Weird Tales: Three Imaginers

Greetings, and welcome back to journeys for the month of May 2018! This month at the request of some students I have decided to share with you some practical examples of reading charts, and this month I will be looking at the topic of creativity and myth building in horror fiction using three examples. If these examples are helpful I will provide further examples on different topics in the future.


For this topic we will be looking at the charts of three well-known creators of dark fantasy, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King and Clive Barker. Fair warning: spoilers of these authors works will take place, although I will omit specific plot details I will be laying out the principles of the worlds they have created. I will attempt to show how each of these individuals has been inspired to create key elements of their artistic output under specific astrological conditions. I’ve chosen these three individuals because the body of work which each of them has created can be said to comprise a “mythos”, a connected series of individual stories with an overarching set of themes, characters, ideas and locations, and I want to explore this idea of mythos creation from an astrological perspective, looking at both the natal charts and the activations to their keys. Other authors considered as examples were J. K. Rowling and Tad Williams, but I settled on these three because of their connecting interest in horror. If you wanted to continue this research those two authors would be good charts to work with.

From the beginning it will be useful to know that as an astrologer we go into this investigation with some assumptions. In any venture of the imagination, especially one involving the creation of myths or fantasies, we would expect to see significant involvement somewhere by Neptune. Furthermore, creative output is a property of the 5th temple and so we would also be looking at this area, and many writers work from home which may emphasise the 4th temple somehow. However, world building or myth building can also be attributed to the 9th temple (as can publishing books), and writing is a property of the 3rd temple while the seclusion and inner reflection involved is a property of the 12th temple and murky, scary topics like death and forbidden knowledge a thing of the 8th, so these areas may also be factors which yield information. Additionally, given that all three of these writers explore the macabre, we would also expect to see some involvement by Saturn or Pluto and/or the sign of Scorpio, and also Mars which traditionally is associated with horrific and violent situations. Mercury as a planet of writing and Gemini and Sagittarius as signs of writing and publishing may also be expected to feature, as may Libra as a sign of the arts. I feel it is important to set out that I have established these criteria *before* writing this article and before even looking at these charts with the article in mind. Although I have seen them all before, I am writing about these charts as I look at them and I am very confident that what we will find will arise from these areas of the charts in an appropriately expressive way.


Here is the chart for H.P. Lovecraft, the data for which was provided by S.T. Joshi in his biography “The Life of a Gentleman of Providence”.

HPL chart

It’s possible but seems unlikely that Lovecraft was born exactly at 9 AM, it is always suspicious when such a rounded time is presented. The difference of four minutes of time roughly translates to 1° passing over the ascendant so in some cases where the ascendant is near a sign boundary accuracy can be critical. Other house cusps positioned near sign boundaries can also be affected by an inaccurate birth time in significant ways but nothing is more significant than the way a different ascendant alters the chart. However, we are fortunate in that in Lovecraft’s case (using Placidus house calculation) none of the house cusps are near sign boundaries, so we can be confident that so long as the time is at least approximately accurate we have a valid chart as far as sign and temple or house rulerships go.

HPLThis gives Lovecraft a Libra ascendant with Venus in her own sign exactly rising (he was very polite, somewhat effeminate, outwardly composed and placid, and enjoyed writing poetry) and the Moon conjunct Uranus in Libra rising in the 1st temple (eccentric, awkward and alienated when interacting with other people), with the Sun in Leo in the 11th (his social life with his few friends cheered him up a lot, and he was quite proud in many ways) near to Saturn in Virgo (he was also hyper-critical, a staunch perfectionist and often expressed the fear that his writing was fatally flawed). Mercury is on the cusp of the 12th in Virgo (he was highly reclusive and drew writing inspiration from troubling dreams), the 3rd is ruled by Sagittarius and strongly dominated by Mars in Sagittarius (a kind of puritanical crusading spirit is impressed into his rambling and wordy sentences, which are crammed with adjectives) and the 5th is empty but ruled by the aforementioned Saturn via Aquarius. Neptune is in a powerful conjunction with Pluto in Gemini in the 8th and entering the 9th, and both are opposing that Mars.

It’s this super rare conjunction of Neptune with Pluto in Gemini in the 8th and nearing the 9th that draws the initial astrological attention as far as the mythos is concerned. There is something deeply otherworldly, cosmic and plain weird about this combination, and it manifests in his fiction in very obvious ways but was also a plague in his personal life. The mythos Lovecraft artistically initiated holds that there is no meaning to existence, life is purposeless and humans are insignificant and will eventually amount to precisely nothing in the overall scheme of things, and that additionally there are indescribable and incomprehensible entities beyond the scope of human understanding whose very visage causes our minds and our sanity to break, entities who manipulate and feed upon us as we do upon microbes. Lovecrafts writing style in describing these horrors is often to use an incredible pallet of long winded purple prose to put across the essential idea that what he is describing in his tales supersedes our ability to comprehend it. Like Neptune and Pluto in Gemini, it is simply too vast for words to contain in even the merest form. Even the names of these beings are often difficult to pronounce or have an alien syllabic nature, like Cthulhu or Yog-Sothoth. For Lovecraft, the abstract strangeness of imagined and obscure words helps to put across an uneasy feeling of nihilistic dread.

This nihilistic horror is part of what distinguishes Lovecraft’s mythos from that of King and Barker, whose tales are often tinged with more hopeful and optimistic outcomes, views and themes. His Neptunian mythos has a deep, 8th temple dose of Pluto lending it jaws and tentacles of mind devouring despair. We are in too deep, and the Deep Ones will ultimately consume us, better for us all to commit suicide and get it over with on our own terms, as some of his narrators do. Death, madness and horror are their fates as well as ours, and could there be a more apt astrological code than a Neptune-Pluto conjunction in Gemini in the 8th underlying his famous invention of The Necronomicon, a book of forbidden lore famed for its couplet: “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons, even death may die.”

Lovecraft was also a poet, a critic (both of his own work and others as well as the literary scene he was operating in) and a staggeringly voluminous letter writer. His ideas about the mythos were shared with his correspondents and developed alongside these trusted friends (one of whom, Robert E. Howard – the creator of Conan – committed suicide shortly before Lovecraft’s death, affecting him profoundly), but a major source of his inspiration were his inner reflections and the psychologically disturbing dreams and nightmares he regularly endured – again, the 8th temple Pluto influence over Neptune, with Gemini leading him to write about them, but also note Mercury on the 12th cusp (in Virgo, the other writers sign) square the Moons nodal axis, with the South Node in the 3rd (writing again). These must have been truly terrifying dreams that emerged violently from his imagination and unconscious and the only way to exorcise them was to write them down. He was also mostly broke, suffering ongoing financial difficulties (he had an inheritance which was almost gone by the time of his death), was rejected by publishers often and saw no major publication of his work except in ‘Weird Tales’ and other pulp magazines, and so did not attain significant recognition until after his demise. However his legacy has been enduring and seems unassailable, and more than 80 years after his death he is quite rightly regarded as one of the most important figures in dark fantasy literature, having now become a cultural icon along with his most well known creation, Cthulhu. This posthumous success also sets him apart from Barker and King, as does the emphasis that Lovecrafts tales place on science fiction elements, which the other two imaginers have largely steered away from.


HP Lovecraft (par Dominique Signoret)

The astrological imprints of these situations can be traced to the 5th and the placement of its ruler Saturn in Virgo in the 11th. Firstly, Aquarius on the 5th accounts for the interest in science (especially futuristic science) and its employment in fiction and works of creativity. Lovecraft was personally fascinated by modern science and at the same time cynical or critical of its advances, fearing that it would unleash chaos and destruction upon the world and lead to doom for humanity (remember, he died before World War 2, so ultimately he was quite visionary in this respect). This pessimism and fear we can trace back to the rulership of the 5th temple by Saturn, as well as his artistic poverty and lack of recognition, the enduring legacy he left, and his capacity to be critical (especially of his own work) we can trace to the sign Saturn is in, Virgo, while the continuation of the mythos and establishment of his enduring legacy after an early death by a circle of writing friends now called the ‘Lovecraft Circle’ can be seen to be an expression of Saturn in Virgo in the 11th, ruling the 5th through Aquarius, with Saturn itself being ruled by Mercury.

The mythos which Lovecraft originated is controversially tainted with his personal racism which he occasionally projects forcefully through his prose, characters and even into his themes and plots. He regarded people of English race and descent (i.e. himself) to be biologically and intellectually superior and was consistently prejudiced toward Irish Catholics, German immigrants and African-Americans. Over the years he only softened this approach to include those who had been ennobled by education and culture, so there was a snobbishness behind this arrogance. While to some degree it must be true that this was the product of his environment living in Providence during the 1920s where these attitudes were not uncommon, it seems clear that Lovecraft’s passion for his racism was a cut above the norm, and he was far from shy about broadcasting it. He is also justifiably criticized for being terrible at dialog and character.

These flaws can be traced to his Mars in Sagittarius in the 3rd being opposed by Neptune and Pluto in Gemini, near the cusp of the 9th. Mars is being heavily afflicted here, and the phobia of and revulsion towards foreign cultures implicit in Neptune and Pluto in Gemini near the 9th are being stirred up, poked by the constant thrusting of Mars in Sagittarius. It’s like a mindworm, a thought he could not get out of his head, and the involvement of the Dragons Tail in the 3rd temple in Sagittarius (immigrant, gypsy, wanderer), with ruler Jupiter in Aquarius (outsider, alien) in the 4th (homeland, ancestry, family), is an indication that this is sourced in a prior incarnation (note also that Jupiter in Aquarius in the 4th is ruler of the 3rd, and that the mythos frequently refers to alien involvement in the past and ancient history as well as the previously mentioned science fiction tropes). Perhaps he had lived a very unhappy life as an outsider and immigrant himself and had a high degree of self-loathing and self-hatred programmed into his behaviour which he then catastrophically ended up projecting onto others, or perhaps he had some other extremely bitter experience connected with being away from a homeland and family, or was just a racist for some time. Whatever the case, Lovecraft literally projects the darker potential of his Neptune/Pluto in Gemini through Mars in Sagittarius in the 3rd, using it as a vehicle to voice his distaste of variety and his fear of cultural contamination. On the positive side, this Mars was expressed through a love of rambling travel in and around his neighbourhood, and the information he gained from his travels was funneled into his fiction giving rise to memorable locations like Arkham and the Miskatonic Valley, and is also part of the thrust behind the dispassionate and uncaring violence of the mythos he initiated as well as the energy he put into (international, world class) letter writing.


Shoggoth by Nottsuo

Aside from being influenced by dreams and nightmares the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and ultimately his mythos focuses heavily on dreams as a subject matter. Analysts divide the literature of Lovecraft into two overlapping arcs, one being the gradual development of what came to be called the Cthulhu Mythos and another called his Dream Cycle in which he established the setting of the Dreamlands, an otherworldly realm which ultimately is part of the overall mythos. The Dream Cycle begins in 1918 (perhaps in May) when he writes “Polaris”, while the first appearance of an element of the Cthulhu Mythos was about a year earlier in July when he penned “Dagon” (first published in November 1919). However the development of the mythos does not take off until the 1920s, in particular with the writing of “The Nameless City” in January 1921 (first published in November 1921) and the central tale “The Call of Cthulhu” in the summer of 1926 (first published in February 1928). Roughly speaking the period from 1917 to 1918 is when Lovecraft first creates the Dream Cycle while the period from about 1921-26 is the period in which he establishes the overall Cthulhu Mythos, with 1926 representing the crowning achievement of the legacy he eventually left behind (in terms of popularity at least).

