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Ageing music book, Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau, France

Earworms – those snippets of songs or strains of music which suddenly appear in your head and won’t go away. Sometimes described as “I’ve got this song/tune/piece of music on the brain”. And it often doesn’t go away does it?

Singing with my local Rock Choir in Cheshire, I very often have an intense bout of Earworms, especially when we’re limbering up to perform at a big concert or when we start to learn a new song, so I had to smile when I saw someone doing research into this phenomena when I went to a concert recently.

A stand was set up in the foyer of the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester with the intriguing words “Do you get Earworms” on a large poster. I went to check it out in the interval and agreed to take part in the short survey being run by the Royal Northern College of Music.

They were interested in responses to the music being performed that evening – the theme was space and the cosmos, and top of the bill was Holst’s Planets Suite. I can pretty much conjure up the opening bars for Mars at will –

Da-da-da-daaaa, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-daaa, da-da-da-da, and so on…..

But my head was still filled with floating remnants of the 18 songs I’d performed with Rock Choir at the Liverpool Philharmonic the previous week, and with the first section of the new song we’d started to learn at Rock Choir that morning.

I wondered if there might be room for any more, but the brain and the memory is Tardis-like and there was room for the Star Wars theme, which I’d heard in the first half of the concert, to replay itself as I chatted to the researcher and answered a few questions.

But I need to keep those 18 songs I performed to hand in the filing cabinet in my head as our choir has some charity gigs coming up and we’ve been told we could be singing any of the 18. Attention has to be firmly in place to pick up what song to sing, based on the intro music. Earworms can be very useful!

The Living Birth Chart

LBC in colourI write this with my astrological psychology hat on. My second book, The Living Birth Chart has been updated and reissued with all diagrams and illustrations in full colour, and I’m rather pleased with it.

Based on the material I taught and used in the workshops I’ve facilitated, The Living Birth Chart has an emphasis on working practically with astrological psychology and putting it to use in your own life.

You don’t need to be an astrologer to use the book, but an interest and basic understanding of the subject will help, as will a read of my co-authored introductory book, The Cosmic Egg Timer.

So how might The Living Birth Chart be helpful? Suppose you’re someone who wants to get a better understanding of how the interactions between you and your parents have shaped you, held you back, encouraged you…..well, there’s a whole chapter on this in the book, along with practical exercises to try out.

Maybe you’re someone who finds it difficult to get in touch with or express your feelings. This, working as an astrological counsellor, I found was quite a common problem and sticking point with many people, students and clients alike. Issues around feelings are associated with the Moon, which symbolises our feeling self.

Practical suggestions about working with feelings are featured in The Living Birthchart. Here is a sample. You might like to make some brief notes for yourself as you respond to the questions:

  1. How big a part do feelings play in my everyday life?
  2. Am I making enough contacts with people?
  3. Am I able to state my enotional needs or feelings?
  4. Am I able to ask for what I want or need?

A ‘free Huber chart’ facility is available on www.astro.com (from front page go to ‘extended chart selection’, and don’t forget to select ‘Koch houses’). This provides free Huber-style natal, house and nodal charts plus chart data and age progression dates, which can be viewed on screen or printed off.

I can’t guarantee the quality of the chart, but it should look like this, in full colour, as charts used as examples in this reissue of The Living Birth Chart are.

bruno huber

Life without Pluto

IMG_1621This post comes with my astrological psychology hat on. It’s something I wrote a while ago, but have revisited as the “demoted” planet Pluto is currently slowly but surely moving through the sign of Capricorn (big on established structures) and we are seeing the effects of this on a global scale.

Pluto cleans up big time, sweeping away the cobwebs, turfing out the dross that’s been hanging around for too long (note the governing Tory party in the UK undergoing internal turmoil whilst trying to sort out Brexit). Pluto will continue on this task until 2024. Times are changing, attitudes have to change too. Climate breakdown is not going to go away unless we all pitch in and wake up to what we, governments and world powers can and must do.

