All posts by Colin McPhillamy

What is the collective noun…

… for a group of astrologers? A conjunction perhaps, a stellium?

I’ve lately returned from a week long course in northern Spain, run by Sue Tompkins. Sue’s splendid books, The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook and Aspects in Astrology, should be on any aspiring astrologer’s reading list. They are what inspired me to go.

The course was held at Torre de Dalt (latorrededalt.com) an old style villa about an hour and a half north of Barcelona, near the city of Girona, complete with pool, views, and a wide terrace with a long table at which the company took meals.

The first part of the week was loosely focussed on medical astrology with classes on sign and planetary rulership of body parts and organs, followed by chart analysis of case studies. In the second part of the week we looked more at general chart analysis and met with a client from the locale to whom we gave a reading.

The course and its content was fascinating and interestingly presented, but a lovely feature of the week was the very relaxed atmosphere. We were a range of types, a mix of professional and domestic backgrounds as you might expect in a gathering of a dozen and a half people, but united by serious interest in astrology. Wine and conversation flowed after the evening meal (delicious vegan cuisine supplied by Kim Farley, also an experienced exponent of the art astro). Over the week stories and personalities emerged easily. Everyone seemed available.

Maybe when a group unites temporarily in receptive study there can be a raising of the collective vibration? I don’t know. But to me the week was a graceful experience, notable in troubled times, of how human beings can be with each other.

Oh, and as my wife pointed out, I was the only guy on the course.

“Really?” I said, “I hadn’t noticed.”

Suetompkins.com for mailing list and details of further events.

Rupert Murdoch & INK

At the moment I am pursuing my day job (I’m an actor, actually mostly at night. For more see my actor blog at mcphillamy.com). I’m in a play called INK on Broadway. INK tells the story of Rupert Murdoch’s activities in London in the late 1960’s. Briefly; he purchased a failing broadsheet newspaper and turned it into the most popular tabloid in history. I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the astrology.

Here is a link to Rupert Murdoch’s natal chart. Below are the astrological footnotes with a keyword italicized and emboldened:

Rupert Murdoch

The chart indicates a person whose personal presentation is formal, traditional and responsible. Behind this formality lurks a visionary. This is someone with a vision which while original and unexpected in its manifestation, verges on the mythic, and it is a vision which will most probably change frequently in its details and locations. He has very good placements for finance. He has an unusual amount of power and charisma when it comes to relationships — not only in his intimate, personal ones, but also in business dealings, and certainly in situations of commercial challenge. Relationships are likely to be transformative, i.e. no-one is unchanged after close contact with him, and the chart indicates someone capable of a depth of feeling, caring and nurture in his dealings with other people, but also large potential for passive-aggressive manipulation, utter ruthlessness, deep suspicion, sudden withdrawals.

Rupert Murdoch is a born communicator. Mercury, Planet of communication, also ruling information exchange of all kinds, as well as trade, commerce and trickery, was in Pisces when he was born and conjunct his Sun. It is a noted feature that Mercury in Pisces, a mutable water sign — tends to have a fluid, movable, adaptable attitude to facts. There can be a shape-shifting relationship to truth.

Almost all of the other planets in the solar system connect very directly in geometric relationship with this Mercury/Sun conjunction at the base of Rupert Murdoch’s chart, giving him multiple and complex, sophisticated avenues of expression as the changing energies of the constantly moving planets in turn, activate, energize, enhance and stimulate his Mercury.

From an astrological point of view it is not a surprise to know that Rupert Murdoch inherited a media conglomerate from his father. It’s likely that his father’s death would have been especially significant and powerfully affecting to him, not only because of his inheritance, but because the moment of his father’s passing would have connected him in a very powerful way with his own sense of destiny.

On the day of publication of Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper, the 19th November 1969 (see link below), no fewer than five progressed planets straddling the signs of Aries (self-expression) and Taurus (tangible results) are present in his 5th house of creativity. At the same time, the 4th quadrant of his chart (the world at large) is stacked with seven planets by transit. Notably Pluto ruling disclosure and taboo, sits in the middle of Rupert’s 10th House of career. The transiting Sun and Mercury (communication) are conjunct with Neptune (glamour, illusion, story-telling) and Pluto aspects the Sun closely, as does Rupert’s natal Mars (drive, energy, anger), all of which connects with Rupert’s aforementioned communication destiny.

Rupert Murdoch tri-wheel

To say it without the astrological gobbledygook: the time was especially ripe for a taboo-breaking development in media, and Rupert was the man for the job.

