Monday, 26 January 2015

Greek General Election - follow up

Syriza did indeed win the Greek General Election and Alexis Tsipras has been sworn in as prime minister. It occurred to me that the size of Syriza's victory – just a couple of seats short of an outright majority – mirrored that of Angela Merkel in 2013. I decided to have a look at Germany's re-unification chart to see if there were any similarities with Greece's national chart. To my utter amazement, I discovered that Germany has 4 Leo 22 rising – almost exactly the same degree as Alexis Tsipras' Sun (4 Leo 57 at noon – birth time unknown). His Sun is also conjunct Germany's South Node, which suggests unfinished business.

(Click to enlarge)

I can't see anything else of great significance between the two charts. There's a close Saturn-Neptune opposition between Greece's (remember – the Greek national chart is almost the same as Tsipras') and Germany's, but you'd expect it to involve Germany's Saturn and Greece's Neptune – not the other way round. Or does this suggest that Tsipras will force Germany to be more realistic about its dream of a United States of Europe?

In turn, transiting Saturn will be making its presence felt in Greece later this year as it will contact Greece's and Tsipras' Neptune in November. So it's possible that both parties are going to have to take reality checks and disappointment. No strong personal interaction between Merkel's and Tsipras' charts leaps out at me. However, his North Node is conjunct her Ascendant and his Uranus is stirring things up for her as it's conjunct her natal Neptune (those dreams again) and square her natal Sun (he's threatening the stability of the project she holds so dear).

(Click to enlarge)

It looks like it's going to be an interesting year in Europe. I also came across another left-wing radical party with a charismatic young leader today. This is the Spanish Podemos ('We Can') led by Pablo Iglesias. Formed at the beginning of 2014, the party is now the second largest in Spain. Iglesias was elected to the European Parliament in 2014. He has much in common with Alexis Tsipras and visited Greece to help with Syriza's election campaign.

(Click to enlarge)

The similarities between Iglesias' and the post-Franco national chart for Spain are not as striking as those between Tsipras' and Greece's, but note that the two Suns are once again within a few degrees of each other. I can't find a birth time for him, so this is a noon chart, but if he were born some time after 9:30pm Iglesias' Moon would be conjunct Spain's Mars. Also of note is that transiting Saturn will be contacting Iglesias' Mars and Spain's Neptune at the end of this year and the beginning of 2016. Spain is another country that's struggling with debt. Curiously, it has 3 Aquarius 43 rising – almost exactly opposite Germany's Ascendant and Tsipras' Sun. Perhaps now that Greece has led the way, Spain will follow by demanding an end to austerity. (Spain is due to hold a General Election towards the end of 2015). Interesting times indeed ...


(1) Bi-wheels have the countries on the inside as we know the times and therefore the Ascendants

(2) Information for all national charts was taken from The Book of World Horoscopes, full details in previous post

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Some thoughts on the Greek General Election

Belatedly, I decided to take a look at the chart for Greece as the people prepare to vote in what could be a ground-shifting election tomorrow. I've used the chart drawn up for the swearing-in of Constantine Karamanlis as prime minister following the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974.1 One of the interesting things about this election is that the man who's widely tipped to become the next prime minister of Greece – Alexis Tsipras – was born only four days after the republic was formed. Therefore apart from the position of his Moon (of which we can't be sure as we don't have a birth time for him), he has almost the same horoscope as Greece itself. And there are very significant transits to these charts on election day.

Traditionally, voting takes place between sunrise and sunset in Greece2 so I've erected a chart for election day based on sunrise in Athens, which is both the capital and Tsipras' place of birth.

(Click to enlarge)
One of the first things I noticed was that Uranus (13 Aries 04) on election day is almost exactly square the Ascendant in the chart for Greece (13 Cancer 08). Also, Mercury is retrograde in the election chart. It's being drawn back to the Sun, having turned retrograde just a few days ago. In terms of Mercury's synodic cycle (a subject dear to my heart at the moment), the cycle is drawing to a close so Mercury is being pulled toward the future with its eye firmly fixed on the past. Greece has been in economic melt-down for years and I freely admit to being biased because I love the Greeks, but I feel they've been very cruelly treated by the EU. Many Greeks have suffered terribly during this period – you can 'listen again' to some of the interviews John Humphrys made in Greece this week for the BBC Today programme3. Many Greeks are saying that all the other politicians have failed them so this time they're going to give Syriza (the radical left coalition that Tsipras heads) a chance. They're looking for change, and this shows in the transiting Uranus, which is also squaring the Greek Saturn (just risen in the national chart) and Mercury.

There are, in fact, many significant transits to the Greek Ascendant-Saturn-Mercury. Transiting Pluto is also exactly opposite this trio and the nodes are square. Interestingly, the North Node is in Libra, a sign that's concerned with social justice but whose shadow side is totalitarianism. The South Node in Aries suggests the root of Greece's problem was selfishness and rampant individualism during the Good Times – or the 'snout in the trough' sort of behaviour that came to light here in the UK during the MPs' expenses scandal. The shadow side of this – a bright shadow – is that people were forced to find other ways to survive once the money ran out. Some didn't make it, but in other cases it built strong networks and communities based more on what people are than on what they have.

Coming back to the retrograde Mercury in the election chart, this can also be seen as either a people who have turned in on themselves and their problems or who are turning against the tide. They've had enough of the 'business as usual' approach of mainstream politicians and they're willing to give Syriza a chance. Of course, we can't be certain that Syriza will win and we certainly can't be sure that Syriza will be any better for them than what has gone before. They could be lured onto the rocks by a siren's song, or they could find that their dreams of a better life come true. Note that transiting Neptune is square the natal Neptune of Greece and Tsipras – though transiting Saturn is approaching their Neptune. When Saturn reaches that point could be when they get a reality check.

(Click to enlarge)
Those seem to be the most important things to me, but I'd just like to mention Alexis Tsipras' chart in relation to the opening and closing of polls in Athens. The Sun on election day is exactly opposite his natal Sun, and at dawn his Sun has just sunk below the horizon of the election chart. When the polls close ten hours later, his Sun has just risen above the Ascendant in the close of poll chart. That, together with the fact that the Moon is riding high at the top of the election chart suggests to me that he'll be the people's choice. Moon is conjunct Uranus and South Node and all three are in the ninth house, a sign that people want change and they have faith in him to deliver it.

(Click to enlarge)


(1) Campion, Nicholas The Book of World Horoscopes Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth (2004) pp 146-7

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Definition of the Midheaven

The midheaven, or MC (from Medium Coeli), is one of the angles of the horoscope. The other principal angle is the ascendant. The identification of the angles seems unproblematic, and astrologers are often able to cite some sort of definition for each one. However, a technically correct definition for the ascendant or midheaven can be elusive.

