recorded but it is still a fragment which if nurtured can be kindled and give off more of the original light it contained. During a genuinely live event where millions of people are witnessing the same thing on screens while some are actually physically present, the laws of space are almost completely breached and all participants share in a singular astral experience, although each will resonate with it differently and so have a different personal reaction or response which makes the experience uniquely theirs. Even more importantly, the fact that the laws of space do not confine the astral as firmly as they do our physical universe means that astral magic can pretty much ignore the whole concept of space when it comes to being able to affect things from a distance, although it will still be bound by the rule of time.

Think about this next time you’re watching the news. Next time you see something awful happening in our world to someone somewhere else or to some other place, take time to be grateful that you can see the faces of the victims, the devastation to the environment. Be grateful too when you are shown the faces of those accused of such things, rightly or wrongly. Your ability to witness all these dreadful things pretty much as they are happening is also your ability to comfort those who need to be comforted and to provide guidance to the misguided and cruel. The power of your feelings is directly proportional to your ability to actually impact their astral experience, although you may never become aware of it. Learn to empathise with every crying face, with every travesty being visited upon your family. Yes, there are many, but do not let yourself fall into despair, let this instead be the spark that makes your compassion burn brighter. Do not be disheartened by the dark storms and catastrophes that suggest that the human race is beyond redemption and everything is already doomed – it is only that way for people who have seen too much and lost touch with their faith in humanity. There is every reason to scold ourselves for what we do to one another and our world, but never any reason to give up on hope, love and redemption. Indeed, we have far more power than we have ever given ourselves credit for, for it is within us to fill the local astral realm with light and, chaotic though it may be now, bring meaning to it all.

The Keeper of the Waters: II

Greetings and welcome back to Journeys! This month I bring you the conclusion of my long message about the planet Neptune. We will discuss the astrological history of the new planet, the chart for its discovery and its significance for individuals and the world.

 

“Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe. Though seemingly affected only by its immediate surrounding, the sphere of external influence extends to infinite distance.”
                              ― Nikola Tesla

In my previous article in this series I discussed the significance and role of the new planet Uranus. One of the things I pointed out about that planet was that it was very far out in terms of its orbit, being twice the distance from the Sun as Saturn is (18-20 AU instead of 9-10 AU, where 1 AU is the distance between Earth and the Sun). I made the point that astrologically this vast distance resulted in a near invisibility and a scale of activity far beyond the limits represented by Saturn for so many centuries. I argued that the discovery of this new planet represented a paradigm shift in human development, a breakthrough into a new paradigm, one that was specifically initiated by technological breakthroughs. I don’t think anyone would argue that this has not already occurred and is underway.

With Neptune the distances are even more vast, being 29 to 30 AU. If we had to stretch our minds beyond their limits in order to grasp the astrological meaning of the planet Uranus, then we have to leave them behind entirely in order to grasp the meaning of Neptune. “Leave your world behind” is the mindset here. If, as I have argued, hieroglyphic communication was a better way than alphabetic communication for us to perceive the realities of the planet Uranus then it is an absolutely essential one when talking about Neptune. Symbolic language – the language of astral form – is the only way we can communicate the principle of this planet to one another, because it’s how it speaks to us, and so this communication in alphabetic writing is starting out with a giant handicap before it begins. To an extent I will need to speak in metaphors and symbols in order to communicate the essential meaning, and you will have to decrypt that for yourselves. In short, follow the links and read between the lines.

So we must abandon our attachment to reality as we know it. However, and this turns out to be important, it is only our current Earthly way of looking at the universe and reality that we must leave behind, which means that fundamentally it is our mundane, conventional and materialistic mindset that we must abandon in order to comprehend what Neptune brings. We do not stop there either – we have to shed all our ego identification, our attachment to the identity we have constructed, our notion of being a seperate individual. For this is not a planet concerned very much with mundane matters at all, except as a transcendent principle which underlies all of them and from which they all emerge and return in an endless cycle of infinite possibilities manifesting in infinite ways across the vast timeless ocean of existence.

So, let’s dive in.

SIGNIFICATIONS OF NEPTUNE

In modern western astrology Neptune is now a very richly explored influence and few astrologers disagree over it significations. Open up any textbook or web page covering the topic and you will see a very broad agreement on its principles. Primarily these include psychic, mystical, spiritual and occult experiences, imagination, dreams and visions, compassion, unconditional love, transcendence, redemption, subtlety and tranquility on the positive side and illusion, delusion, deception, lies, fraud, escapism, cults, madness, paranoia, instability, disintegration, confusion, ambush, conflation, secret societies and conspiracy on the negative side. Neptune is also commonly associated with Pisces, photography, film, VR and all of the visual arts as well as with drugs of all kinds, gas, the unconscious, chemistry, viruses and bacteria, nausea, unsolved mysteries, absence of boundaries, invisible things (like frequencies or radiation), ocean life, contamination, flooding, oil, fluids in general (especially if leaking or spewing), meditation, music and fashion. In my personal experience I have found that table top role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons are also a thing of Neptune  because they loosen the hold of the awareness over its identity, sense of reality and its boundaries and invite it to see an Other world through the eyes of an Other. Connecting themes in all of these significations are invisibility, intangibility, imaginative vision and concealment.

So we have come to an agreement on something we knew nothing about, but where do we get these ideas from? From what context were they conjured?

