Stop Sign!

February 4, 2010

Mars is what makes you go – the planet of energy, force, the accelerator. Like the gas pedal. So how much more perfect could the current, expanding recall of Toyotas for defective gas pedals, during Mars (accelerator) in Leo (reigning car company) possibly be?
In our AstroCocktail December editorial at we warned that several weeks of totally no retrograde planets in a locomotive chart led by Mars, followed by Mars going retro, would be the equivalent of a train wreck led by the locomotive itself derailing, a la the Wreck of the Old ’97. Well, we watched it go down in Congress (health care), a terrible quake in Haiti, and now this almost-humorous automotive manifestation (funny only if it’s not your car that’s wrecked or you own a Toyota or Toyota stocks). And now, we’re in that prolonged period of continuing Mars failure that will make this coming Valentine’s Day, despite its highly-affectionate new Moon/Jupiter/Venus conjunction, more spiritual love than physical passion, even if you double your dose of Viagra.
In general, this biennial tidal period of retreat for Mars is a frustrating time for go-getters and tends to blunt the spear of aggression and even simple assertion. It’s generally a bad time for starting a war (unless you have very limited objectives), perhaps why it characterizes most of the Arab-Israeli wars. It’s a much better time for picking up the pieces of earlier thrusts and redirecting the next forward movement with previous mistakes close in mind. You don’t want to do it like that again, do you? America particularly needs this advice, because its progressed Mars has just gone retro and will remain so for another eighty years. More here…
So, for the moment, don’t go, just stop (unless you’re driving a Prius, which can’t), regroup – then, like the planet, start to pick up speed again after you’ve figured out what went wrong. Right now, we’re just clearing the crash site and installing new gas pedals. But best do a good job, as Jupiter is rushing through Pisces at breakneck speed, almost under the radar, and when it hits Uranus and Aries in the late spring, you’d better be able to pick up speed with confidence and decisiveness, in a world of surprises, as the final Saturn-Pluto-Uranus shootout in the sky commences…

Superbowl Update: Only a few days later, yet another hilarious Mars retro manifestation. A blitz of blatantly hostile, intentionally sexist, “I’ve-lost-my-manhood” commercials dominated the usually-amusing advertising. Get over it guys, don’t get so bent out of shape — Mars retro won’t last forever…

Do You Hear What I Hear?

December 23, 2009

“Do you hear what I hear?” With due respect to the Christmas spirit and the evergreen 1963 Bing Crosby chart topper, perhaps not. Listening to the same song, we all hear approximately the same set of sound waves, and we similarly recognize the song in general, but we each bring our own memories, musical experience, and personal implications that may differ considerably. For a professional musician, it’s a package of harmonies and rhythms, to a minister it’s an expression of inner beliefs, to a last-minute shopper it’s background to a holiday bargain.

But regardless of profession, religion, or listening context, the chances are we will recognize it within a few seconds and adjust our inner version accordingly. A few notes, a couple of beats, and you know what it is. This sort of pattern recognition, large inferences derived from small, limited fragments of information, is an essential talent of sentient beings in general. You can’t survive without it. Most of your daily life is run by snap judgments based on quick and often subconsciously-processed details and assumptions.

And, as an astrologer, it’s the basis of your art. When you look at a planet, in a specific sign, in an individual house, aspected by something else in the chart, you bring to bear both consciously and unconsciously all the things you’ve ever read about any of those factors. Bits and pieces of all the astrological cookbooks you’ve read instantly process, sort, and weigh in, along with the personal experience you’ve had with those positions in the charts of friends, family, celebrity examples, and clients, not to mention your own horoscope. Further, if you’re giving a reading with any sort of mutual input (in person, on the phone, even email), all your natural personality-judging cues weigh in and tell you what to pay attention to and what to ignore in analyzing the person and the situation, well beyond the chart in front of you. Debunkers will claim that is all you really do (regardless of the chart), but you know the ability to combine it all, inclusively, is the sign of a real pro, in any profession.

