Friday, May 22, 2015

Death, Social Unease and the English



The English are not at ease with one another socially: we do not talk to strangers, we do not know what to do with our hands when we meet people, we don’t know how to say goodbye, we don’t talk about money, we don’t ask personal questions, on trains we pretend other people don’t exist and that even we don’t exist, we even pretend we don’t know our neighbours enough to say hello to…. But we do talk about the weather to strangers as a very tentative way of making contact -  something Dr Johnson noted 250 years ago.

Relations with others are ruled by Venus, and in the UK chart we find Venus under siege from Mars, Saturn and Neptune. Saturn gives us our inhibition, Neptune our sense of being at a loss socially, and Mars-Neptune a corresponding aggression that easily surfaces under the influence of alcohol.

Venus rules our Ascendant in Libra, suggesting that underneath it all we are a social lot (I’ve often fancied that in truth people would love to be able to talk to each other on trains!) But again there is an affliction in the form of Uranus on the Ascendant: Uranus separates and disrupts, he does not understand the social rules, and also he disposits our Venus, creating a mutual reception. As a nation we are, therefore, socially Uranian: awkward, misfits, and of course eccentric!

Because we are Uranian it does therefore mean we can also break the rules. Despite a thoroughly English middle class upbringing, I am also half Irish, so there are ways in which I am not as inhibited as many English people. I will sometimes complain in restaurants in a straightforward manner, for example, while those around me cringe: if you are English, you either mutter and do nothing, or you get aggressive with the poor waitress. And I will also talk naturally and openly with strangers. And what I find is that some English people respond, like they can’t take the 1st step, but are only too happy for the other person to do so. They will, in other words, break the rules. And others just can’t take it, they back off.  And then next time pretend they’ve never met you, which continues to piss me off. But it’s probably less personal than I take it to be. I  used to force my middle-class neighbour to acknowledge me in the street by saying hello in such a way that he couldn’t ignore me!

We cover up a lot of  our dis-ease with jokes and moaning (such as the weather being bad, or the train late), but we can’t do this at funerals. This inhibited, at-a-loss Venus rules the 8th House of Death. The natural ruler of the 8th, Pluto, makes no major aspects: we don’t know what to do with him.

In her book Watching the English (from which many of the above observations come), Kate Fox has this to say about the English at funerals:

Dispatching Rites

There are few rites of passage on Earth as stilted, uncomfortable and excruciatingly awkward as a typical English funeral.

The Humour-vivisection Rule

At funerals we are deprived of our primary social coping mechanism – our usual levels of humour and laughter being deemed inappropriate on such an officially sad occasion. At other times, we joke constantly about death, as we do about anything that frightens or disturbs us, but funerals are the one time when humour – or at least any humour beyond that which raises a wry, sad smile – would be disrespectful and out of place. Without it, we are left naked, unprotected, our social inadequacies exposed for all to see.

This is fascinating but painful to watch, like some cruel vivisectionist’s animal-behaviour experiment: observing the English at funerals feels like watching turtles deprived of their shells. Denied the use of our humour reflex, we seem horribly vulnerable, as though some vital social organ has been removed – which in effect it has. Humour is such an essential, hard-wired element of the English character that forbidding (or severely restricting) its use is the psychological equivalent of amputating our toes – we simply cannot function socially without humour. The English humour rules are ‘rules’ principally in the fourth sense of the term allowed by the Oxford English Dictionary: ‘the normal or usual state of things’. Like having toes. Or breathing. At funerals we are left bereft and helpless. No irony! No mockery! No teasing! No banter! No humorous understatement! No jokey wordplay or double entendres! How the hell are we supposed to communicate?

Earnestness-taboo Suspension and Tear-quotas

Not only are we not allowed to relieve tensions, break ice and generally self-medicate our chronic social dis-ease by making a joke out of everything, but we are expected to be solemn. Not only is humour drastically restricted, but earnestness, normally tabooed, is actively prescribed. We are supposed to say solemn, earnest, heartfelt things to the bereaved relatives, or respond to these things in a solemn, earnest, heartfelt way if we are the bereaved.

But not too heartfelt. This is only a limited, qualified suspension of the normal taboo on earnestness and sentimentality. Even those family and friends who are genuinely sad are not allowed to indulge in any cathartic weeping and wailing. Tears are permitted; a bit of quiet, unobtrusive sobbing and sniffing is acceptable, but the sort of anguished howling that is considered normal, and indeed expected, at funerals in many other cultures, would here be regarded as undignified and inappropriate. Even the socially approved quiet tears and sniffles become embarrassing and make people uncomfortable if excessively prolonged, and England is possibly the only culture in the world in which no tears at all is entirely normal and acceptable.

