Living with the new normal

TX long roadListening to a recent radio interview with Dr. David Nabbaro of the WHO, I was impressed and reassured by his honesty and no-nonsense plain speaking when questioned about Covid-19 and where we are right now with this pandemic. I quote some of his words as they convey the reality of what we, collectively, have to do to help bring the spread of this virus under control and eliminate it:

“This virus is not going away and is really dangerous. This virus doesn’t get bored. This virus only has one purpose and that is to multiply. We have absolutely no choice but to take it seriously. We’ve got to have everybody working together, and we need a comprehensive approach, we’ve got to do everything….”

here he mentioned wearing masks, keeping socially distant, using  testing/tracing, and remaining vigilant at all times

“….over time, this will become the norm. We don’t have an alternative. This virus isn’t going away for the foreseeable future – we’ve all got to learn to live with it.”

His clarity, laying on the line what we collectively have to do, no matter which country we live in, had my thoughts turning to the astrological psychology I’m trained in and have used to counsel numerous clients over the years. Please come with me as I leap from our global pandemic to the qualities, energies and expressions of the planet Saturn, and what it means in terms of observable human behaviour and where we are right now.

I’m sharing an edited extract from a talk I gave at a UK national astrological conference some years ago. It offers a practical exploration of the meaning and manifestations of the planet Saturn in everyday life. You do not need to have any prior knowledge of astrology, or of what the planet Saturn represents; I hope I can enlighten you a little on this and give you some food for thought which might help a little as we steer our way through this virus-laden mess.

Millstone or Mentor? (that was the title of my talk)

Do you check the weather forecast before you leave home to see if you’ll need an umbrella, check the train timetable on your phone when going to the station, and maybe make sure you have a map in the car when setting off on a journey to a new destination, even though you’ve programmed the satnav? If you answered “yes” to any of these, then you were probably drawing on your own resources of Saturnian energy.

Structure and organisation

In astrology, the drive associated with Saturn is for Security. Saturn is concerned with structure and form, always seeking to organise, preserve and maintain things within manageable limits. In our solar system, Saturn is the furthest planet that can be seen by the naked eye.  Before the outer planets were discovered, following the invention of the telescope, Saturn’s position marked the outermost limit of our knowledge of the solar system, so it is not altogether surprising that astrologically it symbolises limitation, boundaries and our own security drives. It is the planet that swings into action when we need to know just exactly where we stand, so having social structures, guidelines and rules to abide by are all part of Saturn’s realm. Saturn gives the physical sense of self which we gain through the body. The structure, organisation and limitation associated with Saturn are present in the various systems in the body – the respiratory system, the circulatory system, and the digestive system, to mention just a few. The skeletal system provides a firm, solid physical structure around which the other systems are organised. As all these systems are interdependent, their clear-cut organisation is vital. The skin – our own boundary which marks our physical outermost limits – contains them all.

Saturn helps us to become responsible and reliable as individuals; if we live within the rules and guidelines of society then we reap the benefits of feeling safe and secure. Saturn is the perfect foil to  unfettered over-expansiveness and behaviour which can get out of hand. If not contained, our excesses can take us beyond the limits of acceptability. Saturn helps in curbing what might become outrageous and antisocial behaviour by giving us a sense of caution and responsibility. Taken to extremes, this sense of caution can become fear,  holding us back and restricting us in everyday life, so it’s important with Saturn that we get the balance right, and that we don’t allow our fears to hold us back from doing what is important for us. Because it symbolises such qualities as  responsibility and caution Saturn may not sound like much fun, so it’s important that we understand its positive attributes. It’s value should not be underestimated as it plays an essential role in our psychological make up. Like all the planetary qualities and energies, it can operate at different levels of consciousness, sometimes dormant and inert and responding in a habitual manner, but at its highest level Saturn will endow us with the ability to act with dignity and maturity. Then we can live with a clear conscience, accessing the deep learning of life we have developed, and become a mentor and benefactor  to those who seek our help, support or advice.