His astrological activations in these times are extremely apt. The Dream Cycle begins with Saturn at the midheaven during his progressed lunar return (so in the New Moon phase of genesis) as the progressed Moon crosses over his Venus and Libra ascendant (art) on its way to its own natal position and the planet Uranus (lunar inspiration from dreams, which is where he says “Polaris” came from). More strikingly, transiting Jupiter is in Gemini and conjunct his natal Neptune/Pluto – he has Jupiter activation of both the Neptune and the Pluto keys, in addition to all of those progressed Moon activations. This is very expressive of the genesis of his Dream Cycle. In his personal life it is also the period in which his mother’s mental health begins to deteriorate (she sees “weird and fantastic creatures that rushed out from behind buildings and from corners at dark”) and she is separated from Lovecraft for the first time in his life (she goes to live with an aunt) and eventually enters an asylum in the spring of 1919, a fate from which she never emerges.

The first mention of an element of the Cthulhu Mythos (“Dagon”) which took place about a year earlier in July 1917 also took place during the activation of Jupiter to the Neptune/Pluto keys thanks to the fact that Jupiter was retrograding in this period over those keys. In this period of 1917/18 he was also separating from but still within the window of opportunity of a Neptune activation of his Chiron key (Chiron is in the 10th, and thus so is Neptune in the entire period of his life discussed in this article). Transiting Neptune is also in an opposition with his natal Jupiter and in a sextile with its own natal position. Fragments of the mythos were beginning to emerge out of this rich Moon/Jupiter/Neptune atmosphere.

The genesis of the Cthulhu Mythos is chronologically in 1921 with both the writing and publication of “The Nameless City” while the key point is “The Call of Cthulhu” in August of 1926, plotted a year earlier on August 12-13, 1925 and first published in 1928. As astute minds and people who know Jupiter well will already realise, 1928/9 is going to put Jupiter in Gemini on top of the Neptune/Pluto keys once again, since Jupiter has an orbital period of about 11-12 years. What was seeded the last time Jupiter was there goes through major expansion and growth, and the Cthulhu Mythos is born into the world. In fact this return of Jupiter to the Neptune/Pluto area of his chart is not complete until summer 1929 to January/February 1930, a creatively quiet period when he is working on what many consider his most archetypal or paradigmatic mythos story “The Whisperer in Darkness” and has already produced what many (even himself) consider his finest work, “The Colour Out of Space” (March 1927).

Looking back at its gradual development prior to this, “The Nameless City” of 1921 sees Neptune cruising through the 10th throwing out a trine to natal 3rd house Mars in Sagittarius and a sextile to the Venus/ascendant angle. Mars on the 3rd is also being spotlighted by the progressed Moon which is moving into the 3rd and so activating the entire 3rd temple with Moon/Mars energy just as Neptune is pouring something imaginative into it as well. Jupiter and Saturn are conjoined in activation of his Mercury, and by 1922 have reached his ascendant/Venus. Its also worth noting that thanks to his natal configuration that progressed Moon is also opposing his natal Neptune/Pluto at this time and that the phase of this progressed Moon is moving out of the Crescent stage (when the seed planted in 1917 becomes more visible) and into the waxing First Quarter Moon where there will be greater activity.

As he plots the story “The Call of Cthulhu” in August 1925, this progressed First Quarter Moon is in Aquarius passing over his natal Jupiter and trining that critical Neptune/Pluto, while transiting Neptune is making a sextile to his Moon and Uranus. He has a Jupiter return going on as well. A year later as he writes it down in August 1926 this progressed Moon is activating his 5th temple key (creative expression), and transiting Neptune in Leo is in sextile to his natal Moon, Uranus and Dragons Head in Libra. His progressed Mercury has also retrograded to the degree of the ascendant. For this entire period of the mid 1920s but especially throughout 1927 and 1928 when he writes his most satisfying work, Neptune in Leo activates his Sun key. Neptune has finally made it to the light and delivers the promise of its natal conjunction with Pluto.

Thus I would argue that the record shows that the astrological genesis of the Cthulhu Mythos and the Dream Cycle, while being composed of other factors, is really a chain of mostly Neptunian and progressed lunar events beginning in 1917-18 that culminates in the Neptune activation of his Sun key in 1927, and that the axis of his chart that is most strongly involved in its creation is Mars opposite Neptune and Pluto, with Jupiter being a major activator. The mythos has emerged mainly from the planets in Libra and Gemini, the conjunctions of ascendant/Venus and the natal Neptune/Pluto being a core engine of its delivery, particularly with respect to transiting Jupiter, transiting Neptune and the progressed Moon.


Below is the chart for Stephen King, the time of which comes from the author himself when asked during a book signing.

Stephen King chart

We have significant trouble with this chart because the ascendant is just a whisker away from a sign boundary, the cusp of Cancer and Leo. The timing of this chart also casts some doubt over the 6th and 12th houses because the cusps of those temples are very close to a sign boundary. The bottom line is that if King is born just 42 seconds later at 1:30:42 am, then Leo rises and the Sun is the chart ruler instead of the Moon, and a significantly later time of 1:38:47 am changes the 6th/12th temples as well. It is a difficult call to make because his Sun in Virgo in the 3rd temple and his Moon in Sagittarius in the 5th temple could be his chart ruler not just by timing but also by their symbolism. My instinct, based on watching interviews of King in preparation for this work, is that this chart is slightly incorrect and that Leo rises and the Sun is the chart ruler. The Sun in Virgo in the 3rd temple is a clear choice because everything about it points to writing, and King himself has said that he could not imagine himself doing anything else, humbly claiming it’s all he can do. The fluid and mutable gregarious nature of the Sagittarius Moon compared to the self critical, precise and perfectionist nature of the Virgo Sun also inclines me to trust in a later time, as does the healthy head of hair he has even later in life and something catlike in his eyes (Leo rising). Whatever the truth is, the main points I will make in this writing will not be radically altered.

Stephen_King,_ComiconJust as with Lovecraft the salient part of the chart as far as the development of Kings mythos is concerned is a conjunction of Neptune in an Air sign, this time that sign being Libra (Libra is so powerful in any of the arts). Unlike Lovecraft, however, it is Mercury and not Pluto which forms the conjunction, and it is powerfully placed at an angle on the cusp of the 4th temple. This immediately gives it more emphasis. Mercury takes rulership of the important 3rd temple of communications and writing as well as the 12th temple of seclusion and inner reflection, and the 12th also houses Mars in Cancer as ruler of the midheaven and thus the leading planet of the profession (Mars is also close enough to the ascendant to be in a conjunction with it, similar to how Venus was placed for Lovecraft, but if Kings time grows late this falls away). The Sun is in the 3rd in Virgo and the Moon is in the 5th in Sagittarius, each of which directly and unambiguously supply energies for writing, thinking and publishing creative ideas, both intuitively via a kind of internalized philosophical seeking and mentally through an analytical process of observing details and asking questions. The 5th temple also has a formidable bouncer checking all the traffic at the door of creative output in the form of Jupiter in Scorpio in a conjunction with the Dragons Tail, both of which connect with that insular, hidden Mars and give it a means for creative form of expression while also reaching out to stimulate and support the Sun in Virgo in the 3rd through a sextile. Also significant is the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Leo which makes a sextile with the Mercury/Neptune conjunction, with Saturn ruling the 8th – added to that Jupiter/Tail in Scorpio and Mars ruling the midheaven from the 12th, this explains the fascination with mystery and horror. We could also note Uranus in Gemini on the cusp of the 12th in a square with the Sun in Virgo as being a recipe for being mysteriously (unconsciously) driven to write about the weird and the cursed.

Incidentally, both King and Barker cheerfully admit to being heavily influenced by Lovecraft, with King saying that the notion that he was a writer and nothing else was a sudden realization that occurred when he came across a collection of H.P. Lovecraft short stories called ‘The Lurker in the Shadows’ while exploring an attic with his older brother. This volume had belonged to his father, who had abandoned the family when King was very young – he just chose to vanish one day. He described this moment of self discovery in the attic in metaphor by saying it was like the way his uncle would douse for water using apple branches, in other words there was an internal crossing of his own dousing rods over a spot that he was seeking or resonant with. He just knew ‘it’ was right there in his hands. During a 2009 interview he said “I knew that I’d found home when I read that book.” He also credits his mom Nellie with giving him a love of reading and encouraging him to use his imagination. All of these facts including the disappearing father are obviously and clearly an expression of Mercury and Neptune on the 4th house cusp. Unfortunately, I do not know the year in which this attic experience occurred, but it was sometime in his childhood. In this respect it’s pretty striking that Kings Mercury/Neptune is in the same place as Lovecrafts Venus/ascendant – the artistic transmission of Lovecraft finds its way to shape the mythos genesis of another writer.

In order to proceed further in understanding how this chart expresses his creative output we need to first understand that output a little and so we have to spend some time here talking about the elements of the mythos that King has created. This is not as easy as it is with Lovecraft, as King has written 56 novels and over 200 short stories to date. He is as far from Lovecraft in terms of volume of output as he can be, and also as far as he can be from Lovecraft in terms of recognition in life, having sold over 350 million books and having an estimated net worth of 400 million dollars. His output is staggering and mountainous, defying easy categorization or summary, and will certainly be studied for many years after his death, being packed with what many people find a surprising amount of philosophical inquiry. However, it is possible to identify several key elements of the mythos that King has created and to show that they map with cutting accuracy to the symbolism in his birth chart. It’s also possible to look at when some of these key elements appear in print and map those times back to what is happening to the chart as we did with Lovecraft. However, that Mercury/Neptune combo is amorphous, ideas can have origins far earlier than their appearance in print, and it becomes very tricky or impossible to separate one strand from another, even I think for King. The mythos emerges differently, filtering and percolating in his mind over 4-5 decades, perhaps ever since he went into that attic.

Image by Michael Whelan

The key books in the King mythos are the Dark Tower series of books, but a first important initial point is that it seems clear to me that in Kings mind all his books are mysteriously connected. He gives us evidence for this by framing them in a multiverse, so that even though different events occur in different books because they are different worlds, those worlds are all connected by an underlying, often invisible metaphysical framework. This framework has gradually filtered into form particle by particle, with King making a reference to something in one tale and then alluding to it in another completely separate one, but the Dark Tower series is where he attempts to tie as much of it together as possible. So the first thing to note is that this mythos exists to hint at a larger picture in the background while still leaving the author complete creative freedom each time he sits down to write a new tale. The Mercury/Neptune mythos of Stephen King takes place in an interconnected multiverse and it is possible to travel from one world to another much as a reader does when picking up a book or King himself does when he imagines one and writes it down. The most striking expression of this idea comes in the Dark Tower series when Stephen King the author shows up as a character, and the reader realizes that the fictional characters have found their way into a fictional version of our world.

This multiverse is also a hall of mirrors in other ways. Central to many of the stories King has written is the concept of ‘Twinners’, doppelgängers who exist as reflections of the same entity in different dimensions or worlds. These pairs of beings are not identical – a man in one world can be a dog in another – and can include locations as well as people and objects. They are not ‘good’ and ‘evil’ but somehow complementary halves of a greater whole.

The notion of the Dark Tower itself provides one of the most striking examples of astrological symbolism in art I have ever come across. The Dark Tower of Kings fiction is a metaphysical Axis Mundi, a spinal column which connects all the worlds of the multiverse together. From this central Tower, the nexus of all universes, 6 Beams girder the structure and at each end of each of the Beams there is a Guardian represented by an animal. This is so clearly a representation of astrology that I can’t help but conclude it was intentional, but I somehow doubt that King knew the structure of his own birth chart, with the myth building combination of Mercury/Neptune at the base of the IC and so placed literally on the charts spine or vertical axis, in Libra (a sign not just of arts but also of paired opposites, balance and mirror images) so aptly describes his creations.