EVOCATION OF NEPTUNE

It is now 173 years since Neptune was discovered. When it was discovered astrologers obviously knew nothing about its influence. Today however there are many books, writings, videos, lectures and workshops on the topic, almost all of which are in agreement on the above key principles. The first thing for us to sort out then is how astrologers have come to assign the significations they have assigned. It’s important because we need to leave behind a record for future astrologers, something we don’t have regarding the ancient traditional planets, and it’s important because we need to understand the sources from which we have gained these insights or made these assumptions, depending upon your point of view.

This is actually quite difficult to do. The problem is that the emergence of ideas and notions often takes place outside of print (and almost always takes place in the mind and in conversations first) and even when it does eventually make it into print you have to dig into archives and research to find it, many of which are inaccessible, lost, or hard to find. Trying to do this before the internet would have been a thousand times more challenging, but it still requires some digging. All of this is true for both Uranus and Pluto as well, and is rapidly proving true for Chiron and the asteroids, etc. I lament this, it feels like we’re missing a golden opportunity to create a historical record of something profoundly important for future astrologers. They may just be left with the meanings we hand down to them without understanding who, when or where we got them from. So, building on the work of others (see my sources at the end of this message) and re-presenting it, here is my humble offering on the timeline for astrological Neptune.

There are some key questions we need to answer in this research. One is when and how did Neptune become associated with Pisces? Another question is when it became associated with dreams. A third and perhaps separate one is when it became associated with spiritual and psychic matters. We must also answer the question of when it became associated with drugs and pharmaceuticals, as well as why. Since many of the qualities we attributed Neptune overlap with the qualities we attribute to Pisces it seems likely that many of the qualities of Neptune emerged once a connection with Pisces was established and were simply borrowed from the sign. Even if this is not the case it is still likely that some of these if not all of these key principles emerged together, and settled in gradually, but I think that at this time we can point to key periods in history which hold potential answers to all of these questions. However looking back into the astrological history of Neptune can help us in other ways – it can help us to see which of the early assumptions were discarded, and raise new questions for us about why they were forgotten. Additionally, it may show us which of the earlier astrologers had insights which match hours.

There are earlier publications on Neptune from the mundane astrologers than the natal astrologers, with the first being by R.H. Penny in an 1880 issue of ‘Urania’. Penny turns up again 11 years later talking about Neptune in a natal context in the August 1891 issue of ‘The Astrologer’, in which he defends his character from a perceived slur from another astrologer who had taken a dim view of Neptune opposite Mercury. The first lengthy written discussion of Neptune as a natal influence in an astrological context that I have been able to find was committed to print 44 years after its discovery, in 1890, in John Story’s edition of “W. J. Simmonite’s Complete Arcana of Astral Philosophy”. This was a reprint of an earlier work which had been updated to include a letter on the subject of Neptune by John Ackroyd, a respected astrologer of the time, as well as some notes on Neptune by the editor and publisher, John Story.

The late 1880s and early 1890s seem to be the critical point at which historical records on astrological Neptune begin to emerge, as this is also when the first associations with Pisces seem to appear in print (see below). However it is very likely that ideas and notions about Neptune began to emerge almost immediately upon its discovery. The reason why I say this is that the astrological environment in which Neptune was discovered was very different to the one in which Uranus was discovered. When Uranus was discovered astrology was almost stamped out, characterised as the work of charlatans, but by the time Neptune arrived a revival of astrology led by Raphael (a pseudonym for Robert Cross Smith) had already occurred. His ephemeris, which continued after his death in 1832, standardized the use of the Placidus house system in western astrology and is still in print today. So it is likely that there were active astrologers at the time Neptune was discovered who immediately set about wondering what it meant, especially since they had already had to deal with the new arrival of Uranus.

We get some interesting insights from both the letter and the notes presented in this book. From the notes by Story we are told that astrologers are still struggling to identify what the new planet means, and that they want to keep watching it and comparing notes for some time to come. They are more sure of the implications of Herschel’s planet, but have some disagreement on that too. Story is impatient with this attitude and bravely ventures out to put his neck on the chopping block of printed speculation, and boy does he go there:

“It has just left the sign Taurus, ruling Ireland, and such history has been made for that country that future generations will read with amazement and awe. Remember Dublin, May 6th, 1882. At the present time the Neptune planet is slowly wending its way through Gemini, the ruling sign of our capital city London, and it has already begun to show its disposition. It has just been passing over the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant of our Sovereign Lady, Queen Victoria, and the result is shown in the discontent and trouble in the army, police, postal service, etc., and when it reaches the ruling degree of the city it will, according to the aspects thrown to it, cause such events as will long be remembered. It will put to nought the wisdom of our legislators, and show, ”’tis not in mortals to command success.”

At the same time I do not wish you to understand by this that his influence will be, and produce, all evil. His positions at birth, his aspects, transits over him, and he over others, will show the thoughtful student his power and influence, and I expect he will produce some very novel and striking features in the near future. Most of the readers of this work began their lives in the most important, intellectual, and progressive period of human history; the period of such marvels as the telegraph, telephone, phonograph, electric lighting, anaesthetics, new and powerful explosives, the spectroscope, etc., but I look for greater wonders to be unfolded during the next decade. The preacher, the lawyer, and the medical man, will have to take long strides to keep pace with the times; and who shall say that the undying vigil of the astronomer shall not be rewarded by discovering other intelligent dwellers in other planets, and even discover means of intercourse with them”.

