Astrology Institute Newsletter: November 2011
By Joseph Crane
November 18 , 2011
Consultations and Updates
Jupiter: “that bright planet up there” –
“What is Chaos and What is Astrology?” and December 3 presentation
Profiles: Update on Silvio Berlusconi, Friedrich Nietzsche
Welcome to November. Here in New England it’s usually the grayest brownest month of them all but this time it’s been mostly warm and pleasant. In that way the bad weather to come will come as a more complete misery. For this newsletter we need to discuss this month’s beacon of the night sky, Jupiter, more on Chaos and Astrology, and we’ll end with two very un-Libran Libras, Silvio Berlusconi and Friedrich Nietzsche.
But now a few words from our sponsor whose website is www.astrologyinstitute.com:
Consultations and Updates
An astrological session quickly and profoundly gets to the heart of your life conditions and present concerns. Astrology sessions are particularly useful for specific problems when one is feeling rudderless: they offer context and guidance. Excluding electional and horary consults that are specifically situational, there are three kinds of astrological sessions.
- A first-time astrology session, even if you have seen an astrologer previously. Astrologers differ in their techniques and approaches to clients. If you have seen astrologers before, my interpretations and perspective may be different from previous astrologers. Usually we meet for 75-90 minutes. ($135)
- A yearly update. Mostly people ask for a yearly reading around the time of their birthday because it’s a natural time to look back on the year past and reflect on the year ahead. Solar returns are particularly helpful for yearly updates. A solar return is a “birth chart” for a year, cast for when the Sun reaches its natal position. I use transits and progressions supplemented by Hellenistic predictive indicators. Meetings are usually an hour. ($90)
- Consultations on an as-needed basis. Life issues arise at any time and can vary widely: job or relationship twists and turns, relocation possibilities, matters of family, money, creative projects, or spirituality. Often I hear from people when one of these areas have become uncertain, or when hope and fear have distorted their perceptions and they seek another perspective. These sessions are also about an hour. ($70)
One of the joys of being an astrologer is to help people through some of life’s difficult or confusing times. The natal chart provides the background and the predictive indicators tell us the direction and timing.
Feel free to contact Joseph at email@example.com or (401) 527-2035 if would like to schedule an appointment.
The Bright Planet that’s been Up There
For the past two weeks the clear evening sky has displayed a gloriously bright planet: Jupiter.
The chart on the left shows Jupiter “at opposition”. Like the Full Moon, Jupiter is on the other side of the Sun from the Earth: Jupiter at this time would receive the full rays of the Sun from our viewpoint. (This year Jupiter is closer to the Earth than usual and is even brighter than usual.) Any planet at opposition is retrograde.
You will notice from this chart that the crescent Moon in Scorpio is moving away from the Sun. Ten days later we were awarded the sight of a Moon-Jupiter conjunction at the Full Moon.
Here’s what the chart would look like
just before and just after the Full Moon that was with Jupiter.
In the sky to our eyes the Moon would be bright and large and the Jupiter would be a small bright dot next to her. We also know that many Moons would fit inside Jupiter, the largest planet of the solar system and once upon a time it could have become a small Sun.
What is Chaos and What is Astrology?
Anticipating my December 3 presentation on Chaos, Complexity, and Astrology, it’s fitting to present a summary of what we mean by Chaos and some implications for our understanding of Astrology. I have composed this essay in preparation for next month’s workshop and an article for NCGR’s Geocosmic Journal.
The concept of Chaos has a long history but it has meant many different things. There is some overlap but some substantial differences in meaning from different traditions. How do these meanings relate to astrology?
Chaos as primordial nature of the universe.
This is particularly found in Native American and Asian traditions. From the sixth century BCE, the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching tells us:
Tao brings about all things
so chaotically, so darkly,
chaotic and dark
are its images
unfathomable and obscure in it
is the seed,
This seed is holy true,
In it dwells reliably. (Chapter 21: Wilhelm translation)
This image is from the first activity of unfathomable and mysterious nature of primordial being. Chaos is the background of creation in time and also the background of our phenomenal world as it is in this present moment. This parallels the concept of the Feminine Principle from the Indo-Tibetan traditions: this is the sense of space, of emptiness, from which the “cosmic cervix” gives rise to the world that we know. It is akin to Prajna-paramita, the principle of emptiness, made into a female deity, in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.
The concept of chaos being primordial is also mirrored in the modern psychological concept of the “fertile void” – this is the psychic space that gives rise to new understandings and creative solutions. This is previous to the beginning of time and therefore to the creation or development of the stars and planets of an ordered universe. Here we are before astrology.