Location is a huge part of this mythos, with King creating a fictional Maine (where he lives in real life) as the setting for many of his tales. Additionally, there is a repeated emphasis on childhood, its innocence and magic, and the loss of this power during adolescence. Both of these major characteristics of the mythos also arise from this placement of the Mercury/Neptune effect on the IC of the chart, since the 4th temple is associated with location, home, family and childhood. His weaving of stories explores the relationships (Libra) of people in small town America (4th), and hints at mysterious realities behind closed doors and under the metaphysical floorboards (Mercury/Neptune). His protagonists – often children, or innocents – are faced with evil and must overcome it through co-operation. In the process, they invariably draw closer together and forge relationships, and in Kings’ narratives ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they get this right. The concept of bringing things into balance also comes up as two elemental forces, the Purpose and the Random, which are constantly at war with each other in a cosmic battle which affects all worlds and every life. The goal of the Random is to erode the Beams and bring about the destruction of all worlds whereas the goal of the Purpose is to hold the Random in check and maintain a balance between the two forces (thus it must hold itself in check too). Again, these themes are obviously of Libra, the Scales and the Balancer. The concept of Ka, a kind of fate and karma which acts as a life force, is also a recurring idea in this mythos, and again it is clearly a representation of Libra. Incidentally, the personal loss of childhood innocence may be a core factor in why King writes horror: as a child he apparently came home one day after going out to play with a friend, speechless and in shock. Later his family learned that the friend he had been playing with had been killed by a train, and it seems King had witnessed it. He says he has no memory of the event. These are all 4th temple themed happenings and if the story is true his loss of memory seems connected with Mercury/Neptune.

Existence is portrayed as cyclical, perhaps infinitely so, and all things are mysteriously interconnected. The Mercury/Neptune fusion in Libra is more optimistic than Lovecrafts Neptune/Pluto, and more liberal too, seeing a glimmer of hope in truth and innocence, the capacity of sacrifice and love, the forming of genuine connection and the possibility of redemption. The monsters in this mythos can be defeated, but it always comes at a high price. A balance must be observed here, too. Part of goodness in Kings writing is that it is ready to sacrifice itself (Neptune is often about martyrdom).

Crimson king

Image by Michael Whelan

The evil in this cyclical multiverse arises from the deeds and machinations of the servants of the Random, and often they share the characteristic of being in powerful positions of authority and relishing in the victimisation of the weak below them. This is also one of the main traits of pure evil and the corrupted humans in the stories, and their abused victims are often the innocent or children around them, who can often expect no rescue from outside (especially from the adults or other authority figures) and must deliver themselves from the insidious evil. However, these innocents are often greatly empowered magically or psychically gifted with great insights because they are closer to the Purpose (which is probably why they are often the preferred victims of the forces of the Random). These traits connected to the villains and the challenges they present are resonant with Saturn in conjunction with Pluto in Leo – Leo provides the dominance and the power of command over life and death, while Saturn and Pluto represent the malevolence and the evil which wields this power of command. The principal antagonist of the Dark Tower and indeed of the entire mythos that King has created is called the Crimson King, another nod towards Leo, and it also feels appropriate here to again point out that the ruler of the midheaven and the lead planet of Stephen Kings profession is Mars (whose colour is red), that the Crimson King rules from a realm called Discordia but has become trapped in the Towers lower levels and is insane (Mars is in Fall in Cancer and in the 12th). A terrifying and violent descent into madness is also a common theme throughout Stephen Kings work (“The Shining”, “Misery”, “Rose Madder”, “Insomnia”, etc).

A lot more could be said about how Kings astrology is reflected in his artistic creations but these are some of the main points which I think serve to illustrate how important that Mercury/Neptune conjunction is, how central it is to the mythos his mind has delivered. In terms of the timeline under which this creation has been born or emerged, the key years I have chosen to look at are in 1973-4 (his breakthrough with the acceptance of “Carrie” for publication and also around the time he begins to think out the Dark Tower series), 1977 (in which “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” began to be initially published in five installments by a magazine), the years in which the Dark Tower books were serially published (1982, 1987, 1991, 1997, 2003, 2004, 2012) and the publication of “Insomnia” in 1994, wherein the Crimson King appears by name for the first time. In the following look into these times I will restrict myself to looking at transits and leave progressions aside because there is a great deal more to look at in this case.

In 1973 the planet Uranus was in Libra just beginning to move away from activation of Kings Mercury/Neptune, which it had been activating for about 2-3 years before, since the 70s began – suddenly there is a breakthrough and a new life begins for him. Pluto will follow up this activation of Mercury/Neptune throughout the mid to late 70s and early 80s. In 1973 it came as a shock, as he had thrown the manuscript in the trash (his wife – Libra again – retrieved it). In the same time period, Neptune is activating both the Jupiter/Tail and 5th temple in Scorpio. The horrifying stuff is just creatively flowing out, he gets lucky, and the rest of the 70s see him writing and publishing his most well known novels while regrettably being enabled to indulge a cocaine and alcohol addiction, a situation which continued through most of the 80s and led to him contemplating suicide, until there was intervention by his family (here we are seeing another much more private side of that Mercury/Neptune in the 4th and Mars in Cancer in the 12th).

Initial publication of the Dark Tower in 1977 takes place when Neptune has made it deep into the 5th temple and is activating his Moon (which in the chart supplied here is the chart ruler), while Pluto is right on top of the Mercury/Neptune area of the chart. Neptune is also in a sextile with Mercury /Neptune. The first publication of the Dark Tower as a book series in 1982 (“The Gunslinger”) has both Saturn and Jupiter in the Mercury/Neptune in Libra zone with Jupiter moving off to enter the 5th and complete a return of Jupiter to natal Jupiter in Scorpio, which Uranus is already activating. 1987 (“The Drawing of the Three”) has Saturn activating the 5th temple Moon while Jupiter is on the midheaven, 1991 (“The Waste Lands”) sees Pluto in Scorpio playing with Jupiter in the 5th while Jupiter is activating the villainous Saturn/Pluto in Leo and Chiron is activating Mars and the ascendant (thats one tough looking year by the way, as Neptune is also square the Mercury/Neptune area). During 1993/1994 when “Insomnia” appears and the Crimson King is mentioned for the first time, Jupiter is back on top of Saturn/Pluto and transitions to activate Mercury/Neptune once more, just as it did when the Dark Tower series began publication. In 1997 (“Wizard and Glass”) , Saturn is on the midheaven during a Chiron return (note that Chiron is in Scorpio), and Neptune is in a trine with his Sun. 2003 (“Wolves of the Calla”) and 2004 (“Song of Susannah” and the concluding volume, “The Dark Tower”) see Jupiter for a third time beginning in Leo on top of that Saturn/Pluto point of villainy again (at the same time Saturn is on the cusp of the 12th with natal Uranus) and ending the series with a final activation of Jupiter to Mercury/Neptune (with Saturn on Mars and the ascendant) just as Neptune itself is in a trine with Mercury/Neptune. In 2012, King revisits the series but does not continue it, instead placing a story (“The Wind Through the Keyhole”) between “Wizard and Glass” and “Wolves of the Calla”, just as Saturn is passing through the Mercury/Neptune area.

As can be seen it is the activation of the Mercury/Neptune area that matters most to this mythos, just as it was with Lovecraft and Neptune/Pluto. It’s activated shockingly by Uranus when King explodes onto the scene, its activated by Pluto when The Dark Tower begins its journey into print, and by Jupiter both when it becomes a book series and when it concludes, as well as when the Crimson King is first named. The 5th temple with the Moon and Jupiter in Scorpio also prominently feature in the emergence, as does the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Leo, but on a lesser scale, and the pattern is one of Jupiter starting in Leo and moving through Virgo and Libra on its way to an ending (and a Jupiter return) in Scorpio. Of course, I am aware that King writes these things before they are published, but King himself has said it is the publication that is the final act of writing, the sharing of it with an audience being its true birth into the world, and I am inclined to agree, especially as he himself sees it that way. 


The final example in this examination of mythos building has, you guessed it, a major conjunction of Neptune in their chart. Here is the horoscope for Clive Barker, from a time supplied by the author. This chart does not have any house cusps near sign boundaries, so after King we can be a little bit more relaxed as far as rulerships and accuracy of birth time are concerned. Also notice how whereas the chart for Lovecraft and King have overall aspect shapes that point in a general direction, the chart for Barker displays more of an explosion effect. This is very significant in terms of their individual experience in creating art.

Clive Barker chart

We are struck by some remarkable similarities to Kings chart – there is another Mercury/Neptune fusion in Libra near the IC axis (what are the odds of this happening ?!?) but with Saturn added and the Sun shedding light upon it all, Scorpio is again on the 5th, and Pluto is again in Leo on the cusp of the 2nd (if we accept that King is born with Leo rising, they have the same ascendant), yet not with Saturn but instead the Tail. Uranus has moved on to Cancer from Gemini but is still placed in the 12th temple. If we take the chart for King, move Saturn to the nexus point with Mercury/Neptune and replace it with the Tail, swap the Moon for Mars in Sagittarius and Jupiter for Venus in Scorpio, they become very similar. They are eerily alike but for the two different Sun signs and Moon signs, which really says a lot about how significant the Lights are, with (Libran Sun/Taurus Moon) Barker being more sociable outwardly and generally but the more cautious and slow to open up personally, and (Virgo Sun/Sagittarius Moon) King being inversely more outwardly reserved in general but giving the impression of being more open and swift to proceed when getting to know him personally.

Note that we are talking about not just the same sign but roughly the same degrees as Lovecrafts ascendant/Venus (roughly 10°-20°, the second decan), and take a look back at Lovecraft’s chart and you will realise this means the Mercury/Neptune of King and the Mercury/Saturn/Neptune of Barker are not only in a conjunction with one another and Lovecrafts ascendant/Venus, but everything is also in trine with Lovecrafts Neptune/Pluto. These world-builders speak to one another with ease and the core means is via Neptune, Air, Gemini, Libra, – imagination, thoughts and words formed into art. Time is irrelevant here as the muses breeze across its oceans making little waves and rippling them into new minds ready to receive them.

CliveBarkerClive Barker stands apart from the previous two authors in that he is also a playwright, film maker, painter and creator of visual art like comics. Taken together I would argue that compared to Lovecraft and King his works comprise the more varied, artistically driven and passionate expressions of the imagination. Barker is driven by the fire of his imagination, and it often delves deep into the Scorpio territory (horror) of that 5th temple, with the traditional ruler of Scorpio – Mars – placed inside and also ruling the midheaven, but in Sagittarius rather than Scorpio. He has the same Martian leanings as Lovecraft in that he goes off on philosophical tangents and his writing is peppered with philosophical statements (compare the opening of “The Call of Cthulhu” with the opening of “Imajica” or “Everville” for good examples), but with Lovecraft this energy is supremely mental and leads him to draft long winded sentences while with Barker it’s more sensual, visceral and less mental, channeled as raw creativity than the mental and intellectual gymnastics of Lovecraft. Here is the visionary zeal, the burning hunger, the restless philosophical questing of an artist who is driven to paint, driven to write, driven to give an expression to the occulted but seductive muse that will both lead him into unfamiliar territory and reveal itself to him along the journey. It is a Mars that also sees Barkers Pluto/Tail in Leo, acknowledging the darkness – welcoming it – and finding a relatively easy and comfortable way to let it flow into creativity, and it also sees the crucial world-building cluster of Mercury/Saturn/Neptune in Libra. King has the Moon in Sagittarius in the 5th, but the Moon is fickle and he must await her inspiration, observe the rhythms. Barkers’ Mars is by comparison a whip wielding taskmaster that lashes and forces him to be creatively expressive and rarely lets him rest until he is burned out. Creative expression is more of an exhausting battle of wills, a gladiatorial arena in which Barker is an enthusiastic warrior, a crusader and a seeker of legends. He has to find ways to channel and control his creative impulses or they overwhelm his will and he becomes too much a pawn of the muses. He needs discipline and a powerful Saturn to tame that Mars or it becomes something that engulfs his life in destructive ways, and he is lucky enough to get it with an exalted Saturn in Libra bringing focus and cohesion to the Mercury/Neptune conjunction. With this fortune and a lot of hard work over long hours, Barker has forged a creative mythos of his own.

Barker’s chart is more of a puzzle than the other two given its explosive shape – it has to be played with and investigated, unlocked much like one of his more famous creations, the Lament Configuration or Lemarchand’s Box, a fiendishly sublime Chinese puzzle box that opens a passage to Hell and unleashes its monsters. However, once we understand the central impetus to create mythic worlds of the imagination is sourced in that Mercury/Saturn/Neptune focal point, the rest slots into place gradually.