Most adult English males do not cry publicly at funerals; if their eyes do start to fill, they will usually brush the wetness away with a quick, angry gesture and ‘pull themselves together’. Although female relatives and friends are more likely to shed a few tears, failure to do so is not taken as a sign of callousness or absence of grief, providing a suitably sombre expression is maintained, broken only by an occasional ‘brave smile’. In fact, many will regard such restraint as admirable.

There may have been criticism of some members of the royal family for their ‘uncaring’ response to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, but no-one was surprised that her young sons shed only the most minimal, discreet tears at her funeral, having maintained their composure throughout the long walk behind her coffin, and indeed throughout almost all of the funeral service. They were commended for their bravery and dignity; their smiles and murmured thanks as they accepted the condolences of the crowds during a ‘walkabout’ were widely praised, and somehow far more poignant than any amount of uninhibited noisy sobbing.

The English do not measure grief in tears. Too many tears are regarded as somewhat self-indulgent, even a bit selfish and unfair. Grief-stricken relatives who do not cry, or cry only briefly, at a funeral are likely to be seen as showing great courtesy and consideration for others, putting on a brave face to reassure their guests, rather than demanding attention and comfort for themselves. To be more precise, and at the risk of getting into pea-counting mode again, my calculations indicate that the optimum tear-quota at an average English funeral is as follows:

Adult males (close relatives or very close friends of the deceased): One or two brief ‘eye-fillings’ during the service, brusquely brushed away. Brave smiles.

Adult males (other): None. But maintain sombre/sympathetic expression. Sad/concerned smiles.

Adult females (close relatives or very close friends): One or two short weeps during the service, with optional sniffles; occasional eye-filling, apologetically dabbed with hanky, in response to condolences. Brave smiles.

Adult females (other): None, or one eye-filling during service. Maintain sad/sympathetic expression. Sad/concerned smiles.

Male children (close relatives/friends): Unlimited if very young (under ten, say); older boys one weep during service. Brave smiles.

Male children (other): Same as for adult males (other).

Female children (close relatives/friends): Unlimited if very young; older girls roughly double adult female tear-quota. Brave smiles.

Female children (other): None required, but brief eye-filling/sniffing during service allowed.

Quite apart from any genuine grief we may be experiencing, the prohibition on humour, the suspension of the earnestness taboo and the tear-quotas make English funerals a highly unpleasant business. We are required to switch off our humour reflex, express emotions we do not feel, and suppress most of those we do feel. On top of all this, the English regard death itself as rather embarrassing and unseemly, something we prefer not to think or talk about. Our instinctive response to death is a form of denial – we try to ignore it and pretend it is not happening, but this is rather hard to do at a funeral.

Not surprisingly, we tend to become tongue-tied, stiff and uncomfortable. There are no universally agreed- upon stock phrases or gestures (particularly among the higher social classes, who regard comforting clich├ęs and platitudes as ‘common’) so we don’t know what to say to each other or what to do with our hands, resulting in a lot of mumbled so sorries, very sads and what can I says – and awkward embraces or wooden little arm-pats.

Although most funerals are vaguely ‘Christian’, this does not indicate any religious beliefs at all, so references to God or the afterlife are inappropriate unless one is absolutely sure of someone’s faith. If the deceased was over eighty (seventy-five at a pinch) we can mutter something about him or her having had a ‘good innings’ – and some gentle humour is permitted at the post-ceremony gathering – but otherwise we are reduced to mutely rueful head-shaking and meaningful heavy sighs.

Clergymen and others delivering formal eulogies at funerals are lucky: they do have stock phrases they can use. Those used to describe the deceased person are a sort of code. It is forbidden to speak ill of the dead, but everyone knows, for example, that ‘always the life and soul of the party’ is a euphemism for drunkenness; ‘didn’t suffer fools gladly’ is a polite way of calling the deceased a mean-spirited, grumpy old sod; ‘generous with her affections’ means she was a promiscuous tart; and ‘a confirmed bachelor’ has always meant he was gay.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Royal Family and the State of the Nation



1st, the Monarchy. ‘Woman has baby’ the headlines are screaming. The unnamed Princess, the 4th in line to the throne, was born at 8.34 yesterday. She will be the 1st female whose position as heir cannot be usurped by the arrival of younger brothers (Jupiter in the 3rd trine Uranus, Moon opposite Uranus). She will be attractive (Sun and Moon in Venus-ruled signs, Mars sextile Venus.) She will have star quality (Neptune conjunct Midheaven in Pisces). And she has Cancer Rising, the Sun sign of her grandmother Diana.
                                                                  

If you believe in such things (which I’m not sure I do), she may be Diana returned from the dead, attracted by the close connection to her eldest son William who, like Diana, is a Cancer with Sag Rising.

