The Astrological Fortunes of Richard III

IShakespeare's Richard IIIn the times of William Shakespeare, the ‘stars’ were always a force with which men must reckon. There’s no doubt that in those days, the world was viewed as ‘fated’ – and whether this was a reflection of the ancient cosmos where the gods pulled all the strings or an inherent recognition of what Carl Jung would later posit about the covert operations of the unconscious, we will never know.

But we do know that the idea of ‘fate’ as shown in the ‘stars was woven oft through his work:

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,

Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky

Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull

Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.

(All’s Well that Ends Well, 1.1.209), Helena

Having just finished reading Shakespeare’s play Richard III, I wondered how Richard was ‘fated’ to stack up?180px-Richard_III_of_England

Ptolemy identified six levels of fame/success:

  1. Kings & Princes

Both luminaries in masculine signs and at least one of them to be found in an angle. This alone is pretty good. However – as well, they (both) be attended by a doryphory (including rays)  composed of all five planets – then this is REAL GOOD. In addition this rank is helped if the planets in the doryphories are also in the angles or configured with the MC.

  1. Chieftain

The Sun only masculine with the Moon feminine and only one of them in an angle. If both, however, have good doryphories as described above, then the person will reach chieftain level, with the power to judge life and death. NOTE – a good doryphory has  benefics in good shape or on angles (or ruling them).

  1. Governor or Commander

If the natal chart has the luminaries as for a Chieftain but the doryphories do not involve the angles, these people will not be invested with sovereignty, but will reach eminence.

  1. Civil Leader

If neither of the luminaries be in the angles, but both have good doryphories which are in the angles or ruling the angles, they will have a leadership role in their community. Councillor, President of a club, Mayor of a small town and so on.

  1. Undistinguished

If however, neither luminary is in an angle (Sun still masculine and Moon feminine), and the attending planets are not involved with the angles by placement or rulership, then the person will lead a humble life.

  1. Lowest Level

If neither luminary be found in a masculine sign, nor in an angle, nor attended by any benefics they will live lives of “quiet desperation” and obscurity.

Richard III

  1. Sun in Libra (in fall) in a masculine sign succedent in the 11th house – OK – but could be better – the 7th house Moon in Taurus is in a feminine sign but it is angular and exalted) so overall this is pretty OK.
  2. This might get him to Chieftain level if the doryphories of one or both of the luminaries is strong.
  3. The doryphory is an interesting technique focusing on the ‘retinue’ of helpers either of the two lights or luminaries (i.e. sun or moon) have in their ‘train’. The more planets in the retinue, the more helpers and if additionally those helpers were themselves strong the more help they could give. Imagine yourself a feudal lord trying to raise an army to fight a foe – the more rich/strong neighbours (i.e. able to raise their own armies) you have supporting your cause, the more likely you were to succeed.
  4. Note that when considering if a planet throws a ‘ray’ into the doryphory, benefics (Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and the Sun) can only do so by sextile or trine and the malefics (Saturn and Mars) can only do so by opposition or square.
  5. Richard III’s solar doryphory (i.e. attendants to his sun at 17 Libra) is as follows: Because the sun’s retinue PROCEEDS him, we look to other planets in either Libra (18 -30 degrees) or Scorpio:
    1. Saturn in Libra (exalted) and succedent
    2. Mercury in Scorpio
    3. Venus in Scorpio (in detriment) yet angular
    4. Jupiter in Aquarius (retrograde) throws a ray into Libra by trine
  6. Richard III’s lunar doryphory (i.e. attendants to his moon at 28 Taurus is as follows: Because the moon’s retinue FOLLOWS her, we look to planets either in Taurus (29-30 degrees Taurus) or Aries:
    1. Mars in Aries – strong by rulership but not angular
    2. Jupiter casts a ray into Aries by sextile
  7. A solar doryphory of four planets isn’t bad – but none of these four are in rulership by sign or term – and although Saturn is exalted, Venus is in detriment (alternative) – but she rules the DSC angle (Taurus). Mercury is reasonable shape and also rules the MC angle. Likewise Jupiter is in reasonable shape in Aquarius and rules the IC angle – so overall pretty good
  8. A lunar doryphory of only 2 planets is not so good – But that Mars is so powerful (albeit also retrograde) that it alone could win the day – not to mention that it is the chart ruler because Scorpio is rising. This means Mars rules this angle. Mars is further empowered by being in reception with the Sun (the Sun is exalted in Aries so that Sun in Libra- charming and strategic – gives all it has to Mars. Being retrograde does not impede its power but will effect the outcome in the sense that this power is never really under control.
  9. Overall, this gets Richard III to chieftain level – but not to King – and that shouldn’t be surprising because although he was crowned king, it was only because he killed off or pushed aside all others entitled to wear the crown. He held the throne for only two years before being toppled himself by Henry Tudor (who’d been smart enough to remain in France whilst Richard was bumping folks off), whose claim to the throne was much stronger.