The artist at work

Compared to the previous two artists the body of work created by Clive Barker has fewer interconnecting strands. He is not writing specifically about a multiverse with some connecting points like King (although he touches on that notion) nor about a singular and cohesive world like Lovecraft. Instead Barker’s imagination is pulled in many different directions at once and must intuitively fathom which one feels right to follow. This manifests not only in his plotting of stories but also before then because he has to intuit what particular art form this particular inspiration is destined to be or wants to be. Is it a painting, a sketch, short story, a comic, a novel, an epic novel series, a computer game, some unique fusion of them..? The traditional lead planet of his creative juices, the intuitive, fiery Mars in Sagittarius as ruler of Scorpio on the 5th, is courageously pulled towards dark boundaries and taboo horizons, but another one of its features is that like an arrow loosed into air it doesn’t really know where it is going until it gets there. The story or painting emerges not only through Barker but to him in a revelatory way which makes the journey transformative for him. This means that he sometimes struggles with the creative process because he doesn’t have enough information to proceed in the initial stages, but he overcomes this by trusting in the journey and by being excited by the prospect of becoming something else at the end of it.

The fact that his imagination is lured in many directions at once, literally erotically tempted by that Scorpio and a roguish Mars in the 5th, also means that Barker has created a mythos with several rich but independent worlds. Over the years some of his works have been revealed to exist in the same world as others by having the same characters show up, but generally speaking Barker creates unique visions connected more by themes and style than character and location. That said, most people associate Barker with the Hellraiser mythos named after the film “Hellraiser”. This article will look at that, but also at what many readers (and in past interviews Barker himself) have considered his best work, “Imajica”, the “Abarat” series and his impactful and enduring debut of short stories, the award winning “Books of Blood”. I will also look at the film “Nightbreed”, which has a particularly interesting astrological background.

Barker’s creations have some distinguishing features in comparison to Lovecraft and King. Firstly, his work is far more sexual, especially with respect to the imagery of piercing, bondage and S&M, but more essentially with the power of sex to transform us physically and spiritually. His work also focuses on violent transformations of the flesh as catalysts for transformations of the soul. These overall traits arise not only from the placement of Scorpio on the 5th temple with its ruler Mars in Sagittarius in the same temple but also from the powerful binding influence of Saturn over the Mercury/Neptune conjunction. With Mars in Sagittarius and Scorpio he is exploring the transformative power of crossing taboo boundaries and with Saturn present at the conjunction of Mercury/Neptune those boundaries are often informed by the way bondage affects his imagination. Note that Saturn is also ruler of the 8th, which in modern astrology is the place of sexuality, survival instincts, taboos and the processes leading up to the transformation of the soul i.e. death followed by eventual rebirth (in other words, things which both terrify and compell at the same time). Pluto in Leo with the Tail as modern ruler of the 5th is also suggestive of some kind of glamour or shining beauty with a commanding force of domination and an intense but controlled power which has both horrific and transformational potential. In Barkers creations the concepts of pleasure and pain intertwine and transform into one another like the mouth and tail of an uroboros. Any reader or viewer of Barker will quickly encounter these notions. Barker eloquently expresses his imaginations connection to Saturn in many interviews, but he gives it a particularly clear expression in the following quote, showing a high degree of conscious awareness of what he is doing:

“I want to be remembered as an imaginer, someone who used his imagination as a way to journey beyond the limits of self, beyond the limits of flesh and blood, beyond the limits of even perhaps life itself, in order to discover some sense of order in what appears to be a disordered universe. I’m using my imagination to find meaning, both for myself and, I hope, for my readers.”

Like King and Lovecraft the mythos that Barker imagines comprises many spiritual worlds beyond the physical world that we know and it is when the membrane that separates us from these metaphysical worlds becomes perforated that things can come through, which in Barkers case inevitably lead to the aforementioned transformations of flesh, soul and existence. The boundary or barrier between worlds however seems overall to be less permeable than in the Dark Tower series, for with Barker there is frequently a heavy price to pay in crossing, a pound of flesh at least, and innocence and purity offer no protection. There are also strict metaphysical rules. If these rules are followed, something happens. If you open the box, they come. This is Saturn. Barker also likes to write about objects as a means of passage between one reality and another – in “Weaveworld” it is a magic carpet within which the fabric of an entire reality is woven, while in the “Hellraiser” series it is that hellish box. Here again we can see fingerprints of Saturn in Libra, because the objects are never dull but always masterfully made, beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. They may hide despair and torment, even hell, but their outer form is artistic and often alluring.

This points to a core polarity in Barkers work in that pleasure and pain, awe and revulsion, heaven and hell are intermingled and reflect one another. The Libra emphasis of the Mercury/Saturn/Neptune is concerned with the numinous boundary between polarized ideas and the ecstasies of swinging from one end of the scale to another. It is being fair and asking, frequently, whether the real monsters are the humans. The monsters of Barker frequently evoke a sympathetic connection from the reader, they are beautiful and we relate to them even when they are horrors that terrify. That is because they are his lovers, he loves them all into being like a husband. An exalted Saturn is able to show in art what is usually unpalatable. It does so seriously, responsibly, tastefully and with a stylish elegance, and it poses difficult but troublingly fair questions. Barker also maturely explores relationships, with many of his stories actually being tales of epic romances that just happen to be set amidst fantastical realms and subversive horrors.

The 4th temples focus on home, children, location, tribe and family shows up in the fact that a considerable portion of his dark fantasy output (“The Thief of Always” and the “Abarat” series) are for both children and adults and (as with King) feature children as the main characters, but more significantly the buried matters of the past also show up in his work frequently, and place or location (like a magical object) is important and often contains a door into supernatural realms (see the graveyard of Midian in “Cabal” and its film, “Nightbreed: the Directors Cut” for a good example of this). In the original short story which began the Hellraiser mythos (“The Hellbound Heart”) these themes are very prominent with the tale being set largely in a house and being about a dysfunctional family, but the concept of finding a home, a family, a decent relationship or just a place to belong (especially when you are a freak or a monster) also play a role in many characters quests into the otherworlds, and they frequently have to come to terms with their past. Whatever its form, once you cross that threshold you are forever changed, and characters are then often confronted with a Saturnine manifestation of what they most fear in all its exalted glory. It coldly delivers judgments and tells them Libran truth, and this truth is what makes its judgment powerful and compelling but terrifying at the same time. It is often orderly, non-negotiable, disciplined, cold, bound, restrained, pierced, composed, leather clad, part of a sect, patient, it talks about pushing you beyond your limits to break you or displays other Saturn like traits.


Clive Barker – A Tree Full Of Sky, [2006]

Venus in Scorpio is a major part of the eroticism that shows up. Barker’s prose, paintings and films are not only often erotically charged, frequently in uncomfortable or taboo ways as far as mainstream culture is concerned, they are also richly sensual things. They celebrate the sensual world and its tactile wonders just as much as they celebrate the magic of the imagination. Despite being visionary he is grounded and (especially with Mars in Sagittarius) he works to the point of physical exhaustion but he is much slower to produce in comparison to King (writing is very often a slow process anyway, King is just fast). These traits emerge from his Moon and Jupiter in Taurus. The richness of his prose (exalted Moon and Jupiter in Taurus) and a visionary pursuit of philosophical matters (Mars in Sagittarius) are two very prominent features of his writing style. Things need their time to develop, but once work starts he is committed and prone to being a workaholic, and he is keen to go places with his muse so he avoids getting stuck. Personally he is also known for his love of animals and the natural world, both of which are features of Taurus and Sagittarius. The Sun by comparison is very much connected with the main event in Libra in the 4th, in fact for practical purposes I would consider it part of the conjunction. It acts to add energy, illumination and even more focus to the Mercury/Saturn/Neptune, and it brings more joy to add to that generated by Mars in the 5th, the joy of creating art (especially visually, given the Fire sign nature of this Mars). A Sun/Mercury/Saturn/Neptune stellium in Libra really underscores the art of imaginative writing which has been central to Barkers success, and he works from a base of operations in a beautiful home filled with art, plants and animals. Home is hugely important creatively to each of these writers, with all three having the ruler of the 3rd in the 4th. For both King and Barker, that planet is Mercury.

In the early 1980s Barker is inspired and in 1982 starts to write the “Books of Blood” for friends while working in the theatre scene in London. These short stories catapulted him to fame, with Stephen King providing a priceless endorsement when he said “I have seen the future of horror and its name is Clive Barker”, a quote which appeared on the cover of the first editions when they were published in 1984 (here again is that helpful connection between their mutual Mercury/Neptune conjunction). These stories are loosely connected tales which introduce the first appearance of a character in the Hellraiser universe, detective Harry D’Amour. They are widely regarded as being among Barkers best work.

At this time Pluto is just 3° away from his natal Neptune and so on top of the Sun/Mercury/Saturn/Neptune cluster, and it only gradually moves off throughout the 80s, additionally in 1981/82 both Jupiter and Saturn are there too. Neptune is also conjunct his Mars. This incredible alignment is what launches him into the world of recognizable faces. The “Books of Blood” he writes in 1982 are published in 1984 when Jupiter has moved on to his Mars in Sagittarius, and suddenly he is a published author with a worldwide following. Kings Mercury/Neptune has the activation by Pluto occurring from the mid to late 1970s, but it persists through the early 1980s to about 1982 as well and so he has the triple conjunction of Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto at about the same time, which is when Dark Tower makes it into book form. So both authors have the Mercury/Neptune parts of their chart being activated by Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto when they originally publish their mythos, and both have Pluto on Mercury/Neptune when they are catapulted to fame and wealth. The essence of this is that in the mid 70s to early 80s Pluto, the planet of horror, latches onto their Mercury/Neptune antenna and begins transmitting, first turning its gaze to King and then King directs its gaze onto Barker. Pluto brings both of them riches and fame as dark imaginers.

In 1986, when “The Hellbound Heart” is published, Pluto is now activating the erotically charged Venus in Scorpio and Jupiter is approaching his midheaven while Neptune is activating Chiron. This is when the antagonist known as Pinhead first appears. In 1987, he is turning it into the film “Hellraiser” while Neptune continues to activate Chiron as both Saturn and Uranus are conjunct his Mars and Jupiter is in Taurus at the midheaven, eventually activating the Moon and bringing a Jupiter return.

imajicapb-minBy 1991, this Jupiter has found its way to his ascendant and Pluto, and Chiron is with it. He is also having a conjunction of both Uranus and Neptune over his Mars in Sagittarius. Neptune has been near his Mars from the time he is launched and is now drifting away, but with the sudden addition of Uranus it receives a fresh supply of energy. This is when “Imajica” appears. According to Barker, “Imajica” came to him in dreams and was written fast, over about a year. It is a standalone epic and widely considered his best written work.

The currently published two “Books of the Art” (the final part remains unpublished) appear in 1989 and 1994. Both of these books contain characters who show up in the Hellraiser stories Barker has written, and so can be considered a part of or connected to that same world while also standing alone as their own series. In 1989 Barker has the last part of his activation of Mars by Uranus, which began when he released the film “Hellraiser” as well as a continuing activation of Pluto to Venus from that time. When the next and so far current title in the series appears in 1993/1994, Jupiter is in the process of crossing over the Sun/Mercury/Saturn/Neptune area and then moving on to pick up with that Venus where Pluto left off.

Barker brings an ending to the story he started in ‘The Hellbound Heart’ (1986) in 2015 with the publication of ‘The Scarlet Gospels’, which he spends a couple of years polishing before then. He probably starts to plot it out around 2011, when Saturn is at the stellium in Libra and about to reach Venus in Scorpio (2013). Jupiter is once again in the process of crossing the ascendant (2014), activating Pluto (2015), and activating the Sun/Mercury/Saturn/Neptune nexus (2016-17).