Chaos as cosmology in stories of the world’s creation.
We best know this from the opening of the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible. God created the cosmos in stages: first was Heaven and Earth, but Earth was yet formless and “darkness was over the surface of the deep.” Then God said, “Let there be light”, and you know the rest.
This story is echoed in the earlier Mesopotamian tale of the creation of the world. From the Enima Elish (“In the Beginning”), we begin with Tiamat, feminine and motherly and also the primeval ocean that was in darkness (her husband was Apsu, representing fresh water). In this story, various gods were created whose exuberant activity irritated their elders, the steady and inert parents Tiamat and Apsu. Things got worse over the course of the next generation and eventually descended into warfare. The role of the leader of the upstart gods was taken by Marduk, cast as a princely heroic-figure. Marduk caused great storms and havoc on Tiamat the ocean and he eventually placed an arrow through her. He carved out her dead body and from this created the universe and humanity and Marduk was to be the monarch of all.
This story is rich in symbolism: we have the undifferentiated primordial nature but also Tiamat being the ocean and of some kind of original mother. Modern (e.g. Jungian) psychoanalysis can take from this motif of the young (male) hero needing to do battle with a matriarchal (or Terrible Mother) principle. At the end of the story an ordered hierarchical universe is created from Tiamat the divine entity that represented nature as vast but inert and unformed.
In her recent book Chaos: A Place in Astrology, Bernadette Brady discusses oceanic maternal Tiamet as a mythological symbol of chaos, in contrast to “cosmos”, the principle of a deterministic ordered universe. Where does astrology fall? In my view, the planets and stars themselves are indeed cosmos and their motion does have a deterministic nature. In application to the unpredictable (chaotic?) of our lives, astrology allows us to find greater order within what seems to be chaotic.
I briefly round out the ancient tradition.
There are echoes of the Mesopotamian myth in Hesiod, a Greek poet of the 7th century CE. According to Hesiod, Chaos is not a god but a dark void from which the first parts of creation come forth: Gaia, Tartarus of the underground Earth, and Eros. Then we get day and the first generations of titans, and eventually the Olympian gods. This will culminate in the god Zeus’s triumph over his father, the titan Chronos.
Ovid, a Roman poet writing seven centuries after Hesiod, tells us that originally there was just Chaos, described as “a shapeless, unwrought mass of inert bulk/ and nothing more, with the discordant seeds/of disconnected elements all heaped/together in anarchic disarray.” (Metamorphosis: Charles Martin translation) Everything is a jumble, a hurly-burly that makes no sense. The Roman poet, read all too infrequently these days, had a tremendous influence on Western culture. It is no accident that his version of the word “chaos” is closest to ours in the present day. (According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first mention of “chaos” in English was in the mid-1400s.)
Chaos as a Modern Scientific Field of Research
In 1975 the mathematician James Yorke coined the term “chaos” to refer to the field that studies physical phenomena that appear random but which have an underlying, peculiar order. These phenomena of mathematics and nature consist of systems containing parts interacting with one another – like the weather which has the atmosphere interacting with the Earth and energy from the Sun. This is a nonlinear world of “bifurcations,” “strange attractors,” and most interesting geometrical forms. In 1987 James Gleick’s best-selling book Chaos: Making a New Science was published and the study of chaos entered the popular imagination. (Note the movie Jurassic Park.)
A generation ago Benoit Mandelbrot pioneered the study of peculiar computer-originated designs. They became what we call “fractals” from the Latin word meaning “irregular.” These shapes are formed from ever-duplicating mathematical equations and show the feature of self-similarity: patterns repeat themselves on different scales within the entire figure. We see fractal-like shapes and self-similarity in the shapes of jagged coastlines, stock market trends, and population statistics.
The figure of the fractal has entered the popular culture and has become emblematic for the entire discipline called “Chaos Theory.” The fractal also appears random but displays an underlying structure – in a very strange way, from the viewpoint of our previous understanding of how things carry structure. In other words, Chaos Theory is not a study of randomness but hidden order.
There will be much more to say about the science of Chaos in the workshop on December 3. It is clear that the contrast between apparent disorder and underlying order takes up much of the astrological enterprise.
Chaos as One End of a Polarity
We now arrive at the domain of the so-called “soft sciences” – sociology and anthropology, even biology and economics. Across these and other disciplines, the question is how systems change – how individuals and families change, how cultures and fashions change, how different species of life change over a very long time. As with Chaos Theory, of interest are dynamic systems made of interacting components. Instead of being called “Chaos Theory” it is called “Complexity Theory.”