Love’s Alchemy & the Alchemical Marriage

MercuryIn alchemy, the female mercurial principle symbolises the mutable aspect of natural processes, their fluidity and changeability.

Hence ‘he/she’ (Mercury is oft pictured as hermaphrodite) is known to alchemists as the White Queen.

According to Johannis de Monte Raphim (Deutsches Theatrum Chemicum, Nuremberg, 1728):

“The process laboratory-workers wanted to rule him (Mercurius) and force him into (the) process. But he constantly escapes, and if one thinks about him, he turns into thoughts, and if one passes judgment upon him, he is judgment itself.”

Mercury is prized by alchemists because, as the result of ‘his/her’ own divided nature, ‘he/she’ unites opposites. Keeping in mind that the alchemical process is all about separation, purification, and reunification, we begin to grasp the benefits of Mercury. Keeping in mind that Mercury is poisonous however, we can also begin to understand how (as Johannis de Monte Raphim warns us) it might all go terribly wrong.

Mercury = psychopomp = guide between the unconscious and the conscious.

The aim of the alchemical game is to bring up all the dross and impurities (as shown by your natal chart) to the surface (consciousness) so that you can deal with them. How else will you be able to assemble them, purified, back together again?

For example, the heroine of Love’s Alchemy, Judith Shakespeare, has a Mars/Saturn conjunction in the 12th house in Scorpio.

Mars/Saturn contacts are dangerously flammable:

Mars = passionalchemical symbols

Saturn = fear & inadequacy

Whilst her Mars/ Saturn contact operates unconsciously, Judith’s long-term personal relationships will be disastrous. Initially she is highly passionate (Mars). But as her Saturn kicks in (as it must with any form of commitment), she becomes increasingly cold toward her lover and potentially even violent.

Enter Mercury to facilitate the active dialogue and transference which is at the base of all therapeutic work.

With Mercury, Judith’s Saturn can help Mars become more considered and less impatient whilst her Mars can help her Saturn achieve his carefully conceived plans. It’s fairly obvious then that if Judith is to be successful in her alchemical transformation, she must find someone in whom she can confidently confide.

She and I are both hopeful that someone will be Master Francis, the character who is meant to play the King to her Queen.

Because Mercury, or the White Queen, is so fluid, she needs an active force to define and shapes her – this force is the male principle of sulphur known to alchemists as the Red King.White Queen

The union of Red King and White Queen is often called the alchemical marriage. In illustrations, it is depicted as courtship and sex. Sometimes they are garbed, as if just starting to be brought together, offering each other flowers. Sometimes they are naked, preparing for consummation of their marriage that will eventually lead to an allegorical offspring, that all important elixir, the Philosopher’s Stone.

Does Judith want to find the Philosopher’s Stone?

You bet!!

Will she be successful?

That remains to be seen.

 

Love’s Alchemy & the Golden Age of Saturn

imagesThe Babylonians believed Saturn, or Kronos, to be the ghost of a dead sun and hence the oldest spirit in the heavens. Saturn is thus considered the place where ‘created matter’ first manifests; it symbolises the laws defining and delimiting material manifestation.

The alchemist’s journey is focused on breaching these laws – or passing through the so-called ‘serpent’s circle’ of Saturn – in order to break through transient time and return to the Golden Age of eternal youth and divine benevolence.

In ancient lore, references to this Golden Age are numerous.

Hesiod tells of:

A golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Kronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil: miserable age rested not on them . . . The fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things. . . .

Similarly writes Ovid in the sixth book of his Metamorphoses:

In the beginning was the Golden Age, when men of their own accord, without threat of punishment, without laws, maintained good faith and did what was right. . . . The earth itself, without compulsion, untouched by the hoe, unfurrowed by any share, produced all things spontaneously. . . . It was a season of everlasting spring.

The messenger of Saturn is the black crow. It symbolises the beginning of the ‘Black Phase’ of alchemical transformation, or Nigredo, the period when light gives way to darkness.black crow

It is in this darkness that we find the fertile soil of new birth. Indeed, the word Saturn comes from the Latin – serere – meaning to sow or plant. Because Saturn marks the boundary between personal and transpersonal (cosmic) powers, it is the alchemists most important planet being equated with both the beginning and end of the Great Work.