He means talking to aliens, not sexual intercourse with them, by the way. Here we see the Victorian mindset applying itself to the problem of a new planet, impressed with human progress and picturing wondrous new things in the future. Before we laugh at his suggestion about meeting ET we should perhaps ask ourselves if the people of tomorrow will laugh at us for thinking that we are alone. Story is feeling the call of his imagination, and I think that is interesting too, as well as his off the cuff comment about the pace of progress for religions, laws and medicine. He also identifies the chaotic, destabilising and confusing effect that Neptune can have in mundane politics and upon society in general, without yet making the connection to the individual or personal experience. However his overall impression of a planet that reminds mortals of their own insignificance and ignorance in the grand scheme of things feels not too far off the mark. Astrologers are getting that the two new planets create big, important happenings.

He does even better when he adds a later note:

“This planet has only been known for a comparatively short time. From my own radix I have found it to be very much after the nature of the planet Herschel, and to have a controlling influence over the minds of those who have to do much with persons who believe in the Art and Science of Astrology, dreams, inspirations, etc. Students will have a very good opportunity to watch the influence of Neptune during its progress through Gemini, the house of Mercury, which rules London and a great part of the United States as well as other places … Taurus rules Ireland, and Dublin particularly. It is well known to the world what happened on May 6th, 1882, in Dublin, and the state of confusion that has reigned in Ireland generally since that time (see Raphael’s Ephemeris for that date). Students, let your own study and observation be your guide with regard to the planet Neptune. I look forward to some notable inventions in arts and science being brought to light during the progress of Neptune through Gemini.”

Here we can see the association with dreams and inspirations, as well as with the spiritual arts like astrology. Yet these early notes also show a picture of Neptune as a troublemaker or instigator of chaos and mayhem in society. The events in Dublin being referred to are the Phoenix Park murders when two senior civil servants were ambushed and stabbed to death by Fenian assassins. This led to a decades long delay of home rule in Ireland amidst chaotic and violent political consequences.

The letter from John Ackroyd at the end of the book goes into far more detail on the new planet. Because it is such an interesting historical document for us I will present it in full here:

Dear Sir,-

From the short time that has elapsed since this planet was discovered not much is yet known about its influence, either in natal or any other branch of astrology, but according to the rules of Ptolemy for judging of new phenomena, and from personal observation, its influence is evil and disappointing to persons born when it is in evil aspect to the Sun, Moon or Mercury. Its effects are something like the combined influences of Saturn or Uranus, obscure, strange, and eventful, so that wherever a nativity is of a discordant nature, that is, the Sun, Moon or Mercury, the ascendant or its ruler, are afflicted by evil aspects of the other planets, Neptune, joining in with the discordant elements, its influence will intensify the evil effects and make the work more disastrous.

When this planet is well located and in good aspect to the Sun, Moon or Mercury, the ascendant or its ruler, so as to have a controlling influence over the mind, it will constitute a character close, reserved, careful, crafty, ingenious and inventive, studious and clever in mechanical arts, chemistry, etc., a person silent, not of many words, greedy after money and property, selfish and indifferent towards others, of a gloomy, lowering aspect, private and anti-social, careless about dress, personal appearance, forms and fashions, curious, odd and retiring in manners, therefore not much adapted for social life and company. This planet appears to have a continuous influence over the minds of spiritualists, mediums, prophets, seers, magicians, clairvoyants, enthusiasts, and persons who believe in inspiration, oracles, and futurity. In certain classes it induces to a faith in dreams, spirits and ghosts, tales of wonder and enchantment, witching, charming, necromancy, and fortune-telling in various ways, as card shuffling, palmistry, geomancy, moles, and other kinds of superstitious craft and artful practices too numerous to name.

When this planet is badly located at birth, that is in evil aspect to the Sun, Moon or Mercury, especially when the nativity is otherwise discordant, it will tend to give or predispose to a morbid condition of the mind, latent wickedness, and a want of moral sentiment. Such persons in the lower ranks of life will be likely to drift into low, immoral habits and practices of various kinds which will cause a loss of reputation, deprive the native of his liberty, or run him into prison and exile, as the mind will naturally be very secretive, daring, and resolute when fully engaged in any enterprise. Although rather procrastinating, cautious, and timid at times, he will have good courage and be a little reckless when prompted and pressed by circumstances, therefore liable to get on the wrong line of pursuit.

Diseases indicated by Neptune are bowel, liver, and spleen diseases, as also bilious and gastric complaints, and affections to the bladder and urinal organs, as gravel, stone, colic, inflammation and obstruction in the bowels and bladder, hypochondria, etc. To females it denotes barrenness, cancers in the womb, hysterical complaints, abortion, difficult confinements, and other diseases common to such organised parts of the body in both sexes. In bad cases sudden and violent death by fire, fire-arms, explosives, machinery, assassination and murder, accidents in games and sports, etc , etc.