 What we know about Saturn astronomically – that it has rings which form a boundary around it – reflects the astrological meaning of the planet. Its protective rings are akin to the qualities of limitation and boundaries which are astrologically associated  with Saturn. Psychologically, Saturn can be like a millstone. It can represent those things in life which are really heavy & which drag us down, so has the effect of being the “killjoy of the cosmos”,  but it can also be like a wise mentor, guiding, teaching and advising with our best interests and safety at heart.

At the moment there are a lot of people getting fed up with the restraints we’re living under to help curb the growth and spread of Covid-19, so it’s easy to understand how these limits might feel like a heavy millstone, a drag on what we’re used to being free to do. This might make us rebel against the Saturnian harshness of where we are now, yet our lives would almost certainly be a chaotic mess without Saturnian qualities around to provide the structure and practical grounding of living in the material world, especially now our current world and lifestyles and jobs  are under threat.

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Masks

Masks have probably always provoked strong reactions because they hide, conceal and mystify. I’m thinking here of masked balls, the elaborate masks worn at the Carnival of Venice, the Guy Fawkes masks worn by protesters, and the masked faces of highwaymen in times gone by.

Dressing up 3 FroebelI created quite a stir many years ago when, at a fancy dress celebratory party at the end of an astrological psychology workshop. I went dressed as my interpretation of the planet Uranus and wore a full face mask. It wasn’t the costume that disturbed and intrigued people, it was the mask. People who knew me well didn’t recognise me and kept asking/guessing who I was. In astrological terms, Uranus is the planetary energy associated with change, upheaval, revolution, “ah-ha” moments, scientific knowledge and advance, and technology. Very relevant for the times we’re living in, and something I wrote about a while back. See here.

Who would have thought, back in March 2020, that masks would have become such a touchy, high profile subject. They’re a political hot potato right now, some people hating them and saying they will not wear them while others just get on with it and put them on, knowing that it’s the very least they can do to help bring this virus under control. I fall into the latter category.

The British government continue with their lack of clear messages to the public and the wearing of masks is a case in point. Announcing that from 24th July everyone is required to wear masks in shops, there still seem to be some cabinet ministers who don’t quite get this. Not especially surprising as a 10 day gap has been allowed between the date of the announcement and 24th July. Wondering why? Me too. Why not just a couple of days to allow people time to get themselves mask-organised? Why the delay?

Way ahead of this many people, myself included, wouldn’t – and still won’t for some time to come – go inside anywhere without a mask since the science says airborne particles of virus in breath droplets stand a far better chance of finding somewhere to adhere to in an enclosed space. It makes sense to wear a mask to protect yourself for this reason as well as to protect others if you are an asymptomatic carrier and don’t know if you’ve had the virus, or if you carry the virus.

It’s all down to being responsible to ourselves and to each other. OK, so people do look a bit strange wearing them, but we’ll get used to it. I’m fascinated by how they remind me of nose bags worn by horses and have a giggle at the thought of what could be munched behind them as people walk along.

As we’re not going to be able to show our facial expressions so well, we might be able to get away with poking out tongues at people we don’t like and getting away with it (no I’m not seriously suggesting that, it’s just a naughty bit of me coming out there). We’ll have to learn how to use our eyes more – smile with them and let the corners crinkle up a bit. We may need plenty of smiles to help us get through this.

Way back in March, when we were still in Houston visiting our family and realised we had to get a flight back home fast as the airlines were closing down, we tried out the masks we had with us ahead of leaving for the airport. If we look a bit terrified in picture 1 it’s because were were and we didn’t know what we were getting in to.

A few months down the line in picture 2 we put them on to go through the visitor centre and into the open air Wetlands Centre at Martin Mere. Not so much fear here about wearing them, just common sense and acceptance of the reality of our lifestyle and how the the world is now, as a vaccine is sought.