Psychologically, Saturn forces acceptance of the limitations of human mortality. Paradoxically, we are unable commit to life until we can face ‘who’ and ‘what’ we really are rather than that which we’d like to imagine. This in turn bring us to the threshold of whole new phase of life, or octave (Saturn being the 7th ring and hence transgressing it ushers in the next octave); each phase or octave leaving further behind the gross material of bodily incarnation in favour of the more subtle matter of our spirituality.

pitagorat1Astrologically, it is with Saturn transits/progressions (especially Saturn returns) that we often commence the ‘Black Phase’. Inevitably this is easier for those with Saturn in the air and fire signs (Gemini, Leo, Aries, Sagittarius, Libra, and Aquarius) for these individuals are more able to keep the ‘faith’ that in the end, everything will be OK.

However for those like my heroine, Judith Shakespeare, who have Saturn in earth signs (Virgo, Taurus, and Capricorn) or water signs (Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio) the Black Phase is much harder because these individuals are too close – too emotionally wedded – to their EGO needs and desires that are being swept away.

Looking for God Through Astrology

Pisces-Sept07-DE7863sAR800Is the urge to spirituality innate?

Carl Jung certainly thought so.

He suggested the need to make connection with something greater than yourself is only make you feel truly alive.

One way to look for this connection is through your natal birth chart. You must be prepared, however, to look further afield than Jupiter and Neptune -  the ‘usual’ astrological significations of spirituality. Remember that every planet represented in your chart, was once a god or goddess in his or her own right.

Naturally this isn’t easy – getting in touch with the numinous. It could even be dangerous. As Liz Greene has always been quick to remind us, personally expressing the energies of outer planets like Uranus, Neptune and Pluto can not only be overwhelming but pathological.

So for now we’ll stick to the inner planets – are you up to the challenge?

To get an idea how this might work for you, look at your strongest and most influential planets (by sign and house placement)– and don’t forget the ruler of your ascendant – your chart ruler. For example, with Libra rising focus on your Venus. If your Sun is in Leo (the Sun rules Leo), then look there. If your Jupiter is in Cancer (where it is exalted) then focus on that.

While reading the rest of this post, lease keep in mind that for these purposes, ‘spirituality’ = finding a sense of meaning and purpose through connecting with that which lies beyond your ken.

 

Sun Solar energy is key to how you bring spiritual urges into personal expression  – this is accomplished not by sacrificing your ego, but by honouring it. You are every bit as much a part of creation as everyone – and everything – else. Because, as myths of ancient Egypt remind us, the Sun passes through the underworld (below the horizon) each and every day, your solar experience of spirituality could even manifest as a life and death struggle.

 

For example, with Sun in Scorpio you might undergo psychoanalysis –or act as a therapist (or shaman) for others in this way. That which you extract from working with your unconscious (for example, by dream work) may give you a sense of that which lies beyond.

Moon Lunar energy manifests through feelings of belonging and shared experience. Get tactile – get earthy – even organic – the lunar experience of spirituality is not about flying off to some lofty place – but about embodiment. The connection here is through the circle of life – in this earth plane.

 

For example, with Moon in Taurus you might  go to classes in yoga, undertake communal gardening, or even practice Zen Buddhism. The more you get in touch with your shared physical world, the more you’ll feel in touch with the lunar version of the divine.

Mercury With Mercury, spirituality is about discovery, solving problems, and making connections.  This doesn’t have much place in Piscean religions like Christianity because to question too much is considered to destroy faith. But as the great astronomical shift from the Age or Pisces into the Age of Aquarius progresses, Mercury can be expected to again take centre stage. For the power of ‘comprehension’ was worshipped as a god by the ancients– through the development of language and the discovery of how to harness ‘tools’ like the wheel.

 

For example, with Mercury in Gemini you might take up blogging – not just the kind where you shoot off the first thing that comes to mind, but that which takes research and serious consideration.

Venus The key to Venusian spirituality is not only that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but also it can be found everywhere. In this regard, beauty is not just pretty or cute or nice – but that which literally brings tears to your eyes. Real beauty (once a key component of the ‘sublime’) by the very nature of the experience takes you ‘out of yourself’. Take your cue from the Renaissance whence art was considered not only the most natural expression of spiritual feeling but also the containment of the quintessence of reality.

 

For example, with Venus in Libra, you might take a course in art history or even learn to paint and draw. If it’s beautiful to you, then it carries some aspect of the divine for you and your job is to appreciate that for what it is.