For example astrologers will often say that the midheaven is the highest point in the chart. This is a disarmingly simple statement, but once considered in detail, turns out be a crude and problematic definition of the MC. Firstly, which point in the chart is being identified. To say the midheaven is the highest point in the chart doesn't really clarify the issue of what, exactly, this point is in the horoscope. Secondly, and most problematically, 'highest' in relation to what? Terms like 'highest' and 'higher' are relative and need to be defined in terms of some sort of absolute position.

Robert Hand provides two useful and more precise definitions in his essay on the ascendant, midheaven and vertex in extreme latitudes (for reference see below). Hand's first definition is that the midheaven may be the point of intersection of the meridian and ecliptic in the south. His second definition is that the midheaven may be the point of intersection of the ecliptic and meridian above the horizon. (p. 132)

These definitions do advance our understanding because we now know that the midheaven or MC is the point where the ecliptic meets the meridian. The meridian is the great circle through the running north and south points of the observer's horizon, and through the zenith, the point exactly overhead on the celestial sphere, and the nadir, the point on the celestial sphere opposite the zenith. 

The following diagram illustrates the points made in the previous paragraph. Note that the midheaven is shown crossing the ecliptic above the horizon and due south. This is a fair representation of the midheaven for a northern hemisphere observer at mid-latitudes. The diagram is for illustrative purposes and the situation will vary for observers at other latitudes.

Figure 1: The Celestial Sphere (Horizontal Frame of Reference)

But how do we decide between the definitions of the midheaven that Hand has offered? By direction? Or by altitude above the horizon? This is critical because in polar regions and at the equator both definitions become ambiguous for different reasons.

Let's consider the definition by direction. Firstly, to be accurate, the definition by direction must be made relative to the hemisphere of the observer. For those in the southern hemisphere, the midheaven is generally to the north. So for more precision, the definition of the midheaven must be extended to refer to the hemisphere of the observer. However, a problem immediately arises for observers in the tropics (those living close to the equator). For an observer who lives just north of the equator, the midheaven will be to their north when signs of northern declination (those north of the equator) are culminating.

So our definition by direction and hemisphere has already broken down. To correct this problem, we have had to qualify the directional definition further, by reference to the latitude of the observer. What seemed to be a straightforward description of the midheaven has now become complex and unwieldy.

What about the definition with relation to the horizon. In this definition the midheaven is always above the horizon, irrespective of its direction. This, on the face of it, seems quite reasonable. After all, it is true for anybody living in the tropics and temperate regions. However, when we get to the polar regions (beyond on the arctic or antarctic circles), we find that the midheaven so defined may again be to the north for northern observers. Others also claim that the MC is always to the south in polar regions even when it is below the horizon.

I think there are good reasons why we should be critical of both definitions of the midheaven - by direction (south/north) and by position relative to the horizon (above/below). Neither seems to have offered an unambiguous definition of the concept we are examining.

The definition of above and below the horizon refers to altitude above the horizontal plane. So, in the case of Hand's second definition of the midheaven, the point of intersection of the ecliptic and meridian will have an altitude above the horizon. But let's consider the phenomenon of the midnight sun. In northern polar regions, the sun in summer (at its most northerly declination) will spend 24 hours above the horizon - it neither rises nor sets in the sense of being above or below the horizon.

Now when the northern winter solstice (00 Capricorn 00 in the tropical zodiac), the point on the ecliptic with the most southerly declination, is due south of the observer in polar regions it will be below the horizon. At this time, the Sun at the northern summer solstice will be due north of a northern polar observer but above the horizon.

If we accept the definition of the midheaven as being the point of intersection between the ecliptic and the meridian above the horizon, then the Sun at 00 Cancer 00, the northern summer solstice (in the tropical zodiac), will be on the MC. However, consider the situation twelve hours later: the Sun at the summer solstice will be on the meridian again, this time in the south, but at a point much higher in the sky with relation to the horizon. The winter solstice will still be below the horizon, but also on the meridian due north.

What should we make of this? The summer solstice Sun seems to be on the MC again. It is crossing the meridian and clearly above the horizon. The other point of the ecliptic crossing the meridian, the northern winter solstice, is still below the horizon in the north. So the sun seems to have been on the MC twice in one day if we use the above/below definition of the midheaven in polar regions.

It's my view that it is the second instance of the Sun crossing the meridian that we want to call Sun-MC. This is because it is both on the meridian and at its highest point in the sky in a single diurnal cycle. In short the Sun is at its closest approach to the zenith, the point immediately above the observer. Of course, in polar regions it won't actually be immediately above the observer, but it has attained its minimum zenith distance. It is this observation that finally provides us with an unambiguous definition of the midheaven or MC.

The midheaven or MC is the degree of the ecliptic which, at the time and place of casting the horoscope, has its minimum zenith distance (MZD) measured on the meridian; that is, it is the point at which that particular degree makes its closest approach to the zenith in any single diurnal (24 hour) cycle. This definition does not mess up in the tropics, where directional definitions become unclear, and it means that being above or below the horizon is not relevant, which has been shown to be a problem in polar regions.

The definition of zenith distance is taken from Mitton's Dictionary of Astronomy. Zenith distance is "the angular distance from the zenith to a point on the celestial sphere, measured along a great circle." (p. 416) In our case the great circle of interest is the meridian because in any one diurnal cycle, the minimum zenith distance for any particular point on the ecliptic will occur along this circle.

What about the tropical northern winter solstice? This point never comes above the horizon in northern polar regions. It will still be on the MC according to this definition because when it is due south of a northern observer the particular degree associated with the northern winter solstice – 00 Capricorn 00 in the tropical zodiac - will have reached its minimum zenith distance (MZD) in that diurnal cycle. That is, at that particular time and place, it will be at its closest approach to the zenith despite being below the horizon.

This may seem quite counter-intuitive at first. After all the Sun will still be higher in relation to the horizon in the north than the winter solstice degree below the horizon in the south. But the critical point is that the Sun at this time is not at the closest point to the zenith that it can be during the course of the day. This point will come when it attains its MZD on the meridian twelve hours later.

And consider the midwinter Sun at these latitudes - say, just above the arctic circle. It will rise to a point just below the southern horizon at  noon when it attains its MZD. Although the Sun in midwinter will be below the horizon, a glimmer of noon-day light will come over the horizon. Is this not what we would want for a Sun-MC conjunction, even one below the horizon. It's as light as it is going to get for a midwinter Sun on or just above the arctic circle. Twelve hours later, with the Sun on the IC defined by MZD, it will be midnight and deep dark. 

The following diagram illustrates these points. The summer solstice Sun (identified by CN for Cancer) is shown just above the northern horizon (the midnight sun). In the course of 12 hours it will move along the dashed orange line to the point on the meridian due south of the observer. It is moved there by the rotation of the earth on its pole (marked NCP-SCP). The purple line from the zenith to the highpoint of the Sun shows the MZD (minimum zenith distance) at noon - the Sun-MC. Note that the Sun in the course of those 12 hours has moved to a position much higher in the sky than the midnight Sun - the Sun-IC.