The ‘Abarat’ books are easily his most ambitious undertakings. These books are unique in that they arise from a powerful subversion of the normal creative process. As both an illustrator and writer Barker has often drawn images for his tales, but at some point he had the genius to imagine it the other way around, to paint the images first and then arrange them into a narrative, writing a story from them. These are the works of the ‘Abarat’, and he began painting them into existence in 1995. They are really works of fantasy, not horror, although there are horror elements. The first book was published in 2002, the next in 2004 and the most recent volume in 2011, with a 4th currently in production and a 5th in drafts. In 1995, Chiron is at the Libra stellium (during the previous two years Jupiter crossed the stellium, as explained earlier). When the world of ‘Abarat’ is released to the public in 2002, Barker is having a Chiron return as Jupiter is once again at the ascendant (as it was when he released ‘Imajica’). The second volume in 2004 comes into existence at the time Jupiter has moved on to activate the stellium in Libra again. The third volume in 2011? Saturn crossing the stellium (with Jupiter at the midheaven). Astrology is so much like music, with the same strings that get plucked by different instruments at different times. Barker may release the fourth book soon having just had Jupiter cross the ascendant (2015) and Libra stellium (2017), and possibly the final book in this series around 2026-2028, when Jupiter reaches the ascendant and begins its journey to the stellium again.

Jupiter seems to reward Barker – when he released his film “Nightbreed” in 1990, he was deeply dissatisfied with what the studio did to his creative work. They tacked on a happier ending and eroded much of the essential meaning of the film. Barkers version was lost when the footage went missing and was presumed gone forever. This was a heartbreaking (Leo rising) experience for the artist. Jupiter was at his ascendant, but Chiron was also on his ascendant while Uranus was at his natal Chiron – a painful experience. However, the lost footage was miraculously recovered in 2009 (Pluto was activating Mars, and he described it as like watching the film come back from the dead) and 5 years later in 2014 his film is actually released containing the real ending and 40m of extra material. Jupiter is at the Leo ascendant again but without Chiron this time, instead having breakthrough support from Uranus at the midheaven. This was a very happy occasion for the artist.

As can be seen from this, Barkers Sun/Mercury/Saturn/Neptune Libra stellium is once again the core factor that receives stimulus during his imaginative world building, with the 5th, its ruler and contents, and the ascendant and midheaven also being significant.


As we have seen throughout this article, the major turning points in the world or mythos building output of these three imaginers is symbolised by major conjunctions to planetary clusters around Neptune, planets of the 5th, and the midheaven and ascendant. The conjunction of planets with Neptune in their natal charts makes them receptive to these events from birth and allows them to find a way to ‘pin down’ the nebulous and elusive power of Neptune, giving it form. Jupiter often plays a major role in timing their inspiration and Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio have been important signs.

Authors write their own lives, even when they heavily disguise them. Some artists use their astrological aspects creatively and express the tensions in the more difficult placements of their personalities in their artistic creations. This may well mitigate the trouble they could potentially cause in real life, and thus be an act of magic. Our lives are inner stories we are in the creative process of giving form to and externally telling, and so the stories we tell with them in art express that inner story. 


Song of the Wave: On Cancer

Greetings, and welcome back to another month of JourneysToday I’m sharing with you an article on the constellation and zodiac sign of Cancer. Another article in this journal connected to Saturn in Cancer is also currently available. 

Large_breaking_wave (1)

Song of the Wave

The strong shore is my beloved
And I am his sweetheart.
We are at last united by love, and
Then the moon draws me from him.
I go to him in haste and depart
Reluctantly, with many
Little farewells.

I steal swiftly from behind the
Blue horizon to cast the silver of
My foam upon the gold of his sand, and
We blend in melted brilliance.

I quench his thirst and submerge his
Heart; he softens my voice and subdues
My temper.
At dawn I recite the rules of love upon
His ears, and he embraces me longingly.

At eventide I sing to him the song of
Hope, and then print smooth kisses upon
His face; I am swift and fearful, but he
Is quiet, patient, and thoughtful. His
Broad bosom soothes my restlessness.

As the tide comes we caress each other,
When it withdraws, I drop to his feet in

Many times have I danced around mermaids
As they rose from the depths and rested
Upon my crest to watch the stars;
Many times have I heard lovers complain
Of their smallness, and I helped them to sigh.

Many times have I teased the great rocks
And fondled them with a smile, but never
Have I received laughter from them;
Many times have I lifted drowning souls
And carried them tenderly to my beloved
Shore. He gives them strength as he
Takes mine.

Many times have I stolen gems from the
Depths and presented them to my beloved
Shore. He takes them in silence, but still
I give for he welcomes me ever.

In the heaviness of night, when all
Creatures seek the ghost of Slumber, I
Sit up, singing at one time and sighing
At another. I am awake always.

Alas! Sleeplessness has weakened me!
But I am a lover, and the truth of love
Is strong.
I may be weary, but I shall never die.

Kahlil Gibran

The magic of the shoreline is something almost all people can relate to. There is something deeply primal and satisfying for the soul in standing before the vast ocean and watching, listening and feeling it wash up against the skin of the land and body, something akin to coming home. Perhaps it is an evolutionary memory, deeply embedded in every living soul that dwells upon the land, or perhaps it is the spirit of the ocean itself playing with our senses. Whatever it is, we feel something vast and comforting, even nurturing from contact with the ocean, and the shoreline is the place where this magic lives.

Cancer is the supreme master of this domain, the only creature in the zodiacal pantheon truly equipped to navigate between both the realm of the ocean and dry land. It’s counterpart sign Capricorn also has a form which enables it to move between both of these realms but it is far less practical being a hybridised form while the form of the crab is naturally suited to both without needing modification of a base form. Additionally the crab is able to sink below the waves while the sea-goat can only navigate their surfaces.

In modern astrology which lacks an emphasis on the magical that astrology once had the sign of Cancer is largely concerned with family matters and parental instincts as well as experiences connected with establishing a home or a base of safety and retreat. As with all zodiac signs today, however, once we stop paddling and begin wading into the sea, the wonderland is found hidden away beneath the surface, not just a memory but a living thing. 


Well Armoured


Risk Averse
Self Satisfied



Perhaps surprisingly for a Water sign the history of the constellation Cancer is connected with the northern hemisphere summer solstice, the heart of summer. About 6,000 years ago the stars which were seen to rise just before the dawn at the (northern hemisphere) summer solstice were the stars of the constellations Hydra and Leo, as they had been for centuries, but it became gradually apparent to observers that a new set of stars were appearing, and by 2,000 BCE the faint and somewhat dim stars of Cancer had replaced those of Hydra and Leo as the solstice heliacal rising stars. As far as we can tell the constellation was officially linked to the shape of a crab by the Chaldeans, who had noted the sideways movement of the Sun as it enters this constellation. In other words, surviving records show that the stars were given to the form of a crab at least 4,000 years ago by the way the solstice Sun moved into them as it rose. About this time texts appear in Egyptian culture connecting these stars with the sacred Scarab Beetle and the deity Khepri, signifying it as a place where Ra the solar deity was reborn – the solstice occurs as the Sun enters Cancer – a Scarab to the Egyptians – upon which the Nile flooded and the land was made fertile. Thus early connotations relate to both the power of light and the Sun and a flooding of water that brings life. Without this water, ancient Egyptian culture could not have existed at all.

Egypte_Karnak_KhepriKhepri literally means ‘He Who is Coming into Being’ and the deity is known as one that miraculously gives birth to itself. The hatching of the young dung beetle was akin to this self creation. Several telling connections emerge when we look into the significance and meaning of this name and the hieroglyph for ‘scarab’ in ancient Egyptian. It has the phonetic value of (k)hpr (the adopted pronunciation with vowels being Kheper) and it acts as an ideogram for the dung beetle insect itself but also stands as a verb which expresses the notion of finding ones home or role within the cyclical nature of life. Phonetically (i.e. by the sound of the word) it not only lends itself to Khepri, deity of the risen or dawn Sun, but also to the noun for the ball of dung the scarab beetle rolls and a verb which describes the shaping or molding of something on a potters wheel. These important and fascinating details touch upon much of the core magic and mystery of Cancer, today very much shrouded deeply in forgotten ancient history.

Elsewhere in the ancient world the traditions and stories of a Mother Turtle and a World Turtle – present in North and South America and throughout Asia but particularly in India and China, among others – are also connecting with these same notions. In Cheyenne tradition, the great creator spirit Maheo kneads some mud he takes from a birds beak until it expands so much that only Old Grandmother Turtle can support it on her back. In Mohawk tradition, earthquakes and tremors are thought of as a sign that the World Turtle is stretching beneath the great weight that she carries. Similar beliefs appear all over the ancient world.

Centuries after Khepri the Greeks tell a tale of Hercules fighting the Hydra and being attacked by a crab, who had been sent by jealous Hera to distract him in battle. Hercules either kicks crab into the heavens or Hera sets crab there as a reward for its loyalty and bravery after it tenaciously pinches his toe. It seems likely that the figure of crab was inserted into the tale of the 12 labors of Hercules much later to make them coincide with the zodiac, and it also seems likely that the tale of the Hydra and Hercules, with the Hydra being slain and the crab then set in the heavens, is a reference to the precession drama mentioned earlier, with Cancer displacing Hydra as the heliacal stars of the dawn at summer solstice. If so, this would roughly date the Hercules story to about 2,000 BC. However, there is an earlier Mesopotamian myth concerning Ninurta in which Ninurta battles with a giant turtle, concerning which we do not know the complete story because the tablets are broken, but this may well form an earlier version of the Hercules story which was simply reinvented later by the ancient Greeks.

The Greeks also tell another story related to Cancer, a tale involving Dionysus that is probably far older than the Hercules story. Dionysus places two donkeys in this constellation (two stars) for the favour of carrying him through marshland. Later, the tale of Dionysus and the donkeys is reiterated by Christian theology as the constellation of Cancer is identified as a manger and two donkeys. Another Greek legend carries a significant resonance with Cancer and provides an alternative creation myth. According to this myth an immortal and immensely strong giant crab named Crios was set to guard the sea nymphs by Poseidon, considered by him to be his daughters. During the assault by Typhon (the god of monsters) on the gods of Olympus, Poseidon flees into hiding and Crios sets to zealously defending the nymphs, whom he will not let out of his grasp. The nymphs become restless and convince themselves that they are in no danger, and some escape into the ocean. Crios is trapped by a dilemma, since he cannot leave the other nymphs but must pursue his duty, so he calls on the help of an ally, a giant squid named Vamari. But Vamari, whose name means ‘vampire squid’, can only betray Crios. After devouring them Vamari tells Crios he could not find them, but Crios is too astute and sees the truth in the beak, as it were. Crios attacks Vamari and an epic undersea battle ensues in which Vamari is killed and Crios is horrifically crippled. As with Chiron, immortality becomes a curse of unending pain, a curse which Poseidon frees him from by placing him in the night sky.

As the history of human cultures developed the concept of life-giving waters popular in Egyptian times seems to have flowed into later medieval and middle age notions connected with Cancer. As a walker between the worlds, a creature inhabiting the shoreline between the ocean and the land, Chaldean and Platonist philosophy labeled Cancer as the “Gates of Men”, an esoteric portal in the sky through which souls were delivered to be born upon the world. Its opposite sign, Capricorn, was similarly labeled the “Gate of Gods” and supposed to be the place where souls were delivered to heaven after their death. This concept linking Cancer to divine birthplaces may have been influenced by the notion of the constellation being a baby born in a manger. It is additionally worth noting in this respect that when the Sun entered Cancer at the solstice it was at its highest point in the sky while at the winter solstice of Capricorn it was at the lowest point in the sky. Additionally, although it may be purely coincidental, it is also interesting to note how this resonates with the hermetic philosophy of the spheres, wherein the sphere neighboring our earthly plane is that of the Moon (the ruler of Cancer), a sphere which acts as the final destination of souls preparing to incarnate upon the Earth, while the sphere furthest from our earthly plane and thus the final sphere which the soul passes through after death is that of Saturn (the ruler of Capricorn).