This is the man who gave the world opinio-tainment calling it “news”.

And the world ate it up.

  • Responsible: Capricorn rising, Saturn in dignity in the 1st
  • Visionary: Sun in Pisces
  • Mythic: Uranus conjunct north node in Aries (a promethean hero’s journey)
  • Locations: Neptune in Virgo in the 9th
  • Finance: Venus in the 2nd, Mars in the 8th
  • Relationships/challenge/withdrawals: Jupiter conjunct Pulto in the 7th, widely conjunct Mars in the 8th, all in Cancer
  • Truth: Mercury in Pisces
  • Stimulate: The Mercury/Sun conjunction sextiles Saturn and Chiron, squares the Moon, squares Jupiter, trines the Pluto/Mars conjunction and is widely opposite Neptune.
  • Destiny: At his father’s death, the Sun by transit was conjunct Rupert’s south node, and transiting Mars conjunct his Moon.

Drama By Transit

“Life is never fair… and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.” Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

This week-end (today is Sunday February 3rd 2019) sees the Celtic festival of Imbolc, the beginning of the year. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that as a neo-pagan you get a second chance at all those resolutions.

Here is a new project which I’m calling Drama by Transit. Each month for the next year I’m taking a look at a significant piece of the astrology of the life and times of a prominent theatrical figure. I have chosen as a starting point the twice-in-a-millenium conjunction of Pluto and Neptune which sounds a cultural base note every time it happens. This mighty lineup of the Lord of the Underworld and the Lord of Illusion last occurred in the 1890s and, (would you agree?), ever since, there has been an ongoing explosive expansion in communication in all its forms; from use of language itself to all the many mediums of expression which have never been as widely available as they are today.

Below is the natal chart of Oscar Wilde. Take a look and see if you agree with my observations below… I have emboldened and italicized the astrology so you can skip it if you prefer.


Virgo ascends at 15 degrees, and Saturn in Gemini in the 10th is almost exactly square, within 12 minutes of arc. Mercury is the chart ruler. It’s no surprise then, to know of Oscar Wilde’s use of language. The witticisms of his plays exactly express Saturn in Gemini, the humor is frequently sardonic, and the verbal jousting his characters engage in is full of contradistinctions and fanciful analytics.

Mercury in Scorpio in the 3rd suggests an intensity and early facility with learning, the South node is here too, also in Scorpio, suggesting someone at home in the mental realm and with native talent for deeper understanding. Mars in Sagittarius in the 3rd lends vigor and playful expansiveness to an intellectual quest and Uranus in Taurus in the 9th opposite Mercury, while carrying a love of surprises and challenges made manifest on the physical plane, stimulates original expression.

Venus un-aspected in her dignity in Libra in the 2nd which she rules, also rules the 9th while Mars her erotic counterpart rules the 3rd, one can imagine this is someone who gained sensual pleasure from intellectual pursuit.

Straddling the 5th house cusp at 16 and 19 degrees respectively we find Chiron and Jupiter conjunct in Capricorn. This conjunction is the apex of a yod with Saturn in the 10th sextile the Moon in the 11th. That Oscar Wilde’s point of greatest sensitivity should land almost exactly on his 5th house cusp indicates that his romantic activities would render him extremely vulnerable. The same Chiron/Jupiter conjunction is trine Uranus and forms a mini grand trine with Neptune in Pisces conjunct the descendant. We see here a flair for the unconventional, the extraordinarily sensitive and probably highly romanticized attitude to relationship, with a strong tendency to play either victim or redeemer. The Mercury Uranus opposition is the base line of a T-Square to the Moon in Leo in the 11th. This is someone who needs to be seen as a maverick, who needs to entertain, and must find a way to do it in a public forum.

I mention all this because: on 14th February (Valentime’s Day) 1895, the opening night of the original London production of The Importance of Being Earnest, the aforementioned conjunction of Pluto and Neptune was connecting significantly with Oscar Wilde’s personal chart. Pluto was at 9′ 48″ Gemini and Neptune at 13 ‘ 01″ These points are within a little over 1 degree, and just over 2 and a half degrees of his Midheaven and his Saturn respectively.

So on the opening night of The Importance – surely Oscar’s greatest masterpiece – Pluto, the great transformer was close to his point of highest aspiration, and Neptune who bestows glamour was sprinkling frivolous glitter on the Lord of Form (Saturn) in the arena of language (Gemini) precisely in Oscar Wilde’s 10th house of career and reputation.His success as a playwright (he’d already had three plays in the West End), was enormously enhanced and he was, for a brief time, the most celebrated dramatist of the English language.