The winter solstice Sun (identified by CP for Capricorn) is shown deep below the northern horizon at midnight. In the course of 12 hours it will move along its dashed orange line to the point on the meridian due south of the observer, just below the horizon. However, note that it has still moved towards the zenith, the point at the top of the sphere. The MC defined by MZD is marked. The difference in zenith distances at both points is shown by the light blue line.

  Figure 2: Illustrating the Concept of Minimum Zenith Distance Marking the Midheaven

At any particular time in the day there may be points on the ecliptic that have less zenith distance (i.e. are closer to the zenith) than the point on the MC. An example is the nonagesimal point, the degree on the ecliptic with the maximum altitude above the horizon at a particular time and place. In general the nonagesimal degree won't be the MC at the time for which the horoscope is cast because it will have had its minimum zenith distance (it's closest approach to the zenith) at some other time during the diurnal cycle.

For example, a nonagesimal degree west of the meridian will have attained its MZD (i.e. been on the midheaven) at some time earlier in the day. A nonagesimal degree east of the meridian it will attain its MZD some time later in the day when it will be the degree of the ecliptic on the meridian.

In fact, the nonagesimal can be precisely defined as the degree on the ecliptic with the minimum zenith distance measured on any great circle running through the zenith and nadir at a particular time and place. 

It is worth noting that exactly at the poles all definitions of the MC become problematic, partly because all directions from the north pole lead south (towards the southern pole) and vice versa in the southern hemisphere. This makes the definition of the meridian itself difficult. However, this is not really a serious issue because as soon as one moves away from the pole, the definition of the meridian becomes possible once again.

So: the MC cannot be defined by direction (fails at the tropics) nor by its being above the horizon (problematic in the polar circles - the 'double midheaven' issue). The definition is unambiguously made using the concept of minimum zenith distance. The midheaven or MC is the point of intersection between the ecliptic and the meridian where that particular degree attains its minimum zenith distance during its diurnal cycle, irrespective of its direction in relation to an observer or its height in relation to the horizon.

Perhaps we should rename the MC the MMZD - minimum meridional zenith distance!


Since posting this blog the author has discovered an article in the Astrological Association Journal by Norman Blunsdon that covers this issue. Members of the Astrological Association may wish to explore this piece online (as a benefit of their membership) or at the AA Library. 

The reference is:

N Blunsdon (1967) Low Thoughts on High Latitudes. Astrological Association Journal: Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 30.

It is reprinted in the AA's compendium of early classic articles from the Journal - An Astrological Anthology: Vol. 1 (1959-1970). Selected and arranged by Zach Matthews.

In this piece, Blunsdon points out that the midheaven is the same at all latitudes, and changing the midheaven to conform to a definition (always above the horizon) transgresses this principle. 

Blunsdon writes: "Let us first consider the MC and its derivation. As this is formed by the Meridian for the subject's birthtime, it is both personal and constant. We use the Local Sidereal Time and usually find the corresponding MC in our house tables: this is the same for all latitudes."


Robert Hand (1982) Essays on Astrology: The Ascendant, Midheaven and Vertex in Extreme Latitudes. Whitford Press.

Jaqueline Mitton (1993) The Penguin Dictionary of Astronomy. Penguin Books.

Saturday, 27 December 2014


by Richard Burch. 

Though the effects of the current 3-year long Uranus-Pluto square may be starting to wane, the last of seven occurrences of this aspect is on 17 Mar 2015, just seven weeks before the election is due. So it will colour the background, particularly since it falls at 15°17', exactly opposite and square David Cameron's Sun, presenting extra challenges for him and his party, but maybe keeping him in power. On 1 Nov 2013 (on the exact 20th anniversary of the European Union coming into force) the fourth and central Uranus-Pluto aspect fell at 9°25', square and conjunct the UK 1066 and 1801 Suns, suggesting long-term, deep-seated change. This may take several years of transition and upheaval. Nevertheless the immediate result following election day should be discernible from the two charts for the start and close of the polls.

Start of polls

The expectations and probable trends in the run-up to the election are indicated in this chart:

Conservatives/Cameron: As the existing main governing party they are shown by the first house. Mercury is strong, rising here in its own sign, though some way into the 12th house, and separating nicely from an opposition to Saturn. It is the strongest planet in the chart. In addition it is applying to trine the north node. Notably, George Osborne (perhaps the most crucial figure in any Tory victory based on perceived economic strength) is Sun Gemini. Venus in the first house also has a role, reflecting the presence of Sun Librans Cameron and Theresa May. But Venus, unaspected, weak in Gemini and at the end of the sign on a critical degree, gives some indication that Cameron's reign as leader may be coming to an end, and that May might not be able to succeed him. The Moon's final opposition to Venus further suggests rejection by the electorate.

There is undoubtedly an expectation among the Conservatives that they ought to win enough seats to form the largest party. However, Mercury makes no applying aspect to the Sun, lord of the 5th (the house of victory in a competition) nor Saturn, Lord of the 10th (house of government). There is nothing here to show success.

Labour/Miliband: As the official opposition they are shown by the 7th house and Jupiter. The setting Moon (the electorate) in their house shows that the voters are with the party, if not the leader, to some extent. But the Moon may also signify the SNP taking ground from under Labour's feet. (The next SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, is Sun Cancer.) Jupiter is on the IC (outcome) in royal Leo, which becomes the 10th house (of government) for Labour when the chart is turned 180ยบ to read directly. It strongly suggests a Labour win, or an expectation of one at the start of the day. Perhaps it is false optimism, though. As with the Tories, their significator (Jupiter) makes no good aspect to the Sun or Saturn (whether ruling the natural 5th and 10th, or the turned 11th and 4th). Again, there is no clear victory shown here.

LibDems/Clegg: In the past, as an opposition party, Jupiter (or sometimes Uranus, even Neptune) appeared to work as their significator. Jupiter is taken this time by Miliband, and Uranus now seems highly unlikely. As part of the previously-existing government they could be shown by Venus in the first house, in which case all the remarks about the Conservative leadership based on the planet's weak position seem applicable to them too. If, however, by competing in this election independently they are allocated another planet, then their fate could alter. If allowed Jupiter, being now a part of the opposition (though that's a moot assumption) they could still be the kingmaker and partner, as Jupiter sits on the IC (final outcome) in Leo. No doubt this is what Clegg and others secretly hope or believe. If allocated Neptune, its square to Mercury (Cameron) makes a resolution tough but not impossible. However, if given the Sun (and Clegg's natal Sun at 16 CAP is exactly trine), it does not suggest another Lib-Con coalition because there's no aspect to Mercury. In fact the Sun is void-of-course in the 12th, signifying that nothing will come of it, the LibDem's record in office being their self-undoing.

