May 25th, 2020

The Spatial Quandary of Kala Sarpa Yoga

In India there is an astrological term that corresponds to our current pandemic-related claustrophobia.

This cosmic configuration is called the Kala Sarpa Yoga.

I’m not a Vedic astrologer but I’d asked my colleague Kate Petty about our current exaggerated sky pattern last month and she mentioned how, within Indian astrology, the pattern is considered extreme and perhaps inauspicious  — and that got my head whirling. And so I did some research.

Kala Sarpa Yoga is generally studied in natal astrology and relates to a condition where the seven planets that are worked with in Vedic astrology (Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury) are trapped between Rahu (the Moon’s North Node) and Ketu (the Moon’s South Node).

Of course, modern Western astrology also includes Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in the pantheon. And this is why when I first started to consider our current sky pattern — where the Nodes have locked all of the solar system into one half of the zodiac, I was struck by the pattern’s literal correlation to the COVID pandemic and the feeling that — well, people feel trapped — frozen in time.

Think of it metaphorically: Picture a pie where all ten pieces of the pie are crammed into just one-half of the pie plate— instead of being evenly dispersed in the circle.

Just about anyone you talk to nowadays would acknowledge this feeling of restricted disproportion. It’s like we are forced into viewing the world through a pair of glasses where one of the lenses is blacked out or a blinder is in place on one side of the frames. Our ability to remain objective is severely compromised.

Kala means time, Sarpa means Serpent and Yoga means combination. So we could read Kala Sarpa Yoga, when considered within mundane (world-focused) astrology, as global consciousness trapped into one segment of time.

In Vedic astrology the Moon’s Nodes are based on a snake metaphor, whereas in Western astrology they are aligned with the image of a dragon. The Nodes in both systems are highly charged points that mark the eclipse cycles, and if you think of time as an actual entity — not just a conceptual creation — the Nodes would mark the entrance and exit points of force, within time’s body.

This is a topic for another article, but I’ll just say quickly that it was Rudolph Steiner‘s explanation of solar and lunar eclipses that made me reconsider the Moon’s Nodes in a different light.

What’s interesting is that the Kala Sarpa Yoga began to move into exactitude about a month before the Covid-19 pandemic was acknowledged as an encroaching and unavoidable health crisis. Read more

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Filed Under: Astrology
May 21st, 2020

Join Us on the Stargazer Podcast May 25

On the weekend I got together — virtually — with Rachel and Andrei from the Aeolian Heart website to record two episodes for their Stargazer podcast.

The cast is debuting today May 25. And you can listen to the first episode here.

And you can listen to the second episode here. 

Rachel, Andrei and I took on a free-for-all approach to the conversation and let imagination lead the way.

I was reminded, once again, that when you’re an astrologer you’re a lifelong student. Both of these artist/scholar/astrologers offered a wellspring of cogent astro-facets to consider.

• We covered everything from our fandom for art and culture critic Camille Paglia.

• To the conundrums of traditional astrology and the gnarly topic of prediction and dignities — and how potentially harmful those can be for a novice client. “Oh your Venus is in Virgo? I’m sorry!”

• We also consider the invasion of the Jungian world (synchronicity and archetypes) into modern astrology.

• Qualia (and wine tasting 🍷) and a language for describing the present moment.

• How has the astrologer’s ability to communicate astrology developed over time.

• Humanist philosopher Marsilio Ficino as a proto-psychological astrologer.

• Modern astrology’s indefatigable connoisseur Liz Greene.

Morrisey‘s song Hairdresser on Fire — (you just have to listen to the episode).

• Please be advised that there is some salty language in the cast.

Enjoy the episode and you can leave us comments on my Facebook post here. 

Be sure to visit Aeloion Heart and subscribe to Rachel’s newsletter — she’ll surprise you over and over with her scholarly astro-musings.

Happy listening and holiday!


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Filed Under: Astrology
April 28th, 2020

COVID-19 and the New Retrograde Cycles

Pluto stationed retrograde a couple of days ago, just as people were succumbing to the springtime urge to free themselves from lockdown:

“…beaches in the southern part of California were packed with thousands of people over the weekend.”