This is no time for anyone to drop their guard and relax. So please wear the damn things and do your bit.

Written in the stars?

Featured Image -- 4086With my astrological psychology hat on, I’m pondering on our current global situation. Most countries  are in lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the coronvirus – Covid-19 – which is dominating our lives. The pandemic has halted everyday life. People are dying. We’re in uncharted waters while a vaccine is being sought; life is on pause and hold as far as the everyday activities we’ve grown so accustomed to are concerned.

Here in the UK we’re told to stay at home, work from home, don’t socialise or go out unless you’re getting shopping, and then only a few people at a time in the shop please, each keeping 2 metres apart. Children are being schooled at home by parents who are trying to work from home; the  schools closed a few weeks ago, and while it’s OK to go for a walk or take some kind of exercise, this must be done in the locality – there’s no driving off into the countryside allowed. Oh yes – frequent handwashing is essential to kill the virus. Lather up for at least 20 seconds.

If we’d been told we’d be living like this just a few weeks ago, most of us would have thought it was a joke. But it’s not and although I can’t pretend I saw it coming, I did know – from an astrological viewpoint –  that we were likely to face considerable challenges and changes all the way up to 2024 as the planet Pluto made its way through the sign of Capricorn. I wrote about this in November 2017, and you can read my thoughts here,  about this great unravelling which had already begun back in 2009.

For non-astrologers and sceptics (1) I’ll try to put my ideas and take on the current situation into a context you can understand, using non-astrological language. So I ask you to imagine a large and impressive building – maybe iconic like the United Nations HQ in New York City, or the offices of a powerful global institution. It’s a place where a lot of different but interconnected businesses, organisations, charities, churches, banks, non-governmental groups and long-founded, traditional establishments gather under one roof. The building is called Capricorn House, it’s architecturally solid and sound, rather plush, and it is imbued with Tradition with a capital T.

In 2009, a newcomer arrives, takes a long hard look at what goes on there, assesses that things are looking out of kilter because there seems to be a whole load of inequality about in the world. Not only that, the environment is taking the hits and the way things are being run, by businesses of all kinds, is destroying our world – not just for us but for furture generations. The newcomer, not unlike the Stranger in Clint Eastwood’s film High Plains Drifter, sets about levelling the playing field. He has considerable power and it’s not long before the cracks appear and the walls of safety surrounding more dubious organisations and businesses start to crumble and fall. The stranger is called Pluto and yes, he has powers alright, but he can use them to right wrongs and injustices and inequalities. The old, outworn, outdated, irrelevant-to-current-times practices take the hits. Pluto likes nothing better than a good clear out and a fresh start, and that’s what the world starts to get.

Some of the effects of this are painful for us on a personal, everyday life level, so of course, humanity tries to resist. But Pluto is an energy/entity on a mission and he’s got plenty of time; he will stay on this job until 2024, and in 2020 we’re at last starting to wake up to the fact that things have to change. Coronavirus has woken us all up to that, and strangely has brought us closer together as we realise what is important in life. And it’s not “stuff” and possessions, it’s people and our environment and the way we’re living.

But that’s not the end of it. In January 2018, another visitor arrived in Capricorn House. It was Saturn, a rather rigid, go-by-the-book kind of entity whose forte in life is systems, organisation, structure, and interestingly, the physical body. You’d expect Saturn to be in his element in Capricorn House, with all those traditional, long-founded organisations there (Saturn really doesn’t like change) but it wasn’t long before he bumped into Pluto, who proceeded to bend his ear about all the changes that were needed to the current systems and way of running things, otherwise there wouldn’t be anything much to run at all.

This was aided and abetted by Uranus, who had been messaging Pluto repeatedly since 2011, putting in his two penn’rth from his temporary offices in both Aries and Taurus Towers on the same campus, and adding a bit of global revolutionary spice to what Pluto was doing with the more general clear out.