UKIP/Farage: They seem to be shown by Saturn, as the most reactionary party, that nevertheless points out some unpalatable realities. Their appeal is strongest amongst older voters. Saturn in Sagittarius points to their colour being purple. Retrograde and cadent in the 6th house (concerning employment issues, the NHS and the armed forces), and easing away from an earlier opposition to Mercury (the Conservatives), they may now be experiencing a drop in support. The Moon's last conjunction was with Saturn, and her separation suggests the electorate's focus on Europe and immigration has moved on somewhat, though not yet totally.

The Greens: They seem to be shown by Venus, (and maybe Uranus too) as the party advocating a better balance within and between societies and between exploiting and preserving the Earth's resources, but also as simply the most feminist, with two female leaders. The Moon's only applying aspect (very late on) is an opposition to Venus. But Venus is weak. So although there might be an opportunity in this election to set out their stall more prominently for the voters (who in the end may be more prepared to listen), it seems the latter still won't vote for the Greens in any number.

Others: It now seems the SNP could take twenty or more seats from Labour (who currently have 41 out of the total of 59 Westminster seats). This would obviously do considerable damage to Labour's chancing of forming a government. Nationalism, with its patriotic, emotional content, seems likely to be represented by the Moon, angular here in the house of Opposition and with an opposition aspect to Venus (the Greens). If a rainbow coalition (led by Labour) were to be contemplated, it suggests that these two parties would have very different demands to be met. But the Moon in any case is well past its helpful trine to Jupiter (Miliband), so such arrangement seems fairly unlikely.

At this point, the most likely outcome seems to be an inconclusive result. It looks fairly certain that no party will form a majority. If a coalition does develop it will likely be between Labour and the LibDems, though just possibly involving the Greens and nationalist parties too.

Close of polls

The result is shown by this chart in conjunction with the first. The Moon (the electorate) has changed sign (allegiance). A decision of sorts has been made and a corner turned.

Conservatives/Cameron: They are now shown by Jupiter as first house ruler. He is situated deep in the 8th house (tax-and-spend issues, bank regulation, death duties – or even a spying or sex scandal!). Most strikingly, Saturn has arrived on the ascendant, suggesting that a limitation and capping of the Tory vote has occurred, and is due to UKIP parking its tanks on their lawn. Saturn in part signifies the Conservatives as well as UKIP, but the symbolism of the rising planet left behind by the Moon is stark for both parties. However, as Saturn now disposes Luna, it appears UKIP has had a more lasting influence on (and more notable support from) the voters than was predicted. Jupiter's applying trine to Uranus may bring an unexpected piece of good fortune for the Tories, but again their significator, Jupiter, neither receives an aspect from the Moon nor makes any aspect to the ruler of the 5th (Mars) or the 10th (Venus); and neither does Saturn.

Labour/Miliband: They are now shown by Mercury as 7th house ruler. He is strong, dignified and angular but, like the Tories, Labour has a significator that makes no aspect to either Mars or Venus (ruling both natural 5th and 10th, and turned 11th and 4th). Nor does it receive an aspect from the Moon. There's nothing here to show a convincing win for Labour, but they may just scrape home.

LibDems/Clegg: If now allocated the Sun as significator, they are in a new situation. The moon is again in play and will aspect the Sun in due course. If allocated Uranus, they may in time benefit from the trine (an offer) from Jupiter (Cameron). If they're not given Sol or Uranus, it's hard to see anything at all resulting from the election, because two other key planets, Venus and Jupiter, are still void-of-course (Mercury turns retrograde before it can sextile Jupiter). And Mars is largely spent.

The Moon makes first a sextile to Neptune, then a conjunction with Pluto, a trine to the Sun, a square to Uranus and finally a trine to Mars. For the electorate (and indeed the Queen and her advisors), they are presented with, or go through, a series of options. Neptune signifies dissolution and confusion at the outset (just possibly it stands here for Clegg and the LibDems). It could also could stand as a secondary significator for Labour (whose 1900 foundation chart has the Sun adjacent at 8 PIS) while Pluto indicates complications and power struggles. So Labour might get public support to try and form a coalition with the LibDems, but leadership complications get in the way. Then Labour could try to form a government alone - a highly challenging task – and may fail. Next, Pluto in Capricorn could stand as a secondary significator for the Tories (their 1867 foundation chart has the Sun at 19 SCO), who would be disposed by – i.e. under the thumb of – UKIP (Saturn) in any coalition talks with them. But with the recent exit of Saturn from Scorpio, its former mutual reception with Pluto no longer holds sway. So this potential Con-UKIP coalition is very unlikely to happen, given all other factors. But in desperation, with Pluto yet again squaring his natal Sun, it is just possible Cameron will capitulate to try and save his – and the Tories' – skin.

The Moon moves on to further aspects. Uranus in Aries stands for a radical new departure. But it is hard to see what this is, other than a second election. The trine to Mars, finally, prompts a question: could Mars here be seen as a secondary significator for the LibDems? In Taurus he is in detriment, weakly opposed to Saturn (UKIP) but otherwise unaspected (friendless) and depleted late in the sign (losing seats). Nevertheless, a LibDem role in any government arising – even temporarily perhaps – cannot be ruled out.

UKIP/Farage: see above under Conservatives and LibDems

The Greens: Just possibly involved in a rainbow coalition with Labour (if they have any MPs!).

Others: If symbolised by the Moon, the SNP are now in a new position (new sign) to consolidate gains made following the 2014 Scottish referendum. After a sextile to Neptune, thus helping to re-energise their dream of independence, the Moon comes, however, to a conjunction with Pluto before trining the Sun. This seems to imply complications arising in their pursuit of power or influence – but what exactly remains unclear.

At the close of play, in my judgement, the most likely outcome (though by a narrow margin) seems to be a minority Labour government. The second, somewhat less likely, outcome is a coalition of Labour and the surviving LibDems, possibly including any or all of these: the SNP, the DUP, Plaid Cymru, the Greens. Though firmly based on astrology, this prediction accords with that of most political commentators at present.

Therefore it remains probable there will be a second election a few months down the line (as happened with Labour in 1974).

Written 15 October 2014

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Charles Carter's Forgotten House System - Poli Equatorial Houses

Charles Carter was one of the great English astrologers of the twentieth century. With Alan Leo, John Addey and Charles Harvey, Carter transformed astrology in England. He introduced technical and philosophical innovations and participated in a number of key institutional developments.

