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Starward 07 July 2012


I hope you all have weathered June’s aspects.

I hopefully have compiled a good mix of articles from some of our most noted astrologers for you: Philip Sedgwick, Bill Herbst, John Hogue, and Michael Erlewine.

Enjoy. ~ Sandye Sievers
Please note there will be no July meeting due to the flooding at CCOT. The church is still closed!

Our Newest Planet: Vesta ~ 14 May 2012

Last week a minor solar system body previously classified as one of those 440,000 asteroids received a promotion. Because of many fussy technical terrestrial criteria, most notably an iron core and a crust similar to those of Mercury, Earth and Mars, astronomers granted Vesta an upgrade to protoplanet.

Like dwarf planets Ceres, Eris, Makemake, Haumea (and who knows what Sedna is really?), Vesta moves from relative obscurity into a more significant and highly visible position in astronomical awareness. Oh yeah, that thing called Pluto is a dwarf planet, too. The big question is: will the astronomical elevation of Vesta result in a similar movement in astrological circles?

It should.

Equated to the approximate size of Arizona (Ceres is approximately the size of Texas), the second most massive asteroid and fourth minor solar system body discovered (1807), is the brightest asteroid as seen from the Earth. Based upon visibility alone, she should have enhanced status. The orbital period of Vesta stands at a mere 3.63 years.

Known as the keeper of the hearth in western mythology, Vesta’s Chinese name, zàoshénxīng, means hearth goddess keeper - a curious astronomical meeting of east and west.

The important role of keeper of the hearth was once an important task assigned to a specific group of virgins in days of old who endured a thirty-year tenure as a tender of the sacred fires. This tenure consisted of ten years of training, ten years of direct service, followed by ten years of direct tutelage. The virgins were forcibly taken from their families, but in return for their diligent service, they received rights not available to other women of their day. The vestals could oversee their own economic matters, possess land, travel freely if in a carriage, and they received special front row seating at the sporting events of the day. After their thirty years, they were free to pursue whatever life they chose. However, those who violated their virginal status were buried alive, and those with whom they consorted, received a punishment of being whipped to death in public. According to lore, there were only eighteen such instances in a thousand years of vestal service.

Other than the awareness of the importance of the hearth in a household - also synonymous with the focus of a house - is there a way to extract personal importance from Vesta?

First, Vesta represents the need to keep one’s eternal flame burning. Symbolically, this represents the fire at the base of the spine that drives one’s internal life force, aka kundalini. Okay fine, so Vesta rules this and those birthday candles that you can’t blow out on a cake. What else you got?

… As with any planet in the solar system, we can examine where Vesta is closest to the Sun to determine what she finds most urgent, and where she crosses the ecliptic to gain a sense of her mission statement. Vesta’s perihelion (a heliocentric measure) is 13 Sagittarius 45 - very close to the Great Attractor …. Her north node, also seen from the Sun’s point of view is 13 Cancer 45. With a combination of a fire sign orbital element and a signature from the sign archetypically seen as the home, it is perfectly appropriate that these signatures apply to the planet of the fire focal point of the house and sacred temples.

The urgent theme of Vesta reminds us to include all knowledge, frequencies, insights that serve our growth and put them into the mix (fire). Having a clear, ever-evolving belief system might just be the thing that gets you from here to there, provided your internal engine never quits burning. True to the Sagittarius theme, all agendas must be placed on the table, with nothing held behind the back, hidden or undisclosed.

The Cancerian nodal theme of Vesta can be seen in the hexagram “Corners of the Mouth” in the I-Ching. The nature of a person’s character can be seen by what they choose to foster. As well, those things that a person uses as support mechanisms provide clear indications of the value system of that person. Care of the home, the fire that sustains life, and the inner flame that must burn as long as life is sustained become the priorities of one’s consciousness once committed to the essence of Vesta.

Combined, the orbital elements ask poignant questions. Can your belief system keep your soul sustained with passion, fervor, brightness and for the duration? Are you nurtured by your beliefs? Is your soul fed by the doctrines you claim drive your life? With the transit of Vesta in Taurus, the themes add elements of real world demands. Can your quest for success and acquisition fulfill your most primal physical world needs? Are your professional and economic pursuits in alignment with the highest banner of belief you hold? Is there a need to fortify, purge, reaffirm or recommit to the long term agenda of your soul in this incarnation?

Collectively her message is that of gather your thoughts and sort them, keeping only those that directly contribute to the sustenance of your greatest soulful aspirations. New to the full planetary status of Vesta, will grow into her counsel and hopefully use her guidance well in creating healthy and fervent internal fires.

Vesta’s new status is partly due to the Dawn Spacecraft which recently visited her. Dawn now heads to Ceres for her next exploration, and in her wake she leaves us with new light to either begin or reclaim refreshed awareness. …


By: Michael Erlewine

I have written here many times about my first spiritual teacher, Andrew Gunn McIver, who was a traveling initiator for a Rosicrucian order. I first knew him in the mid-1960s as a retired person living in Ann Arbor that I connected with. He appeared as an old man who looked a lot like Bernard Shaw. There he was sitting around on benches on the U-M Diag open to contact. I have written extensively about him elsewhere.

What I write here is a part of esoteric astrology, so it is not for everyone. It is not that any of this is a secret, but rather that it refers to something that is so obvious (like the air we breathe) than it is hard to catch and gather with the mind. So going in, I write this for the very few who will resonate to it. My apologies if it is too obscure or esoteric (abstract and boring) for some of you. Please feel free to just skip this blog. You have been warned.

One of the concepts Andrew McIver empowered or instilled in me is that of the 30-year Saturn Cycle (29.4 years), similar to that presented in the quintessential book by astrologer Grant Lewi “Astrology for the Millions,” perhaps the only astrology book I would take to a deserted island, although by now I know it by heart and have even added my own two cents to the concept. Andrew’s take was quite different and more spiritual than Lewi’s, yet complimentary.