The influence of this planet, like Herschel, is evil and unfortunate. Some idea may be formed of its effects by the condition of Ireland for the last fourteen years. Neptune entered the ruling sign of Ireland in 1875 and ever since the Irish people, or a great portion thereof, have been in a state of turmoil and revolution. At the time of the Phoenix Park murders, this planet was exactly in conjunction with the Sun, Saturn and Mercury, in the sign Taurus, all four planets setting at Dublin, May 6th, 1882, at 7-17 p.m., the exact time of the murder, which was a remarkable confirmation of planetary influences. Neptune was discovered on September 23rd, 1846, at which time it was located in 25 degrees of Aquarius, exactly in conjunction with the planet Saturn, which prenoted the Crimean War in 1854.

Past events since 1846 clearly appear to demonstrate the nature of the said planet, viz.,-Home Rule bubble, the discovery and development of new chemical elements of destruction, infernal machines, dynamite, new preparation of chemical poisons, medicines, etc.; also the great changes in the habits and manners of the people. Then, again, Neptune left the ruling sign of Ireland in March, 1889, and entered into the ruling sign of London. Indicating those dreadful murders and mutilation of the victims ‘of the undiscovered” Jack the Ripper.” This is another confirmation of my judgment on the nature of this celestial messenger. What other events will follow during its transit through London ascendant, the Wheel of Time can only unfold. The last time it went through Gemini it denoted the South Sea Bubble.

The houses of the planets were originally formulated by the Chaldeans, Babylonians, or Egyptians, hut on what principles they were deduced is a mystery to the present generation; nevertheless there appears to be some truth in the allotment of planetary houses. According to Ptolemy’s theory Aquarius should be Neptune’s house, but Scorpio or Taurus might answer well, as they are both of an obscure and mystical nature, but it will require more experience, observation, and practice to settle the matter.

Yours truly,

PROF. J. A.

So we can see that this initial account gives an impression of violence and mayhem similar to the astrology we now assign more readily to Uranus and Pluto. The mention of Jack the Ripper is interesting given that Neptune is associated with mental disturbances and psychoses where the mind has breaks from reality. We also see a clear identification with spiritual, mystical and occult phenomena, as well as with dreams – he agrees with Story. Historical context offers us an explanation for this early insight into Neptune’s principle – its discovery was synchronous with the emergence of spiritualism (the Fox sisters story begins as Neptune is discovered, and even when one of the sisters guiltily admits to fraud decades later the tale remains fundamentally Neptunian) and so by the time Ackroyd is writing these words spiritualism is turning into a religion, London is home to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and books on Theosophy are selling like hot cakes. Astrologers were making the connection between the arrival of the new planet and the emergence of occult philosophy. Ackroyd’s letter also reveals that astrological thinking was at least beginning to identify Neptune with drugs and pharmaceuticals since it gives mention to medicines and chemical poisons.

Yet this letter makes no mention of the sign Pisces in connection with Neptune. Instead he makes a suggestion that it might be Aquarius, Scorpio or Taurus that the new planet belongs with. However his reasoning is vague since it’s unclear what he means when he describes Taurus as ‘obscure and mystical’ in nature. Obscure and mystical are, however good keywords for describing Neptune.

The first written records connecting Neptune with Pisces do, however, come from the same era. Thanks to the work of astrological historian and archivist Philip Graves we have an earliest known mention of the connection which traces back to the November 1888 issue of the journal ‘The Astrologer’. In this issue a person by the name of J.T. Campbell writes to the editor about an anonymous friend who mentioned that Neptune was the ruler of Pisces and had its detriment and fall in Scorpio. Although this is a question and not a statement or an assertion (except by the unknown friend) it shows us that by at least that time the idea was already under consideration. Six years later in an 1894 issue of the same magazine a serialized publication by someone equally anonymous going by the name ‘Sagittarius’ gave a more reasoned and committed argument for assigning Neptune to Pisces:

“The Sun fountain of light and life to our system rules in Leo as his own house; the first planet revolving round him (rejecting the inter-mercurial planet Vulcan of R. A. Proctor) is Mercury who consequently gets Virgo the next sign to Leo, as Mercury’s sphere is next to the Sun; then comes Venus next in order, who, of course, gets Libra for her house; passing the Earth, the next in order is Mars who gets Scorpio; the next sign in rotation then, omitting the asteroids (Ceres, Vesta, etc.) in toto, Jupiter gets Sagittarius the next in order; then comes Saturn who follows on with Capricornus the next sign. Here Ptolemy turns around and goes backward Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc., from the circumference to the centre, but we moderns who have Uranus and Neptune to complete our system and deal with, must advance and not recede as Ptolemy did for he knew nothing of these two planets Uranus and Neptune; therefore the next planet in the order of nature to Saturn who has Capricorn only is Uranus, who must of necessity have Aquarius; the next sign, and the last of the spheres is Neptune, so he for the same reason must have the last sign (Pisces) for his “domal” dignity. Aries, the vernal equinox and the first sign of the circle, is given to Mars who is akin to the earth in nature, the principle of wrath and selfishness predominating over the principle of love, hence Mars gets Aries next to Pisces in the zodiac. Returning to the Sun Leo the sphere of Venus comes next, so she gets Taurus the next sign for her other house, then below Venus is Mercury, so consequently he gets Gemini for the same reason. Then comes the Moon, swiftest of all the heavenly wanderers, so the fair Luna gets the next sign Cancer for her house, then the Moon joins the Sun Leo, and from the conjoint principles of heat and moisture in union another gestation commences and so on ad-infinitum.