What is Complexity? It occurs when a system is in a transitional stage between chaos and order. Sometimes this is order on its way to chaos, and often refers to the influence of outside forces that may eventually overwhelm its capacity to adapt: we can call this a path toward entropy. On the other hand, complexity also occurs in chaotic systems on their way to order, as self-organization occurs. There seems to be a tendency in nature for separate unities to coalesce to create one further unity, whether it’s the creation of new complex life forms in evolution, the synchronizations of rhythms between people, and the tendency of people and cultures to create new forms out of disarray.
Complexity theory may also help us understand the changes in our own lives.
Chaos as Personal Experience of Disorder
We know this one well!
Occasionally I’ve heard people characterizing their lives as being in “overwhelm”. Here we confront the contingent and random qualities of our lives – we intend to do one thing and another one happens. Usually things feel chaotic when too much is happening at once and we’re losing our sense of centrality – of order. The best poetic rendition of this is WB Yeats in the first stanza of “The Second Coming”. Yeats notes the loss of centrality and orientation, both physical and moral.
For some of us who prefer well-ordered and tightly-scheduled lives, eruptions of chaos strike us to the heart. We attempt to stave off the ensuing anxiety, and the result is that we become even more anxious. In times of chaos our attempts to regulate our worlds have been exposed as narrow and futile. For most of us this is a very unwelcome circumstance.
Chaos is a fact of life but we differ in our responses to it. Often we try to ignore the whole thing and “circle the wagons” by limiting ourselves to what we know we can handle. Alternatively we find refuge in whatever personal forms of distraction are most habitual to us: shopping, eating, bad music and television, etc.
However, chaotic situations can serve to wake us up. Instead of hiding in habitual pattern, perhaps we can celebrate that our means of control are limited and life is more interesting than we imagine it to be. Instead of attempting to prevent it or flee from it we can use chaos as basic inspiration, as a door to life at its richest.
This is where the distinction of “chaos” and “complexity” can be most helpful, for we do not have the ability to endure chaos as a steady state. If chaos becomes complexity, new creative “self-organizing” possibilities may occur. The job of a consulting astrologer is to help bring his or her client into these possibilities.
In this Context, What is Astrology?
Astrology presents the predictable nature of the planetary cycles and the moving sky from the vantage point of the Earth. As a logos, astrology is not about chaos but about order. It is its relationship with chaos and complexity, however, which gives astrology its relevance and importance. People seek the advice of astrologers (among others) because their lives do not happen randomly and arbitrarily but there is a meaning, a greater order behind the dizzying particularities of the seemingly-random happenings of our lives.
As we all know, astrology cannot predict specific events – or even psychological tendencies – without knowing about a person’s life and circumstances. We cannot impose the ordered nature of the surrounding sky on those features of our lives that by nature are complex and tend toward chaos. Yet an astrologer’s work is to use the perspective of order to help a client better understand the situations in his or her life – and to move in the direction of self-organization, for that’s where our creative responses derive.
We will be discussing all these matters on December 3. Below is the information. Click on the document for a larger picture.
Silvio Berlusconi: Now Italy’s Former Prime Minister
Culminating a tumultuous political week in Italy, on Saturday November 12 Silvio Berlusconi resigned as Prime Minister. Previously Berlusconi stated that he would resign once Italy’s parliament adopted financial austerity measures. During the week, the markets began signaling a loss of confidence in Italy’s ability to make payments on its debt. Following so closely a similar crisis in Greece, problems in the “Euro-zone’s” third largest economy could easily contribute to a new world recession.
In his first public statement since resigning, Berlusconi also said that his departure would be temporary and he would be back. This is not what most Italians wanted to hear. Berlusconi has dominated Italian political life for what seems to be a very long time.
Owner of an Italian media empire and the wealthiest man in Italy, Berlusconi’s tenure has been infamous for its political corruption and his rather pronounced appetite for young women. Much of the press coverage of him has veered toward the tawdry, for that about sums up his character. He has been the subject of many media profiles: below is a link from the New York Review of Books from last year – there is much to write about this man! http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/apr/08/the-corrupt-reign-of-emperor-silvio/. Here is his chart:
I dealt with Berlusconi’s birth chart previously in the December 2009 newsletter profiling “Men Behaving Badly.” The article is a thorough but not exhaustive look at his birth chart. I suggest that you go back and read my original article. Here’s the link: http://www.astrologyinstitute.com/Newsletters/News12_09.html. In late 2009 Saturn was crossing his Ascendant and in 2010 Saturn would enter into a conjunction with his Sun and Mercury. In the 2009 profile, my focus was on Berlusconi’s natal chart, with Mars in the first house and its relationship to Mercury, making for an aggressive and difficult person. Noting the sextile from Mars in Virgo and Venus in Scorpio – also symmetrical to 0° Libra and Aries – and his Libra Sun, Berlusconi has his charms but also more than some difficulty with personal boundaries. Moon conjunct Saturn in the Seventh would represent him in a stable relationship – not an easy task, considering how self-absorbed this man is.