So the stars of Cancer are anciently connected with the Egyptian deity Khepri and the principle of rebirth and immortality, especially of the solar principle at the summer solstice. By the time of the Greeks they are connected to the concepts of tenacity, stubbornness and determination, as the legend of the crab attacking the toe of Hercules while it combats the Hydra demonstrate, and the Chaldeans and Platonic thinkers begin describing it as the ‘Gates of Man’ through which souls are incarnated. From these mythic associations modern day zodiacal Cancer draws its significance with mothers, birthing, nurturing and caring for life. The myths and lore make clear that Cancer therefore represents the emergence of being from the primordial ocean, not just physically in terms of biological evolution but also esoterically in terms of life itself. In many mystery schools the magic of Cancer was concerned with understanding the mysteries of birth, midwifery, the umbilical cord, and everything connected with motherhood, not just from a physical point of view but from a spiritual one as well, and it’s inner sanctum mysteries touch upon immortality and the eternal nature of life cycles. In modern times we have learned that Cancer contains at least 10 star systems with planets, and so it may yet nurture extraterrestrial life waiting to be discovered.



Cancer is ruled by the Moon and as such is the nurturing light of nature which plays a role in the earliest family bonds (the zodiacal sign resembles a mothers arms and breasts, and a fathers sperm), it represents a parental instinct that incubates and protects all vulnerable living things while they are young, a state of peace and comfort that many later aspire to return to or simulate. It is the memory of nest and womb. Watery realms of caring, sympathy, devotion, protectiveness, cautious empathy and the family of humanity which connects us to our ancient and wise ancestors are its domain.

The powerful but subtle Magnetic forces of the Moon connect it to all rhythms and tides, such as those of the sea and those of moods. Cancer is also Active or Cardinal Water, which has the qualities of being strongly focused on newly emerging and youthful (childlike) feelings. It is by nature among the most naive and vulnerable of signs, like a child splashing around barefoot near a pretty coral. Early traumas stimulate the hardening of the external carapace and are thus a necessary growth stage. As a Cardinal or Active expression of Water it carries and expresses the essential qualities of Water gushing forwards and then pulling back – it is fluctuating, rhythmic, magnetic, fluidic, tidal and reflective. Cancer is by nature also conservative, cautious and a general master of defensive tactics. When forced into direct confrontation its attitude is to grip and squeeze its prey with all its considerable might until the threat retreats, but this is generally a last resort in desperate circumstances where the only other option is death. Cancer is also an acquisitive and retentive sign being very shrewd and often careful about paying or incurring debt (of all kinds).

Hard shells or external skeletons have always been associated with this creature, whatever form it has taken – scarab to the Egyptians, crab to the Chaldeans, tortoise to the Babylonians and Chinese, lobsters, crayfish and other shore dwellers elsewhere in the world. So one of its essential qualities is armour and protective defensive tactics, which leads to the concept of being a home-loving person, since homes are where we feel most safe and protected, and thus also we are led to the concepts of family and parenthood – a form of continual or everlasting life. So where these stars were once symbols for immortality acquired through alchemical rebirth as an eternal being (Khepri) their concepts have now been watered down to represent the immortality of having children.

Cancer is the sign of the nurturing spirit, the parent and the child within embracing one another, the natural feeling of wanting to protect and shield the vulnerable. It radiates its spirit with intuitive nurturing and protective empathy and is essentially passive, feeling, reserved, prone to changing moods, sensitive and gentle, instinctively backing away from confrontation. This sign is the zodiacal master of defence for a reason – like the crab, it will surround its part of the chart in a bony shell-like exterior but within it is a softer, wet white heart that can be easily and mercilessly squished by others. So it instinctively avoids quarrels and prefers to scuttle sideways to confuse predators (being a Jedi master of evasive tactics) or buries itself in the sand (hides away) if truly threatened.

This brings up the important theme of the nature of this creature’s movement – the sideways motion of crab as well as its instinct to bury itself and hide away in crevices is often interpreted to mean that Cancer is evasive and indirect, too timid to approach things head on. This is only a partial truth and not the real quality being described by the movement. The real quality being signified here is that of lateral tactical thinking, the ability to come up with completely new approaches by coming at things from a strange and unanticipated direction. Cancer is a Cardinal sign, born to lead, but its leadership is via Water and Luna which means it is based on gut instincts and feelings – hunches – thus the Cancerian leadership is not in knowing why it must go in a certain direction, only in knowing that it must. It cannot explain why it wants to lead its devoted and beloved clutch this way, along this current, it only knows that the mysterious Moon pulls it there and its soul trusts in Her nurturing light, always. For She is Mother, and She is provider, protector and nurturer. She is Cancer. The Cancerian way can therefore be very difficult and alienating for anything but other Water signs to understand because it requires sensitivity to the most subtle and mysterious shifts within the vast and invisible astral sea that surrounds us. Like fish in an ocean we see it not but we depend on it for life, and Cancer knows this by instinct and seeks to care for those close to it as a way of protecting them from that which they cannot fathom. More than any other sign, Cancer is cognizant of predators – that is why it is so defensively equipped. Even the eyes are retractable into the shell, but the design is also made extendable and rotates so that they can survey a greater area. The slightest whiff of a bad smelling current sends them scurrying off on preprogrammed defense routines. Hesitation here can mean death, so the safest course is to assume the worst, at least in the crabs world. That giant Megalodon hunter from a bygone age may be bygone and that may just be a pacifistic whale over there, but best not wait around to find out.

We must also note the crabs ability to exist in contrasting environments, being able to exist on land or on the ocean floor, and its behaviour in both which involves finding a cave or a rock pool to hide away in, much like another shell. The crab that survives for long is also inevitably forced to shed and migrate its shell for an upgrade when it outgrows it, a moment of supreme but absolutely necessary vulnerability. This raises two important points, one being the ability to walk between disparate worlds and another being about what is adequate protection for that navigation. This really goes to a core dilemma of the sign – how to explore the depths of the astral world while remaining safe and protected from its pressures and denizens, but without sacrificing too much of the ability to sense the environment.

Most important of all, however, is the signs ability to empathise and sympathise through the medium of Active or Cardinal Water, which is supremely developed, along with its incredible connection to the imagination and roaming through the faerie lands in wistful reverie – the creature is deeply connected to the Dreamtime. Think on the way the crab presses its belly to the ground like a reptile, feeling all the vibrations through sand as well as sea. Only a serpent has greater connection to the pulse of the worlds heart. This is the source of the signs widely reputed psychic gifts, its uncanny sense of unseen currents which are in a continuous flux, yet somehow Cancer remains in step with them. The waxing and waning magic of the Moon provides many benefits for them, even when the soul is largely unconscious of its nature. The more mundanely focused Cancerian entity is usually renowned for a cunning and inexplicably canny business sense.


This Dreamtime connection influences all of the crabs habits. For example, as explained in the section on lore, when the Sun enters zodiacal (tropical) Cancer on the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere it marks the beginning of the high point of the solar year, the time of fertilization, a time when the powers of light and life are at a peak of strength. In Egypt this was the time when the heliacal rising of Sirius heralded the flooding of the Nile delta, without which civilization would perish. Similar ceremonies have been conducted at this time of year in all countries across the world, and so this is a magically charged sign with an ancient and ritualized history. This suits its zodiacal nature which is focused on all the riches and treasures of the past, including traditions, forgotten history and imaginings of what it was like to live through certain times. This gives them an impressive emotional memory, lacking in granular details but able to evoke the feelings of the past with supreme ease. This evocation is fueled by the Dreamtime connection the sign has. The outer world pales in comparison to the inner world the crab truly dwells within, but as a consummate walker between worlds Cancer knows that it must live in both. The worries of mundane things pull it out of the fantasy realm and back to the feathering of the nest and the maintenance of the perimeter defenses.

Given a love of comfort and introspection Cancer likes to stay at home. It is a private sign and loves its own space because it is not only safest but also most comfortable. Comfort is almost an aphrodisiac for Cancer – warm slippers, a cosy fire, perhaps some mulled whiskey and a box of chocolates or something like it will always melt their hearts, but they more often tend to be the ones offering such things to those in their nest and so make devoted and caring lovers. However, they develop a vice like grip over these things that can crush the life out of them and generate anxiety over losing them – the sign is very much aware of the cyclical nature of life and thus worries about losing the things it is devoted to protecting.

The vice like grip of this creature also extends to material matters, although this is not for material purposes but rather it is driven by the need to safe guard what is treasured, loved and cared about. The motivation is to accrue a legacy which will serve as a nest egg or insurance for the family or closest associates. To this end, Cancerians are amazingly shrewd and cautious investors and will not let go of what they feel is rightfully theirs. So there is a pinching, grasping nature and a willingness to fight for profits not for personal material gain but for personal astral gain and the hesitancy with which things are considered lends a resistance to scams and superficial agreements. Cancer is not at all hasty – it has Treebeard syndrome – and so not an easy sign to persuade into big risks, it prefers to absorb, reflect and cogitate, blowing bubbles up to see where they lead before making a move. And yet who can love without taking extreme risk? Thus the Cancerian in us must learn to trust in order to find the fulfillment it seeks.

While generally lacking or disliking discipline having no interior skeleton and thus tending to ignore problems until they are unavoidable Cancer does display great emotional self control at times. As already noted, Cancer is also not a sign that is easily provoked – the restraint towards taking hasty actions is near perfect and great consideration is given to personal matters before moving ahead, and even then the course will be somewhat convoluted and indirect; the crab moves sideways and does not face into its course head on. In addition, it finds great strength in intuitive reasoning, sensing the currents and movements in both the water and the air with an impressive sensory array. This affords it a unique and somewhat strange perspective, a capacity to see courses of action that others cannot fathom at all and the ability to ken things from a more intuitive and lateral perspective that can make the reasoning involved in their eventual course of action mystifying to others. Yet the vacillation and hesitancy can be crippling under extreme pressures of time when decisions have to be made quickly, especially when they affect the people it cares about. Under these circumstances there is a real potential for some kind of paralysis followed by a breakdown. When such decisions are made they are always felt to be unhappy ones because it is the consideration of the course that makes it feel safe. An unplanned and uncharted journey into strange and mysterious lands is the antithesis of the Cancerian idea of a good time – it is a hobbit, and it really has no business with wizards and strange rings. Life of course, may have other ideas, as other factors in astrology may indicate a more adventurous streak or shake things up.

hermit-crab-2059152_1920This could arise from the square Cancer makes with Aries, the clash between making a direct punch to your enemies face and coming up underneath them through the sand, the problem of having to make a snap decision under adrenaline charged events when every instinct of the crab calls it to retreat, to hide, to dodge the bullet. The square with Libra is more concerned with the inability to come to agreements and decisions, as well as different ways of showing care and affection. The problems there also often have to do with a problematic child/parent dynamic in relationships. Capricorn, the opposite sign, is simply opposed to Cancer in its methods, wherein the Cancerian method is to nurture and protect through emotional bonding (building a nest), the Capricorn tactic is instead material and practical (to build a castle). As I have mentioned the sea-goat is, however, a hybrid with the ability to traverse the ocean and land, its just not able to do so below the surface level. It does not know the ocean floor, or what is below it. Conversely, a crab on a mountain top is in dire straights. The moisture of the ocean is vital to its life.

With Scorpio, Cancer finds an ally who not only knows the deeps without being subjected to their fluctuating rhythms but is also ready to face the darkness and the predators on its behalf. Scorpio, in turn, finds an entity it can trust and instinctively wants to protect, something the crab deeply appreciates. With Pisces the alliance is different – the fish and the crab share the same evasive instincts and vulnerabilities, but the crab is much better equipped to deal with threats and lends Pisces some of its armour in terms of forewarning and caution, while Cancer gains initiation into its mystical side and opens itself to perceive more of the vast ocean of feelings. Taurus and Virgo both stimulate Cancer with the awareness that its defenses rest on collecting and maintaining its resources and also reinforce and stimulate the prudent, passive and cautious qualities of the sign. Cancer keeps both of these Earth signs from drying up by becoming too detached from the world of feelings.

