Thursday, 25 August 2011

Give it up for Saturn in Pisces!

Ha! My year group are the business!!

Here's the results from the headteacher:

"I am delighted that we have consolidated all the progress we made last year, and continued our upward trend.

We have had our highest ever results (53% A*CEM) a big increase in A*-A results (25%, from 21% last year) and a big jump in 5+A*-C (from 74% last year to 82% this year).

This is due to all our hard work for our students. We couldn’t have done more."

My next year group will have Jupiter in Gemini/Cancer and Saturn in Taurus/Gemini. . .a bit more of a challenge as not all of them have Saturn in the same sign as last time. But if we keep feeding them and giving them stuff to read. . .hey hey, we'll have some scholars on our hands!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Growing Pains

If I bit my nails, they’d be down to my knuckles. Today is the day before GCSE results are released and I’m under the illusion I’m more nervous than my pupils or their parents. Tomorrow, for every secondary teacher, for every GCSE pupil and their parents, is “The Day of Reckoning”. The newspapers will be full of reports on how exams are getting easier or how teachers are getting worse or a million and one reasons why we should bring back national service or the death penalty for the future scroungers of society who didn’t get their 5 A*-Cs.

I tried to avoid feeling this way because these results, essentially, have no real impact on me or my pupils. Irrespective of the results, the world will keep ticking on, the dust will settle and my little lambs will find their way in this big, big world of never-ending choices. As the head of year 11, this year has been a year of constantly reminding myself of that fact. But, because they have been such a huge part of my life these past five years, I so badly want them to knock the stuffing out of previous results.

Today I find myself in an enormously reflective mood, sheer proof that a teacher is never really on “holiday”.

I hated every second of being a “teenager”. I remember what it was like to not have money in my pocket with no prospect of earning more, I remember how it felt to be reliant on my parents when I just knew I knew better than them and I remember being alienated by strangers, relatives and teachers—and peers—as if I had suddenly grew horns, a pointed tail and started carrying a pitchfork when I hit 13.

For some reason I thought being able to remember all this would make me a better teacher. And to a certain extent it has but what I really think made me a better teacher was becoming a better astrologer.

Astrology can help us understand ourselves AND teenagers, even if we don’t know their birth details. And let’s face it, a lot of astrological information can be completely irrelevant when you are dealing with a screaming, swearing, threatening and intimidating teenager (or their parents) or if, on the flip side, you are mopping up a river of tears because someone has said something to hurt them or the exam pressure has gotten to be too much or if their mobile phone got stolen/broken/confiscated (a touchy subject for our high tech generation) or if the object of their affection has ignored them that day.

During adolescence, two main astrological significators are present for everyone: the first Jupiter return and the first Saturn opposition. There are, of course, other astrological markers for adolescence but many of these vary from person to person. The first Jupiter return and first Saturn opposition provides valuable insight into the rate of growth and development for each year group of people as they pass through adolescence and, handy for people who work with adolescents, require no exact time of birth. On a personal level, I became fascinated with this cycle as a teacher in a secondary school. Did I have to be a passive bystander to the angst that I once went through myself? Or could I use astrology, not to provide all the answers for them (that’s Saturn’s job) but to gain an insight into when they were likely to begin adolescence at the Jupiter cycle and when Saturn was the peak of doing his worst during the first opposition.

As astrologers, we are aware of the symbolism of Jupiter: growth, abundance, confidence, opportunity, higher education, religious beliefs and enthusiasm. At Jupiter’s first return, at (roughly) eleven and half years, our adolescents typically experience a change of school: they go from an elementary or primary school into a bigger school. They meet more children from different schools, they take on more lessons with different teachers and consequently and “coincidentally” expand their horizons—exactly what astrologer might expect in any Jupiter return. As a teacher of this age group, I noticed a huge shift in behaviour: the pupils of this age grew rapidly from energetic children into rowdy, boisterous, emotionally immature but nearly life sized adults. They became much more difficult to control as many of my colleagues will attest. But I know they are Jupiter in Scorpio or Sagittarius (born between September 1994 and August 1995) pupils held in check by Pluto—and I unashamedly used this information to help them (and myself) get a handle their seemingly unrestrained growth spurt. Indeed, there were times I did too good a job in scaring the snot out of them with potential dangers. Several of my pupils swore to me they’d die virgins. . .not that I believe them (but I still like to think they’d be more careful).

A few years after the first Jupiter return, the first Saturn opposition takes place. This happens at roughly the same time we (as teacher, parents and educators) expect our children to “get serious” about their studies and commit to GCSE subjects. They choose their subjects rather than have a variety imposed on them as they did during their Jupiter returns. We expect them to be more responsible and take on “work experience” at the end of year 10. We constantly remind them of impending examinations and we threaten them with the ominous words: “One day, you’ll regret not studying more.” All of my pupils, like me, are Saturn in Pisces people and it helped me to know that on our journey together a quiet, meditative environment would give us time to think about our next move. I tried to achieve this through assemblies, our compulsive “collective worship”, a different approach to the other heads of year.