Mars Most are familiar with the image of an angry god – just have a look at the Bible’s Old Testament. But Martian spirituality can also manifest in heroic undertakings like ‘fight’ for what is ‘right’. The trick here is to make sure you’ve really got a grip on whatever it is that for which you’re fighting = with Mars, it easy to get lost with  ‘might’ makes ‘right’.  Important civilizing qualities like tolerance and understanding are not Martian things.

 

For example, with Mars in Aries you might volunteer to work in a rape crisis call centre or train to work as part of an ambulance or other rescue team– anything what will get you into touch with the many manifestations of violence and aggression will help you to understand that the divine truly has many face.

Jupiter Astrological Jupiter can function as your personal connection to the ‘divine plan’ – however it is that you perceive it.The idea is to plug into the ‘global context’ – to become connected with that which is truly outside yourself. When you find meaning in the greater patterns of the world, you’ve found the path to your own spiritual growth.

 

For example, with Jupiter in Sagittarius, you might take up the study of comparative religion – with the expectation that learning about the many manifestations of ‘Divine’ across time and cultures might will help you to get a grip on what’s right for you.

Saturn Saturn is oft associated with the teachings of traditional religions because it is so keen on ‘following rules’. But don’t forget that Saturn can also focus its quest for spirituality through other types of laws like those of science or society.

 

For example, with Saturn in Capricorn, you might  become involved with your local church. Not just in a superficial way like as an usher, but perhaps as a layman or Sunday School teacher.  Similarly, if you don’t already have a career in law, you might want to become a magistrate or justice of the peace. You’re looking for anything that takes you out of your ordinary sphere of influence while still retaining structure.

Uranus Uranus imparts the need to get a glimpse of what lies beyond the veil (i.e. the tarot  High Priestess).  The mystery lies in how all the parts fit together – the here and the now and the above and beyond – there’s a connection for certain – and it’s the job of Uranus to find it. Unlike with Saturn, Uranus can never do this through organised religion. Structure and form are merely bonds for Uranus to break – it its urge to greater and more powerful revelations.

No example is given here because the energy of Uranus is considered too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Aquarius rising, look to Saturn as the traditional ruler.

 

Neptune

 

Neptune searches for unity through ‘meltdown’ and dissolution of the ego/self. Christianity is perfect for Neptunian seekers – especially the mystical side of the tradition.

 

No example is given here because the energy of Neptune is considered too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Pisces rising, look to Jupiter as the traditional ruler.

Pluto Pluto represents the face of spirituality bound up with evolutionary processes – this is the ultimate of the survival of the fittest.  Read the work of Teilhard de Chardon – who not only was a Jesuit priest, but also a first class philosopher and palaeontologist.

 

Again, no example is given because the energy of Pluto is too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Scorpio rising, look to Mars as the traditional ruler.

   

 

The Makings of a Good Character – Motivation

A good character is as important to good fiction as it is to a good life.

Because no matter how moving or clever or fast-paced the story – if you, dear reader, don’t find my characters both interesting and accessible, you won’t continue to read.

Character = Action = Motivation

Syd Field (The Screenwriter’s Workbook):

Great – it’s all about motivation – but how do you find what that is?

With astrology, that’s easier than it sounds.

When I create a character, I first draw up their natal (birth) chart– that way I can get a deep-down feel for who – and what – they are at their core.  Sure I made up their chart– I’m making them up too.  That doesn’t stop my character from possessing the ‘ring of truth’ that (hopefully) keeps you reading.

maslowmaster4ts

Motivation = that ‘something’ (or bundle of ‘something’s’) that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviour -  that which your character wants, needs, or fears that drives the action.

Astrologically, I believe motivation is primarily symbolised by the placement and connections of three natal planets:

  1. Venus = that which your character ‘wants’ – finds pleasing, stimulating, rewarding, validating (affirms her sense of self worth) = Venusian energy is a very selfish energy as it operates through differentiating between self and another (“I’m prettier than she is…”) 
  2.  Moon = that which your character ‘needs’– finds comfortable, nurturing, necessary for continued life = Lunar energy is a very clingy, suffocating energy as it operates through symbiosis and fusion (“I’ll never leave you if you…”)
  3. Saturn = that which your character ‘fears’ - gives him the strength to carry on and establish the boundaries that keep him healthy and whole = Saturnine energy is very uncomfortable as it behaviourally reprograms us through shame and guilt (“You made such a fool of yourself, you won’t do that again soon…”)

Some common motivations associated with the twelve zodiac signs (each manifesting in it’s unique way- which is where ‘character’ really comes in):