Sunscreen but no masks or social distancing. Very American.

Saturn will retrograde back towards the COVID start point on May 11, in tandem with more easing of constraints.

Planets do not move backward through the Zodiac, but the Earth does move CLOSER to the planet as it catches up with the orbiting planet and then surpasses its orbit; creating the appearance of retrograde conditions.

The whole notion of retrogrades and ‘revisiting’ or ‘redoing’ feels like semantical idiocy to me. I’ve always found this embarrassing about astrology, along with notions of ‘intercepted houses’ and other non-literal conditions that are treated as factual.

What does seem germane is planetary proximity, which could be read as intensification. As an astrologer of 45 years, I’ve never noticed any alteration or ‘weakening’ of a planet that is retrograde at birth, in fact, more the opposite, they are often more emphatic.

Astrologer Noel Tyl claimed that a natal retrograde planet, in his experience, was so potent it threw its influence across the wheel, highlighting the house in the opposite hemisphere. I can attest to this with a retrograde Saturn in the 4th house and the aspiration associated with my chart’s Taurus midheaven — namely the desire to live in the natural world completely — which, fortunately, I’ve achieved. My home (4th house) and business (10th house) are combined and entwined completely within nature.

So Saturn and Pluto retrograding back through Capricorn in late spring toward the hotspot of their January conjunction (which coincided exactly to the recently confirmed dates when COVID first registered in the US) would translate as acceleration, not deceleration — and possibly an increase in potency.

I’m afraid this is going to turn ugly and have the opposite impact as what’s hoped for and intended. The silver lining would be more casualties associated with Trump’s feeble-minded handling of what was announced to him in early January as a looming pandemic. Translated: fewer votes in November.

There’s all of this talk of building herd immunity — but as is the case with most theoreticians, they aren’t the ones that actually inject themselves with whatever they are blowharding about — so think twice about exposure and your own springtime hormonal blowouts. You might not live to see the child you fathered in May come to full term the following year.

Opening illustration: Colour copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel, a plague doctor in seventeenth-century Rome, published by Paul Fürst, ca. 1656 via Public Review Domain.

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Filed Under: Astrology
April 19th, 2020

The United States’ Pluto Return: A Primer-Part 1

“The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a variety of morbid symptoms appears.”
–Antonio Gramsci

In this 3-part essay, I’ll attempt to put in high detail one of the most convoluted and difficult aspects of the United State’s natal horoscope — the house position of the planet Pluto in the sign Capricorn and the ensuing overture to the nation’s Pluto return — a mega-historical and unprecedented astro-configuration.

Every Person, Place, and Thing Has A Horoscope

“No one knows how you become French — no one knows where Germany comes from — it sort of emerges from the mist. We know the afternoon, July 4, 1776, and we know how to become an American. You come here and assent — then you’re an American. You’re in. You’re it.” –George Will

In her book Soul Sick Nation: An Astrologer Looks at America, Jessica Murray suggests that “…our individual reality and our collective reality are two sides of the same coin. Every culture is blessed and benighted with its own peculiarities, each of which is tailor-made for every individual who chose to belong to that group.”

This begs the puzzling question of volition regarding one’s birth, the notion that the ‘soul’ zeroes in on where to land and set up shop.

But regardless, and if you are an American reading this inquiry, you can simply pause and sense the atmosphere and mood that’s in the air right now; notice how our government has a particular manner in handling COVID-19. Ponder how compliant some of us are when faced with an invisible enemy, while others have politicized the moment, turning the Republican party into a death cult.

Our compendium of group actions and reactions is part and parcel the American experience. Different from how, say, Icelanders are facing the pandemic.

So yes, a country is an abstract of each unique individual that lives within its boundaries. And with that in mind, yes, every country has a birth chart.

As George Will remarked, it’s quite easy to mark the birth of the United States (a more arduous task — sometimes impossible –for other nations or states). For the US we know the exact date. And historians and astrologers, over the years, have rectified the ‘birth time’ to a near-exact moment.