By being aware of the cycles of Saturn and Jupiter, we astrologers are provided with an easy advantage over non-astrologer teachers.

But I guess, as they say, tomorrow the proof will be in the pudding.

PS: I am hoping to present my findings at the United Astrology Conference next year.

Monday, 22 August 2011

New Susan Boyle Article!

Well, as they say, better late than never! My new Susan Boyle article:

PS Happy Birthday to my astro buddy Jules Venables!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

What Mars Has to Work For, Venus Gets For Free. . .

With a triple conjunction of the Sun, Venus and Mercury in Leo opposite Neptune/Chiron today, there has been a lot of talk about the exposure of blatant female sexuality and its effect on young girls.

Like riots and unruly teenagers, this issue is not a new one. The ancient Greeks even made up a soap opera about it: it was called “The Aphrodite and Ares Show” (the Romans had their version too, starring Venus and Mars). In the Greek version, Ares was born pissed off and ready to fight. He travelled around with a few of his homies looking for trouble and very often finding it—usually being too reckless to avoid injury. The other gods laughed at him. A lot. By contrast, Mars was the Roman god of war, honoured, respected and whose name comes from the Latin words “to shine.” Aphrodite and Venus were both beautiful. Um, that’s it really. Beautiful and up their own assets about how beautiful they were.

In our charts, we also have the Mars/Venus show, very often playing in re-runs but acting out our own unique script. To give you an example, I thought we could use Melanie C from the Spice Girls and Rhianna, who are at the centre of this week’s comments on young female sexuality. Because I’m only looking at Venus and Mars by sign and aspect, I am using noon charts.

Melanie Chisholm (12 Jan 1974), a new mum, is worried her daughter is learning too much too young. In her chart, Mars is at 7 Taurus and her Venus at 9 Aquarius. Mars in Taurus is slow, sensual and can’t resist picking flowers wherever he goes in a bid to entice Venus to the bedroom. Venus in Aquarius is not known for being very cuddly—in fact, she likes her own company and prefers to do things her own way. Oh and she hates flowers. In Melanie’s Venus/Mars soap opera, the characters are at each other’s throats, Mars wants to go for long country walks and Venus just wants to play on the computer. Recently, Mars’ good pal, Jupiter (by conjunction) has been around and the two of them have eaten everything in the cupboards and are generally overwhelming Venus with lecherous demands for blow jobs and more donuts. No wonder Melanie’s saying enough is enough.

Rhianna (20 February 1988) has recently re-vamped herself by hitting the gym and sitting astride giant cannons in order to sell a few more records. Her Mars is at 27 Sagittarius and her Venus at 12 Aries. Mars in Sagittarius is known for his love of the chase, adventure and risks. Sagittarius is a fire sign, a male sign, a bold, brash and fast sign. Venus in Aries is equally fiery, male, bold, brash, fast and extremely impulsive. It’s real poke-my-tits-in your eyes energy. Can you see how these characters might play out in a soap opera? There’s no stopping these two! However, Saturn is paying her a visit (by opposition) and like an old, conservative poppa, has been telling her to put ‘em away. Added to this, Melanie’s old poppa (in opposition to Rhianna’s Mars), is acting like British Airways during a volcanic eruption: “Sit down, sonny, you ain’t goin’ no where for a long time.” However, Neptune has been passing over Rhianna’s Sun, by forward, retrograde and stationing motions. Rhianna is a beautiful woman but she is addicted and dazzled by the boost (which is much better than hitting the bottle) she gets from her adoring fans, the glare of the paparazzi and the glossy magazine pages baring her, um. . . you get the picture. She’ll come to her senses. And soon enough, she’ll be a mother herself worried that her daughter is getting the wrong idea.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The London Riots: The Breaking of the Shell

One of my favourite writers, Kahlil Gibran, once wrote: “Your pain is but the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." I dislike catastrophe just as much as anyone else. And yet a crisis, whether for an individual or a country, gives us an opportunity to let go of things that are no longer working and embrace newer ideas, no matter how painful it may be to let go of the past (there is rarely a choice to do anything else!).

With this in mind and with the feelings about the London riots running so highly, it’s hard to pitch an astrological commentary of the event. As I am feeling well rested after a much need holiday, I thought I’d give it a shot.

The time I’ve used is the BBC’s reported time for when the violence started. In my opinion, this time is important because up until this point, the protest was a peaceful one whose nature was only to obtain information about the shooting of a loved one. At 20:20 however, police cars were burned and things started getting ugly very quickly. The chart from this time will help shed some light on the astrological circumstances surrounding the riot. It is a mundane chart so the rules are slightly different to ones used for people.