Andrew would repeatedly explain to me that during the first thirty years of life (our formative years), each of us is caught-up and busy in time (during Saturn’s first orbit in the zodiac) building our physical body and mental vehicle, which he likened to a space capsule that is launched, ready or not, at the age of thirty years.

If we have built our vehicle strong, it will last well into the future, our future. If we did not, it will essentially not hold together and sustain us. In other words, we all come apart sooner or later, depending on how well we are made, and I am not speaking just physically, although that too is important. I am speaking of our mental and spiritual body or vehicle.

Andrew saw our life beyond thirty years as if we were at that time launched into space, free-floating, and endlessly separating from Earth as we know it, launched beyond ‘time’, beyond the grasp of Saturn and all that is physical. He saw time as Saturn (Chronos) and the moment that Saturn starts going around the zodiac a second time at around 30 years, it’s grasp on us does not hold. We are freed from time at that point and can gradually became aware of this. We are said by some occultists to “enter the silence,” for time’s ever-busy noise ends at the age of thirty. Some folks call this being ‘born again’, and that is not a term that just belongs to Christians. We all can have that in our own words.

After that first Saturn return at 30 years, we each are like a space capsule, perhaps still tethered to Earth, but forever beyond its reach or touch. Picture someone in a space suit tethered to the shuttle and you will have the idea. After thirty years of age we can no longer build our vehicle any more than when the body reaches its physical prime, we can further enhance it. We stop growing when time runs out at thirty years of age. Instead, we work to sustain what we have for a while and then all of us gradually fail in one way or another.

Andrew would also say things like, “When does ice melt?” and then point out that between 32 and 33 degrees is when ice melts. Or when did Christ die on the cross? Again, at 33 years of age, or he would mention the 33rd degree of Freemasonry, and so on. His point was that it is somewhere around the completion of the Saturn cycle at 30 years or in the years soon thereafter that we leave the body, and not at the live-long end of life. In other words, the real death we fear comes in the middle of life, not at the end. Think on that sometime for this is a key esoteric thought that explains much.

Rather than life having the sequenced of a birth, prime-of-life, and death as we have been taught, esoterically we have a Birth, death, and ‘after-death’, but this process is not linear, but cyclical. Of course this process is a cycle, like everything else in life: our heartbeat, breath, day, month, year, etc. Astrology is the study of cycles.

And here is the beautiful (but also the subtle) part of all this: the perfect image of this process is not linear, like a straight line from birth to death, but rather more like the image of the Sun shining in the sky – that blazing ball of fire in the firmament – an endless cycle of energy exchange.

Andrew went on to say that during the second Saturn cycle (from 30 to 60 years) we spend repairing the damage we made being launched or born (getting out) during the first cycle, and here is the interesting point for this particular blog:

Andrew also said that in the 3rd Saturn cycle, from 60 to 90 years (should we live so long and be aware) that we can actively partake consciously in the creative process of life. It is this third Saturn cycle that I want to draw your attention to, which of course, is the cycle of Saturn I am in now. This is an important phase.

I pretty much understood early-on Andrew’s description of the first two Saturn cycles, but of course that 3rd cycle I had very little clue or idea of. Well, that is changing now that I am actually in that cycle and I want to comment on it as best I can. An encounter with a very famous astrologer years ago now begins to make sense.

… I can remember when the astrologer Dane Rudhyar visited the Heart Center in the early 1970s to give a talk. Of course we were honored to have this great astrologer in our home, but a strange thing happened. Since I seem to have many astrological ideas, I wanted to run some of them past Rudhyar, and one of them had to do with heliocentric astrology, my personal favorite technique.

I don’t remember his exact words, but when I asked Rudhyar about helio astrology, he seemed to dismiss it as of no importance or something like that. Of course, I was disappointed, but the story continues.

Later in that same visit Rudhyar quite spontaneously began to speak on heliocentrics, this time praising and extoling it in a very deep and forward-looking manner. I was surprised but soaked it in. He seemed to be speaking somehow automatically, in an odd voice, almost as if he was reading from some inner script or source. It did not sound like his normal voice. Needless to say I was surprised at this reversal of opinion and also at the kind of robot-like tone in which he spoke. It gave me real pause and I have never forgotten that event. I took note of this strange phenomenon and have been trying to place it ever since. I now can.

I will be 71 years old next month, am well into my 3rd Saturn cycle, and experiencing something quite similar (hopefully without the robotic tone!), the ability to pull from the ether ideas and insights almost at will, especially when asked a sincere question.

It is almost if as I grow older, the top of my head has opened and become space itself and all that is in it, the treasures of the mind. It would seem that the mind is a rich star field of ideas, a wealth of information that just exists in there, ready to be read by anyone sensitive or open enough to do so. Perhaps increasing age enables this to happen, made even easier when coupled with the development of some basic awareness practice, which I have worked at.

If there is a need, a question from a younger person, some real reason to access these mind treasures, the information appears with even greater authority and strength. The request or need seems to come from the younger person, but the ability to readily access the information in the mind comes from the elder or more experienced. And even though the elder person transmits, the message or ideas are often meant for the younger person to listen and take in. The information may or may not really interest or be important for the older person (although it usually is), but together we help this information to flow from above to below, from older to younger -- the precious circulation of information. We elders seem to have our heads more open, while younger ones have their feet on the ground, and thus, like lightning, information flows. Identification of this type ‘is’ cosmic circulation and circulation keeps the body and mind together -- coherent.

As I grow older, my head seems more and more open to the sky of the mind. Indeed, in a real sense, beyond thirty years of age there is nothing but the mind out beyond there and the more obscurations that age removes, the more obvious are the rich mental treasures hidden there. And these treasures can be shared, although this seems to at times be enhanced when sharing with others. This kind of exchange seems to be what is meant by the conscious participation in the creation my teacher Andrew spoke of.