A blueprint for the collective psychology of a country is marked by its moment of independence — just like a person comes into the blueprint of his or her own being after escaping the womb room of his mother, who as Alexander the Great once put it, “…demands an exorbitant rent for nine months lodging.”

And a Pluto return also demands exorbitant repayment, especially when configured as the planet is in the United State’s second house of accrued wealth, power and ownership.

The Returns

You’ve most likely heard about — and maybe even lived through — your Saturn return, and this same cyclic formula is applied to all of the planets, including the Sun and the Moon.

Your birthday is a Sun return, the solar “I am” principle is reignited when the Sun returns to its natal position in your chart, coloring your next journey around the Sun.

A Jupiter return is a twelve-year cycle that, for each of us, revitalizes our enthusiasm for life; our Jupiter return confirms that it is OK to trust in the benign nature of reality.

The Saturn return, around the age of 28, is our first attempt to step onto the stage of life as an autonomous being — free from our family matrix — our parents’ binding doctrines.

A Pluto return no one ever lives to experience unless they are a vampire or Rip Van Winkle.

Pluto takes 248 years to make a single orbit around the Sun and return to its place in the birth chart. A person can’t — but a country can.

And the United States is experiencing its Pluto return right now, the exact return — to 27 degrees of Capricorn –will occur in February of 2022.

With Pluto presently located at 25 degrees Capricorn, we are well within the ‘orb’ of exactitude — a whisper away from the 2022 return.

Right Here, Right Now

What makes this present moment doubly emphatic is that Jupiter has recently linked with Pluto, forming a conjunction — just as the coronavirus pandemic gained traction.

Given that the US’s natal horoscope contains a Sun Jupiter conjunction, Americans are predisposed to ‘larger than life’ experiences, a kind of grandiosity embodied in the compelling notion of Manifest Destiny. A tendency that’s also echoed in our Sagittarius ascendant.

This present Jupiter/Pluto moment is akin to the cosmos saying, “Well, since Americans can’t seem to register anything unless it’s inflated (Jupiter on the Sun) here’s a confrontation with death that is time-stopping, all-encompassing and seemingly directed by Steven Spielberg.

You could say that the just-passing Jupiter conjunction to Pluto amplified the prelude to our actual Pluto return in 2022. And with it, all of the themes astrologers associate with Pluto: breakdown, decay, rebirth and titanic shifts in power. All of those experiences feel inescapable, free from the nonsense of partisanship — like an epic equalizer — which death always is.

But worse, especially for Americans, is that this crescendo into a death state is occurring without any logical meaning.

Jupiter conjunct the Sun, in an individual’s birth chart, can be read as someone who has a specific philosophical view intertwined with all of his experiences. Life (the Sun) has meaning (Jupiter) because some higher-order, enlightened type of reason, or divine protector, decrees it.

The problem with Pluto’s subatomic nature is that there is no moral purpose. As Albert Camus wrote in The Plague, the microbe has no meaning.

Pluto moves in the underworld where the forces that link (and unlink) life operate in ciphers, zero-numbers that we can’t track. Regardless of your religious beliefs, no one’s ever returned from the dead to say: “This is what it’s all about Alfie.”

If you recall your childhood mythology lessons, Pluto was the god that ran around in a helmet that made him invisible.

We can ascertain that given this ‘coming attraction’ phase the Pluto return in 2022 will involve a radical dismantling of the ideological framework we — as a culture — base our lives upon.

Given that money is the predominant religion in America, our 2022 Pluto return will cleave the same demarcation as pre-Great Depression America and post-Great Depression America. Post being the operative marker.

Death on the march, indifferent to borders, as typified in a global plague, works in such a mind-numbing, cut and dry manner. Death usually has about it, always, randomness. As in no one knows the time, the place.

But amidst a pandemic, we sort of do know. It comes down to distinctions like: Inside or outside. Solo or groups. Telecommuting or hazard work. Rich or poor.