Here’s what I wrote:

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.

On 16th August 2014 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 natal 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. Astrological psychologists, Bruno and Louise Huber, 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 really want to be without this?

For me it would difficult to interpret a chart and give a consultation without including Pluto, the planet associated with transformation. Pluto offers opportunities in life for us to transform ourselves and our ways of thinking and move on. It can encourage us to boldly go where we’ve not been before, sometimes plumbing our inner depths and spaces and demanding that we make ourselves anew.

I’d feel a bit lost, disempowered and diminished if Pluto wasn’t there in my natal chart. I’ve learned a lot about myself, studying the expression of Plutonic energy in the context of astrological psychology. It’s offered me many personal insights and that’s what has helped me to change and grow. We 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, and the other the transpersonal planets, 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.

Reflecting 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?

Wanting and Needing


As the annual festivities approach, I’m busy learning a seasonal song  – All I want for Christmas – to perform at the local gigs our Cheshire Rock Choir are giving in the next few weeks.

It’s a bit of annoying song to sing – quite light and superficial in a way, with a catchy melody that that doesn’t exactly sing itself; it has to be learned, so there’s some note bashing going on too.

But it’s some of the words which have given me pause for thought:

I don’t WANT a lot for Christmas, there is something that I NEED

which made me recall what Assagioli’s psychosynthesis says about wants and needs. Psychosynthesis is sometimes called “a psychology with a soul”. It explores, amongst other things, how our psychological make up is composed of an infinite number of subpersonalities. It works with the transpersonal qualities of love and will, and focusses on transpersonal qualities which we can express, but which we often block, especially if there is a conflict of wants and needs going on between some of our subpersonalities.

Examples of transpersonal qualities are beauty, courage, joy, power, inclusiveness, understanding, wonder and humour. Returning to wants and needs, we might want something, but at a deeper level, that want is the outer expression of a need – but there is often no apparent connection between what we want, and what we seek, or need.

I might want a cup of coffee, expertly prepared by a barista…but what need could be hidden behind that? Maybe I’m just in need of some caffeine because I’m tired, but sitting down in a cafe to drink my coffee forces me to stop what I’m doing and take a rest. What do I get from the rest? A break, a pause, a space to recoup my energy, a time to be still, to be in the moment? And what might the underlying transpersonal quality be? I suggest it could be peace.

Back to the song – I don’t want a lot for Christmas….OK, not much, message received. But …….there is something that I need. What might that be? The words of the song move on to the final chorus –  All I want for Christmas is you, baby.

What’s the transpersonal quality there? My guess is that it’s love.


Clueless at Cluedo

Granddaughter recently had a birthday. One of her presents was the board game Cluedo, and she insisted we play. So far so good. I’d not played it for many years and had forgotten what the rules were etc. All I remembered was that I’d not liked it very much.

Nothing had changed; it was just as I recalled – for me, rather boring. A bit like an Agatha Christie murder, the characters are gathered in a posh country mansion and their host is murdered. The aim is to find out who is the killer, where in the house the murder took place and what the murder weapon is.

Was it a candlestick, a pistol, a knife? (there are several weapons). Did the murder take place in the dining room, or the library, or the kitchen? And who did it – Colonel Mustard,  a scarlet lady ( was she Rose or somesuch name?), or the Rev. Olive – again, there are several protagonists. It all started to go over my head when we had to show the cards we were dealt with to one of the players, then mark off details on our own personal grid score card in order to deduce who dunnit. By then I didn’t care, and was completely clueless.

Far too logical for me. I wanted to know why the host had been murdered. What was the motivation? Who, out of all the characters, might have wanted him out of the way. What were their secrets? Was the host blackmailing one of them? Was there an inheritance involved? etc. etc. etc…. I was off on my own fantasy about what might have provoked the murder and failed miserably to fill in the grid score card and work out who dunnit, where they diddit and what weapon was used.

My right brain wanted to play but only my left brain was required for this game.