In December 2019, Jupiter arrived in Carpricorn House, found Pluto and Saturn were already there at work, and as I write, is locked even now in close cahoots with Pluto to offer the opportunity of bringing some vision and long term planning to what our world and our society could be like. Jupiter sees the big picture, of how the future might be, and comes to share wisdom and experience before moving on in December 2020. That gives us a year – maybe to find a vaccine for Covid-19 – and to find new ways as our perceptions and priorities change.

Saturn, meanwhile, has scarpered and left Capricorn House to take up temporary residence in Aquarius Hall, where the techies live and work and the egg heads and boffins hang out. Saturn will return to Capricorn House for a while during 2020, but will then settle in at Aquarius Hall for the long haul, possibly while new systems, which include ways of communicating and working on line, maybe at home, are perfected, and yes, by then, a vaccine might have been found by the scientists and techies.

The astrological bit

This is my take on what effects on humanity the outer, transpersonal planets Uranus and Pluto are currently having.  Jupiter and Saturn are not outer planets, and are more personal, Saturn being appropriately on the boundary (a Saturnian word – Saturn likes boundaries) between the inner and outer planets in the solar system.

Here are links to short videos on my YouTube channel explaining the meaning and qualities associated with Pluto and Uranus, and the revolutionary spirit of Uranus.

(1) Please don’t poo-pooh any of this unless you have something useful to say and have studied astrology yourself; I’ve studied it for 36 years. Just saying.

Life without Pluto

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Astrolabe in the house – now a museum – of Leonardo da Vinci,  Amboise, France

On 24th August 2006 a group of scientists and astronomers got together in Prague and decided to demote the status of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet. Their decision came after a lengthy period of search for the definition of what a planet is.

Several years later I visited the Jodrell Bank Observatory with two children aged 8 and 10. The Observatory has a brand new visitor centre and I was looking forward to seeing how they had reconfigured the site and displayed the old brass observational sextants and other instruments, including the famous mechanical orrery with its planets orbiting the Sun. I was very disappointed. All of these had gone, along with the Planetarium which had offered interactive quizzes and visual high speed trips across the galaxy.

In their place were two very modern buildings with slick display boards, often accompanied by a video but not much else. Equipment and fun experiments in the hands-on area for children had been reduced and the two children I was with soon lost interest as there was little to engage them. In one area, empty apart from displays on the wall and a large modern orrery suspended from the ceiling, we searched out and named the planets. Pluto, long demoted, wasn’t there and I explained to the children why it wasn’t there, also telling them it had been discovered in 1930. The new visitor centre may be state of the art, presenting bang up to the minute modern science, but all sense of the history of discovery behind it had been erased.

This got me thinking about how life, for those heretical beings amongst us who dare to claim we are astrologers, would be without Pluto. OK, so Pluto has been around a relatively short time and its discovery and subsequent inclusion in astrological charts and interpretations is also relatively new. But its discovery, after lengthy research by Clyde Tombaugh, coincided with the start of an era of world war and disruption, brought to a halt by the dropping of the atomic bomb. Astrologically Pluto is often feared, or at least treated with due caution and respect as it can herald big changes and upheavals often leading to transformation. The Hubers, in their book The Planets, describe Pluto as one of the three transpersonal planets saying, “The stimulation of Pluto’s energy makes us experience an expansion of consciousness affecting all of our lives”. Would we want to be without this?

When using astrological psychology, especially with a client, it would become quite difficult to interpret a chart and give a consultation without including Pluto. Symbolically, Pluto offers opportunities in life for us to transform ourselves and our ways of thinking and move on. It can encourage us to go boldly go where we’ve not been before, sometimes plumbing our inner depths and spaces and demanding that we make ourselves anew.