Charles Carter was born on 31 January 1887 at 10:55PM in Parkstone, Dorset. He had an Aquarian Sun in the 4th house, and Uranus rising in Leo just into the 12th. At his birth, Saturn had just culminated in Cancer. With this combination of rising Uranus and an elevated Saturn, Carter was well-figured to lead the astrological world. He died in October 1968. 1

His astrological service included a number of key appointments. In 1922 Carter followed Leo as the President of the Astrological Lodge of London and revived the institution. In 1948 he became the first Principal of the Faculty of Astrological Studies. In 1958 he became a founding Patron of the Astrological Association of Great Britain. Carter's legacy is remembered at the annual Astrological Association conference. A leading astrologer is invited to deliver the Carter Memorial Lecture as the central plenary session of the event. This invitation is one of the highest accolades an astrologer can receive.

Carter wrote a number of significant books including The Principles of Astrology (1925), Zodiac and the Soul (1928) and Essays on the Foundations of Astrology (1947). He reflected on key philosophical issues in The Seven Great Problems of Astrology (1927). He advocated the use of some innovative directional methods in his slim volume Symbolic Directions in Modern Astrology (1929).

Charles Carter introduced a technical innovation that is almost forgotten today - his poli equatorial house system. He described his system of domification in Essays on the Foundations of Astrology. The method is found in Chapter 8, Problems of the Houses. In the chapter, Carter reviews many of the principle systems of domification including the Regiomontean, the Campanean, the Equal and the Placidean. He then introduces his own method so nonchalantly that the reader may miss the significance of the text.

Carter writes that in his poli equatorial method “...the houses are demarcated by circles passing through the celestial poles and dividing the equator into twelve equal arcs, the cusp of the 1st house passing through the ascendant. This system, therefore, agrees with the natural rotation of the heavens and also produces, as the Ptolemaic (equal) does not, distinctive cusps for each house....” 2

Calculation of the cusps is a relatively simple affair. The ascendant degree is converted to right ascension in degrees. Thirty degrees (or two hours) of right ascension is then added for each subsequent cusp. The right ascension so found is, for each cusp, then converted back to celestial longitude and expressed in zodiacal degrees. The tenth house cusp will not generally coincide with the MC degree. The second cusp is opposite the eighth cusp, the third opposite the ninth and so on.

Figure 1: Charles Carter's Poli Equatorial House System - Diagram

Carter notes that the Regiomontanean system of domification also uses equal division of the equator as its foundation. In fact, Carter's poli equatorial system is one of a family of house systems derived from equal division of the celestial equator. The others are the Morinean and the Meridian (or Axial Rotation) house systems.

The following table sets out the basic elements of the four equatorially-based systems of domification.

System Pole Notes
Poli equatorial Equatorial (Celestial) The 1st house cusp will coincide with ascendant but the 10th house cusp will not generally coincide with the meridian
Regiomontanus Horizontal The 10th and 1st house cusps coincide with the meridian and the ascendant respectively
Morinus Ecliptic Neither the 10th house cusp nor the 1st house cusp will coincide with the meridian or the ascendant
Meridian (or Axial Rotation) Equatorial (Celestial) The 10th house cusp will coincide with the meridian, but the first house cusp is the equatorial ascendant

Table 1: Comparison of Equatorially-Based House Systems

Holden describes Regiomontanus, Morinus and Meridian as house systems as space-based methods of domification. Although the Earth's rotation determines the length of our day (a time factor), Holden's view is that the equal division of the equator in each system is primarily a division of the celestial sphere as a spatial unit. 3

Figure 2: The Equatorial Frame of Reference

In Carter's poli equatorial house system, we find a method of domification that draws on ideas from Platonic cosmogony and cosmology, being derived from equal divisions of the circle of the Same (celestial equator) projected onto the circle of the Different (ecliptic). The ascendant is used as the cusp of the first house. In developing a method of house division that uses the circles of the Same and Different, Carter gives us a system of domification that is integrated with Platonic philosophy. This philosophy is so often the unspoken foundation of much astrological lore.

A good example of the poli equatorial house system in action is the Exeter Astrology Group's own natal chart. (See below) In this chart the important Venus-Uranus opposition is moved to within a few minutes of arc of the 4th-10th axis. This symbol describes the purpose of the group of the group very clearly - a public gathering of friends (Venus-10th cusp) built around the foundations of a shared interest in astrology (Uranus-4th cusp). 

The solar identity of the group is in the collectively focused 11th house, and Mercury, being the classical symbol for astrology is close to the cusp of the 12th, the spiritual house. Jupiter, often in the 2nd house using mainstream systems, moves to the cusp of the 3rd house, a symbol for a group dedicated to learning and sharing information of a spiritual and philosophical nature. The poli equatorial system is clearly effective in this delineation.

Figure 3: Exeter Astrology Group (using Poli Equatorial Houses)

The cusps are listed below:

Cusp 1: 6 SC 19
Cusp 2: 5 SG 53
Cusp 3: 3 CP 40
Cusp 4: 1 AQ 44
Cusp 5: 2 PI 0
Cusp 6: 4 AR 21
Cusp 7: 6 TA 19
Cusp 8: 5 GE 53
Cusp 9: 3 CN 40
Cusp 10: 1 LE 44
Cusp 11: 2 VI 0
Cusp 12: 4 LI 21

(Note to programmers - if you would like a simple BASIC program to calculate poli equatorial house cusps, please contact the author via the EAG website. This program is provided on an open source basis to promote the inclusion of poli equatorial houses in commercial and non-commercial astrological software. You may adapt it to your own needs/programming language.)

It is disappointing that Carter's method of domification is so little used. It is not mentioned in key texts that describe the principles of house systems. It is not offered in any of the main programmes available in the astrological software market. Furthermore, there is very little information about the system available on the internet. I have never seen a published chart delineated according to the poli equatorial system apart from Carter's own examples. 4

In Carter's day, his method had one undeniable advantage – it needed a single table of houses. This meant that calculation of houses cusps was simplified. Once the ascendant had been calculated, the other cusps could be read directly from a page of data. This is because poli-equatorial cusps are not latitude-dependent (once the ascendant has been identified). Carter's system has other benefits. It creates houses that are more or less equal, in terms of the twelve divisions of the ecliptic that they demarcate. This minimises the issue of intercepted signs.

The system will occasionally fall down in charts where the calculation of the ascendant is problematic. This only occurs in extreme polar latitudes. However, Rob Hand notes that this difficulty is more theoretical than practical. The identification of an ascendant in these latitudes is only impossible when the horizon and ecliptic coincide. According to Hand “...this occurs for only an instant and only on the infinitesimal band of the Arctic and Antarctic circles, so it is not a serious drawback in practice.” 5

Carter's system has a clear advantage over quadrant based methods of domification in polar latitudes because it does not rely on the need for an identified midheaven and ascendant. This issue can be a difficulty because the ascendant and meridian can coincide at times. More commonly, the midheaven and ascendant can fall close together on the ecliptic in high northern latitudes. This leads to gross discrepancies in the size of quadrant houses when measured on the ecliptic.