Of course I still have many of my own interests and questions, as you can tell from my endless blogs here, but I also find myself automatically responding more easily to sincere questions from those around me. It is fascinating how we can exchange energy and information between generations – ‘identifying-with’ is circulation.

So my wonderful teacher Andrew McIver’s teaching, which he managed to embed in me way back when, has proved to be true. What a treasure that teacher was for me! He taught me all of what I am sharing here when I was around 25 years of age, which enabled me to go through my first Saturn return with my eyes open.

It remains for me to communicate to you something about how close the connection and exchange between teacher and student was for me and can be for anyone. It defies words, but you know I will try. …

We are winding this short series up, but there are still many questions that I personally have, questions like “What is beauty?” and “What is charisma?” or even more basic yet, “What is identification?” When we identify and share with someone, what is it that happens? We communicate and something is exchanged; what is exchanged and how does that work? When we are kids, we look forward to growing up; when we are old, we look back to our youth. Coming and going, is it all about the prime of life? Just what is it that we look forward and back to? Do we ever achieve it? My teacher Andrew pointed out that time stops at that first Saturn return at thirty years. Effectively, from that point onward we begin leaving the body. How does that work?

Andrew McIver had another analogy that stays in my mind, that of the two basic kinds of peaches, the Cling and the Freestone. With the Cling peach, the flesh of the peach clings to the pit when you try to remove it, while with the Freestone peach, the pit easily just pops out. These are our choices when we begin to leave the body, when the spirit and flesh began to separate from one another after thirty years of age.

The ideal way is that of the Freestone, where the separation is painless and natural, while with the Cling it is painful and messy. You get the idea. Our attachments cause us to cling to the body and the past, making the whole experience painful, while if we can learn to let go, the separation of spirit and flesh is natural. I wrote a poem to the effect that our attachments are the glue that hold the Self together, and the concept of the self is something we should discuss in another blog.

Here we have looked at the three 30-year cycles of Saturn in our lives as they were taught to me by my first life teacher. If you want to know more, I have two suggestions, but one of them costs money. First, I wrote an entire book about these concepts and it is free for the downloading. Called “Astrology of the Heart: Astro-Shamanism,” you can find it here:

And second, I just published a new software program, Blue*Star, that runs on a PC or on a Mac with a Windows partition. …

What I have been presenting here is called “esoteric astrology.” It is esoteric, not because it is any secret, but because it is so obvious (like breathing) that it is hidden in plain sight in society, and hard to grasp consciously. I have always found it fascinating and have done my best to share here what I was taught so many years ago.

There remains one more concept to present, but it is very difficult to grasp. I will try. It has to do with how we convert the linear concept of birth leading to death that society has taught us into the cyclical concept of rebirth. Here goes:

I find it helpful to consider some simple physics, like that of the single source of warmth and light, our Sun. The Sun is powered by nuclear fusion which is emitted from its core in the form of gamma rays that travel upward until they reach the sun’s surface, at which time the energy radiates primarily in the form of visible light outward as sunlight, thus shining.

An image I will share with you is that of a shaft of energy shooting out from the Sun, fueled at the base by magnetically charged molten plasma that forms a stalk of light that then shines far out from the Sun’s surface into the darkness of the heavens. Now imagine innumerable shafts of light all over the surface of the sun, shining in all directions (all ways and always) and you have the image of the Sun, that ball of fire radiating light in the firmament. It is awesome every day.

Deep within the core of the Sun is this very dense mass of molten plasma which is converted to visible light at the surface and from that surface out into space stalks of light shine. Somewhere near the surface there is the conversion or transformation of the energy from inside to outside, from within to without, a crucial exchange -- the fringe of fire up front. This exchange is what we are discussing here, the conversion of energy and how it is exchanged. And here it gets perhaps more difficult to express in words, but consider this:

Just as we humans have an outer physical appearance and personality, we also have an inner soul or psyche. So does the Sun. This image of the outer active Sun is something we might study in a physics class, but the inner and esoteric meaning of the Sun is breathtaking in its profundity, but seldom realized and practically never spoken of. We are almost universally unaware of this great being, the Sun, although it is the same being we refer within ourselves as “I.” There are many living beings but no two ways of ‘Being’. As the Greek philosopher Parmenides put it “Being alone is.”

We like to think of ourselves as looking out through our eyes at life. Instead, take a wider perspective. Think of yourself as the intelligent life in the universe looking through your eyes at your life, someone larger than just your personality, what has been called our soul or ‘Individuality’. That too is you, the intelligent or spiritual Sun (and beyond) looking through the prism of our personality at itself. Think big! Not two, but one vast being.

Consider the light in our eyes as itself the intelligent life humankind has been looking (searching with telescopes) all these years to find somewhere in a faraway galaxy. We are already it! In other words, we ourselves are the very spaceman we wait and search for, and we are out here in the middle of space. We are already in a distant galaxy and have always been there! We are, of course, just endlessly searching for ourselves, trying to find our self. What’s new?

In other words, there is only one being in the entire universe and it is circulating information by identifying and knowing itself through the process of “us.” Not some vast intelligence ‘using’ us by looking through our eyes, but we already are (and have always been) that vast intelligence looking through our own eyes, only our vision may be somewhat cloudy due to personal obscurations. We don’t know our own inner self. Behind all those obscurations is that cosmic being, what we call the ‘Self’, and behind that is nothing but the true nature of mind itself.

After all, we ARE intelligent life, although the daily newspapers could not prove it by me. This process of identification I refer to here ‘is’ the circulation of information that holds the cosmos together.