” “Steady, my friend,” says an objector, “why should the inferior planets Mercury and Venus and the small planet Mars (with his two recently discovered moons) have two houses allotted to each of them?” Why, my friend? because they move so swiftly. Mercury is only about a fortnight in a sign when not stationary in it, and for this reason has two signs for houses, and Venus likewise, and Mars, although really a superior, as he moves beyond the earth’s orbit, must, as far as his swift motion and small magnitude is concerned, be considered an inferior, unless he be stationary, being only about six weeks in a sign, hence Mercury, Venus, and Mars being swiftly moving planets, compared to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, have for the aforesaid reason two houses each allotted to them, but the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, on account of their slow and ponderous motion, have only one house each. The Sun and Moon being passive planets, and, according to Ptolemy, the most essential significators translating the influences of all the planets to our earth, have for this reason one house each only, even though the lesser luminary is the swiftest in motion of any of them.”

So we can say that by at least the late 1880s to 1890 astrologers had started connected Neptune with Pisces, dreams, psychic and occult phenomena, drugs, psychoses and many of the core concepts that we now associate with it, but that there was a lot of fuzz around the edges that has been trimmed away. Where, for example, did they get the idea that Neptune signified machinery, death by fire, bravery (perhaps from idealism?), or bowel, liver, and spleen diseases, and when were these ideas taken out of consideration? It’s also clear that there were doubts about the core principles but it’s very difficult to pinpoint when and why those doubts faded away and our vision of Neptune crystallized into its current form. I imagine this took about a further 20 years to take place, but there were key contributions toward our understanding of Neptune by astrologers throughout the 20th century, especially following the growth of psychotherapy (Jung makes a huge contribution with his notion of archetypes) and after the 1960s when the popularity of modern astrology started to rise. Like so much of what happens with Neptune, it slowly crept up on us like a bank of fog until it was all we could see. However it seems that the core notions were in place by the late Victorian era. We can see that the essence of our understanding is there. The evocation of modern Neptune is a Victorian artifact. In fact the whole emergence of Neptune is a Victorian phenomenon, since it was discovered 9 years after her coronation in 1837 and she played a huge role in popularizing spiritualism after the death of her husband whome she longed to be with again. She was born with Neptune in conjunction with Uranus in Sagittarius (the multi-national Empire), and a Jupiter in Aquarius that is near the position of Neptune in the chart for its discovery. She was born, in an astrological sense, to be a transmission device for a planet that had yet to be discovered. The discovery chart itself also shows the imprint of the Victorian era in which it takes place.

THE DISCOVERY CHART

Awareness of Neptune

What this chart shows is an image of our relationship to the new planet rather than what the new planet actually signifies and means. It is effectively a blueprint for how we can develop that relationship as well as a picture of the problems that arise through it.

The discovery chart is a nocturnal chart (it’s very hard to discover anything up there during daylight hours!) that has Gemini rising with Jupiter ascending, the Sun at the equinox point in the beginning of Libra and the Moon in Scorpio. Mercury, the chart ruler, is very strongly placed in Virgo. Neptune is in an exact conjunction with a super strong Saturn in Aquarius, the pair of which are in an Air Element grand trine with the Dragons Head and the ascendant and also a sextile with Pluto in Aries, which thereby becomes the apex of a grand kite pattern (a grand trine where at least one side of the trine is bisected by a sextile to both ends). A second grand kite pattern is formed from another Air Element grand trine involving Jupiter, Chiron and the midheaven with Uranus in Aries at the apex. The nocturnal planets – Moon, Venus and Mars – have stronger positions by sect, with Mars and especially Mercury also having strong dignity. Saturn is extremely high in dignity but on the cold and brittle side. The primary tension in the chart comes from squares between the Gemini objects and the Virgo objects as well as oppositions between Chiron and Uranus and Pluto and the Dragons Head/Moon. A subtler problem comes from the strong tendency to over-think things.

Here are Saturn and Neptune as they would have been seen in the sky at the time:

Discovery of Neptune (stars)

Here we can see them in the constellation Aquarius, near the left hip of the Water Bearer. Above and to the right is the Eagle and Altair. Below them lies the star Fomalhaut while above them lies the constellation of Equuleus, the First Horse, the foal of the larger nearby Pegasus, and Delphinus, the Dolphin. Neptune is in paran relationship with the star Castor (in Gemini), signifying “a wave of spiritual or metaphysical thinking” and with Zuben Elgenubi (in Libra) signifying “people in awe or wonder of events”, according to the observations of Bernadette Brady. Note that the mythological story about Poseidon being the creator of horses and the father of Pegasus as well as his connection to dolphins (his sacred animal) is embedded in the sky around Neptune. Note also that in the natal chart the birth of Poseidon as a son of Cronus is also represented by Neptune’s conjunction with Saturn in its diurnal sign, and his sibling relationship with Zeus and Hades is shown by the trine and sextile to a dominant Jupiter rising in Gemini and Pluto in Aries on the 12th respectively (and a 12th that is huge in Placidus houses). The 5th temple is also heavily pregnant – Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Chiron all situate there – reminding us of the prolific siring that the god performs. The squares to Jupiter in Gemini only act to exaggerate and greatly multiply this feature, as well as indicating force and controversy. Our myths are part of the relationships we form with the planets, and so they are represented in the discovery chart.