Since my previous article Berlusconi has run into further trouble, notably that of “Rubygate.” Named after a young Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, whose stage name is Ruby Rubacuori ("Ruby Heartstealer"), Berlusconi is accused of having sex with an underage prostitute and of abusing public office in getting her released from an unrelated charge of theft. His alleged misdeeds took place in early 2010 and the trial began earlier in 2011. Along with two other charges of political corruption, Berlusconi is now facing much time in court.
Let’s return to the present time, the autumn of 2011. The astrology of these times is a very simple matter– Pluto in Capricorn has been in square transit to Berlusconi’s natal Sun in Libra, denoting a period of challenge to his personal and political leadership – and his ability to be the master of his own destiny. In many ways Italy’s current financial crisis displays the dominance of forces beyond the Prime Minister’s control.
Berlusconi’s transits also contain a specific trigger for his resignation: Mars entered Virgo on Friday and entered into a transiting conjunction with his natal Mars the day he resigned. Considering the importance of Mars in his natal chart and the popular anger at him that has now crested, it is no surprise that we would see a powerful Mars transit at this time. True to Berlusconi’s Mars-like nature, however, he remains defiant.
Here is his triple wheel and the graphic ephemeris so the reader can see these indications.
His progressions are not remarkable at this time, although on July 10, 2012 he will have a Progressed New Moon at 28° Sagittarius. He became Prime Minister just before the gibbous phase in 1994; I expect next year’s Progressed New Moon to indicate another era of his life beginning, but chances are greatest that he will not be anybody’s Prime Minister.
When we look at the graphic ephemeris for Berlusconi’s transits, we see that Pluto square his Sun ends next week, not to return. I suspect Pluto has done enough to this man. However, Pluto will continue to move on and will go stationary in a square to Mercury, the ruler of his Ascendant. At the same time, the most un-Mars-like planet Neptune will oppose his natal Mars in Virgo when Neptune enters Pisces to stay. This will most likely correlate with a diminishment of his power and authority and may indicate even more being at the mercy of factors around him – like the Italian court system. Transiting Saturn, stationing on his Pluto at the end of this year, also indicates that his legal difficulties may only become more difficult for him.
Berlusconi’s decennials are also interesting. During much of his domination of Italy it was his well-placed Jupiter that was his major time lord; in late October of 2010 it became the Moon. Ordinarily that would be a neutral time, except that in his chart Moon is applying to a conjunction to Saturn and would be expected to bring difficulties. His decennials since late 2010 have been Moon-Moon. However, if you add a particular planetary lord (Hephastio method) his decennials were Moon-Moon-Saturn from 8/21/2011 until 10/15/11 – then Moon-Moon Mars. His next significant shift of time lords is at the end of 2012 and it’s Moon-Saturn. This does not bode well either for the current ex-Prime Minister.
My prediction, based on astrology and “conventional wisdom” – is that Berlusconi will likely not go to jail but will be publically disgraced by the process. Most likely he will continue as Italy’s wealthiest man but no longer of interest. He will probably end his days like Orson Wells in Citizen Kane, wandering around an empty mansion.
Let’s now profile an equally outrageous but finer “Libra” human being – Friedrich Nietzsche.
Friedrich Nietzsche: a very un-Libra-like modern philosopher
In spite of his place in the popular imagination and satire (note the Kevin Kline character in A Fish Called Wanda and a recent episode of television Big Bang Theory), Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the most influential philosophers and men of culture in the modern era. In a quality unusual for a philosopher and especially a writer of German philosophy, Nietzsche was a brilliant German stylist and a very good read in translation. He’s one of the two philosophers whose books I routinely recommend to clients (the other is the ancient stoic Epictetus).
(Nietzsche is sometimes thought to be a precursor of Ayn Rand although I strongly disagree. Nietzsche’s interests were more in art and culture than politics and economics. In my view Rand’s writings contain at best a vulgarization of Nietzsche.)