You’re doing a lot of implying and inferring with every word you hear, every glance you make, and every cue you pick up, whether it’s live in real time or from your long, educated set of memories, and if you’re good, you know it, and weigh them all carefully and wisely. What you may not consider is that astrology itself is a set of inferences based on pattern recognition that calls up the subtlest of your animal talents. As we have mentioned before, the planetary positions and movements you are considering are in fact largely a set of slow and deep sub-bass lines in the music of life, and what you extrapolate from them in terms of daily likelihoods and personal behavior are dependent entirely on how well and how quickly you recognize the “song”. The planetary “frequencies” are long and low, taking days to centuries to reverberate, though diurnal movements shift from minute to minute. Yet, even that’s really slow, compared to the second-to-second toe-tapping beat of a song or the thousands of cycles a second involved in pitch, melody, and harmony. Yet you can, amazingly enough, sense or infer all of this when dealing with a chart and a client. Just by comparing the many time-scales of your own personal knowledge and experience (astrological and otherwise), you can come up with insights and information that amaze both yourself and your client. Your ability to judge and balance all of these levels determines how good an astrologer you are.

So, do you hear what I hear? In a well-tuned experience, from a chart reading to a casual hello, one should hope so, regardless of what we think we bring to it, because we bring more than we realize. That’s how we manage to play together, from infancy and childhood into old age. Astrologers, of all people, should be more aware of this, because in our best moments it’s our stock in trade.

It’s All About ME!

December 19, 2009

While in a somewhat bah-humbug holiday mood I recently noted some of the (fortunately) few negative reviews of my composite chart book, which inevitably complained that it was too much a self-indulgent cookbook with second-person readings that said “you attract this” and “you behave like that” like some Sun-sign column or just another plug-in, online computer astrology report. I’ve read the same complaints about my Lunar Returns and even Planets In Love. And, you know, I couldn’t agree more. The important, individual essence of those books is covered in the introductory third of each (which most readers skip – sadly, as that’s the heart of it all) and the rest is, well, report text, as required by the publishers. [Of course, there is no reason you can’t learn plenty from that, about every individual sign, house, and aspect, if you just ignore that annoying second person subject.] But, interestingly, they’re all still in print, whereas one of the best books I ever wrote, Uranus, which had no such report-style section, became ancient history overnight. Go find a copy.

In the “old” days, before there was such a thing as a computer report (or much of a popular market for astrology), general astrology books put individual placement analysis in the third person – “such an aspect would indicate a person inclined to…etc., etc.” Much more formally didactic, but it didn’t sell very many books. In fact, it was only with the “Planets In” series that publishers began to adopt the now-universal computer report format (both to plug the text into commercial reports and to make it more personal to the new public who cared more about an individual read than actually studying astrology). That was 1977, and here we are today – with the emphasis still on the boring and self-centered. Please, tell me more about myself, do go on…

But it’s not just a publisher-consumer commercial conceit. Most of astrology is geared to learning about yourself, how you behave, your problems, how everything affects you, with the tacit presumption that you are really the center of the universe, and that knowing yourself is the key to knowing everything. Our encounters with science display the delusion as well. It’s why we keep looking for explanations of how the planets might affect us individually (so deftly thwarted by the inverse-square gravitation law) instead of looking at how they might explain the structure that surrounds us, so we can better understand how we fit into it. Even Western religion agrees, or has since the Reformation when we decided we could talk to God on a first-name basis, without any intercessors required. No more need for hosts of angels, saints, and ministers, you have a personal appointment with Jesus, and He’d better not be late. It’s been a very isolated, self-centered world-view for a long time, and astrology has kept right up with the times. Sad, because this “mother of sciences” used to involve, indeed require, a universal world picture – and it may yet again, as environmental consciousness begins to remind us that although we necessarily see life through our own individual windows, we’re not the center of the celestial city.

The “me generation” that started in the 1970s, but really got going with the “greed is good” 1980s followed by the “we own the world” 1990s, is still very much with us, epitomized by our current ruin in this past “decade from Hell,” and astrology has reflected it. It has all been about separation, illusory independence, and ultimately self-centeredness. It would appear that the “inner journey” so hopefully begun by the 1960s Pluto-in-Leo generation became mostly a trip into the mirror. Let’s hope the me-first edifice that is now crashing around us will be replaced with something more inclusive and substantial, especially in the world of astrology, the practice of which has become an all-too-true mirror of our manufactured illusions.

