The woo-woo perspective –
– we might also call it a holistic, quantum, intuitive take – is not to everyone’s taste. In my own case I have noticed that when I tell friends of my serious interest in astrology and tarot and green energy there is sometimes a non-verbal (or even verbal) reaction that says either:
“Oh, he’s lost it.”
Or: “Oh, he’s found an angle”
Both these views have merit and truth, so this page is the tucked away spot where I let the woo-woo loose …
What is Astrology?
One of the biggest revelations for me so far has come from reading Priscilla Costello’s book, Shakespeare and the Stars. The Shakespearean canon is peppered with astrological references, some of which I knew, but Dr. Costello reveals themes in seven of the plays that correspond to the planets of the ancient world.
I’ve been an actor for 35 years and performed in a dozen Shakespearean productions, but neither I, nor any of the actors, directors or producers in my acquaintance had this obvious-once-you-know information. Nor were we aware that when Sir Toby and Sir Andrew discuss astrology in Act One, Scene Three of Twelfth Night, they are getting it wrong. The scene was written to amuse the audience as an example of confident, drunken ignorance. How did I miss all that and the many hundreds of direct references in the plays, I wonder? All that astrological lore hiding in plain sight.
It is 402 years since Shakespeare died – and by the way, on the 3rd of April 1594 Pluto was exactly conjunct Shakespeare’s natal Mercury at 16 degrees Aries, and his Saturn return was exact on the 23rd of that month. This was the year Titus Andronicus, by far his most violent play, the only one which includes rape and cannibalism, was first performed. For most of the 1590s, the decade of Shakespeare’s greatest productivity, the outer planets were in in fire signs, and Shakespeare seems to have responded to them, as did the age in general being one of passion, courage, display and exploration. All this albeit the planets beyond Saturn were unknown at the time. – And now with astrological websites abounding, is serious interest in astrology on the rise once more after centuries of academic dismissal?
It seems to me that the episode related by Liz Greene in The Astrology of Fate, of her whole encounter with, and mysterious rejection by, Isobel Hickey, whether this was conscious intention on Ms. Hickey’s part or not, has spurred the development of psychological astrology in a way that would not have happened otherwise. One wonders what Ms. Hickey saw in the potentials of the time.
But astrology is more than psychology; it blends mythology with science. It is the meeting of arithmetic and intuition; of symbol and story telling. Divination, prediction and destiny come within its applications, but its more potent personal effects can be insight, enlightenment and empowerment.
Astrological thinking says the discovery of a new planet is reflected by a change in human awareness. What does it mean then, when our understanding of the body of the solar system now confronts what there may be beyond the orbit of Pluto
I once played the great Danish physicist, Neils Bohr. To prepare I tried to read Quantum Physics for Dummies. It was hopeless, even the introduction was beyond me. So in performance, I faked it. But I did come away understanding that a particle can also be a field. Did C S Lewis apprehend this in his science fiction trilogy in the phrase “…The fields of of Arbol”? More likely that Kurt Vonnegut Jr. understood the puzzle as witnessed in his book Sirens of Titan.
And what if a particle is planet sized, and how about, as Steven Forrest puts it, pointing out that sub-atomic particles have frequency in their cycles and what, he asks, if a particle has only three cycles per century, as in the planet Saturn? Astrology shows us physics, quantum physics and metaphysics.
Rob Hand, in Horoscope Symbols, takes up where Rodney Collin Smith, in The Theory of Celestial Influence, left off, and posits the that orbital function of each of the planets is akin to a transformer stepping down the voltage of cosmic energy. Our partial view and stepped-down experience applies in every way. We represent three dimensional constructs of great circles on two dimensional paper, and we apply three dimensional thinking, perception and analysis to a fourth dimensional body that is the total of a human life. The fourth dimensional body of the solar system, if one could apprehend it, would make divination easy and it would look more like literacy and less like magic.
That astrology works is obvious to mutable types like me. That it doesn’t is equally obvious to certain fixed types I have encountered. Astrology is nothing if not a perspective-based view. Humanity is terra-centric in outlook, but a square with Venus on Earth, may be a sextile on Mars, and who knows what it looks like from Sedna, or from 90 degrees perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic on the outer edges of the Oort cloud (if it exists)?
A book I have found interesting is The Yugas. It deals with the 24,000 year cycle of the precession of the equinoxes. This, along with the very plausible hypothesis that our Sun is part of a binary system with Sirius, and therefore in a pattern of orbital repeat, carries some fascinating implications. Best of all, in these very troubled times, is the assertion that we are in the early stages of a large ascending cycle, (One hopes). The astrology is Vedic, derived from the work of Sri Yukteshwar and the authors are followers of Yogananda.
Whether enlightenment is on the way for us all or not, just at the moment in present times we see the casual dismissal of the Art Astrological in popular culture by celebrity scientists. This dismissal, it seems to me, is like saying, “If I don’t understand it, it must be nonsense.” A close cousin to, “If I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.” A view not unlike that of that of 15th century Europeans who could not imagine America.
And how about those who are religiously offended? I received a letter a few months ago telling me that I would surely burn in hell for all eternity because I practice as an astrologer. I was surprised that in a cosmopolitan city like New York such psychosis still exists – naive on my part, there is an abundance of extreme doctrine everywhere. The letter was more amusing than alarming, and yet there are plenty of people in the world who would commit violence, and have throughout history, and perhaps will again, against practitioners of the Art, often in the name of some or other deity, and as we know, ironically, under planetary influence.