‘Out there’ is dangerous. ‘In here’ is harmless. Those who can — sit safely indoors and watch fretfully while other souls are removed from life’s chessboard.

Survivors, like Tacitus and Suetonius who documented life after Nero‘s reign, will stay around to remember and assist other citizens with the reconstruction. Read more

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Filed Under: Mundane Astrology
April 18th, 2020

Call of the Wild: Can You Hear Me Now?

Stories like this are always great teaching tools. The more absurd or emphatic an event the more the planetary positions (and chart angles) are highlighted.

I spoke with a Verizon official to get an estimated time for this event and it was between 11 am and noon (*) on July 17th.

The short version of the story: A woman entered a Verizon store in California without a mask on, she was asked to leave, she refused. The store’s manager called 911, and the women then proceeded to lower her pants and urinate on the floor in a corner of the store. Cops arrived to arrest her and while doing so found a cache of stolen goods in her bag, stuff cockroached from an adjoining sporting goods store.

So high-jinx and criminality that’s displayed in public would have Mercury and 10th house associations throbbing — and sure enough, the chart for the adventure has a Virgo ascendant (which Mercury — god of thieves — rules) with the Moon (females) and Venus (an older-than-a-child female) conjunct the mid-heaven of public (oops, Freudian slip — typed ‘pubic’ there which is my way of knowing that this is worth amplifying) happenings or displays.

The Gemini mid-heaven is a high-noon Mecurial iteration — an event for all of the world to see (or read about). And with Venus and the Moon conjunct in Gemini — both of those markers link over — another iteration — to Mercury (Gemini’s ruler — in Cancer, as well as the chart’s ruler par excellence). All this Mercury, all of this Gemini, all of this trickster acting out.

Mercury in Cancer (unedited instinctual reactions — that can be highly imaginative) makes an applying square aspect (gathering storm and ‘cloud burst’) to an impulsive Mars in Aries in the 8th house of clandestine criminality: stolen sporting goods (Mars-ruled) hidden in a bag (the 8th house).

Add scatological behavior (8th house is associated with elimination and expulsion, especially with Aries on the house cusp) and we’ve slipped into another dimension of ‘the return of the repressed’ — as kids we just shit and pissed ourselves willy-nilly, often as ways to punish our parents who we might have experienced as controlling or, worse, blind to our existence. Read more

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Filed Under: Astrology and Zombie Apocalypse
April 14th, 2020

Saturn’s Cycle, COVID-19 and You

Consider the following if you are attempting to adjust to what’s to come during the rest of your year:

Phase 1: Saturn retrogrades back towards the COVID Chernobyl zone on May 11th, right when the great and powerful ruler of Oz wants Americans out and about — working and wining and dining and experiencing the angst from witnessing early mortalities.

Phase 2: Saturn officially re-enters Capricorn on July 3, just in time for the 4th of July and the urge to gather in crowds and watch faux bombs bursting in the air while moisture particles sneezed into the air carry the actual detonations.

Phase 3: Possibly a second wave of COVID accelerates when Saturn stations direct near Pluto on October 5.

When clients ask me about the COVID cycle, viewed astrologically, I offer the above dates. Not as a prediction but as a high probability of movements within the cycle.

Saturn is such a keen barometer of the human life span, it’s why I make the planet’s transits my primary guide for pinpointing direct solutions re any particular conundrum a client comes to me with.

You can follow Saturn around the wheel of your chart and note where you are located as an entity within our collective hallucination — the realm of cultural visibility (or obscurity).

Are you riding the wheel of fortune skyward, or descending to regroup and rework your act before taking it out on the road again?


Because Saturn marks the beats as it turns and grinds the gears, bringing life up and taking life down. Consider the US’s horoscope and the horrors of our impeached ruler.

As soon as Trump was elected Saturn started crawling toward the hell zone of America’s birth chart — after crossing the country’s Sagittarius ascendant.

Each of us plays a role in the stage set of life. Where is Saturn transiting on your wheel? How are you situated in the particular Zeitgeist?

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Filed Under: Astrology

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