The first thing to catch my eye about this chart is that Neptune and Jupiter are the ruling planets. Over the next few hours, as the violence escalated and the media interest intensified, their importance becomes clearer. There is also an opposition along the ascendant/descendant axis involving Chiron, Neptune and Mercury, all retrograde. An opposition shows tangible challenge and tension that cannot sit ignored or unresolved. Planets along the ascendant/descendant axis become a characteristic of the event. It will become what the public will understand happened and most likely how the media will report how it happened to the rest of the world. There are no surprises here: in the simplest terms, Neptune and Chiron in the 12th represent the collective wounded and their hope for a perfect society. These hopes are challenged, through the opposition to Mercury, by delayed information or the state’s insistence on perceived red tape.

There is a T-square involving a Pluto opposition to Mars, both square to Uranus. This is serious conflict. On its own, a Pluto-Mars opposition is a severe challenge to authority, and running through Cancer and Capricorn, reputation and family ideals are at stake. Uranus, the planet of rebellion (amongst other things), metaphorically kicks these ideals in the goolies. Of course, no one is going to take that so what to do?

What is interesting is how the rest of the astrological story continues to play out. Over short periods of time, (hours rather than days or months, for example), the ascendant changes, thus altering the emphasis of the astrological influences at work. In the next hour of the conflict, Uranus moved to the ascendant position, making him king of the show. Now the protest has become mob rule with individuals impatiently demanding their rights and using their high tech mobile phones to out-fox those in authority.

By the time the Tottenham post office catches on fire at 22:15, Jupiter has moved to be ruler of the chart and the flavour of the riot has changed again. In astrology, Jupiter is usually seen as “the Good Guy”, the benevolent god who calls on our higher morals to behave ourselves. And it’s a damn good thing he and Pluto, god of the underworld are on the same team (in trine) in this chart. However, Jupiter is also the god of opportunity and a square to the Venus/Sun conjunction in Leo shows that anything glittering and belonging to “the leaders” looks like it might be up for grabs. Think of the things that got nicked: status symbols, such as designer clothes/shoes and high tech gadgets such as phones or flat screen televisions.

By 1:00 am, Mars has taken pole position. Astrologically, Mars rules fires, weapons and impulsive fighting. Mars’ position in Cancer means that there is an element of tenacity in the battle and a strong need to protect the family or one’s home ground. By this time, the riots had the attention of the media. Pluto was also sitting on the descendant, therefore making its themes the very first thing reported by the mass media (Neptune was conjunct the MC and Uranus remained as the apex of the T-Square between Uranus and Mars) reported to the rest of the world. And boy, did England look like stinking mess.

Pluto gives us a chance to have a look at what isn’t right about our society and bring it to the light to be healed. As I’ve written in a previous post, when Hercules met the Hydra, he had to learn the hard way that chopping off heads wasn’t the way forward. The answer he found was that confronting his greatest fears by grabbing the beast and having a good look at what lies beneath.

The last time Pluto was in Capricorn (and Uranus was in Aries), during the 1760s, there was some mighty strong talk in America about certain revolutionary changes involving England that would bring about a better society. . .

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Power of Words

With all the bad news going on about the news, I thought it might be interesting to look at the chart of William Randolph Hearst, media magnate, inspiration for Citizen Kane and the creator of the so-called yellow press.

Hearst was born on 29 April 1863 at 5:58 am in San Francisco. Mercury in the 12th house rules the 2nd and is loosely conjunct Pluto. Perhaps working intuitively, Hearst was able to sniff out the nitty-gritty of a story, sensationalise it, sell it and by that process, he became a very successful and very wealthy man. Taking over his father’s newspaper business just as Pluto entered Gemini in 1886, he employed writers such as Jack London and Mark Twain, securing his newspaper’s popularity within a few years. By 1895, he was locking horns with Joseph Pulitzer.

To give an example of the power of Pluto in Gemini, we can just about safely say a few well placed words started a war with Spain in 1898—with both Hearst and his arch rival Joseph Pulitzer in agreement that Spain was responsible for the explosion on The Maine (an American Battleship harboured near Havana Cuba). The real cause of the explosion remains a mystery to this day. But that didn’t stop the USA entering into war with Spain.

Frank Luther Mott (1941) defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics (Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism (1941) p. 539):
1. scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudo-science, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips (which is now normal in the U.S.)
5. dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.

Not too much different from recent newspaper tactics! Pluto, of course, has moved on and currently nestles in Capricorn, making us far less interested in a few clever words and more interested in preserving our reputations.

With Neptune hovering between Aquarius and Pisces and Uranus in Aries, I wonder if we are seeing the beginning of the end of the newspaper business. Neptune would collect high tech info as it passed through Aquarius. In Pisces, its own sign, glamour for its own sake as well as rumour and speculation could reach epic proportions—however, Uranus in Aries will force us to streamline the information gathered through high technology. The era of high tech headlines only--without the Sunday supplement, editorial, extra columns and funnies--perhaps?