Nietzsche’s writings were also outrageous – in his time and in ours. He called into question the main tenets of Christian ethics and modern democracy and considered his European civilization culturally and morally decadent. His ideal was the heroic age of ancient Greece – before Socrates and Plato came along and ruined everything. Importantly for the development of twentieth century modernism, he viewed that the uncovering of truth cannot not be separated from the person whose truth it is. And for him some “truths” were healthy, some were weak and sickly.
Nietzsche is better known for espousing a “will to power”, and of the “superman” or Übermensch. He was a favorite read of Hitler – or so it is claimed. (In fact Nietzsche intensely disliked anti-Semitism). Nietzsche is also known for having gone insane and he did spend the last eleven years of his life mentally incapacitated. In my view this fact does not diminish his thinking and writings.
Up close Nietzsche was a lonely and emotionally tortured man. In spite of the bravado of much of his writing, he was somewhat reserved and even awkward with others. He had received a full professorship in his mid-20s but left academic life ten years later due to poor health. During his most productive years, he lived in various places in Europe and devoted himself to his writings and getting himself published. Although largely unknown until just before his mental breakdown in 1889, by the time he died in 1900 he had become much more popular. His life and works continue to be of great interest in the century since his death.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s chart has some eye-popping components. This natal analysis has some Hellenistic features. More information about these factors can be found in my Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy, published by Wessex Astrologer in 2007.
In a whole sign house chart, the entire sign of the Ascendant is the First House or Place. Because Nietzsche’s Ascendant is late is in the sign Scorpio, any planet or position earlier in Scorpio would be in the First House, not the Twelfth House. This will make many planetary house placements different from a typical quadrant chart.
Nobody would be surprised that Nietzsche would have a Scorpio Ascendant and its ruler would be Mars. The fiery red planet is in a strong position, for it is in the Eleventh House, the place of the “Good Spirit.” Mars is oriental to the Sun but is also out of sect – Mars has a strong placement but may be excessive in its manifestation. Yet he confined much of his Mars to his writings.
We may find out more when we notice the opposition from Jupiter in Pisces. This strongly placed Jupiter brings in matters larger in scope and is a good planet for a philosopher to have. I consider the influence of the Great Benefic a more important consideration than the difficulty an opposition may bring. Jupiter is not only the dispositor but is conjunct the Moon’s dodekatamorion.
Staying with Jupiter a short while, I notice an important contact it makes – Uranus. This is not because they are only 5° from each other, for they are in different signs. Instead they are contra-antiscia; they are symmetrical to the 0° Aries-Libra axis. For Nietzsche it helps make him an unusual philosopher, even somebody with a bit of the renegade in him. In this writings are frequent assertions that his life and ideas are “untimely” – ahead of his time.
Now we arrive at one of the most important aspects in his chart: a strong opposition from Uranus to Mercury. Nietzsche wedded very good prose (communication, you could say) with a desire to be provocative. Similar in some ways to Plato’s dialogues, many of Nietzsche’s writings are left deliberately open; they are his part of a dialogue with the reader. Therefore he could say some pretty outrageous things – to him, “conventional wisdom” was something to be dismantled. He was also known for sharp one-liners: his two best known translate to “the last Christian died on the cross”, and “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche is perhaps the most quotable of all philosophers. We can thank the configuration of Mercury opposite Uranus, and Uranus symmetrical to a dignified Jupiter, for this. We can also see that Mercury has an applying trine to angular Saturn in Aquarius – here we find Nietzsche’s capacity to cast judgment as well as his strong discipline as a writer.
This brings us to his other major opposition, Sun opposite Pluto. Consider Nietzsche’s rather weak Sun in Libra in the Twelfth House at first glance. Yet this judgment is mitigated by the Lot of Daimon nearby and the Sun’s being conjunct and co-rising with the fixed star Spica. He was a dynamic and creatively fertile individual in his writings who was not greatly self-expressive in person; he is clearly not one who would call attention to himself. When we factor in the opposition from Pluto we see somebody who can articulate a set of principles based on will and power and the creative intensity of the passions. Neptune is in an interesting position here, in trine to the Sun and sextile to Pluto. This may denote idealism in his approach, the idealism of a self-styled prophet.
Although the oppositions of Mercury with Uranus and Sun with Pluto are at the foreground of Nietzsche’s chart, both oppositions are in the cadent Sixth and Twelfth Places. Although Nietzsche’s writings have an abundance of the heroic and even a defense of life’s cruelties, in person he was viewed as kind and compassionate.
There is much more to say about Nietzsche and his chart put perhaps it’s best to defer to a later occasion.