This circulating energy is exemplified in the exchange between younger and older, student and teacher, any two of us, and so on. Something is endlessly exchanged and everything also remains the same. Everything happens and nothing happens. This is, of course, the mystery. The Sun itself is a mystery, which I will get to in the next and final part of this series. However, please note this:

Many years ago, when I asked my dharma teacher about astrology, he said this: “Astrology is one of the limbs of the yoga, but not the root.” In other words, astrology is a relative truth, which means it is helpful to get from here to there in our journey, but it is not an absolute truth. Dharma, the path to awakening, is the absolute truth, knowing the true nature of the mind.

I have found astrology and discussions like these Saturn cycles very helpful in understanding my life, but it too is part of a larger dream we are all having. This dream we call life we will have also to wake from one day. Meanwhile we have these discussions. …

This short series of blogs has been about rites of passage and esoteric astrology, in particular the separation of the spirit from the physical body, not something that happens at the very end of life, but something that happens early on, in the very prime of life, sometime after the return of the planet Saturn to its original place in the zodiac at the age of thirty years.

This key event is known by many names including being “born again” by evangelical Christians, “entering the silence” by esotericists, and so on. Of course our body and spirit separate finally at our physical death, but that separation begins many years earlier and mostly goes unheralded and unnoticed in modern society. In this view, life ends at around thirty years of age, as the old saying “Never trust anyone over thirty” points out. After life there is the afterlife.

The orbit of Saturn, which represents ‘time’ in astrology, turns to repeating itself at thirty years of age. Time just stops as we know it and we just up and gradually leave the body, floating out in the great silence beyond time. Have you noticed that we seem to act like there is no tomorrow and that we will live forever? Why do you think that is?

This way of viewing the passage of time and the awakening to a more spiritual view of life pays many dividends. Reading the wide history of spiritual literature from the view that we separate from the body after it stops growing, right in the prime of life, explains a lot.

We have looked at the three Saturn cycles that cover the first 90 years of life in terms of how they were presented to me by my teacher Andrew McIver, building our vehicle, being launched, becoming part of the creative force itself. We are used to seeing all of these cycles (this ‘timelessness’) laid out on a straight line of linear thought running from birth to death, but then what? Is life a short line that just ends? That is where the linear approach breaks down, at least psychologically.

All lines are in reality curves and all curves circles. The straighter the line, the finer the curve is what I always say. All things come back and return. Anything that does not return is a singularity, an anomaly which almost by definition we can have no memory of. All things continue to exist by re-positing themselves, by endlessly returning, and therefore enduring.

I wrote a book that covers this topic rather thoroughly called “Astrology of the Heart: Astro-Shamanism” back in the 1960s, that was published in a series of articles in the early 1970s. You can find it here:

And for those of you who actually want to measure your personal life against the cycles of Saturn, I just published an interpretive report called the “Life Landscape Report” as one of sixteen complete reports that represent the main kind of astrology I do. Using this program you can look at many views of your life as interpreted by astrology and written by yours truly. Examine yourself, your family, friends, and so on to your heart’s content. It is here:

In closing, I want to reiterate a point I made in an earlier post …. Astrology is a marvelous way to look ourselves and the course of our lives. I have studied it intensely for almost fifty years, and use it all the time. And astrology is known by almost all cultures and has been for centuries. Yet as my dharma teacher for almost thirty years pointed out to me a long time ago, astrology is one of the limbs of the yoga, but not the root. It is a relative truth, meaning it can help us get from here to there in this dream of life we are living. It is not, however, enlightenment.

It would seem that we are wrapped in the sleep of several dreams, all of which we eventually have to wake from. Astrology helps us to get around in and make sense of this dream we call life. Inside of that dream is a still deeper dream from which we also must wake. Dharma is the key to that awakening.

Here we have been concerned with life, death, and the discovery of our “Self,” the image of the Sun. I will end with a poem I wrote about this topic some years ago. One of my closest friends told me it is not a very good poem, so for that I apologize. I can’t tell. For me it puts into words all that I have been writing about in these last few blogs. They may not be the best words, but they do capture the concept, which for me is what poems are for. A poem is also worth a thousand words, and can capture what volumes of prose cannot. This is a poem about a point in life we each reach, whether we are aware of it or not. If we can become aware of this point of transition, it helps a lot.


The point of the “point of no return” is that:

When you have reached the point of no return,

That is the turning point.

Every life has a turning point,

Whether it’s in the echo of age,

Or in the very midst of life’s prime.

As we reach our point of no return,

We pause,

Then we turn.

And, in turning, we begin to reflect.

In our reflection,

And rising into view,

Perhaps for the very first time,

The Sun.

Where before it was we who were seen,

And others seeing,

Now we are the mirror in which they see themselves,

And we can see our self in them.

What we once saw shining before us, as youths,

That which we gladly embraced in our prime,

And what we now see etched in the mirror of reflection,

Is our eternal Self,

The Sun,

Ever burning in the darkness of our life.

That’s it. I understand this.

What I find harder to understand,

Yet still believe is:

We didn’t know it then;

We don’t know it now.

We never knew it.

In truth,

It never was.


It never will be.

It is not now,

And still, it is.

It still is:

This most brilliant illusion,

Shining in the mirror of the mind.



By: John Hogue

In Predictions for 2012, I explained that the Uranus-Pluto Square is a year defining aspect. The forces of revolution, compassion and urge for change (Uranus) are colored by its long transit through the fire sign of Aries (ruler of either new beginnings, new enterprise, exploration; or, headstrong rushes into conflict, encounter and war). Pluto transiting a sign gives astrological definition to generational ages. It entered Capricorn in 2008 and had not been seen in skies passing through it for 231 years. Capricorn rules ambition, governance, karma and economy as well as the status quo, plutocracies and aristocratic hierarchies oppressing the middle class and masses.

Pluto in Capricorn revolutionized economic life giving birth to the modern middle classes in Europe and America over two centuries ago. During its transit through Capricorn there began a power struggle between the middle classes and European aristocracies (primarily in the British American colonies). The American Revolution was the result, and it spurred the modern era of democracies.