Diana changed the monarchy, brought in some modern values, a closeness to ordinary people, in the teeth of opposition from the Royal Family, who did their best to ignore her, even in death. Astrologically, as a Cancer, she began a theme of Cardinality in the predominantly Fixed emphasis of the Royal Family-as-it-was. Cardinal signs begin things, they are vigorous and ambitious.

The line of succession is now predominantly Cardinal: William has Sun and Moon in Cancer, Kate has Sun in Capricorn and Moon in Cancer, Prince George has Sun in Cancer and Moon in Capricorn. And the new Princess has Cancer Rising and Moon in Libra.

This is a Royal Family that is becoming fit for purpose, inasmuch as the UK itself is predominantly Cardinal: Sun in Capricorn, Moon in Cancer and Libra Rising.

I think there is a certain honesty in having a royal family: we humans are hierarchical pack animals, we always have been and always will be, the arrival of ‘democracy’ notwithstanding.

The US is illustrative: having done away with kings, ‘dictators’, and established rule by the people, you now find the government effectively in the hands of the wealthy, the large corporations, along with a worship of celebrity that is more extreme than what we are used to in the UK. The US is profoundly hierarchical, while kidding itself that it is the protector of democracy. Secretly, they want and need royalty (hence the adulation of ours when they visit).

The Royal Family doesn’t exactly thrill me, and perhaps that is why it works: they are essentially ordinary people like you and I, we can identify with them. They are not celebrity in the usual sense of people who are meant to be gifted. And yet they are touched by something Other: kings and queens used to rule by divine right, and there is still something of that going on, even in their neutered state.

So the Royal Family is changing. Fixed signs, you could argue, were what was needed for the period of Empire, which is still how we think (‘punching above our weight’ on the international stage). Though that is finally changing.

And Britain is becoming something different as the EU and Scotland drift away, and our position on the world stage becomes more proportionate. Astrologically, we are probably going through the biggest change since our 1801 reincarnation as the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, which is the chart astrologers usually use.

We have had Uranus and Pluto hard-aspecting, pretty much at the same time, our Angles, Sun and Moon. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. Uranus and Pluto have ‘done’ the Sun and Angles, and the transition will be complete after Pluto opposes the Moon at 19 Cancer in 2-3 years time.

So no wonder, with under a week to go, that the possible outcomes of the General Election seem such a muddle. We have been battered by Uranus and Pluto for years now, there is more battering to come, and we don’t know who we are any more. And we won’t really know who we are for a few years yet.

Neither Labour nor the Tories look like they will form a majority, and a coalition will be needed. But will the Tories and LibDems between them have enough to form a government? Possibly not. And no-one wants to get into bed with either UKIP or the SNP.

So I suspect we will muddle along with a minority coalition for a few years until the great issues of the day, Scotland and the EU, are resolved. And because we are a conservative nation (Sun and Moon both on the axis of conservatism, Cancer-Capricorn), we will probably continue to have, in this time of muddle, a Tory-LibDem coalition, albeit attenuated.

The UK at present is very like a person who has been under major transits for some years, but still has more to go. (Like yours truly with Neptune on his Angles!) The old self and things you used to do have in many ways lost their power, or have just gone, and you’ve probably got a few ideas about what you’d like to come next, but it’s not yet time, they seem too germinal; and other things you just feel in a complete muddle about, and really there’s not much to be done about it apart from trying to stay conscious. And you hope that this isn’t the end, that it’s not always going to be like this.

And the UK is like that. We’re just getting off our knees from the Great Recession, Scotland looks like it’s going to leave the UK, we are being taken less seriously on international decisions, and we are ambivalent about even being in the EU, which is itself in a period of instability as the unthinkable, a member leaving the Euro currency, looks like it’s going to happen.