In Essays on the Foundations of Astrology, Carter provides a number of interesting case examples to illustrate his poli equatorial system. He looks at charts for Tennyson, the great Victorian poet, King Edward VII, and Emily Popejoy.

In the King's chart, Carter points out that with the poli equatorial system, “The presence of the Moon, in close square to Saturn, on cusp 10 seems peculiarly appropriate to the native's strict upbringing and suppression by his royal Mother, who refused for many years to allow him to take part in public affairs. Venus in the 10th agrees with his popularity and that of his consort.” 6 In other systems, the moon would fall variously in the eighth or ninth houses; in most systems Venus would fall solidly in the cadent ninth.

Carter notes Tennyson's tight Mars-Uranus conjunction falls in the sixth house in many house systems. He concludes that this symbolism “...seems inappropriate to the native's robust health....” 7 Carter suggests this pair “...would be much better placed in the 5th, indicating the emotional tragedy which led to In Memoriam and the death of the poet's son of fever.” 8 Using the poli equatorial method, Uranus and Mars fall in the fifth house, suggesting the unexpected death of a child. He also notes that in the poli equatorial system, Jupiter moves from the cusp of the twelfth house onto the cusp of the eleventh house which “...seems to agree much better with the poet's phenomenal success....He won fame, rank and money.” 9

Carter's method of domification also has some practical benefits, including house cusps that fall more or less equally on the ecliptic and have unique degrees. The astrologer has to accept that the midheaven is unlikely to form the cusp of the tenth, but, as Carter has demonstrated, this may, in practice, yield important interpretative insights.

We should do Carter the honour of looking at his own nativity using the poli equatorial method he devised. In many systems, including all quadrant based methods of house division, his highly elevated Saturn falls in the cadent ninth house, being just beyond the culminating degree in the diurnal circle.

Despite Saturn's lack of traditional dignity, this placement is an adequate symbol for his fine philosophical mind. His astrological vision moved subtly between the realms of the Platonic world of Ideas and the mundane world which we inhabit. However, this image does not carry the authority of a man who served the astrological community at the highest levels for many years.

In the equal house system, we note that his Saturn is on the nonagesimal degree. This degree, falling exactly square to the ascendant, marks the 10th house cusp in the simple equal house method of domification. 10 The nonagesimal degree is the highest point of the ecliptic above the horizon; any planet placed in this degree is given prominence within the horoscope.

However, when we use his own poli equatorial method of domification, Carter's Saturn falls a few degrees inside the tenth, the cusp being at 14 Cancer. This is testament to Carter's own observation that his poli equatorial method, having many of the advantages of the straightforward modus equalis or Ptolemaic system, has the further benefit of yielding cusps that carry a unique mundane signature. 

Figure 3: Charles Carter's Horoscope (using Poli Equatorial Houses)

This symbol – Saturn in the tenth house - clearly identifies Charles Carter's authority and acumen. He worked to establish and maintain the institutions that still embody the mainstream traditions in English and British astrology. He took a large share of responsibility for the good governance of some of the key political and educational institutions that represent our cosmic art. There can be no higher recommendation for Carter's poli equatorial house system than this signature from his own nativity.

Notes and References

1.      Further details of Carter's life and astrological legacy can be found at, a memorial site established and maintained by the Wessex Astrology Group. Charles Carter's birth details are published on this site.

2.      Charles Carter (1947, 2nd ed. 1978) Essays on the Foundations of Astrology. Theosophical Publishing House, London. p. 158-159.

3.       For detail discussions of these systems see R W Holden (1977) The Elements of House Division. Urania Trust/Faculty of Astrological Studies, London.

4.       A pdf copy of Carter's original Poli-equatorial Table of Houses can be downloaded from for readers who may wish to try the system. Carter produced this table in January 1946. In a charming aside, at the foot of p. 159 of Essays on the Foundations of Astrology, Carter invites readers to contact him for “A set of tables may be obtained from the author, price 6d, post paid, for those who wish to experiment.” The cloud-based software, astroapp (, has the poli-equatorial method programmed as one of their range of house systems.

5.      Rob Hand (1982) Essays on Astrology. p. 136. Hand says that what is critical when working with charts at extreme latitudes is to have a clear definition of what is to count as the ascendant. See Hand (1982) p. 132 for more details on definitions of the ascendant.

6.      Carter (1947, 2nd ed. 1978) p. 160.

7.      Carter (1947, 2nd ed. 1978) p. 162.

8.      Carter (1947, 2nd ed. 1978) p. 162.

9.      Carter (1947, 2nd ed. 1978) p. 162.

10.    Jeff Mayo (1995) Midheaven, Zenith and Nonagesimal. In Z Matthews (ed.) An Astrological Anthology: Essays and Excerpts from the Journal of the Astrological Association (Vol. 1 – 1959-1970). The Astrological Association, London. p. 397-399. Originally published in the AA Journal, Vol. 6, No. 3, p. 24.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Solar Fire 8 on Linux Mint 13

Linux and Astrology

One of the major barriers that astrologers face in adopting the Linux operating system is the limited choice of astrological software available on the platform. If you wish to explore the options, you may like to visit Unfortunately most of the commercially available packages, such as Solar Fire and Janus, are written using Microsoft programming packages like Visual Basic and are not designed to run on alternative systems. Solar Fire claims that the program can be run on a Mac system using virtualisation software. But the options seem to be limited for using SF, or alternative commercial astrology programs such as Janus, on Linux.

Happily, however, this is not the case. I have been experimenting with Solar Fire, Janus, Solar Maps, Nova Chart Wheels and Delphic Oracle on Linux. I have them all running on Linux using the Wine facility. In virtually all cases, I have got the Windows-based software to run extremely well on Linux using Wine. In the case of Solar Fire, following a breakthrough with a font problem, I have been able to get the program running perfectly on Linux. In this case, the functionality and performance of the program is identical to running Solar Fire on Windows. This is a significant development as it now means that Solar Fire users can move to Linux without any concern about losing access to their astrological software and data.

In this blog I will describe my experiences running Solar Fire on Linux, including all the tips that you will need to get a perfect installation of the software. I have been experimenting with Solar Fire on Linux using Wine for some years now so I have built up a good working knowledge of how to achieve a trouble-free, stable installation. The steps I will describe below should not be beyond a capable desktop user. However, I would recommend that you familiarise yourself thoroughly with the process described before attempting any of the steps. If you are confident with the workings of the Solar Fire program, with Linux and Wine, and with basic computing tasks such as managing fonts, you shouldn't have any difficulties with the process.


Before you try any of the following steps, please ensure that you are satisfied that you have a robust backup of any files that are personally valuable or critical to the functioning of your computer. If you have any critical program installations that you don't want to lose, you may want to make an image of your hard drive. None of the steps below should lead to catastrophic data loss. However, it is essential that you have taken steps to protect your files before proceeding. If you have existing SF user data files, please ensure you have at least one copy, and preferably two copies, of these files on a physical medium such as a CD-ROM or backed up on a flash drive or external hard drive.