And the practice and the understanding of astrology is broad with multiple approaches, and, as far as I can tell, plenty of factional disagreement. A psychological decoding system, a map of fate, a life-coach, a hybrid of astronomy and myth, an occulted domain yielding guidance in the financial markets, in military adventures, in political maneuvers, a mystical gateway (who needs hallucinogens when you can get this?), a love-match manual; perhaps close definition of what astrology is, and what use it can be in our human concerns will continue to elude. Clearly it is all of these things and none of them too, in that it takes us to the edge of what a human mind can cope with. The planets and the stars will continue in their courses whether or not humanity acknowledges them, notices them or understands them. And while the confusion known as being alive continues, sun-sign columns in newspapers will continue to tell us if it’s a good day to go shopping.
Being an actor, I was often mildly annoyed when certain esotericists would proclaim that the substance of our existence is analogous to the illusion that is a play in a theatre. Another insight from Quantum theory is that the act of observation changes the conditions and the outcome – well any actor could tell you that – we all know the difference an audience makes.
But the theatrical metaphor holds. We get a costume for incarnation, expressed symbolically in the potentials of the birth chart. We get an incomplete script outline, more like the treatment for a film where a brief summary of each unit of the story is given. This is expressed by the transits and progressions of our lives. We get the role but we’re not told how to play it. This is the interface between pre-destiny and free-will. Within limits we can improvise quite a bit.
As so often, Shakespeare puts it well:
When I consider everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment …
Eugene O’ Neill and the planet Neptune
Eugene O’ Neill was born in 1888 when the outer planets (using the word planet in its astrological not its astronomical sense) were within 5 degrees of arc of conjunction. This conjunction happens twice per thousand years.
The repeating long cycle of the Pluto/Neptune conjunction (when these planets appear to be in the same place in the sky) sounds a cultural base note and will continue moving through the zodiacal sign of Gemini into the 3800s. Among the many things we might extrapolate from this meeting of these two outer planets in the sign of the twins, is a quickening, enlivening, imaginative development of, exquisite expression of, volcanic transformation of, language; widespread delving, discovery and invention, in literature, music, art, science, exploration, politics, warfare, technology, and just about any activity you can think of.
And living now 120 years later, in an ever accelerating pace of change in all departments, is it possible in hindsight to estimate the last decade or so of the 19th century, give or take some five or ten years either side of the exact conjunction in 1891, as the initial spur of powerful omni-stimulus?
I mention all this here because I reckon the planet Neptune has quite a lot to do with Eugene O’Neill’s play Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
- O’Neill was born when Neptune and Pluto were within 5 degrees of arc of conjunction.
- The action of the play takes place in the summer home of the Tyrone family in New London, Connecticut in 1912. In 1912 Neptune was in the sign of Cancer, the first of the Water signs, the most family-oriented of all the signs. Long Day’s Journey is nothing if not a family drama.
- O’ Neill was writing this play in 1941/42 but he sets it August 1912. In August 1912 transiting Chiron (the wounded healer) was conjunct his natal Moon (his feelings, his connection with ‘home’) in Pisces (the expanded realm).
- O’ Neill’s natal chart contains a Grand Trine in Water and a T-Square to the Moon in Pisces in the 7th House of relationships. The water element deals with emotion, these aspect patterns indicate a high degree of emotional sensitivity and intensity.
- Water and fog imagery abound in the play and in other of O’ Neil’s works.
- James Tyrone’s birth year (James is the father character in the play) is given as 1847. The year after Neptune was discovered.
- Each of the characters in the play tries to communicate with the others. Miscommunication, denial and evasion abound. There is an abundance of mood-swing behavior.
- The play deals with addiction to alcohol and addiction to morphine.
These are all Neptunian elements and themes. And here’s some synchronicity:
- In 1942 when O’ Neill completed Long Day’s Journey, the planet Saturn (lord of self-discipline, procedure, technique and hard work) began the year conjunct his midheaven (point of aspiration) and by May 9th was exactly conjunct the aforementioned Neptune/Pluto conjunction in Gemini in O’Neil’s 10th House of career.
- O’ Neill was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer prize for Drama in 1957 for Long Day’s Journey Into Night. The prizes are announced in May. On the 10th of May in 1957 Pluto (death/rebirth) was at 27 degrees Leo exactly conjunct O’ Neill’s ascendant (among other things, his reputation)
Science, pseudo-science, quantum science
At one time I was on a quest to have a sensible conversation about astrology with a scientist, or at least someone scientifically educated who could explain some basics of quantum theory to me in layman’s language. I thought that Neils Bohr’s understanding that ‘a particle can also be a field’ had implications. I still think that.
But the quest for such a conversation is on indefinite hold. Whenever I raised the idea with a prospect they would immediately start to drift towards the door and the facial expression told me that I was now regarded as a dangerous lunatic.
Well, I make my case in a brief essay on Astrology published here
Meanwhile I will be speaking on Tuesday 24th July 2018 on the astrological correspondences with the Tarot cards. This has become a niche interest of mine.
On 24th July 2018 Mercury will be getting ready to go retrograde on the 26th, turning direct again on 20th August.
I’m part of the Tarot Telesummit and there are 20 speakers, all looking at a different aspects of this mantic art. It’s a free event.
If you have any interest go here to reserve a spot.