Along with Capricorn, its external counterpart, Cancer is what I call a constructive sign meaning that it is involved in constructing forms out of its Element, in this case Water. Yet unlike Saturnine, Earthy Capricorn, which is focused on constructing an external order of form (rules) for its reality to often stubbornly adhere to, Cancer is ruled by the Moon and represents an internal, supremely Magnetic expression which draws the soul inwards, into itself, constructing a capsule, a shell, a rhythmic shield or cloak of moods and feelings (habits) and adhering often stubbornly to them. Cancer is therefore exceptionally introspective and self reflecting.

Cancer is classified in traditional astrological writings as being ‘cold and moist’, attributes which lend it to the phlegmatic or melancholic humour. The coldness has nothing to do with being remote and aloof, it is instead about not making any hasty moves and being very slow to rouse to anger. Its heavy armour keeps most people (i.e. gulls looking to get at its soft parts) at a safe distance, and a somewhat gelid inner nature which makes it resistant to change. Fundamental to this sign is the awareness that the forming of close bonds depends upon sharing emotions and feelings and so Cancer encourages others to form communities based on a shared emotional experience. It is the architect of shared emotional experience because it understands that when we remember something together the feelings we have from those memories bond us closer together. It is therefore a sign fond of asking if people remember this or that – a person, a place, an encounter, a song – anything that evokes a shared emotional reaction, especially a sentimental one. This focus on forming and maintaining emotional bonds is why I refer to Cancer as a sign of constructive processes. It is forever building and caring for its family, its clan, its tribe, whoever they may be, not primarily on a physical level but on an astral one, frequently by reinforcing or invoking the significance of the past. The clan frequently becomes the very centre of existence, the life nucleus that must be ritually nursed and protected at all costs, the treasured heart of the story. So Cancer/Capricorn is the pair of signs which I call the constructive processes, signs which are concerned with ways to protect, preserve and sustain things in time and space.



Cancer hearkens to the past and has a vivid memory whilst also being attached to the objects of the past, particularly those with an antique or sentimental value such as an old but comfortable pair of slippers, a family heirloom, a valuable antique, or an old photograph collection. It is not the material value of old objects that appeals to Cancer but the link they have to the past which makes such things treasures. The primal and supremely formative significance of the past is the special forte of Cancer, giving rise to a rich, deep and often sentimental devotion to history and nostalgia and inviting the dangers of historical inertia, resistance to moving forwards in motion through time. Likewise, family ties are a valued link to the past and Cancer is often interested in the ancestry of things. Planets in Cancer are nostalgic and often have powerful roots in the experiences of childhood and early family situations; many modern astrologers see a link with Cancer and the principles of genetics, wherein selected characteristics are passed down through time and family lineage. Those with Cancer strong may be the inheritors of potent genetic strands, codes which link their lives with those of distant historical relatives, which may also explain their love of their family and of the past, at least biologically. However a single sign like Cancer will never be the only indicator of such a thing.

The many sympathies and analogies of Cancer in nature (some of which are borrowed from the Moon) include the pearl and the moonstone, the creatures of the shoreline, opals, dung beetles, oysters, silver, quartz, shells which have been inhabited, mother of pearl, lobsters, shellfish, snails, turtles, tortoises, nest builders, mammals, merfolk, sea nymphs, water lilies, fossils, watermelon, barnacles, kelp, algae and creatures which keep their young close, especially if this is throughout life. It is analogous to moonlight, rock pools, nests and animal lairs, hermitages and cottages, the sea and rivers, grottos, fresh water, to places where caring and nurturing take place (hospitals, nurseries, schools, family estates), and inside a home to the kitchen, cellar, and places near water like the pond, bathroom and faucets. In the bodies of people it relates to the sensations of wet and cold, the stomach meridian, externally in the body to the breasts and chest and elbows, internally it connects to the stomach, digestive organs and womb (Cancer is a fruitful sign giving potential for easy pregnancy), and structurally to the ribcage, to emotional security of the soul and so thereby to the Svadhistana chakra (sacral wheel, as receptivity to oceans of feeling and fertility). Its colouring is discrete or pale shades of milky, sea green and creamy white or silver, it is analogous to the direction due north, all foods from the sea and the culinary art of cooking in general. Its alchemical process is dissolution (dissolving or transforming of a substance into a liquid) and its astrological processes are constructive, internalizing and form building. In the Gra Kabbalistic Tree it is the Path from Binah to Tiphareth and thus the 9th Path of Wisdom (‘Pure Consciousness, which ‘purifies the essence of the Sephirot. It provides and adapts the design of their patterns and establishes their unity. They remain united, without diminution or division’. Its magic is represented in the Tarot by the Chariot, by the Hebrew letter Cheth (‘Corral, Fence’) and the musical tone D#, and includes the integration of form and consciousness, magic of the translocation of consciousness from one form or vessel to another, the magic of time, magical enlightenment and the mysteries of initiation. In mundane astrology there is a Cancer Sun in the charts for Thailand (1932), Mozambique (1975), Croatia (1991), Slovenia (1991), Madagascar (1960), Seychelles (1976), Somalia (1960), Djibouti (1977), Canada (1867), Vietnam (1976), Zaire (1960), USA (1776), Philippines (1946), Cape Verde Islands (1975), Solomon Islands (1978), Bahamas (1973), Iraq (1958) and Afghanistan (1973). Well known faces with Cancer in emphasis include Ross Perot (Sun, Moon and ascendant), Harrison Ford (Sun and Moon), Cecil Rhodes (Sun and Moon), Giorgio Armani (Sun and Moon), Camilla Parker Bowles (Sun and Moon), Louis XII of France (“Father of the People”, Sun and Moon), George Michael (Sun and ascendant), Ingmar Bergman (Sun and ascendant), John Inman (Sun and ascendant), Merv Griffin (Sun and ascendant), Jeffrey Archer (Moon and ascendant), Farrah Fawcett (Moon and ascendant), William Blake (Moon and ascendant), Rembrandt (Sun), Nikola Tesla (Sun), Rubens (Sun), Willem Dafoe (Sun), Louis Armstrong (Sun), John Dee (Sun), James I of England (Sun), Louis XI of France (Sun), Sylvester Stallone (Sun), Richard Branson (Sun), Robin Williams (Sun), Earnest Hemingway (Sun), Robert Hooke (Sun), Diana Princess of Wales (Sun), 14th Dalai Lama (Sun), Barbara Cartland (Sun), Bill Haley (Sun), Ernest Hemingway (Sun), Frida Kahlo (Sun), Julian Assange (Sun), George W. Bush (Sun), Kathy Bates (Sun), Meryl Streep (Sun) and Ringo Starr (Sun).



Crabs are influenced by the phases of the Moon and the tides which are generated by the rhythmic waxing and waning, pulling and pushing of the Moon. Their behaviour – and their sensory array – is extremely subtle (or obtuse) and finely calibrated (or oversensitive). They are flawed as highly habitual creatures – one habit crabs have which I witnessed as a young child with my parents and sister (when we used to catch them and then let them go for a race back to the ocean) is when they are put in a container and one tries to escape the others will pull him back down, giving rise to the term “crabs in a barrel”, which relates to those who envy another’s success and go out of their way to do things to hold them back and drag them down. The expression is generally applied to those who are from the same clan or background (such as class, race or job) that do not like to see others of their kind achieve more than they have. I have found this behaviour in the Cancerians I have known, generally fueled by fear of missing out or being left behind, along with a tenacious grip on things that they should let go of for their own good – if you know how to be gentle crabs are extremely easy to catch, since so long as you draw the line up slowly so that they do not fall off they have an innate instinct not to let go of the bait.

Cancer displays a degree of sensitivity overall and a sentimental attachment to the past, our parents or family, a dependence on them or our own need to care or be taken care of. Frequently a powerful emotional bond with one or both parents will lie at the root of what Cancer is doing in our lives and the influence will be nuanced and murky. Deep down inside we all have an instinctive fear of letting go of their protection, and even if they have long died some form of bondage to their influence persists and it falls to us to transform it into something less compulsive and deeply felt.

Cancer can be suffocatingly protective, ridiculously defensive, infuriatingly difficult to pin down, fatally and irrationally tenacious, horribly moody, utterly unwilling to let go, completely timid, stubborn, evasive, shy and as reclusive as a hermit crab. The sign can be too evasive, smothering, stubborn, paranoid and anxious and in romantic and sexual encounters it has to drop its shields and make itself vulnerable to rejection and loss so that it can experience love at all. To avoid this entirely Cancer can end up sealing itself into a suit of armour that limits its mobility and imprisons its soul, all because it is so sensitive to the currents that ripple through the astral sea. It sinks to the ocean floor and crawls into a cave, never to be seen again, hidden away behind ruses and sand. On the other hand, not enough protection will cause the shells to rupture under the pressures or turn crab into a tasty meal for someone else. So the dilemma is in finding the right balance between feeling our sensitivity, allowing it to direct our actions, and on the other claw pinching it off so that is not threatened or leads to harm. This innate sensitivity brings out the sometimes severe vulnerability to the feelings of other people and things, particularly those which are defenseless, like children. It can also contribute to the worrisome and fretful nature of the sign, because sensitivity to tiny ripples in the current of the environment can hint at larger things moving in the murkier depths.

Indecisiveness is not really a part of Active sign behaviour – they are the initiators of action – but in Cancer it finds a curious expression in all matters other than those in which it has a strong instinct – in other words, when the matter is one for the head and not the heart or when there is a threat it does not understand Cancer is indecisive because of its sensitivity. It does not want to choose an unsafe direction, and without the guidance of its inner Moon (which typically is not entirely punctual and does not present until it is absolutely necessary) it cannot fathom which way to turn, especially when there is a time pressure involved (Cancer lies opposite to Capricorn, which knows just how to handle such time pressures but has no clue about the world of feelings). It will vacillate and circle the decision, ramping up its anxiety with all the fretting about it. On top of this Cancer is also at times paralyzed by too many ripples in the ocean happening at once, a situation it interprets as pure chaos and will often attempt to retreat from. So much of this creature’s behaviour is instinctual and also devoted, not least to its own safety.

crab-1934088_1920Cancer emphasizes passive defenses but is far from defenseless when it comes to a tussle – those claws have powerful muscles and can really squeeze hard. Jagged, powerful pincers are primarily a food utensil and serve as a deterrent more than an actual weapon, though they can be used to draw blood and crush bones in an attack if necessary, and once they have a hold of someone’s toe they can be a devil to shake off. This kind of possessiveness is often an instinctive response when Cancer grows sentimentally attached to someone or thing, because like a child relies upon its parents for emotional support it has come to rely on loved ones and loved things, or they upon it, or both. It goes both ways, with parents finding it naturally hard to watch their children grow up and leave them. This ignites the signs yearning for a rosier, dreamlike past. There is usually an unreasonable fear of what will happen if it does let go of the people or things that make it feel safe, or of what might go wrong if it stops fussing so much over everything its loved ones do.

Devotion and tenacity, then, are a significant characteristic of the Cancerian spirit which can be put to good use or useless use – if the Active Water in us allows fear and anxiety to take too great a role in our life then we will ultimately tenaciously cling too tightly to things we love and squeeze them painfully, perhaps causing them to shake us loose, hopefully before we crush them. Mothering easily becomes smothering. But if fear and anxiety over the future are faced head on they can be transformed into a more sensible approach to shielding and insuring our life and the lives of those we care about and the Cancerian tenacity can find a more productive outlet, especially when times do actually become unsettled. If the fear of the future is transformed so too is the tendency to smother with our care. Worry and anxiety can become stubborn habits that we must break so that our powerful intuitive nature can manifest its true potential. The resolve to take care of others must be kept swept free of the fear of failing them, a fear which is entwined with the sentimental affection we feel for them – the deeper our feelings, the more likely we are to worry about someone.