So we don’t know what we want, we can’t know what we want, and our politics reflect that. But at least we can distract ourselves for a few days with the new cast member in the Royal Soap Opera.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

WHY DAVID CAMERON WILL BE THE NEXT PRIME MINISTER


David Cameron

In May 2011, a year after the last general election, I wrote that David Cameron’s Pluto transits “come to an end about a couple of years after the start of the second term, and he will not win a 3rd term, if he is still leader by then, which looks problematic. (By the way, I was about 6 months out with Blair when I made this sort of prediction in 2003. In his case, it was Neptune transits coming to an end.)”

I’ll come back to the astrology in a minute, after the non-astrological observation that it always seems to be the person with the most popular appeal who wins an election. It seems to be as simple as that, and usually makes outcomes quite predictable. That was why in the US, Bill Clinton beat George Bush senior, and why George W Bush beat Al Gore, hanging chads notwithstanding. It was why David Cameron beat Gordon Brown at the last UK election, and why he will now beat Ed Miliband.

Ed Miliband
Until the election started to loom, there were always rumblings within the Labour Party about Ed Miliband’s leadership, and his not being able to connect with people. There have never been such rumblings about Cameron. Whatever the polls say, people don’t seem to elect someone where there is this sort of question over them, unless his opponent has even less appeal.

This ability to appeal to people does not, unfortunately, imply any moral quality or ability to govern effectively, and it is one of the major drawbacks of democracy. And it is also why the backing of the Sun newspaper is so important, because it is that level of appeal that wins elections. The Sun hasn't yet revealed who it's backing this time, but in its heart of hearts it would probably like to see UKIP in power. I suspect it will back the Tories.

So David Cameron will be the next PM. I think we have had worse Prime Ministers. I’d argue that purely as a leader he is the best we have had for decades, in that he does not polarise the country in the way that ‘strong’ leaders like Blair and Thatcher did, and nor are there ongoing questions over his leadership, as we had with Gordon Brown and John Major.

That said, I think the country now needs a Labour government, so I am arguing against my own political views. I think we needed the Tories to start to sort out the economic mess that Labour left behind them. But now what is needed is the perception of compassion in the government, and you don’t really get that with the Tories. I say the perception of compassion, because I think Labour would be unlikely to reverse many of the welfare cuts imposed by the Tories. The 2 parties rarely undo what the other has done, however vociferously they may oppose the other’s policies at the time.

As for the astrology, I’ve observed that a leader usually gets elected under a major transit from either Neptune or Pluto, and stays in power until that and succeeding transits are complete. Thatcher was in power under a series of Pluto transits, Blair under Neptune, and their ‘reigns’ came to an end as the transits did. And their governing style was also characterised by the respective outer planet. Thatcher’s mission was to remove the dead wood, as she saw it, and bring about renewal and she was happy to destroy enemies in the process. Very Plutonian. Blair’s government was known for its popular touch (‘the people’s princess’), its ‘spin’ and ultimately for lies over Iraq. That is Neptune.

Cameron became leader of the Tory party as Pluto began to hard aspect his Angles in 2005, and he has led the country as Pluto has squared his Venus-Sun conjunction at 7-15 Libra. (Libra is a good sign, incidentally, for leading a coalition government.)

His time as PM has been necessarily Plutonic, with the economy in a mess, an unprecedented debt pile, and the need to make unpopular cuts to begin to balance the books. Pluto does not shy from unpopularity in the interest of what it deems to be necessary.

Pluto is the planet that put him in power, and the logic seems to be that he will remain in power as long as Pluto remains active in his chart. Pluto will make the last exact square to Cameron’s Sun in 2016, and will remain within range for a year or two after that. By 2018 he will be seriously losing the power that Pluto gives him. At this point Saturn will be crossing his Angles, bringing realism and resistance to the leader’s natural desire to stay in power.

All this fits with Cameron’s recent statement that he wouldn’t serve a 3rd term. But I thought I’d better start with what I said in 2011, so that I wouldn’t be appearing wise after the event, which astrologers get accused of!

As for Ed Miliband, he too has had major Pluto transits in recent years – firstly to his Moon at 11 Cancer, and currently to his MC at 16 Capricorn, the sort of thing you’d expect to find in the leader of a party. Like Cameron, he is coming to the end of his transits, so like Cameron he is in the closing phase of his period ‘in power’. If he was about to become PM, I would expect to see some more major transits down the line, but they are not there.