  • Challenge = Aries, Capricorn, Scorpio, Cancer and Sagittarius
  • Curiosity = Gemini, Aquarius, Sagittarius, Virgo, and Pisces
  • Competition = Aries and Scorpio
  • Control = Scorpio, Taurus, Cancer, and Leo
  • Recognition/ Security = Capricorn, Taurus, Leo, and Cancer
  • Cooperation/Collaboration = Libra and Aquarius
  • Fantasy/Escape = Pisces
  • Revenge =  Scorpio
  • Reform = Aquarius

For example, Abby (the heroine in my new novel, The Curve of Capricorn) has:

  • Venus in Aquarius
  • Saturn in Libra
  • Moon in Aries

She wants justice (Libra and Aquarius) and forward thinking reform (Aquarius).

She needs challenge and competition (Aries).

But above all, she fears collapsing cultural cornerstones and the loss of not just relationship, but the possibility for true partnership where all the parts work synergistically as a whole (Libra).

And wouldn’t you just know it, it’s precisely that which she fears that Abby’s going to get.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Saturn & Jupiter in Existential Balance

Astrologically, we equate responsibility with Saturn.  With Saturn, we undertake our duties and obligations seriously and in this way, we achieve.

When things go wrong however, we’re more reluctant to take responsibility. Thus the downside of Saturn is fault and blame.

In On the Genealogy of Morals (3:15), Nietzsche has suggested that fault and blame are the bitter fruits of ‘responsibility’.  This is because in our society, responsibility is not understood in terms of our ‘ability to respond’ but instead in terms of the spirit of revenge.

In existentialist terms, the spirit of revenge is a powerful narcotic that numbs the inevitable pain and misery of existence.  ‘Shit happens’.  It happens despite the ‘best laid plans of mice and men’.

When we respect misfortune as an inevitable part of living, we can utilise our innate ability to respond to life  (Nietzsche).

But whilst embraced by the spirit of revenge, no man can respect true misfortune.  He can have no understanding of the context in which misfortune manifests.  Focused on channelling his passions into vengefulness and spite, such a man can never respect, let alone love,  anybody or anything.

Only a foolish man believes that each misfortune which befalls him, was intentionally directed at him.   Yet many of us do just that.

A more productive approach might be to take ourselves less seriously.   This might be achieved through the more positive aspects of irresponsibility – i.e. having lightheaded fun.  Not only does  light-heartedness promote health, but it also helps us to learn – and accept – basic realities about life.

The natural antidote of Saturn is Jupiter.  When Jupiter  functions properly,  we are optimistic, take chances and have good luck.  Too much Jupiter however leads to extravagance and frivolity – hence the bad associations with irresponsibility.

In my book, balance is the key to health and happiness.  It would seem Nietzsche might agree.  According to him (in a theme developed by Kundera in his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being), the heaviest burden (responsibility) is also boundless freedom (irresponsibility).

In this regard, taking responsibility for your own life allows you to accept it for what it is – a game of chance in which sometimes you win… and sometimes you lose.

Blaming yourself or others achieves nothing but more pain.

The Astro-Art of Wisdom

Regardless of what the dictionary says, I believe that ‘wisdom’ requires more than knowledge and understanding.  Wisdom requires using your imagination to literally push knowledge and understanding beyond itself into the realm of experience.

This can be accomplished through looking at life through the eyes of an artist.  Artists communicate through symbols.  Artists evoke moods and emotions using pictures and words.  Artists connect us with’something’ that breathes fresh air into otherwise stale lives.

Neptune may very well represent that ‘something’.  Neptune is the astrological symbol of the deep unity with all things into which artists tap.  It’s rumoured that great sculptors connect with the imprisoned energy of a stone.  With their tools and skills, they free that energy for all to enjoy.

The artist’s tools and skills are represented by the Saturn function as that symbolises one’s ability to plan and achieve.

Thus Neptune and Saturn might well be the two most important astrological signposts toward your attainment of wisdom.   By putting Saturn and Neptune together you can make manifest something that jumpstarts your innermost Self to life.

If, like me, you have close Saturn/Neptune contacts, you can work with them through the energies they represent.  For example, I have a Mercury/Saturn/Neptune conjunction in Libra.  Libran outlets through which I might gain wisdom are relationships (all types), law (I am a lawyer), social connections, and artistic endeavours (I’m pursuing a degree in creative writing at Oxford University).

Even if you have no Saturn/Neptune contacts in your natal chart, at some point they’ll come by transit.   Prepare for this golden opportunity by learning how to best exploit what you already have.

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