All individual and collective things have life cycles. People and religions, countries and social establishments, are born, reach their prime and degenerate towards death. Today, the American and European middle classes are entering their mid-life crisis politically and economically, requiring a redefinition and direction so they can reach full maturity. Pluto in Capricorn has once again given birth to new middle classes, though this time, it is a global phenomenon especially spreading through East and South Asia.

A square of planets reveals the source of a growth point in our lives both in individual charts and the charts of nations, peoples. As a Neo-Sannyasin and practitioner of the Science of Self-Observation (meditation), I celebrate squares as opportunities to see that which is egoistic and programmed in me meet the friction of truth. Pluto in Capricorn will bring either a systemic regeneration or degeneration in the status quo of society, politics and economy. Now at square friction with Uranus since mid-May, it defines a generational period entering a growing pain point with Uranus in Aries – namely, a time of revolutionary change or heady chaos.

The influence of this square will continue through to November. But first, this summer, watch the growing point defined by further, ruthless clampdown and media censorship by the status quo suppressing the Occupy movement protest and a people’s desire to change and reform economy and politics.

A summer of growing pains is a time when mass movements must face their own systemic flaws. The current “Occupy” movement must face hard growth facts or fade like the Tea Party movement for different reasons. (Find out what they are, click on Tea Party). The Occupy movement is a leaderless, political mob. Unless it changes this summer, it will be suppressed by the authorities – by Pluto and its new “Plutocracy” in Capricorn, the Corporate “Citizen” that buys free speech at the cost of your individual and human right to freedom. Prepare for a summer of upheaval and confusion.

To See Oneself in Others

By: Bill Herbst

The initial exact square between Uranus and Pluto occurs this month—on June 24th, 2012. That specific day is not particularly significant astrologically in the context of an outer-planet cycle with a 140-year duration, but—considered as a boundary—this month holds great symbolic meaning. June’s event is the first of seven exact back-and-forth passes that will comprise the 90° first-quarter square occurring between Uranus and Pluto from now through March, 2015.

This initial event signifies that our long period of waiting is finally over. We have arrived at the portal through which a Brave New World awaits. Although we can’t yet know how fast, how completely, or in what precise forms the many shocks implied by this transit of the Uranus-Pluto cycle will come down the pike to cause the status quo of business-as-usual to go belly up in a domino-chain cascade of institutional collapse (three years? Five years? ten years?), I felt that this month was a fitting time to write a Big Picture commentary to commemorate the occasion by reminding us again what the core challenge of this decade truly is, at least in the ways I understand it.

Because America is now an artificial and ersatz culture that, to some extent, sentimentalizes an imaginary return to times past that never were, we prefer myth—with its sweet reiteration of Currier & Ives prints and Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover paintings—to actual history, which is altogether too paradoxical, harsh, and revealing about our failings. To suggest that the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and our forebears are “sanitized” is only partially correct, but it is certainly true that our sepia-toned movie-set snapshots of the past are more touch-up artistry than memory, more escapist idealizing than true recollection.

The other side to this Luddite longing for a past that never existed is an even more bizarre dream fueled by the techno-consumerist propaganda hologram of television advertising, which deludes us into, if not actually believing, at least “buying” the false promise that by acquiring enough smart phones, flat-screen TVs, and new cars, we can social network ourselves into nirvana, rather than complete the cycle of total alienation from each other that has been underway in America for the past century.

As long as we stay safely removed from others in the various isolating boxes of our homes, cars, and office cubicles, we’ll be safe and happy because our toys will make it so. In fairness, of course, advertising does present us in groups (because happiness with others is part of the dream), but mostly as demographic clones—young people drinking in bars and dancing at parties, suburban families and neighbors united around the holiday barbecue, senior citizens clustered together on picturesque group travel excursions.

The only time we see dissimilar individuals gathered together on television is when their potentially conflicting values and beliefs, their biases and fear-based anxieties, are white-washed by the fact that they all work for the same mega-corporation—Southwest Airlines, Mobil/Exxon, GE, etc.—which creates the advertising scenario of committed togetherness of workers, all of whom wear the same hardhat or logo’d shirt, to convince the rube public of the essential goodness of the corporate intention to support the greater good and make a better world for all, which is about 99% crap.

Escape into either the heartfelt goodness of a simpler past that never was or the social conscience of an equally illusory future that will never be (based as it is on the idea of corporations-as-family, which is as big a lie as I can imagine) are two sides of the same coin: imagining a world where disagreement, conflicting beliefs, fear of others, and domination-by-force as a basic mode of social interaction, government, and commerce (whether in the marketplace of goods or ideas) have all magically vanished. The disconcerting truth is that we are an aggressive species by biology and cultural conditioning.

In those image-based mythic worlds that constitute the current propaganda hologram, we need not struggle to master the most basic and profoundly difficult spiritual achievements to which humankind is forever challenged, namely, to see oneself in others, to work together to achieve common ends despite all the forces pulling us apart, and to get along with people in a generally peaceful and nonviolent manner through pragmatic fellowship.

The best guess I can cobble together as I peer out into the fog of the future (along with everyone else, since none of us knows with any certainty what precise shape the future will take), is that for many people, real life over the next century will contain some elements of both mythic mirages. Will we be living in caves, working in the fields from dawn to dusk just to scrape together enough sustenance to survive? I doubt it. But I also doubt the techno-dreams of flying cars or a completely solar-powered planet. I’ll bet on some combination of past and future dreams turning out to be true in a crazy-quilt assemblage of parts and pieces embraced because of availability and necessity. I also believe that our core reality will not be comprised primarily of either fantasy.