First, a little about Linux and Wine.

Linux is a desktop OS that has been developed by enthusiasts and volunteers, with some commercial input, since the early 1990s. It is now a very mature, stable, secure and attractive OS that is a rival for Mac and Windows. The original impetus for Linux came from Linus Torvalds. He pioneered the development of the original kernel and is still actively involved in the development of the OS. The desktop that is the front end of Linux is developed by various teams of individuals around the world. There are variety of desktops, which gives the end user a range of choices about how to interact with their PC - some of the desktops include Cinnamon, KDE, Unity, LXDE and xfce. Linux is one of the central parts of the free software movement.

Wine is a program that can be downloaded through your Linux software repository. This piece of software is designed to allow Windows based programs to be installed and run on a Linux system without using virtualisation software or a virtual machine. This means that you do not need to install a copy of Windows on your linux system to run Windows software. You can find out details about Wine at This is how the Wine team describe the program: "Wine (originally an acronym for "Wine Is Not an Emulator") is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, Mac OSX, & BSD. Instead of simulating internal Windows logic like a virtual machine or emulator, Wine translates Windows API calls into POSIX calls on-the-fly, eliminating the performance and memory penalties of other methods and allowing you to cleanly integrate Windows applications into your desktop." (from

Wine is a very neat solution to the problem of running Windows-based software such as Solar Fire or Janus on a Linux system. I believe it is preferable to installing a virtual copy of Windows because it maintains the integrity of the Linux OS. After all, I can't see the logic in running Linux on a desktop machine if, at the first problem, one installs a virtual copy of Windows to run software. The downside of Wine under Linux is that not all Windows software will run perfectly on Linux. However, as far as I can see, Solar Fire installs and runs perfectly within Wine. In fact, most of the astrological software I have tried runs very well, or perfectly, using the Wine/Linux system.

Solar Fire 8 on Linux

The following instructions relate to the installation of SF on Linux Mint 13 with Mate desktop. The system specifications are listed below:

Kernel Linux 3.5.0-23-generic
Linux Mint 13 32-bit
Mate Desktop
Wine 1.4.1
Pentium 4 Machine
2.5 GB RAM

Solar Fire runs very smoothly on this set-up. In principle there is no reason why these instructions should not apply to other Debian derivatives of Linux such as Ubuntu. In fact I have plenty of evidence that it runs as well on these OSs - Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Lubuntu 12.04 LTS and Linux Mint 14.

Installation Instructions

If you have not already installed Wine, download and install the program through your software manager. This will ensure your software comes from your software repository which gives added security and peace of mind. At the moment, most distributions such as Linux Mint are offering Wine 1.4.1 from their repositories. All my comments relate to an installation based on Wine 1.4.1. This version of Wine provides the most complete solution to the installation of SF on Linux. Later versions of Wine introduced a bug that impacts on the Animate Chart function which causes the program to crash.

If Wine is already installed and you have Windows programs already running in Linux, make a copy of .wine folder as a fall-back if installation of the SF program does not work. This will be renamed .wine (copy) by default. You can find .wine by opening your file manager and displaying your Home folder. You will need to be able to see hidden files, so go to View->Show Hidden Files or hit Ctrl-H once you have your Home folder window open. You will find .wine towards the bottom of the list of files in your Home folder. If this is your first Windows-based installation in Wine you can ignore this instruction.

To install SF

The first thing to do is to install a vital file called mfc40.dll. This is done through Winetricks. SF won't run on Linux without installing this dll. If you can't boot SF, it is probably because this file is not present. You can install this dll file by opening Winetricks from your main program menu. Look for Wine->Winetricks. Go to Select the default Wine prefix->OK->Install a Windows DLL or component->OK. Scroll down the list, click the check-box next to mfc40, click OK. Winetricks will then ensure mfc40.dll is available to SF8.

Next load your SF installation CD and double click or right-click->Open the desktop icon when it appears. This will open the folder containing the files on the CD. Find the install.exe icon and right click. When the menu appears, choose Open->Wine Windows Program Loader. This will open the main SF installation screen. Choose SF from the list of options and click the Install button. To install the program from a downloaded file, just right click on the .exe file you have received and choose Open->Wine Windows Program Loader. In both cases the installation routine will begin. When prompted, enter your registration details - username, password etc. This should perform a basic installation of your chosen version of SF.

You may be asked if you want to run the program at the end of the installation routine. I would not recommend this as there are some further steps to take to get the program running. Firstly you will need to copy your existing SF user files to the Solar Fire User Files folder that has now been set up in your Home folder. If you are an existing SF user, you should have a copy of this folder on your old computer, or, better still, backed up somewhere on a CD-ROM or flash drive.

Open your existing user files folder, copy all of the folders, and paste them into the SFUF folder in your Linux Home folder. If this is the first time you have installed a copy of SF, you will need to copy the User Files from your .wine folder. To do this, display the hidden folder .wine and open it. Find the drive_c folder and open. Open the Program Files folder and go to SolarFire8 - double-click to open. Open the User Files folder and copy all the folders. Return to the Home folder, find the Solar Files User Files and double-click to open. Paste all the folders and files into this new location. You may be prompted to over-write files. Go ahead and do this as long as your are absolutely sure there is nothing that you may want to save from the SFUF.

Font solutions

One of the difficulties with running SF on Linux has been a long-standing problem with one of the fonts. You can see the history of attempts to deal with this difficulty on the Solar Fire page at Unfortunately these solutions have only been partial. The complete solution is to use a program called Font Forge (downloadable from your repository) to change the Windows font, Etsans3.fon in the case of SF8, to a font compatible with Linux. This is easily done by opening the .fon font in Font Forge and using the Generate Font command to convert the font to a Win Fon type.

To open the .fon font go to File->Open and from the file browser follow these steps: .wine->drive_c->windows->Fonts. Choose Etsans3.fon. When the .fon font is open in Font Forge go to File->Generate Fonts... and choose this option from the right-hand box below the font name - "Win Fon". Click Save back to the Fonts folder.

You can find the relevant font in your .wine folder. Again you will have to follow the instructions above to make the .wine folder visible. Open the folder and find drive_c. Open this folder and go to the windows folder. Open the windows folder and find the Fonts folder. In this folder you will find three fonts relevant to the SF8 installation: EtAst1.ttf, Etsym3.tff and Etsans3.fon. The .ttf fonts work fine with Wine and Linux. However, you have to convert the Windows format .fon font as per the instructions above.