Miliband may hang on as leader of Labour for a while after the election, because the transit to his MC is not yet over. But the MC is very time dependent, and his natal birth time has uncertainty around it. At exactly 2pm, it may well have been rounded up – if it was 5 or 10 mins earlier, then his time as leader of Labour is just about over.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

In Defence of the 13th Sign


Ophiuchus
In the late 70s, someone mentioned to me that there used to be a 13th sign of the zodiac and that it had something to do with a spider. I was intrigued. I had a strong feeling for astrology, but I knew nothing about it (which is probably why I was better then at guessing people’s star signs than I am now.)

I never followed up on the 13th sign, but I did hear it mentioned from time to time. It was only a couple of days ago, when I saw a piece on Facebook protesting (quite rightly) at the BBC’s inaccurate presentation of astrology that I found about properly about this mysterious sign, Ophiuchus.

From the point of view of traditional astrology, the 13th sign is a piece of nonsense, invented in about 1970. What happened was that in 1930 the astronomers redefined the boundaries of the constellations so that Ophiuchus was now behind the Sun from Dec 1 to Dec 18 each year.

From there it was a short step to someone saying, well in that case it is a zodiac sign, because that is how zodiac signs are defined: they are the constellations on the Sun’s path through the sky (the ecliptic).

Except that the signs aren’t defined that way, not any more. Originally, the signs would have been based around the constellations on the ecliptic. But then they got tidied up into 30 degrees each (which of course they aren’t) and since that time, due to precession, they have drifted 23 degrees off that original alignment.

So the signs are a fiction, as they have nothing to do with the stars anymore (though I don't think the public is usually aware of that!) They are simply a way we have of dividing space into 12 segments, based around the seasons instead of the stars. So that Aries always begins at the spring equinox. Whereas in India, where they take precession into account, Aries now begins in mid April.

The 12 signs and the corresponding constellations: note the constellations are of unequal size and do not line up exactly with the signs
So from this point of view, claiming the constellation Ophiuchus as a sign makes no sense, because the constellations are not the signs.

This is incorrectly called The Zodiac. It is in fact the 13 constellations on the ecliptic.
And if we were to incorporate it, it would make a mess of all the symmetry and symbolism that comes with having 12 signs.

And yet…. The 13th sign clearly has popular appeal, and it doesn’t look like it’s about to go away, especially with the BBC promoting it! One of the myths surrounding it is that 2000 years ago it was a sign, and the astrologers of the time excluded it (another piece of nonsense). That adds to its mystery, so when modern astrologers also shut it out, that almost adds to the mystique. An excluded, hidden part of the psyche.

I would argue that a tradition needs to respond to popular appeal if it wants to stay alive. Much as the Church did in the 10th century, when the Pope began canonising saints, which up till then had just been a local, popular practice.
There’s nothing about canonising saints in the Bible, and no doubt some theologians dismissed it as doctrinal nonsense, and they would have been right. But if something has popular appeal, you can always adjust the doctrine.

And maybe astrologers also need to look at their criteria for incorporating change. When a new planet is discovered by astronomers, we accept it, and we accept the mythology around the name of the planet, even though the name is decided upon by astronomers. And astronomers are not people we generally think of as sympathetic to astrology. Yet when people who ARE sympathetic to astrology – a large section of the public – run with a new piece of mythology that has no basis in doctrine, we are quick to dismiss it. Our instinct seems to be not to adapt. Maybe we are too intellectual, so that astronomers get taken seriously where popular feeling does not?

But does the 13th sign really have no basis in astrological theory? Do we, in other words, over-egg the difference between signs and constellations? Because the origin of the signs was indeed the constellations, before the systematisers came along and tidied it all up. 

Geometrically/astronomically, the signs and constellations are not the same. But mythologically, they are closely related. Of course they are. The signs are fundamentally mythological, they tell us ancient stories about ourselves, that is part of their deep appeal, and they are the same myths as the constellations associated with them.

So if a constellation is reconfigured so that it is, to some extent, on the ecliptic - as in the case of Ophiuchus -  then I think it is mythologically true to say that it becomes part of the zodiac, because the zodiac’s mythological foundations are those constellations on the ecliptic.

And when you are thinking mythologically, you’re not thinking about systems. You are feeling and imagining and divining, and this was the original basis of astrology: that raw relationship with the sky that Bernadette Brady has done so much to unearth and invoke through her visual astrology.

That, if you like, is my theoretical case for the 13th sign. And my practical case is that it has popular appeal – in other words, it has found its way in, at least to some extent, whether we like it or not, and however much we may huff and puff about doctrinal incorrectness. Much as the outer planets and their  mythologies have found their way in through astronomy, so has the 13th sign found its way in through its popular appeal. Not only do we need our public, but there can be a wisdom in that popular feeling, even if it's based on what we see as muddled thinking, that I think needs paying attention to.