As far as I was concerned, the perpetrator could just as well have been Lenny the Lion in the toilet, with a pair of scissors!

Zodiac Signs and the physical body

l'homme zodiaque

I reblog this post, from my astrological psychology blog, and with my astrological hat on. Whether you’re interested in astrology or not I suspect there is usually a residual flicker of interest, even in those who think it’s a load of humbug. This view of astrology usually comes from those who have never studied it. I’ve been studying and using it professionally since 1984, and I do know from experience that most people have a passing interest in their own Sun Sign.

Shown above is a famous illustration called “Zodiac Man”. It comes from the 15th century illustrated book Les Trés Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, which also contains detailed and richly coloured illustrations for each of the 12 Zodiac Signs and their associated labours or tasks of the agricultural year.

In medieval times, depictions of the 12 Zodiac Signs were often included in the fabric of the great gothic cathedrals. Earthy, earthly humans were more closely connected with the land, often through the agricultural lifestyle of working with the land to grow food, tend animals and support life. At the same time, they were connected with the heavens, the sky above, the shapes of the different constellations which appeared at different times of the year, and the phases of the Moon. Earth and sky were all a part of the whole pattern of existence.

Each Sign of the Zodiac, in this rather beautiful drawing, is associated with a different part of the body. Also known as melothesic man, this attribution of the signs to the body dates back to the dawn of astrology, but didn’t appear in Europe until about the 12th century.

Zodiac Man has the Aries ram balanced on his head (Aries rules the head), a Taurean bull is wrapped around his neck, which is ruled by this Sign, and Gemini’s Twins peep around both his shoulders.

Follow the Signs downwards from head to feet, and you’ll see that each is represented in the area of the body part it’s associated with. Note Libra. It’s the sign of the balance or scales, and it  appropriately rules the kidneys, the organs of maintaining fluid balance in the body, and the elimination of toxins.

Sagittarius, the Centaur or half man/half horse, is associated with the thighs – the body part which is used when riding a horse. Leo is associated with the heart and spine – think of a proud, brave lion.

Gemini excels at communication, so it’s appropriate that this Sign is associated with the lungs, arms and hands, and that the Twins should peep cheekily over the shoulders and arms of Zodiac Man in the illustration.CET in colour

I’ve written about all 12 Zodiac Signs in my co-authored book, The Cosmic Egg Timer, available from Amazon in paperback or as an ebook.

I also talk about the Signs and Body Parts in one of my YouTube videos, where I’ve created a series of videos on my AstroChat Channel covering all 12 zodiac signs.



The Cosmic Egg Timer

I write this post with my astrological psychology hat on.

The Cosmic Egg Timer – my first book – co-authored with Richard Llewellyn, is now available in a revised paperback edition with full colour illustrations. With the sub-title Introducing Astrological Psychology, this book is probably the best introduction to astrological psychology you’ll find.

It covers topics such as:

What kind of person are you?CET in colour

What makes you tick?

What’s happening in your life right now?

Which areas of life offer you the greatest potential?

And all this without ever once straying into Sun Sign column predictions. Astrological psychology is more concerned with personal growth, self-awareness and with putting you in the driving seat of your life.

It doesn’t predict and tell you what you should do, but encourages you, through understanding your inner motivation, to make choices and take responsibility for them.

The Cosmic Egg Timer offers an immediate and illuminating approach to using astrological psychology as a tool for self-awareness, and personal and spiritual growth.

It is suitable for the enthusiastic beginner as well as the professional astrologer, psychologist or counsellor seeking a fresh approach to working with clients. It’s available now at Amazon.

Astrological psychology combines the best of traditional astrology with modern growth psychology, and The Cosmic Egg Timer provides the best introduction to what has become known as the “Huber Method”, based on the work of Swiss astrologers/psychologists Bruno and Louise Huber.

The Cosmic Egg Timer in full colour – Available now at Amazon.

Read more about astrological psychology here and here.


















For beginners, astrologers, psychologists or counsellors seeking a fresh approach to working with clients.