To get a perfect installation of SF within Wine, you will need to install a fourth font. I am not sure why this makes a difference. However, without installing the fourth font – ETSYM2.TTF – you will experience residual display problems. The program will be perfectly usable however. The 'fourth font solution' is the final piece of the fonts problem in Linux. Within Windows, SF8 runs on three fonts: EtAst1.ttf, Etsym3.tff and Etsans3.fon. However, for some bizarre reason you need to install ETSYM2.TTF from SF7 to get the font display working perfectly in Linux. This font should be placed in the .wine->drive_c->windows->Fonts folder with the other three fonts. You will need to have a previous version of SF7 to achieve this. There is no complication introducing this .ttf font into Wine, unlike with the tweak required for the Windows-based .fon font Etsans3.

Running SF

You should now be able to run SF8 in Linux using Wine. Double click the desktop icon and the program should run. In all respects you should now be able to use SF8 just as if you were working in Windows.

Upgrading SF

You may wish to upgrade your version 8 of SF to the most current version. This is 8.1.5 and the .exe file is downloadable from the Astrolabe website. This should be a straightforward installation. However, I have discovered that it is important to back up your user files before doing so. This is because the installation routine attempts to overwrite the contents of the Solar Fire User Files folder and does not like doing so, at least in Linux/Wine.

If you don't empty this folder, the upgrade process will be stalled and lead to an unstable installation. It is essential, once you have made some copies of your user files for security, to empty the contents of the SFUF folder in Linux Home folder. However, leave the empty SFUF folder in situ. Following these steps ensures that the upgrade is not interrupted leading to a partial, and unstable, installation of the software. Once you are ready to upgrade, right-click on your .exe upgrade file and choose Open->Wine Windows Program Loader. The installation process will start. You may be prompted to confirm that you have a legitimate copy of SF8 installed on your machine. If you have a personally licensed copy, click OK.

Once the installation has been completed, copy your user files back to the SFUF in your Home folder. Check that you have the correct Etsans3.fon font still installed in the fonts folder. This completes the process and you should have a perfectly installed upgrade of SF8 to the latest version 8.1.5.

If you use a lot of asteroids as part of your astrology, you may wish to copy the updated EtAst1.ttf font file from the program folder SolarFire8 to your fonts folder in Wine. This is a straightforward Copy->Paste from the program folder to the fonts folder. You can rename the original EtAst1.tff (orig_EtAst1.ttf) before doing this. This is a precaution that ensures the original asteroid font file is still available to you and is not overwritten.


The comments above relate specifically to Debian-based Linux desktop systems such as Ubuntu, Lubuntu, and Mint. You will have to experiment if you wish to try SF on other systems such as Arch, SUSE or Redhat based operating systems. The most complete solution seems to be with systems based around Ubuntu 12.04 LTS which is supported until April 2017. The Wine version to use is 1.4 or 1.4.1. I will highlight the regression identified above which crashes the Animate Chart function in more recent Wine versions to the developers through the bug report system. If you can live without the Animate function, you can happily proceed to use Ubuntu derivatives such as the more up-to-date 14.04 LTS, Mint 17 and the latest Lubuntu OS (based on Ubuntu 14.04) with the latest Wine release.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Venus and the Eclipse

As many of you will know, there's a solar eclipse on 23rd October at the very beginning of Scorpio – 00o 24'. However, there are a couple of other events around the same time involving Venus. The first takes place about an hour before the eclipse, when the Moon meets Venus while hurrying towards the Sun. Moon and Venus make an exact conjunction on 00o Scorpio 01' – just creeping into Scorpio. The only two feminine planets in the intensely dark and magical sign of Scorpio suggest a tapping into the life force that lies hidden in the depths. Indeed, the three brightest objects in the sky are so close that effectively they're all conjunct at the solar eclipse.

(Click to enlarge)
Two days later, on 25th October, there'll be a Sun-Venus superior conjunction at 01o Scorpio 48' (on the Ascendant in Exeter). When this conjunction takes place Venus is far away from us, on the other side of the Sun. The last time this pair was conjunct was in January. On that occasion Venus was at her closest to Earth, between us and the Sun, and she was retrograde. It was a particularly powerful conjunction, most noted for the fact that little more than an hour beforehand, Israeli politician Ariel Sharon died. He had been in a coma for almost exactly eight years, which was the last time that Sun-Venus had met in Capricorn at inferior conjunction, with Venus retrograde. On that occasion she re-emerged from the Sun's rays a few days later as the Morning Star. This time it'll be several weeks before she reappears and it will be as Evening Star.

I don't think many astrologers differentiate between the two types of Venus but they really are very different. A Morning Star Venus is young, brash, impatient, more of a warrior than a lover – and when she does appear as a lover, well let's say she has an edge to her. The Irish Morrigan or Battle Crow is a more apt description of a Morning Star Venus than the Roman Venus. Goddess of Love, War and Death, the Morrigan finished off at least one Irish hero who spurned her advances after a hard day on the battle field. An Evening Star Venus is closer to the modern astrological Venus – sensuous, sultry, enticing and generally more mature.

The transition from warrior Venus to sultry Venus occurs during her long period of invisibility – roughly 14 weeks – when she is furthest from the Earth, as if she needs to be free of our influence in order to change, or grow up. I am reminded of the numerous folk songs about two sisters – one dark, one fair or one sweet-natured and one cruel. In many ways, Venus is our sister, or even our twin – the two planets are the same size, are close neighbours in the solar system and they engage in a beautiful cosmic dance to a 5:8 rhythm (5 synodic cycles of Venus = 8 Earth years). When she's on the other side of the Sun she can merge with the cosmos rather than with us, and in doing so she transforms herself into the magnificent Goddess of Love. She is then reborn as an Evening Star, the one you're most likely to see with any regularity unless you're an early riser, as you have to get up pretty early to catch Venus as Morning Star.

When Venus disappears from our skies and undergoes her long period of invisibility, it's a chance for us to go deep within ourselves and receive inspiration from a hidden source. And while Venus is undergoing an alchemical process of transmutation on the other side of the Sun, we too may undergo a similar process. I feel that Evening Star Venus is particularly well placed for this in the sign Scorpio, where her magnetic nature can draw individuals into the depths to explore the mysteries of life and death (although there is always the danger of it manifesting in a darker form through the murky world of pornography and the 'dark net'). At the conjunction on the 25th, the trine from Sun-Venus to Neptune in Pisces can only enhance the lure of these mysteries, and the sextile to Mars adds a bit of spice to the mix.

(Click to enlarge)
There's one other thing that makes this conjunction of Sun-Venus special, namely that it's the last time the Evening Star conjunction will occur in Scorpio for 250 years. The next conjunction, in 2022, will take place on the final degree of Libra, because Sun-Venus conjunctions move backwards through the zodiac. There will, however, be two more Scorpio Morning Star conjunctions, with Venus retrograde, in 2018 and 2026 before they too move into Libra in 2034.