So what are we going to do with it? Astrology is a flexible tradition, and in its modern form we find room for extra planets, asteroids and the Galactic Centre along with imaginary bodies such as Vulcan and the Dark Moon.

Black Moon
But I don’t think we can just pat Ophiuchus on the head and give him a new category and then quietly ignore him, while congratulating ourselves on being broad-minded. He has come in as a sign of the zodiac, and therefore needs to be treated as such. The way he has come in is part of the sign’s divinatory qualities, along with the mythology behind Ophiuchus.

I don’t say we have to change the zodiac to incorporate him (though maybe we could?). No, we can keep the same zodiac, but then – if we want - add in to our reading any planets in that sign, which extends from about 8 to 26 Sagittarius (yes, the Galactic Centre at 26 Sag harbours the dark secret of Ophiuchus!) and which is now also 0 to 18 Ophiuchus.

18th century star map illustrating how the feet of Ophiuchus cross the ecliptic
Ophiuchus is a man grappling with a serpent, the only sign to contain both man and beast. The mid-point of early Aquarius and early Scorpio is in Ophiuchus – the man and the serpent, he resolves these 2 signs.

The 1st century Roman poet Manilius describes the constellation thus:

“Ophiuchus holds apart the serpent which with its mighty spirals and twisted body encircles his own, so that he may untie its knots and back that winds in loops. But, bending its supple neck, the serpent looks back and returns: and the other's hands slide over the loosened coils. The struggle will last forever, since they wage it on level terms with equal powers.”
(Wiki)

It is powerful imagery. Man grappling with his demons, but they are equals, he does not slay them like St George, but meets them with a respect which is mutual. Aquarius meets Scorpio.

And it seems that in modern times, this principle is having to force its way in, if the response of the astrological world to Ophiuchus is anything to go by. We live in an age of ideas, of scientific and technological progress (Aquarius) and the dark side of that (Scorpio) is all around us in environmental degradation, terrible weapons and an alienation from the rhythms of nature. Aquarius here is also the astrologers with their beautiful, human-made systems; and Scorpio is the popular feeling that doesn't always have much regard for such systems, that just likes a good story, even if it’s not true.

So it’s as if through Ophiuchus, that principle of integration of man and beast, human consciousness and its origins, is wanting to make a new synthesis between technological man and nature.

Later in his poem, Manilius describes the astrological influence of Ophiuchus, when the constellation is in its rising phase, as one which offers affinity with snakes and protection from poisons, saying "he renders the forms of snakes innocuous to those born under him. They will receive snakes into the folds of their flowing robes, and will exchange kisses with these poisonous monsters and suffer no harm" (Wiki)

This seems to suggest a healing quality. For the Romans, the figure in Ophiuchus was Asclepius, the Healer.

And again:

To the ancient Greeks, the constellation represented the god Apollo struggling with a huge snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi.
(Wiki)

This brings us back to astrology: the use of reason to create a system (Apollo) and the divinatory power that system was built to serve (the Oracle); the tension, hopefully creative, that you get between the two, that one seems to get in any spiritual tradition: the direct experience of the mystic, and the wisdom of the book.

Jim Morrison
But what about some divination? After all, the above is no use if Ophiuchus does not have divinatory validity. And I thought the quality I want to look for is a struggle with demons as characterising the life of someone with Sun in Ophiuchus, and that I’d see who I had on my personal list of famous people. There were just 2 of them, Jim Morrison (of the Doors) and the painter Edvard Munch.

Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison is well known for his losing battle with his own demons, resulting in his death aged 27 of a heroin overdose. And Munch is known to all of us as the painter of The Scream, portraying the existential anxieties of modern people.

And that was enough for me. This thing works. I don’t test divination with statistics, because it doesn’t work that way. I test it with what immediately presents itself to me, and that was a double hit.

So if you have substantial personal placements in Ophiuchus, your life is likely to be characterised more than most by a struggle with demons, which you may at times be losing, or which you may turn into art for the collective; and whose wider context is the archetypal struggle (leading hopefully to synthesis) between humans and nature, a struggle that is particularly pressing right now as Ophiuchus pushes himself into view from the left field.

And the fact that Ophiuchus as a sign of the zodiac has popular appeal, but is ridiculed by many astrologers, maybe suggests an imbalance between the intricate and beautiful astrological system that has developed over 2 millennia, and the raw divinatory power that system was built to serve.