What immediately leaps out to me about this chart is the conjunction of the new planet with Saturn in Aquarius, because it is such an apt symbol for how the planet was discovered through years of hard work in mathematical equations and abstract calculation. The strong presence of Air with Gemini rising and Jupiter in Gemini ascending also points to a mind journey or vision quest. It is also an extremely apt conjunction for the Victorian era itself, a time of great scientific discovery and futurism and Utopian visions of the future amidst some extreme social conditions like poverty and air pollution. In the late 1840s anesthesia, airships, and the gas mask appear and the first trans-Atlantic cable is laid, opening the way to the modern communications age. It’s also worth pointing out that at this time in history not only was the Victorian era beginning but the Communist manifesto was being published by Marx, Communism being strongly associated with the sign Aquarius. This conjunction alone points to massive reforms in society and in human understanding of the universe, to things of science fiction becoming science fact.

Readers may remember that in the last issue of this journal I mentioned that when the race to discover Neptune through mathematics began Neptune was in conjunction with Uranus. It seems the actual discovery required the reality manifesting power of a super strong Saturn to finally accomplish, while the influence of Uranus awakened us to the existence of the invisible. This is an important clue about our relationship to Neptune – we awaken to the reality of the new planet through the planet Uranus but in order to truly connect with and manifest it we need a strong relationship with Saturn.

Note that Uranus in Aries becomes the apex for the kite pattern involving the Saturn/Neptune conjunction. This aspect pattern – Jupiter, Saturn/Neptune, and Chiron in trine with one another with Uranus opposite Chiron bisecting the triangle that is formed – is probably the most significant pattern in the chart. Its a clear sign that in terms of Neptune much depends on how we handle the nearly global aspect. It is also pointing at Aries and Libra as keys signs in that process. Think about it and you will realise how interesting that is, and why it makes so much sense.

The relatively tensionless dual kite aspect patterns in the Neptune chart (both Air with a Fire cap) contrast strongly with the dynamic and explosive patterns present in the Uranus chart. This is a much softer, sneakier and subtler chart overall. The potential for great change is definitely there, especially in our understanding of science, but it will be a long, gradual and experimental journey, not one that is populated by jarring, sudden or explosive events or breakthroughs. With the advantage of hindsight what this chart is suggestive of is the gradual exploration of the invisible world of frequencies and of bacterial, chemical, atomic, subatomic, quantum and sub- quantum reality, a steady advance of science from the physical into the metaphysical. The first electric telegraph, the first computer program, the airship, the refinement of kerosene as a liquid fuel and the daguerreotype (early photograph) emerged just as we discovered Neptune, again reminding us of the Saturn/Neptune in Aquarius conjunction as the foundations of the modern age were being laid. Today our modern experiments in search of a “God particle” – the Higgs boson, confirmed to exist in 2012 when Neptune had just returned to its discovery position – continue to resonate with this discovery chart. We seem to be getting very close to cracking the inter-dimensional barrier and understanding how to manipulate gravity and the speed of light. The technology for warp drive is already worked out, we are only lacking a sufficient power source to try it out. That power source is the ‘Zero Point’ energy Tesla was playing with and we will eventually learn how to harness it. In fact it is likely that we have already done so in some Special Access Program that you and I are not meant to know about yet. Neptune is always incredibly secretive, deceptive and veiled. That Moon in Scorpio is a cherry on this cake, suggesting that there are deep secrets in the soul and the world that will be revealed when the time is right. The presence of this Moon in the 6th is a sign that these things will seep into and ultimately saturate our daily lives. In fact the Moon in Scorpio is the main thread connecting the discovery of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

The fact that the foundations of the modern communications age emerged almost immediately following the discovery of Neptune is significant because it is resonant with the exact conjunction of Neptune with Saturn in Aquarius. This clues us into the fact that these discovery charts are responsive to transits. As major transits occur to the discovery chart our relationship to Neptune is transformed or advanced, most often through our own technological achievements. The most significant of these transits I have found in this chart are caused by conjunctions of transiting Neptune itself. For example I have already mentioned inventions which form the foundation of the modern communications age at the time Neptune was discovered. A little later when Neptune was conjunct this discovery charts Uranus in Aries in the late 1860s, the Bahai faith, the basis for genetics, dynamite, the Periodic table, the first transatlantic telegraph cable and the era of Victorian fashions arrive. We discover that light is a form of electromagnetic radiation as the inhuman slave trade brings African music to America, planting the seeds of 20th century blues and jazz music. Shortly after that in the early 1870s as Neptune is transiting the discovery charts Pluto in Aries, heat death or thermodynamic entropy is being defined, the telephone is arriving, the first radiometer, the first electrical generator, America’s Reconstruction and photoconductivity are in the news. In 1895 when Neptune has moved to the position of the discovery charts Jupiter in Gemini, Lumiere brothers release a film leading to the birth of movies. Later in 1932 colour and sound in film arrive when Neptune is conjunct the discovery chart’s Venus. The first satellite, Sputnik I, the first hydrogen bomb tests, the double helix of DNA, the peace symbol, the first video game, the first photos of the dark side of the Moon and the first silicon chip circuit arrive in the late 1950s when Neptune is conjunct the discovery chart’s Moon in Scorpio. When Neptune is conjunct the Aquarius midheaven in 2004 there is a major resurgence of 3-D film and when Neptune returned to Saturn and its discovery position the first quantum machines and AR and VR technologies started to break through into the mainstream. The next stop for us on this trail is Neptune conjunct Uranus in Aries again. The discovery chart is a dynamic mechanism like a clock that advances and deepens our relationship to what Neptune represents, frequently through science or tech, and this is maybe because of that discovery position in Aquarius; although the principle holds true for the other discovery charts as well. .

