Saturn’s Revenge

There are hidden capacities within each of us. Perhaps they are not so much hidden as unused, but so far as they are unused, unnoticed, unaddressed, they are much like superpowers manifesting for the first time when found, much like the origin story of nearly every mutant in the X-Men, much like how Superman’s powers didn’t quite show themselves until puberty. It had often been the case in comic books that superpowers either remained latent and were activated through a freak accident or were gifted to a given character. Think of Flash, Captain America, Green Lantern, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer. Spider-man. The Inhumans. Consider, even, an untrained witch or wizard in Harry Potter like Harry before he got his letter. Often, super powers are learned and appear rather mundane. Consider Batman. Consider Iron Man. Half of Daredevil’s powers were “gifted,” the rest were the result of intense training.

And training. It is always the case that a hero doesn’t just have powers but trains to use them effectively. This is why the X-Men have the Danger Room, the Fantastic Four have their own methods, and Doctor Strange his own. Consider that Reed Richard’s technological prowess is far more valuable than his ability to stretch his body, that Spider-man often wins a fight not because of his ability to climb on walls but because he tends to crack jokes or merely jabber away, confusing his opponent. Reed and Plastic Man have the same super powers, but Plastic Man is a second-rate superhero at best while Reed sits at the very top of the list of the greatest super heroes ever to have existed such that none of his peers would question this for a second.

There are hidden capacities within each of us and they are always a part of us whether they are actively expressed or not.

I’m going to tell a little story. It will be rather personal.

September 17, 2015:
My partner was out of town as he frequently is during the school year. Before work, as I occasionally would, I decided to trim my hair and trim my beard by myself — over the summer I had kept my hair very short. Then the guard slipped. As simply and suddenly as that, a spot on my head held no hair at all. I panicked. I panicked hard. But I still managed to think fast. I had had my morning routine timed out just right so that I could make it to work on time. So was I still going to show up for work?

Obviously, I didn’t have the sorts of hairstyling talents to turn the mistake into something artsy and creative, so I did everything I could to make it look… like it wasn’t a huge mistake (It was a huge mistake). I cut all of my hair all of the way down, and for the first time in years, because I thought it would match the new look better, I shaved my face with a razor. Clean. Smooth. Thus it was that the only hair on my head was contained by my eyebrows. I was to myself nearly completely unrecognizable.

The panic didn’t go away, but I did make it to work, where I sort of tried to hide from everyone. Due to business it did turn out to be a short day for me, fortunately, and once released, I went straight home. I paced back and forth in the kitchen, wondering what I would do for lunch. I didn’t trust myself to do something as complicated as prepare any sort of meal for myself, as shaken and upset as I was — more upset than the circumstances called for. I threw a hat on and headed to the Mexican restaurant near home.

Only a block down the main road, I was faced with the general truth that if I can’t even make myself lunch out of severe anxiety, I should not then drive; I accidentally let up on the brake as cars passed in front of me. I nearly attempted what would have been a failed run through a red light. If my anxiety had been severe at the start, I don’t know what one would call my state then. I returned home and poured myself a gin and tonic and sat outside in the Sun, trying to figure out what to do, feeling like a failure, feeling like I had seriously damaged myself. Had I seriously damaged myself?

I could grill. It was a happy activity, a natural choice, or it would have been if I had been able to get the damned thing lit. I sat on the back step again, gin in hand, and then a few drops of rain, straight out of a perfectly clear blue sky, landed on my clean-shaven face. It was strange. Mostly it made me angry. Why was the Universe going out of its way to do something apparently impossible just to spite me?

Another gin and tonic and some YouTube videos. Random videos. I posted a comment on one of Mr. Nagel pertaining to philosophy of mind. I supposed I respected him, but he said something disingenuous, as I felt, so I called it out and stopped watching. Restless.

I then decided to take a walk all the way downtown, which is only about three miles. As I approached, I checked the time on my phone, and out of habit I checked my astrology app. My heart drops. Saturn was in the last degree of Scorpio, straddling the cusp of Sagittarius, its placement in my natal chart. By some definitions, this was the very beginning of my Saturn Return.

I had explained what this meant to my partner a few times, though it was always lost somewhere in translation. I had explained that Saturn’s return could be thought of as the time when Saturn returns to “speak” on the matters he had spoken on when the native had come into being as a separate entity in the world — the time of birth. The Saturn return is said to be a rough time. Challenging.

I had explained that Saturn’s return is the time either when things come to fruition or when Saturn lays the smack-down on you depending on the way in which you had fulfilled Saturn’s message at your birth, the message through which you were created. If the message had not been expressed through you, it would be expressed to you.

Do I turn around? Why would I turn around? I really felt I should turn around. But I didn’t. I didn’t. I instead just continued forward, and that was the beginning of the end. I felt that a part of this was entirely out of my hands, that I’d already set the chain of events in motion… but I’d heard the call to stop — if that’s what it was — at just the right time. The call to stop. Perhaps if I show restraint… if I show restraint…

Saturn respects restraint… My fifth house Saturn in trine aspect to Venus. In Aries.

I stopped suddenly at the restaurant in town. The one I had helped to open, but which had closed, then wouldn’t rehire me when they’d opened again. I was supposed to hold resentment against them, but just couldn’t do it (don’t worry, I got that covered now). I ordered a beer and the least unappetizing thing on the menu. The owner and one of his managers came to talk to me, to see how I had been doing. Small talk. I behaved as though I were far too happy to see them. I think I was obviously nearing drunk.