A Voice In The Wilderness

December 14, 2009

Sometimes it’s really frustrating to be putting out ideas before their time has come – worse than that, you often don’t get credit or profit (if at all) until it’s entirely too late. In my case, composite charts are a good example. I introduced them (in The Composite Chart: The Horoscope Of A Relationship, Weiser 1973) and despite my introduction to the contrary, Rob Hand’s subsequent and better-promoted book on them (Planets In Composite) got him all the credit, and the profit, for twenty years, until the definitive Composite Charts came out. Similarly with cycles, the general concept and the parts and pieces of which were around and discussed by the likes of Charles Jayne, Dane Rudhyar, and Grant Lewi. The next step – the idea of plotting cycles and their relations, intersections, and dynamics on graphs – was obvious and pinpoints times and events no other method can, and it was introduced in Astrological Cycles and the Life Crisis Periods and later Dynamic Astrology.  Thirty years later, there has still been no accessible computer program that does these, despite hundreds of requests and a couple of failed programming attempts on both sides of the Atlantic. I did it better on my Apple II back in 1979. What gives?

Similarly, the idea that planetary effects are part of a larger picture of similar proportions at all scales, with all phenomena, large and small, has been around since Classical times, even flourished briefly in the late Renaissance, and yet modern astrologers still fail to get their heads around it, to their continuing discredit. The temptation to sell astrology as some sort of instant amateur psychology (which it does well enough) or fortunetelling still obscures the larger picture. Sometimes I wonder what it takes to bring the obvious to the fore, when the stagnant present has no ears to listen or eyes to see.

When I was growing up in the 1950s, my dad pointed out on a globe how neatly Africa and the Americas fit together and said they must have been joined in the distant past. He was describing plate tectonics, which was still totally ahead of its time then (my dad got it from reading Alfred Wegoner in the 1920s), but it made sense to me, indeed it was obvious. And now, generations later, it’s finally gospel, far too late for Wegoner to benefit.

In similar vein, I often feel like a voice in the wilderness. The hows and whys of where astrology meets science (or just reality, how things work) are barely being debated while one side misses (or arrogantly denies) the legitimacy of the other. I see a lot of astrologers, and scientists, who don’t know better but who should, since they all claim to be seeking the truth of the matter, not fighting over control of some myopic, proprietary version of it. I also see a small core of both trained scientists and astrologers who are on the right trail, but are ignored or even ostracized for their views, when they express them, in their own communities. Not that I know where all the answers lie, but I can point, and it’s generally not where the rest of the world is pointing in the specific areas of science and astrology – though it’s often where world movements of eco-psychology and “theories of everything” are treading fearlessly, without every thinking to include astrology.

Go back and look at the signs, folks. It’s all of a piece, and planetary rhythms are integral reflections of the rest of the proportions of most scales large and small. They all resonate with, and within, each other – from the ages to the micro-moment, from mega-macro to mini-nano.  A little willingness to look outside of each profession’s own limitations would go a long way to remove those limitations and bring us to a united physical world view that includes physics, chemistry, evolutionary biology, and cosmology, with real planetary effects included. Since the 1960s, a period when hopeful uniters briefly flourished, the world has been at the mercy of dividers and deciders on a roll to separate and individuate the post-modern arts and sciences, in an individualistic and separatist illusion with dreadful political and economic results. It’s about time the pendulum came back the other way. When it does, we’ll see it’s all of a piece, and we’ll all get a bigger piece of it. I’ve seen (and often articulated) the vision, and I only hope I see it come to pass in time to benefit personally. Posthumous glory has little appeal to the living…those of my “certain age” understand it better than most, but it transcends generations, as only lengthy periods of ignorance (and, occasionally but briefly, wisdom) can…

Hidden Visions, Winding Road

December 3, 2009

In the speedy world of astro-blogs, where everyone has to have something to say every day about something – anything – astrological, I wonder how many writers are coming from newly-acquainted, instant-gratification space and how many from a lifelong, visionary dedication to the art. It would seem the former get most of the attention and the latter (who don’t publish so often) get the back seat, to the general degradation of the subject.

Some of us have travelled a long and too-undocumented road to get where we are, often hiding the visions that brought us here, for reasons of modesty or risk to other professional endeavors, and it’s time we spoke up, as it’s getting late in the game for this little progress. I’ve just done so in a tripartite, multimedia effort at and I hope it will encourage others to reveal how they got here as well. Go look, and listen. In my case, the path led through the 1960s experience of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but done with extreme care and repeated analysis every step of the way. I achieved a lot then, more later, and there is yet more to be done while life still remains.