NEPTUNE IN OUR LIVES

Within an individual chart Neptune has a multidimensional manifestation in every sense of the phrase.

Neptune in the signs has a collective influence because it takes about 14 years for Neptune to go through a single sign and therefore this is something that you will share with millions of people born around the same time as you. It is part of what is featured in your generation. I wrote a lot about this in previous posts and there are individual posts available for Neptune in Libra and Neptune in Sagittarius which I will refer you, with more to come. My introductory post on collective astrology contains information about how Neptune in a sign manifests itself through our sleeping dreams. I also recommend looking at my article on Astrology, Form and Awareness which has much to do with understanding Neptune. 

Neptune in the temples or houses personalises the influence of Neptune in your life and can be considered more significant for individual interpretation. Here is a clear sign for us as to where we will encounter the significations of Neptune in our lives and what activities we need to immerse ourselves in deeply if we go looking for it. I have written two posts about the meanings of the 12 temples and refer you to those here.

Aspects involving Neptune straddle the line between collective and individual/personal depending upon whether they are with fast or slow moving planets. Slow moving planets (from Jupiter outward) have increasingly collective influences as the aspects they form hang around for far longer periods of time and so apply similarly to the signs, while fast moving planets (including the Lights) are far more individual and personal and apply like the temples. Therefore you should pay more attention to the temple position of Neptune as well as aspects to the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars as well as the ascendant and midheaven when you’re giving an interpretation to someone. You should never ignore the sign or the aspects to Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus or Pluto but you should consider these as being part of a collective influence affecting many people. Where these collective influences connect with faster moving planets by aspect shows how the personal awareness connects with the collective it belongs to, and the same is also shown by which temples the slow moving planets are in. For example Uranus in conjunction with Neptune in Capricorn is a collective influence but its placement in the temples will act to personalise it, and additionally if you are born with the Sun or the Moon in a conjunction with Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn then you will act to transmit it through your Sun or Moon. The same will be true of your Mars if your Mars is in a square to Uranus/Neptune from Aries, but in this case you will probably be aggressively kicking against something in your generation, something likely connected to its visions or trends (both of which are themes of collective Neptune), maybe its political ideology because of the Capricorn influence.

Wherever Neptune is in your chart, whether that is sign or temple, you will find much greater difficulty in setting your boundaries, idealism, greater confusion, high strangeness and strong psychic hunches (at least) in this area of life. We have to be on guard against deceiving ourselves and being deceived by others, mostly against deceiving ourselves. The weirdness of Neptune leads people to deceive themselves that other people are deceiving them when they are not, more often than it leads people to believe in those who are fraudulent or untruthful. This is especially true when it is conjunct the Sun, Moon, ascendant or chart ruler. The lesson of Neptune is similar to the lesson of Saturn in that it requires discernment. One has to be able to discern imagination and fantasy from the far out realms of reality. If you can’t then there is only a spiral into insanity until you wake up and realise your mistake, by which time it is often too late.

Neptune’s position in a chart can be a very helpful indicator for people who practice meditation because its position in the temples and the signs as well as its aspects can show how deeper and deeper states of meditation can be attained as well as forming a signpost towards specific psychic development. For example in terms of meditation the temple position of Neptune shows the arena of life we can meditate upon in order to dive deeper into the mysteries of life and consciousness. In the 1st temple this is contemplation of the self and of identity. In the 2nd temple, contemplation of innate self worth. In the 3rd temple, contemplation of thought. In the 4th temple, contemplation of memory or time. In the 5th temple, contemplation of bliss. In the 6th temple, contemplation of devotion. In the 7th temple, contemplation of empathy. In the 8th temple, contemplation of mystery or unknowns. In the 9th temple, contemplation of truth. In the 10th temple, contemplation of purpose. In the 11th temple contemplation of hope and in the 12th temple contemplation of transcendence. As I have said the sign and aspects of Neptune can also be interpreted this way. Conduction cycles (see also here) from the Neptune key or from Neptune activations can also serve as a structure for magical or mystical meditation.

At deeper levels the significations of Neptune cannot be put across in words without referring to metaphors that only really suggest what the reality is like. However, this is not necessary as ultimately they are experiences which we can all access and understand in our own way. These deeper levels of Neptune require us to talk about the reality of spirit beings and other dimensions which interpenetrate the physical universe and with which we are in a constant state of communion. To put it simply, Neptune represents the universe that we do not see, a universe which is far vaster than the one that we do see, or can even possibly imagine. Let that sink in. The invisible reality that is all around us is not only even more expansive than the universe we perceive with our physical senses, it also surpasses the ability of even the wildest imagination to grasp, and this is comparing it to a physical universe about which we know almost nothing anyway, compared to what there is to know.