What a difference a few months can make, and how a seemingly beneficent influence can turn. When Oscar Wilde’s trial for Gross indecency began in early May of that same year 1895, Pluto (ruling taboo and disclosure) was exactly conjunct his midheaven, and when sentence was passed a few weeks later Neptune (ruling illusion and disillusion) was then exactly conjunct his Saturn, both conjunctions to within less than one degree of arc.

Oscar Wilde’s fall from Grace finds echoes today. Homosexual orientation and practice is no longer forbidden in England or the English-speaking world, but at the time of writing Pluto (ruling upheaval and the rising to the light of hidden things) is at work in Capricorn (which  rules institutions generally: government, churches, banks …), and Neptune is in Pisces, where we find myth, storytelling and entertainment – consider the sudden fall of many celebrities and/or politicians who are suddenly made into burnt toast through accusation and disclosure.

Fast forward now 122 years (almost exactly half the orbital period of Pluto, and almost exactly one quarter of the Pluto/Neptune cycle…)

Below is a bi-wheel with Oscar’s chart as the inner circle, the outer circle shows the transits on January 31st 2017 when the British parliament singed into law a pardon for 50,000 homosexual men, among them Oscar Wilde.

The really significant transits are:

  1. The Pluto/Mercury conjunction sitting closely over Oscar’s Chiron/Jupiter and straddling the 5th House cusp.
  2. Neptune by transit has almost completed exactly one orbit of the Sun since Oscar’s birth year and is now closely conjunct his Descendant.

Thus:

  1. Pluto the great transformer, Lord of death and rebirth, re-visits Oscar Wilde’s most sensitive, most wounded place, and through Mercury (who alone of the Gods may go to the underworld and return to the light) communicates his new status.
  2. The sacrificial adventure, which required Oscar to give his life, is completed. The orbit of Neptune closes the circle and Oscar’s relationship to the rest of us is restored as a master of language. One that challenged convention, but tasted life’s bitterest trials.

All of the above is a long way to wonder if Oscar Wilde, one of the greatest dramatic wordsmiths of all time, performed a singular service in his destiny. From our present perspective his treatment at law seems primitive at best, barbaric at worst, and highlights the long awaited restitution in law of generations of injustice.

Meanwhile, the mighty outer planets beam their influence to the Earth in ways unacknowledged by science. The same dramas occur in different guises and they lose no power to surprise us.

The astrology seems exact.

 

Solstice Greetings

Hello! It’s been a while…

Would you agree that 2018 has been something of an interior year? Well, with nearly all planets retrograde at one time or another in the past trek around the Sun, what would you expect?

Have you been drawn to introspection? Have you put projects on hold? Have plans you thought were a sure thing gone pear-shaped? Yes? Me too. Well to some extent. I have been busy with my day job as an actor (see my actor blog).

Eventually what has emerged for me is new project to work on over the next year, which brings my two jobs (actor and astrologer) together. I call it Drama by Transit and I will resume a monthly post on this theme as it relates to the transit described below.

Pluto

In the last decade of the 19th century there was a celestial conjunction that occurs once every 493 years. Pluto and Neptune were in exactly the same place in the sky as viewed from the Earth. These two outer planets and their energies were exactly conjunct at 8 degrees, 37 minutes Gemini on August 2nd of 1891.

Neptune

This large cycle of almost 500 years, which will repeat in Gemini until the 3800s, sounds, I believe, a base note in world culture.

Fast forward to 2017, 126 years later.

For every two orbits Pluto makes around the Sun (at 248 years a time), Neptune makes three (at 168 year per), and thus they hook up, so to speak, about every half millennium. Meanwhile let us notice that 126 year is about half (within 4 years) of the orbital period of Pluto.

Er yes, well re-reading all that, it does seem a bit heavy on the jargon. Not to worry all you have to know for now is that Pluto and Neptune were conjunct in Gemini in 1891 – among many other things this caused (I reckon) an explosion in language.

So 1891 to 2017. These are the two bookend dates for this project. And I hope all will become clear as we go forward.

More anon.

Meanwhile, Happy Solstice!

 

All the tarot you can eat!

It’s been a long radio silence from me and here’s why:

My day job as an actor suddenly made me very busy. I was in a fantastic Irish play off-Broadway in New York and on my days off I was recording Australian crime fiction (I am half Australian and some of my people moved there from Ireland back in the 1900s). And I am pleased to tell you that I’ll be doing more theatre stuff come September.