The root of these complex anxieties must be dealt with if we are to properly care for the people we love – including and especially ourselves. We must work with obstinate determination towards a state where our desire to nurture another does not cause us to feel distress and anxiety, as these feelings prevent us from seeing ourselves clearly on many basic levels and when you cannot see yourself you lose your way and cannot protect anyone. Cancer must understand, probably the hard way, that sometimes we need to just watch people we really care about make awful mistakes and just prepare ourselves to be there for them later rather than getting directly involved at the time. This is far easier said than done, and sometimes there is real danger involved, sometimes your baby brother thinks he can fly away from the nest just after he emerges from the egg. These are true trials for the astrological Cancerian within us, because often the line between where we should intervene and where we should not is unclear. Sometimes it’s even worse – sometimes you wake up to find your baby brother turned into a serial killer, and now you have to live with deeply conflicted feelings that could tear your life apart. The entanglements and dark emotional complications of blood and kin are classic shadows of this sign. So too are fascistic regimes, xenophobia, isolationism and racism born of a clannish and tribal national identity. As an example this dark side of Cancer is very much a part of what the United States, born on July 4th, is currently wrestling with – its external ‘mothering’ of the world seems long to have become the meddlesome smothering of free nations and at the same time internal issues of racism and bigotry left over from the colonial era, the slave trade and even further back than this in history with the genocide of the tribes – all these dark manifestations of zodiacal Cancer are graphically emerging as Pluto in Capricorn approaches the place it was in when the US was formed (Pluto return), aspecting its Cancer Sun by opposition along the way.


Cancer may also need to learn that the best way to care for the people we love is to nurture ourself first so that there is something of quality to give. The empathy and sympathy of the sign can lay traps – by being so understanding, so easygoing and nurturing towards others we can very quickly lose sight of our own inner needs, and when they become invisible to the Cancerian in us we often then expect others to notice and nurture us back, which they invariably fail to do since our inner needs are invisible to them too. This can be particularly true if there is a void where our parents unconditional love should be. In this respect during times of great pressure or uncertainty Cancer is a sign of supreme self neglect, and in such situations can throw itself frantically and desperately into a Herculean task of tackling everyones problems, too many foes or an adversary far beyond its power to budge, taking on too many worries in the process and potentially bringing about catastrophic health consequences. In fact many of the Cancerian health problems can be traced back to this kind of reactionary behaviour or to two other root causes.

The first is vitality: Cancer may be a fertile sign but it is a sluggish creature that lacks a consistent and rich connection to vital life force making it slow, prone to laziness and tidal – the vital life animating its existence ebbs and flows and is swished and swayed by the astral wind so that it is always in flux and always either coming in or going out, rising or sinking, welling or draining. The cycle of temporal life is in continuous flux – this is one of the inner mysteries of the sign – and so the cycle of our temporally bound vitality must be investigated so that we can start to put a picture together of the influences which cause it to wax and wane. Once we understand the tidal rhythm of our own life energy our vitality will synchronise more harmoniously and smoothly with events and circumstances, our overall health will improve (fewer colds, quicker recovery etc.) and we will have more energy. Pay close attention to how your moods are tied in with the temple the Moon is in as well as the temple key Cancer controls and learn how to navigate your own oceans.

The tendency to laziness leads into the third major cause of health problems that arise from a Cancer Sun – a potentially fatal fondness for coziness and comfort, coupled with a fantasy prone imagination that tends to both daydream through life and fret about things it cannot control or which do not really call for alarm. Continuously. They can be an incredible drain on everyone around them with this behaviour. Cancer is a sign that fusses to make everything snug and homely, and will form sentimental attachments to many things and people in the course of its life. The attachment to living a comfortable and cozy life may not seem all that threatening to health, but here we have to broaden our minds to encompass a broader definition of health and what it is. Living in comfort zones all the time inevitably leads to an unhealthy situation because it imprisons the circumstances of life and prevents new patterns from emerging. This has serious health consequences! Additionally the love of comfort and lethargy can lead to habits which cause the belly to round out, sometimes with alarming eagerness, and to the complications of weight and retention of liquids (beer and/or cake belly).

Cancer is such an easygoing, kindly and concerned sign but it is private and reserves invitations into its inner sanctum for only the most trusted of its inner circle and so can become edgy and suspicious when strangers arrive on its doorstep. There is a tendency to prepare for the worst because it is better to be prepared for that than it is to expect the best and be crushed. Vulnerable sensitivity and an uncertain trust in the wider world tend to keep Cancerian zones somewhat islanded, orbited by the same people and situations (stores, brands etc.) because there is greater reliability in what you know. In this way Cancerian situations (like Capricorn ones) become bogged down and static and need some kind of injection of chaos and change before they will move on, which often results in unnecessary pain when they stubbornly cling to driftwood, things that are long spent in terms of shelf life. The need to have a stable and comfortable base of operations is paramount as without it there is felt to be no security in life, but this need must not equate to being adversarial to change or dormant, stuck in place like a barnacle on a rock. As frightening as it may be at some point or another the bird must flee the nest for life in order to give meaning to the gift of life, and so at times we must cast our lot in with the great ocean and see where the tidal change leads.

As noted above Cancerians have oceanic memories – vast but more than a little murky and unclear on the details – and are often highly nostalgic, especially with regard to the era of childhood. This is partly because the past and especially childhood offers a form of security that, through Cancerian eyes, is distinctly lacking in the future. Thus, Cancerians must learn to have trust in the future, and worry less about the unknown possibilities which lurk there. The wistful fondness for a more innocent and sentimentalized past is only one manifestation of one of the biggest demons facing the sign of Cancer, that of total subjectivity. Lost in a world of responses and reactions the crab is cast adrift in the dream ocean, left to conjure its realities through thought and feeling and forever unsure of objective realities. They must often do battle with their own subjectivity as it clouds the facts and leads them to utterly erroneous paranoid conclusions, conclusions they will often cling to with an insane degree of insistence against all reason and common sense, so the work often involves clearing the past, clearing the subjective bias it has imprinted upon the astral awareness, as well as building an emotional sanctuary of true inner peace for protective purposes.



The magic and mysteries of Cancer are those of childbirth, nature and nurture, the cycle of life, protection, time and immortality. These are not minor mysteries, they are very complex matters indeed. The crab is also a symbol of powerful gripping and holding power and its magical essence yields a potent shield or defence against any attack. That is why you see so many talismanic scarabs

In ancient times objects like forceps, scissors, weighing scales and other items used during childbirth were considered highly mysterious and sacred magical tools only understood by the women priests who used them, and this comprises a large part of the most ancient mysteries of the sign. This early magic is, like much of the inner magic of Cancer, aptly represented on the Tree of Life as the life giving Waters of the Great Mother, Binah, pouring into Tiphareth and thus giving birth to the mental plane of existence, to individual being. 


Image by R. Clark

The magic here is that of the holistic reflection of the Understanding of the Greater Self realm as the Beauty of the infinite individual spirits in the Mental realm. It is thus the sign of the primal Mother in the act of giving birth to life and children, a sign of fecundity, nurturing and protection. In this placement we can easily see explanations for many of the signs qualities, including its natural psychic abilities, its concern with time and the past, its focus on family and nurture, its focus on providing an enclosure or fence within which it can nest safely, its innate sense of hidden currents within the Akasha and its empathy and caring nature.

Whereas Taurus gives rise to the realm of Form the sign of Cancer gives rise to the realm of individual spirits through the birth channel from Binah into Tiphareth. At the conceptual point halfway between these two Sephira time comes into existence, as individual spirits (Tiphareth entities) are beings with a temporal lifespan (no matter how long or short it may be), they exist in a cyclical sequence of existence. The Greater Self exists beyond this sequence of existence, transcending time and space entirely by existing in an eternal state of awareness. So when the Greater Self gives birth to a specific individual incarnation of itself as a temporal spirit, it inserts itself into the ocean of time and space by manifesting its unified essence into an individual strand or pulse, a wave that flows towards the shore of material life. Every individual incarnation of a given Greater Self manifests itself in this way and just as the entire ocean is present within each wave each Greater Self is fully present with each of its individual expressions in every moment at all times, simultaneously. It provides for their needs and nurtures these spirits in exactly the way they need and it can do so precisely because its perspective transcends time and space. It’s individual expressions may not even be aware of their Greater Self parent protecting and nurturing them throughout every moment of existence in every way they need, but the Greater Self is never absent because it is always fully and completely aware of its individual expressions. Since this connection involves bridging the seeming abyss between time and sequence and the realm of the eternal and unending and unbeginning, but is in reality a mere shift in awareness, time and individual consciousness arise together and are intimately connected. The “fencing” or “corralling” of the Greater awareness within an individual enclosure does not diminish or divide them, for in the way of fractals the individual part contains the whole and becomes an expression of it. In the same way, the dipping of the Greater awareness into the ocean of time as individuals does not separate the individual spirit from the Greater but instead provides a vehicle for it to emerge sequentially.

The imagery of the tarot card The Chariot communicates this in the form of a vehicle (pulled by two beasts) being driven by an individual. A canopy of stars is often depicted on top of the Chariot (Binah) which is being driven forwards towards the viewer along a path. If we imagine this scene three dimensionally and animate it, the scenery in the background and the path that the charioteer has already traversed becomes the past, while the position the viewer is standing in is sometime in the future. The chariot itself is the enclosure or bubble of now-time in which the individual is always located, no matter how fast they are moving. Reflection upon this moment of now–time quickly reveals that like the memory of the past and the unknown of the future, the now moment also cannot be located and pinpointed because it is in a continuous state of flux. The wave of the individual self moving through and across sequential time is how the great ocean of the Self is made manifest. This illusory nature of all time in a continuous state of infinite flux is the product of the eternal awareness of the Greater realm impressing itself into temporal sequence. It is simply a more complicated and perhaps less easy to decode symbolism for what the Egyptians described as a dung beetle pushing the dung from which its children will hatch and be nourished.

Given these association it is easier to understand why this signs magic is connected not only with childbirth but also with immortality and (for example in Mesopotamia), the mysteries of the afterlife. The cyclical nature of life, its rhythms, ebbs and flows, and many other qualities attributed to Cancer also gain clarity when placed in this context. Magical union with the Greater Self permits focusing of awareness into any time period the Greater Self incarnates into – any past or future now relative to Earths eternal now moment which we have experienced is opened to awareness. Thus Cancer is a sign whose magic is connected not only with the remembrance of past incarnations but also glimpses of future ones and the magicians ability to project their awareness through time by translocating it from one stream of incarnation to another simply by communing with the Greater Self. In this way a trained magician can gain knowledge of multiple timelines and the paths which lead to them as well as a multifaceted perspective on their own experiences.

In terms of initiation then Cancerian planets can lead to a rebirth or an encounter with immortality, and given that its forte is the significance of the past Cancer is also often gifted with an awareness and understanding of the workings of karma and the Akasha. Ultimately, Cancerian entities are instinctively driven to give birth to something and then to nurture it and will do so using the other astrological factors at their disposal, but the ultimate point of this process is to make choices and take actions that individually express the Greater Self within, effectively giving birth to that which has forever birthed us.


Looms of Time: Saturn in Capricorn

Hello, and welcome back to Journeys! After my short vacation last month I’m back to share with you some thoughts about Saturn in Capricorn, which recently dawned upon us again, and so this message is not just relevant for people born with this placement but for life in general for all of us until the end of 2020.

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Seekers of the Soul Mate: Neptune in Libra

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! 🙂 This month I’m exploring Neptune in Libra with you –

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To Kiss the Sky: Uranus in Gemini

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! My latest sharing with you is an in-depth look at 1200 years of Uranus in Gemini, looking for the patterns and themes within and how they play themselves out in the lives of its children. journey deeper…

Activations of 2017 (part 2)

Warm greetings, and welcome back to part 2 of our look into 2017. This time we look at Chiron, Saturn and Jupiter over the course of the next year.
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