As an astrological psychology consultant I know that real, deep, life-changing experiences or issues can be triggered by Pluto in the natal chart. I’ve been able to support people going through Plutonic changes as they travel through challenging times. But one thing is for sure, and that is that we’ll come to grief if we try to use Pluto’s energy to gain personal power and control over someone or something. But we can learn to use the energies of Pluto, a transpersonal planet, not for ourselves, but for those things which affect the collective, embracing change, transformation and the good clear out and spring clean that goes with it.

IMG_1621Reflecting on my disappointment that Jodrell Bank had changed and become more slick and glitzy, I can raise a smile at the thought of Pluto at work in this complete makeover. Gone is the old, the history and the links with the astronomical past. However, the best part of the visit was a guided walk around the enormous, and famous, Lovell Radio Telescope. Like following the stations of the cross in a church, we were taken to a series to display boards around the perimeter of the telescope. I learned more in the short talks at each than I ever have about  – yes – the history of this impressive piece of engineering, once the largest radio telescope in the world but now demoted to the third largest.

In the makeover, the baby wasn’t quite thrown out with the bathwater after all. I wonder – did Pluto get the last laugh here?

Nature v Nurture

CET in colour

When I was training to become a teacher, I remember one lecturer stressing that the child (and ultimately, the adult that he or she becomes) is a product of heredity and environment.

The formula given was H x E = I: heredity combined with environment makes the individual. It’s maybe a bit simplistic but it gets the message across. Nature and nurture together have a huge impact on what we become.

In my book The Cosmic Egg Timer – a comprehensive introduction to astrological psychology –  I include a chapter explaining the Family Model, the primary source of heredity and environment, in the natal chart. By considering the planetary positions of the Sun, Moon and Saturn in a person’s chart, a lot can be learned about the Mother/Father/Child relationships which existed as that person was growing up, and what might have shaped and influenced them. Astrological psychology is about self-awareness, personal growth, and taking charge of your own life. It has nothing  to do with prediction or “fortune telling”, and often a lot to do with healing personal rifts and wounds.

The Sun – our star – symbolises, in the natal chart,  the will and the mind together with IMG_0698aspects of the personality which relate to “self”, like self-confidence, self-esteem and self-identity. A young child is not ready or capable of developing these things for him/herself; they’re something which develops slowly as the child grows and matures. The child therefore projects their own Sun/sense of self on to the person in the family whom they assume plays that “leadership” or sense of self role.  Traditionally that is the father, but nowadays it could just as easily be the mother, in which case the child will look to the mother to fulfil both parenting roles. Note that this role may also be shared by both parents, depending on the role each assumes within the family set up. Ideally, the Sun in the natal chart will be placed high and somewhere near the top of the circular chart. This “perfect” placing doesn’t always happen and variations and what they mean are explained in The Cosmic Egg Timer.

Saturn, the planet which is sometimes associated with boundaries and restrictions, is symbolic of the physical self as well as security in all its manifestations. Security means different things to different people, but one thing is for sure –  we all need security, especially when we’re children. Who is the first and best person to offer this, along with protection? Mother of course, so a child will project their Saturn needs on to her. She’s the one who gives out the rules and guidelines on what’s what as the child grows up. She – or the parent who assumes this role (again, it could be either) – is the one who keeps us on track. Ideally, in the natal chart Saturn will be placed low down. You can read more about this, and why, in The Cosmic Egg Timer.

The Moon symbolises emotional needs and how people express themselves with and through their feelings. Feelings can be a minefield which some people prefer not to walk through, and the sensitivity and vulnerability of the Moon is something which can stay with us into adulthood. The Moon in the natal chart represents the child in the context of the Family Model – it’s about you or me as we grew up in the family we were born into. In the chart the Moon is ideally placed somewhere on the horizontal axis of the circular natal chart where it stands the best chance of making contact with others and connecting with them.

There is much more about the Family Model in The Cosmic Egg Timer, where family relationships, family dominance and specific bonding between child and one or both parents is covered. Once our own Family Model is understood, a lot of insight can follow, along with healing some of the stuff left over from childhood.