Me and my friend Mystic Bear

But the month of August re-opens for tarot and astrology. And …

http://www.mcssl.com/app/?Clk=5620092

That is a link to one of the most info-expert-packed tarot events that I know of. Everyone from the (Amazing) Amberstones of the Tarot School and the Reader’s Studio and on from there.

It’s a free event and there is more tarot expertise per minute than you could find since the esotericists of the Golden Dawn commissioned Pamela Coleman-Smith!

My contribution will focus on Astro-Tarot. What are the correspondences between these two methods? And how can we use them to enhance our readings?

That link again: http://www.mcssl.com/app/?Clk=5620092

Oh and by the way, I’m sure you’ve been receiving emails from everyone who sends them asking if you still want to be included in their messages. If you no longer need to hear from me please reply with “unsubscribe”. But if you’re happy to stay in touch no action required! Happy solstice!

Aquarius

The Sun moved into Aquarius yesterday. Season of friendship? Season of originality, of the novel and the inventive? What will the water-bearer bring?

I reckon there is an acceleration in the ongoing new awareness of the body of the solar system.

Well ok, maybe I reckon so because when I start googling stuff about the planets my head tends to explode…

When a new planet is discovered or when the human authorities alter the status of a known celestial body, as in Pluto from planet to dwarf planet, astrological thinking says it indicates a corresponding shift in human awareness.

Here is what looks to be a fascinating seminar on Ceres offered by MISPA. Ceres was named a planet (when it was first discovered in 1801), then an asteroid (in the 1850s), and just recently, a dwarf planet (according to the classification given by the IAU – international astronomical union – in 2006). So what might it mean in human affairs that Ceres is now on equal footing with Pluto? And is it significant that celestial bodies tend to be named via mythology? And how mysterious is the solar system anyway?

If, like me, you are looking for answers to these and other questions, this seminar might be somewhere to start.

First day of 2018

What are my predictions for 2018?

There are none.

This is not a prediction. It’s a forecast, the astro-weather will be what it will. What we do with it personally and collectively is up to us and will vary according to the complex of will, values, motivation, and more than anything – consciousness.

Interested in a bargain? Check out the Special. (for existing clients only).

Ok back to the astro:

Something unusual happened on the day of the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice in December 2017, the shortest day of the year. What happened was that Saturn moved into Capricorn (nothing unusual about that, it happens every 30 years or so), and the Sun also moved into Capricorn, (again, not unusual, a yearly occurrence).

What was unusual is that the Sun and Saturn were conjunct (in the same place in the sky as viewed from the Earth) at the potency of zero degrees in a new sign (when it’s all potential, as yet unknown), on the day when the balance of light and dark between the two hemispheres of our planet starts its twice yearly reversal.

How rare is that?

Very.

And in some way it will affect all of us.

Saturn

What does all that astro-babble actually mean?

Saturn, as any astrologer will tell you, is the lord of time, form, death.

Also, boundary, restriction, delay and frustration, among many other things.

Sounds like fun, huh?

Ah yes, but can you make friends with Saturn, contract to cooperate with his powerful influence? If so, the promise and the possibility of his unique rewards: technique, application, discipline, and eventually… mastery in your chosen field… all that begins to open up.

And Capricorn?

Cardinal Earth. Leadership potential in the material world. Ability to initiate projects and plans in the realm of manifestation. Concerned with issues of money, health, tangible achievement.

And guess which planet rules Capricorn.

Right, Saturn!.

Saturn will move through Capricorn for the next three years, touching and crossing, then re-crossing the Capricorn/Aquarius boundary in 2020, finally exiting Capricorn at the end of that year.

Ok that’s enough astrology, except to say that, of course, each of the other planets, along with all the other signs of the zodiac and how they move and aspect your personal set-up, all of that obviously continues.

So here are my hunches: – if you want the astrology behind these thoughts (not everybody does) there are notes at the end of the post.

On a personal level:

It’s a great time to get real about what you want, particularly these next two months Jan/Feb 2018 which kick-start the year energetically.

It’s also a great time to ditch any lingering, residual, anger, resentment, envy and all that stuff, and as these next 30 months go by there may be an impulse to serious psycho-therapeutic work.

Careful review, and ongoing attention to detail will pay double dividends in the planing and the execution of any project.

On a social level:

The markets crashed or reversed in 1929, 1958, 1987, … and in 2018 … who knows, but it sure looks possible (NB: this is not a prediction. Do not make any financial decisions based on what you read here!!!)