Within this universe that we do not see there are many dimensions interpenetrating our own dimension, dimensions which in their own experience are just as real as our physical universe is to us. These dimensions are populated by numerous beings, many of which are aware of us and seek to interact with us for various reasons. They are in some cases as diverse and as complex in their motivations as human beings are, while in others they are simple things that perform rote functions. Some of these beings also exist in our material universe as we do but most do not, they must visit it or communicate to it through feelings and ideas. The number of these beings and their dimensions is literally infinite, but not all of them ‘adjoin’ our Earthbound physical dimension directly. Many of the beings in these adjoining spheres are the natural, invisible hands that make astrology function. Others are the beings that make physical things work the way they do, like light, or music, or the tides, or birds, or daffodils, or literally anything in nature that you can name from the highest to the lowest, the most general to the most specific. Some really significant ones watch over entire planets. Religions call these Archangels. A planet can be conceptually conceived of as a single cell or organ in the body of the Intelligence, rather than it’s entire manifest body, although there is a hierarchy which manifests avatars or manifestations of the Greater being as guardian spirits of each world. The adjacent or physically interwoven dimensions are given visible physical representations in our physical solar system by the will of these beings – Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In other words what we see or can see in the sky from planet Earth is a model of the dimensional layering that we are looking at – from within it – while here. This means that all of these dimensions and their beings are available to be directly accessed by all the beings on planet Earth, because our awareness is naturally structured that way. There is an observer effect at work here. Nature mirrors back to us the structure of awareness that is looking out. 

However those things beyond our visible sight and which only become available once we develop sufficient technology so that our seeing is enhanced represent dimensions which we must extend ourselves to reach into, they are representative of evolutionary stages that we are assimilating. They are not off-limits before the discovery of the planet that physically represents them, but these dimensions of awareness require enlightenment to reach before then. After they are discovered, technology starts to push us all collectively into the same territory, before then it is the choice of individuals. The danger of this collective initiation is that the consequences affect all of life on Earth and not just an individual. The other more occult danger is that once the act of seeing has taken place it becomes easier for beings on the far side not only to look back at but also to visit our reality, whether by their own magic, technology or other means. In other words, once we had discovered Uranus and then especially when we discovered Neptune, we opened the way to being visited more readily by those Intelligences from dimensions which are non-terrestrial, some of which may have a physical existence in our universe as well as a presence in and awareness of other dimensions, just as we do.

The other side of that ‘door’ opening is that the effects of humans in the physical world begin to reach into the non-material world, beginning with the closest, and start to powerfully affect the denizens of those realms. This means that human activity, for example logging and mining, begin to dramatically affect the realm of the Elementals and the spirit beings of nature. On one of the occasions when Graham Hancock took Ayahuasca he saw the spirit of Ayahuasca with a body that was broken into pieces and he understood that the damage that was being done to the Amazon was weakening the power of the spirit. Thus there is a vast invisible ocean of consequences that arise from the human imbalance with itself and nature, and the extent of environmental damage is far greater than we realise. This situation is greatly complicated because collectively we do not acknowledge that spirits even exist any more.

The ultimate reality behind all of this is that spirits exist because everything is alive and everything is alive because it is all One Life, One Self. Things continue to persist in form when no human is looking because things are themselves witnesses to their own existence. Even inanimate things have awareness that they exist. That awareness is not neural or biological but awareness does not have to be neural or biological, it is independent of form. Each and every single thing that comes into existence whether in this universe or any other knows that it exists in its own way. Thus each and every thing that exists has a spirit which arises from that part of it which knows that it exists. Since the reality of One Life, One Self is eternal and cannot be quashed, and since it is present in all things equally at all times, all of life is sacred and all that we do is done only to ourselves.

This key reality is only a part of what Neptune leads us towards, but it is an important, pivotal one – if Uranus is about the collective effort of human beings to act together in order to face the problems and make the choices that they need to, in other words about our need to reconnect with one another as human beings, then Neptune is the next step we need to take in order to heal our planet and ourselves – reconnection with the world of spirit, the One Dream, and so with the spirit of the Earth, our collective sacred Mother. Dogma, ego, ideology and cynicism must lose their grip. The test of whether we can save Her from ourselves is a test of how much we are prepared to sacrifice in order to restore the equilibrium. The temptation may be to escape into fabricated fantasy worlds and virtually crafted universes while the “real world” degenerates, or to throw up your hands in depair and hide away like a hermit, but like any escapism this only leaves a hole yearning to be filled once it is time to return to what is. By facing into reality with our imagination rather than out of reality or spurning it altogether we can bring it to bear on some of the most intransigent and long-lasting problems, opening potential visions toward new solutions, solutions which are always emerging because the infinite knows no limits and is poured forth upon the awareness even when it refuses, blindly, to see.

We must remember always that Neptune represents a path to redemption. That such a thing exists may not always be clear to us, in fact it may seem that there is no hope of it, no way to redeem what we have done. Yet such a path is always open even though it may be invisible, because the truth is what it is and cannot be made false. Enlightenment is inevitable. We can only dream of what awaits us in the endless expanse of eternity, and even then our imagination will fall short of what is there.


 

SOURCES

Astrolearn Astrology Library

The first published sources for Neptune being granted rulership of Pisces

Library of Free Astrological Books

Complete Arcana of Astral Philosophy

The Astrolologers Magazine Volume II, 1891-92

Rising Signs II

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Arising Worlds II

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