For example, any realistic scenario probably includes an increased focus of economics on smaller local communities and on big cities where neighborhoods become centers of commerce and livelihood, plus a decrease in long-distance travel, especially by air. I can conceive that airlines will still exist, but with fewer flights and much more expensive fares. Even in the heyday of global corporate capitalism, airlines were never especially viable as economic engines of profit. From this point on, as fuel costs rise and social unrest increases, air travel for the masses will likely shrink. Same with automobiles and long-distance travel by car.

Yes, that will almost certainly still exist in some form, but the costs of running vehicles and maintaining the infrastructure of highways and bridges may grow beyond our collective ability to afford. Of course, we will give up airplanes long before we give up cars, simply because our love affair with the automobile and the personal freedom it implies are so deeply embedded in our psyches. But give it up we will, however gradually and grudgingly. On the other hand, railroads may once again prosper, not so much by choice as by pragmatic necessity.

Still, this commentary is not about how life will look 10, 25, or 50 years ahead. Uranus and Pluto no doubt have some major surprises in store for us in that regard. No, this commentary is about the major challenges that face us in adapting to whatever shape life takes from here on out—the psychological, social, and even spiritual maturation that the future will almost certainly require from us if humans are to continue as a thriving species on this planet. Those challenges are not paths we will walk down by choice. No, the only reason we will collectively take on the challenges of finding better ways to get along with each other with any serious intention is because we are compelled to do so by harsh circumstance. And, in terms of aspiration and evolution, that is the functional purpose of the 2010s, to make it necessary that we accelerate the process of human maturation beyond its current snail’s pace.

Throughout the 10,000-or-so years of civilization, we haven’t learned much about civility. Oh sure, we’ve embraced many supposedly “civilized” features: laws, moral frameworks, rules of behavior, formal rituals, stratified status through often rigidly-defined classes, and ever-changing standards for whatever constitutes social “appropriateness” from one era to the next. But these are all relatively superficial expressions of civility; they don’t approach the heart of the matter, which is, as I wrote above, the ability to see oneself in others. And not just people we like. No, I mean recognizing facets of oneself in everyone.

Humans certainly, but also all the other myriad forms of life that inhabit the earth, including the biosphere itself. The days of our seeing this planet as nothing more than a large warehouse of lifeless resources to be plumbed as we wish for our own use are coming to an end. The great truth of ecology—that everything is connected to everything else and works in harmony—is likely to be demonstrated with more profound impact than ever before. We will find it necessary to learn that messing with the balance of things (as if balance does not matter) wreaks havoc that sooner or later harms us.

Civilization has too often worked not to foster our empathy with others, but instead, to mask or dress up in nice clothes those fundamental parts of ourselves that are clearly uncivilized—our dark shadow aspects, our back sides: primitive, raw, violent, born of fear and desire. For instance, both sports and capitalism embrace and encourage competition, which is a watered down form of warfare.

OK, that’s a given. But Bill, these are group endeavors; don’t they also encourage cooperation and “togetherness” by promoting team spirit and working as a unit, toward achieving a common goal? Of course, but only insofar as that cooperation helps to achieve the end result of competitive victory. The point of the game—whether in sports or in business—remains vanquishing an opponent, defeating the “other.” The goal in post-modern corporate capitalism is certainly not equitable sharing of resources or development of cooperation for the greater good, but only to help one’s chosen “in-group” defeat the “out-group.” No, in its current exaggerated form, capitalism is still us-versus-them empire-building.

Perversely, the point of competition is to destroy the competition. Capitalism is also built on the bedrock of ownership and domination—whatever I have, inherit, or can acquire for myself alone by bringing that resource under my domination and control (whether ethically or not) and then leveraging the power it gives me to build my empire (whether tiny or huge) in the marketplace of commerce. This possessiveness is considered “natural,” inevitable, and correct in human nature, and extolled as a great virtue, rather than as the brief phase of childhood development (often called “the terrible twos”) where a young child seeks to substantiate, secure, and extend his or her identity by commanding everything and everyone in the surrounding environment. That’s what ownership truly is, but culture and commerce don’t see it that way. They would happily keep all of us locked into “the terrible twos” forever, rather than helping us outgrow that childish phase of crude domination.

Sadly, socialism and communism (“communalism”) in the forms they’ve been tried seem to work no better. Though they give lip service to sensitivity toward and cooperation with others, they tend to do so through the agency of social pressure—forced conformity of behavior accompanied by implied or real threats of ostracism. Unfortunately, we can’t train or force anyone to become more empathic with others, since that quality is not primarily a set of learned behaviors, but rather an inner orientation of the heart, and one that flowers in only the most mature gardens.

I have no naïve expectations that humanity will ever transcend the shadow aspects of so-called “human nature”—the slings and arrows of life can easily cause even the best of us to regress into greed, domination, or even violence.

These dysfunctional attitudes wait to pounce on us as reactions to hurt, loss, and fear, spawning alienated emotions such as rage, revenge, or hatred that destroy empathy. Such insensitivity to others occur both as sporadic reactions and as more permanent, habitual programming. At any given moment on planet Earth, some human beings are acting out the worst impulses of our nature, frequently with other human beings as the targets of their darkest impulses. That is not likely to ever magically go away.

But our approach to and understanding of our shadow can change, and needs to. To model goodness is one thing. To insist on it is something else. Repression of the inevitable serves only to concentrate it. By insisting on goodness, we cause what is commonly called evil to intensify and eventually squeeze out of ourselves through the cracks, as it were. We become what we deny. But since culture and society tend to lobby so hard for our being “good,” we tend to find it much easier to see and acknowledge in others rather than in ourselves.

Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that every human being must become 100% empathically One with Everything Else all the time. It’s enough that we get glimpses of that profound connectedness in momentary flashes, but with sufficient frequency and recurring impact to allow us to remember it much during our hard times. Nor am I implying that we can or should try to root out evil in ourselves and others. No, violence in all its many forms will continue to be part of what and who we are, collectively and individually. As it exists now, however, civilization does not help us manage our shadow.