The tension between the hyper libido-liberation of the late 1960s and the ongoing secret sexual abuses of power through all of recorded history, is being lanced. Rage and revenge will gather, disclosures at all levels will continue, eventually a new paradigm may emerge.

We will see incredible technical innovations, very possibly especially in robotics, the march of tech-science will accelerate and there will be greater awareness of environmental issues. Clean energy is available.

At a national/international level:

The governments of the USA and elsewhere will continue to strive for control of the public mind. Attacks on, and restrictions of, the media will continue.

Legislation will have unintended consequences. This will be a natural result of the fact that legislators have a known tendency to leave legislation unread before they vote on it.

In many ways governments are now puppet proxies of the corporate-ocracy which rules large operations. Many of these larger bodies are slow to catch on, therefore the damaging excavations in tar-sands, fracking and good old coal-mining will continue… however it is very possible in the next few years that sudden transformations will come onto the international scene.

And here is the astro

Personal

All the planets are direct for the first few months of 2018 – a lot of energy.

Saturn will stimulate isolation, fear, loneliness and all the attendant anxieties, as Saturn makes its slow approach to its conjunction with Pluto (January 2020), the great excavator,  all this can be examined, worked through, transformed.

Saturn is the scrutinizer. In Capricorn this is very practical.

Social

When Saturn hits Capricorn bubbles have a tendency to burst.

Jupiter is in Scorpio, an expansive impulse to get to what’s really going on. Plus Pluto discloses, Saturn disposes. These mighty energies are active. And shall we talk about Eris?

This is Uranus moving into Taurus in may 2018. He dances backwards for a few months, but then gets back into earthy Taurus and will transit there for 7 years, he will also aspect our friends in Capricorn. If you have planets in Virgo, pay attention, this could be the big opportunity!

Uranus

National

Saturn/Pluto again. broadly speaking upcoming transits will oppose the midpoint between the natal USA Sun/Mercury.

The recent tax legislation is a case in point, there was a conjunction of the Sun, Venus and Saturn in the USA 1st House of identity. A plutocrats dream.

Well huge amounts of money (Venus) are tied into corporate structures (Saturn) and excavation (Pluto) on natural resources with zero attention to replenishment (natal Pluto in the USA 2nd House).

Pluto

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Scorpio Season

By the way, we’re in Scorpio season (northern hemisphere) the coming festivals celebrate a time when the veil is thin. It might be a chance to park that left-brain filter for a spell. What better way to start than check out these spooky tarotscopes?!

These monthly ‘scopes appear at RadicalTarot.com The amazing Siobhan hosts an eclectic group of (tarot) card sharps. Check in with your Sun sign, Moon sign or rising sign. If what you read or see rings bells, follow a link and get a reading?

It’s that time of year…

Taking a Breath

It’s been a little more than a year since I began posting on the astro correspondences in tarot. See my latest book review here.

This is a fascinating subject and brings these two mighty symbolic systems together. Almost perfectly. But not exactly. The seven planets of the ancient world are matched to the twelve zodiacal signs. Each sign has three periods of ten days, called a decan. Here is the arithmetic.

12 (signs) x 3 (decans) = 36

But 36 (decans) ÷ 7 (planets) = 35 with a remainder of 1

So Mars appears one extra time. The Two of Wands is Mars in Aries and all the way around the zodiac to the Ten of Cups we have Mars in Pisces. A double dose of Mars.

Fair enough, maybe those esotericists of The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn who came up with this method of ascription wanted a deliberate imperfection in the wheel?

I don’t know.

In any case I am taking a breath before I move on to another aspect. So the next post will be at about the winter solstice (northern hemisphere). Meanwhile if you are interested to know more about this fascinating mis-match check out the book I recommend here.

 

We’ve come a long way together

The focus of this blog since July 2016 has been, month on month, astrological correspondences in the tarot cards mostly focussing on the minor arcana. 

So it’s about a year later. Which means our planet has done a circle around the Sun. There are some big numbers involved. Remember 2 pi r from high school geometry? When r is 93 million miles, (the Earth’s mean distance from the Sun), the resulting orbital distance we’ve all traveled in this last journey around the zodiac is 584 million miles (approx).

But it’s more complex than that. The Sun is also moving in an orbit. But the Sun’s passage through space is perpendicular to the plane of the solar system. Which means that the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is a spiral (a big one) not a circle.

If you are interested in number, ratio and harmony in the context of the planets and their satellites, take a look at this month’s book review here.