The issues of who we are, how it’s all put together, and what to do with it are still the first page on everyone’s book, but we still await something newly meaningful to say about it. Starting from a background in science, history, and the classics, I’ve had first-hand experience with strange phenomena ranging from reincarnation to spirits from the beyond and more, along with a career full of truly needy astrological clients looking for explanations of things they can’t quite put together, either. Now, with the wolf at too many doors and diminishing returns from our former, lesser options (across several generations), it might be a good idea to regroup and say what we have experienced about the immediacy of life – what we have learned, what we live and die with, and what’s next.

What are your hidden visions that you haven’t revealed, or didn’t pursue? What are you going to do about them before you waste the windows you were given and they slam shut? It’s not just an individual issue, it’s about agreement, consensus, and a way forward. It’s not all wasted — not yet — but too soon, if we don’t speak up… What say you?

Weather Vanes

November 7, 2009


The idea of the planets predicting the weather has been in general speculation since people notice both planets and weather, together. For a good history, see Kim Farnell’s excellent astrological weather article. But really, how does the above really influence the below here? According to the chaos theory butterfly concept, you shouldn’t be able to predict it, as there are too many variables. A breath of air here magnifies to a hurricane there – or more problematically, yet someplace, almost anyplace else.

But maybe scaling, as we’ve been discussing here and here, calls the shots. Perhaps it’s “invariable scaling”, as they put it in the latest lead article of New Scientist. It would appear that the larger global patterns of weather, at varying altitudes, may be totally in sync with the smaller ones, perhaps “down to scales smaller than a millimetre.”  Now that’s locked-in scaling, backed up by adaptations of  exponential “power laws” that are at least, well, mathematical. The implication that scaling from large to small, and from slow to fast, in whatever spatial or temporal dimension your are considering, is the same and very closely reflective should be good news to astrologers. Well, at least to astrologers who are willing to look at their art as a part of a universal principle, in which they are ad hoc experts at one particular part of multiple sets of scaling, specifically the frequency range of the planets’ orbits.

Other news that makes one take another look at how different sets of scaling are viewed from different perspectives of time and lifespan comes from robins. Like other animals that can see things we don’t (or have forgotten how to), it would appear they don’t just feel (or smell), but actually see magnetic lines to guide them. What we experience, at the scale of our lifetimes, is critical to the very structure of astrology, as astrology may be just a part of that higher structure principle. It would explain a lot, from mathematics, to music, to art, not to mention the weather…what we don’t fully see, yet, are the missed connections, the scales we experience but don’t connect, or the ones we don’t see at all…

Drum Notes

September 23, 2009


Drum notes? Indeed.

It turns out, on reflection, that if your drummer winds up and plays fast enough he might be playing your alto line. For those into the music in astrology (or the other way round) as covered in my recent article Windowpanes, here’s a couple of more discoveries about the wonders of scaling. There I noted that the periods of the planets doubled (like octaves) until you reached the audio scale turned into recognizable notes and harmonies, with a list of notes for the planets.  That article was written before I noticed that, on a much closer level, if you take a 3 over 4 beat (like 60 beats per minute together with 80) and double them until you get up to the tonal range, you get a natural fifth, and so on with other syncopations, which actually produce melody and chords when speeded up. In other words, when you raise the rhythm track to the next recognizable higher scale, you get melody and harmony, and the reverse as well. So, the principle of proportionate scaling even applies within segments of the audio range itself.

Now, in a recent article in New Scientist magazine called Winners Wear Red, science has done another set of experiments to prove the obvious: that lower-spectrum colors (like red) are more noticeable, have more impact, and seem more threatening than higher-spectrum colors (like blue) which are associated with more delicate and intellectual feelings. The lower sets the pace and forces the demands, the higher shapes and filigrees the details of where it’s proceeding. That’s a principle that applies in music as well (bass track drives and structures the mid and treble melody and harmonies, and the rhythm track many octaves below (as we have noticed) drives the entirety of the melody sections both bass and treble. So, too, the lower-frequency outer planets are the traditional drivers of social change, while the middle and inner planets paint what’s happening in the shorter-range details, particularly among individuals, who are in turn caught up and driven by the larger, lower-frequency picture.

It’s the same the whole world (or universe) over. One wonders what tunes the microbes are humming, and what relatively (to us) mini-beats are setting their tiny toes to tapping…