My focus here is on two specific arenas of sharing: families and communities. These two fields of experience will most certainly be of particular importance in the years and decades ahead. Along with relationships between two individuals in pair bonds, families and communities have been cornerstones of human sharing throughout history.

The technological advances of the past two centuries, however, have caused mass culture to supplant and even replace these smaller group alignments. Over my lifetime, increased transportation, consumer-based economies, and television have resulted in greater conformity, so that communities have lost much of their regional and local distinctions. This is especially true in America, more so than in any other nation or culture I can think of. What made individual communities different and unique has been at least partially (but often substantially) removed from their core identities by the urgent push to make everything an economic commodity. In a real sense, group identities are no longer determined by the confluence of actual circumstances, but the distorted memories of what we once were, most often through “branding.”

For example, we no longer have “fishing towns” along our coasts and waterways. What we now have are towns that advertise the imagery of fishing—water, seafood, boats, etc.—to attract tourism. Actual fishing is done by far fewer individuals these days, usually because the precipitous decline in numbers of fish in rivers and oceans has largely destroyed fishing as a livelihood. In other towns, the shift occurred because small-boat family fishing was replaced by large trawler-based corporate fishing. As a result, very few individuals in these “fishing towns” actually make their livings by fishing anymore. The boats in the harbor have been outnumbered by shops in the mall that sell fishing gear or memorabilia and by restaurants offering trucked-in fish, since the local catch is reserved for megacorporate use. For the towns themselves, fishing has become an economic abstraction—a myth based on images—rather than a real way of life.

In the years and decades ahead, disintegrating economic and social circumstances are likely to make necessary our giving up at least some, but at times much, of our current alienation—our separateness and apparent individual freedom—however convenient and comfortable those may seem because we’re habituated to them. As the overgrown institutions of culture collapse, we will need to cooperate with others considerably more than we do now, probably in smaller and more local settings that are community-based.

My one significant caveat on this view of what’s likely to unfold is that all bets are off if humanity suffers one or more of the “ultimate” catastrophes over the coming years that people fearfully regard as apocalyptic. By that, I mean some global disaster that wipes out a majority of the human population and/or trashes the surface of the earth on which we depend for sustenance. An event that unleashes massive radiation (through war or accident) could do this, as could a global pandemic or world-wide famine that kills off billions, or a sufficiently large meteor or asteroid slamming into the earth. If we are all wiped out, then maturity becomes a moot point. And if many or most of us are suddenly removed, the necessary evolution of our empathic social skills at the heart of this commentary may be postponed for a very long time to come.

With the exception of nuclear radiation, which is a recent human-made addition to lexicon of apocalypse, the other kinds of catastrophes have a long history of lurking deep in our semi-conscious anxieties. So far in our brief time on this planet, our species has managed to dodge any of those bullets. In my public writing, I’ve chosen mostly to consider these dire possibilities indirectly if at all. And I mention them now only because they are wild cards in the deck that would alter our future in ways we cannot conceive. I hope that none of those various possibilities comes to pass.

The pragmatic challenge in front of us is to collectively grow up into at least young adulthood and finally leave behind the disturbed adolescence through which we have collectively slogged throughout the past 10,000 years, which saw the onset and development of the kind of civilization now nearing its close.

We need to find better ways to live among and work with other human beings, and in increased harmony with all other life forms on this planet. If we don’t (or can’t), our future may be, to say the least, not so rosy. Even a partial movement in that direction, however, will increase our chances of creating a future worth having. I don’t know what our chances are of the former versus the latter, but I know which one I’d vote for.






12:33 pm

Venus sesquiquadrates Saturn (7˚ Gemini/22˚ Libra)


8:33 am

Mars enters Libra

2:53 pm

Full Moon – 12˚14’ Cancer Sun/Capricorn Moon


9:26 am

Mercury sextiles Venus (8˚ Leo/Gemini)

1:53 pm

Mercury trines Uranus (8˚ Leo/Aries)


9:40 am

Mercury quintiles Saturn (11˚ Leo/22˚ Libra)

3:57 pm

Mars inconjuncts Neptune (2˚ Libra/Pisces)


6:20 am

Uranus stations retrograde (8˚32’ Aries)


7:56 am

Mars trines Jupiter (7˚ Libra/Gemini)

2:20 pm

Mars squares Pluto (7˚ Libra/Capricorn)


1:52 am

Sun quintiles Mars (26˚ Cancer/8˚ Libra)

9:55 pm

Mars opposes Uranus (8˚ Libra/Aries)


12:25 am

New Moon - 26˚55’ Cancer


12:06 pm

Mercury quintiles Saturn (11˚ Leo/23˚ Libra)

9:05 pm

Jupiter sesquiquadrates Saturn (8˚ Gemini/23˚ Libra


11:05 pm

Jupiter squares Uranus (8˚ Gemini/Aries)


5:01 am

Sun enters Leo

6:45 am

Mercury sextiles Mars (10˚ Leo/Libra)


2:15 am

Mercury sextiles Jupiter (9˚ Leo/Gemini)

8:34 pm

Sun inconjuncts Neptune (2˚ Leo/Pisces)


8:27 am

Mercury trines Uranus (8˚ Leo/Aries)


2:19 pm

Mercury inconjuncts Pluto (7˚ Leo/Capricorn)

9:19 pm

Venus quintiles Uranus (20˚ Gemini/8˚ Aries)


2:05 am

Sun inconjuncts Pluto (7˚ Leo/Capricorn)



By: Stephanie Austin

We are at the crest of an evolutionary wave that has been building for some time. On June 24, Uranus, the planet of revolution, and Pluto, the archetype of evolution, form the first of seven exact squares at 8˚23’ Aries-Capricorn. A few days later, on June 29, the Sun at 8˚ Cancer opposes Pluto and squares Uranus. Now Mars’ entry into Libra, just before the peak of this Full Moon, further heightens the amplitude and power of this wave. It’s obvious that things must change. The question now is: How willing are we to make real changes?

Uranus’ galvanizes drives for freedom, innovation, and reform – propelling us to break out of our cultural conditioning and make a quantum leap. Pluto illuminates what has been hidden or denied, forcing us to face our shadow and own our power. These planets conjoin only every 120 years or so, and whenever they form a major aspect with each other (conjunction, square, opposition), this coincides with greatly accelerated social and technological developments.

Conjunctions initiate new cycles; squares mark a major turning point, where we are compelled to act on the potentials and visions encoded in the conjunction. Uranus and Pluto last met in 1965-66 and were close together for most of that decade, which saw momentous societal and scientific developments: upsurge of Black Power, women’s liberation, Chicano activism, gay pride, the hippie counterculture movements, environmentalism, LBJ’s war on Poverty, the decolonization of Africa, and China’s Cultural Revolution, as well as the first microcomputer, space walk, and landing on the Moon. The previous squares of Uranus and Pluto in 1932-34 (20˚-24˚ Aries-Cancer) corresponded to a similar period of world-altering events: the Great Depression, FDR’s “New Deal”, the passage of the Social Security Act, the first minimum wage law, creation of the FDIC, CCC, and FCC; the rise of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao; and important discoveries in quantum mechanics and radio astronomy.

Revolutionary impulses are boosted by the approaching station retrograde of Uranus on July 13. When any planet changes directions, its influence is magnified while it appears to move very slowly, hovering within a degree of its station for weeks. During Uranus’s five-month retrograde phase, it pressures us to look at what keeps us enslaved, and where we need to question social mores. On July 14, Mercury begins its second retrograde of the year, stationing at 12˚33’ Leo and moving backward until August 7, when it turns direct at 1˚26 Leo. Mercury retrograde in Leo helps us to discern where we are living from ego rather than essence. Uranus is the higher octave of Mercury; their turning retrograde within a day of each other emphasizes the call to be creative and courageous.

The Sun at this full Moon conjoins Sirius, the brightest star in the sky and one of the closest – only 8.6 light years from Earth. Historical links to Sirius are found in cultures around the world. Ancient Egypt based its calendar on Sirius’s heliacal rising; its culmination was celebrated during the initiations of the Eleusinian mysteries in Greece. The Dogon tribe of Mali in Africa and the Maori in New Zealand trace their ancestry to Sirius. Walter Cruttenden, in his book Lost Star of Myth and Time, postulates from archeological and astronomical observations that our Sun is part of the Sirius star system. In esoteric astrology, Sirius is considered to be our spiritual sun, overseeing the awakening of humanity.

What is demanding change in your life? Where are you making a difference? Everyone counts, everyone has an important part to play. Remember: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” (Anais Nin)

From The Mountain Astrologer, June/July 2012 issue

By: Stephanie Austin

High surf warning: Mars is now exactly opposite Uranus and square Pluto, greatly intensifying the waves of change. Both Mars and Pluto deal with passion, will, and power but at different levels. Mars represents personal desire; Pluto, divine intent. Mars opposite Uranus fuels a drive for freedom but also sparks rashness and intolerance. Mars square Pluto kindles the urge for reform but also ignites ruthlessness and domination. Saturn in libra squares the Sun and Moon in Cancer, advocating ahimsa (nonviolence). Be mindful of every thought, word, and deed. Violence is anything that causes separation; what we think or say can wound or heal. Mars, the symbol of the masculine principle, is also in Libra, the sign of balance and fairness, peace and partnership. For inspiration and tools, watch Gandhi and The Singing Revolution; read Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg and The Impossible Will Take a Little While, edited by Paul Rogat Loeb.

The archetype of Cancer and the element of water show us how to shift from conflict to collaboration, from polarization to progress. Accelerated times of change requires that we be fluid, adaptable, and able to discern what is healthy and what is toxic. Raised in societies that value the masculine over the feminine, we are taught to dismiss our feelings and needs; to trust logic, not intuition; to live in our head, not our heart. Suppressed emotions and needs don’t go away but are stored in the unconscious. In order to transcend duality, all the judgments, fears, and traumas that we have dammed up must be transmuted. When we allow ourselves to fully witness our emotions, rather than repress them or project them outward, we are able to see and act in the trust of the present moment.

Changes in the Sun’s magnetic field, along with cosmic rays from our galactic core and beyond, are speeding up our evolutions and dismantling our internal dams. This makes it even more important to closely monitor our feelings, safely release stored emotions, and take extra good care of our body and environment. Feelings, like water, need to flow or they become stagnant and unhealthy. Our emotional responses are our spiritual GPS; Joy confirms that we are on course; depression tells us we are heading in the wrong direction. The more we are in sync with our inner rhythms and the collective currents, the less flailing and bailing we have to do.

Neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, in her book My Stroke of Insight, describes how emotions trigger a cascade of neuropeptides, which take less than 90 seconds to surge through our bloodstream. After that, we either choose to remain in that emotional whirlpool, or allow it to evaporate. Just knowing that it will last only 90 seconds (or less) can make it easier to fully experience it and then let it go. Mood swings, along with heightened sensitivity, fatigue, changing sleep patterns, memory loss, and unusual aches and pains (what have been called “ascension symptoms”), may indicate that our bodies are releasing blocked energy in an attempt to adjust to and hold a higher vibratory field. Meditation, yoga, walks in nature, and remembering “This too shall pass” will help.

… This New Moon calls forth the sacred masculine and spiritual warrior in each of us, and reminds us: “When people decide they want to be free, there is nothing that can stop them.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

From The Mountain Astrologer, June/July 2012 issue