I leave an entirely too generous tip for the server. And then I leave. With no plans. Just across the street is the more popular bar in town, and the only one where I’d had any positive experience at all.

Go in alone? I’m used to doing everything alone. That is, until two years ago. Moving in with your special someone takes much of the solitary out of your life by its very nature.

I went in alone. I had another drink. Just one. Then I decided to take a walk. So I walked through campus with the notion that I’d stop by the restaurant where I work, which was actually much too far to walk, anyway — stupid idea. And then it very suddenly begins to rain. Not just any rain. This was cold, pouring rain and it immediately completely soaked me. So I hid under the nearest overhang and waited. And waited. And then gave up and headed back to the bar. I didn’t have much option.

I had made my decision not to turn around and go home. And the Universe held me to it.

The decision had been made some time prior, but this was the moment the decline really began to happen. I ordered a few — several — more drinks and made a fool of myself. But at the time I was too drunk to notice or care. I’m glossing over them, but don’t under-estimate those five words: made a fool of myself. In a very different way, fueled by ethanol rather than razor blades, I was to myself unrecognizable.

Somehow aware enough to know I must not order another drink, I headed to a different bar (whether I did or not order another drink is another matter altogether as I can’t trust my memory beyond this point). Here, I have no idea why, I tried to climb the the wall surrounding the outer enclosure, the area where people went to smoke cigarettes. It was a weird crazy stupid drunk thing to do. Some guy stopped me. He was absolutely convinced that I was trying to kill myself and that I needed Jesus in my life. Thus, the next hour was spent in debate — the kind of debate I was all too ready for.

Damnit. I got this.  This is my thing. If I weren’t so far gone, I’d have this dumbass destroyed.

But I was so far gone. I did, however, manage to work him round in rather drunk circles before pointing out that the entire conversation was based on the false notion that I had been trying to kill myself in the first place. And then he went to get another drink and then I slipped away and headed home, very wobbly, very upset, and more acutely aware of my disfigured face and so many shortcomings. I did want to kill myself. The guy was right, though his evidence for it was all wrong.

I do a number of very drunk, rather shameful things on the way home, part of which involved lying in the grass by the side of the stream in the darkest shadows I could find, watching the stars spinning overhead as the ground wobbled and rolled beneath me. I was the very picture of pathetic, dirty drunkard.

I woke up the next morning not quite sure how I had gotten into bed, as miserable as I have ever felt. Too miserable to feel anything actively. I felt simply disgusting. Ashamed. Ashamed. Ashamed.

Shame.

I took a shower. Barely. It didn’t help. I dropped back into bed. Somehow, my laptop lay just there. It’s never there.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

Priya, I’m really thinking about killing myself…

Somehow, she got a hold of my partner, who got a hold of my mom, who got a hold of my brother. Priya, my partner, my brother. I was falling to pieces, apologizing for things no one understood, insisting that “I broke it.” “I broke it,” I said. “I broke it! It’s all broken, its all broken, I am a bad wrong thing…” I definitely wasn’t making sense to anyone. “I don’t want to leave you!” “I am a bad wrong thing. I’m so sorry!”

I was, as never before, speaking as though killing myself were truly an inevitability I had no control over and didn’t want. I certainly did not want to leave the person I loved most.

“I broke it.”

Somewhere along the way, the police were called to check on me. And then the ambulance was called. And after several hours of nurses and doctors screwing around in the hospital here in town (though I really had no idea where I was), I was taken to a mental hospital in a town not very far from here.

This is where I end the story.

A rather similar thing occurred six months prior, by which I mean that I went out by myself, drank entirely too much, made a fool of myself, and felt awful for a long while. Miserable, but not so much that I fell entirely to pieces and wound up in the hospital. It was a bit of a turning point, though.

Six months prior, Saturn was stationed, about to turn retrograde, five degrees from his placement at my nativity. Was that the official start of the Saturn Return? Or when Saturn first entered Sagittarius on December 24th 2014, the day my partner visited family — without me — and I was, without a car and having not been scheduled most of the week at work, essentially forced to spend several days completely alone during a family-oriented holiday?

Saturn returned to his position in my natal chart exactly on December 18, 2015.

After I left the hospital, I was driven. I had been given access to paints while I was there and for the first week after I’d gotten out I took to painting at least a little every day, sometimes a lot. And I did paint at least a little every day. The first day out of the hospital I also committed to NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — and to learning to write code. Until summer came around, when I finally chose to take a break, I wrote at least a little every day, maybe with an odd exception here or there, and each month had seen some new project.

Eighteen months later I am still driven. Some unstoppable force is pushing me forward, some undying fire ignited. I have been writing, yes, but much more than that. I have been reading — teaching, even. I have been working my way toward creating a name for myself as a local astrologer, something I never thought I could actually do. And now a trip to Mexico with an old friend and possibly a trip to New York City with my brother is in the works. I’ve been learning to make youtube-style videos all while working more and making much more money than I normally do.

By the Hellenic definition, I believe, my Saturn Return doesn’t end until Saturn enters Capricorn. It seems both the sign and actual angular proximity signify the Return. Does this period of motivation end in a few months? So many questions. Most importantly, however, I have direct personal experience of what Saturn is about. If you don’t demonstrate having learned your lesson, your “mission” the forces collectively referred to as Saturn will come down upon you, relentlessly forcing the mission upon you, at which point you are crushed or adapt, and once those forces are wielded in accordance to their purpose you can ride them like a wave, unyieldingly pressing forward with the power of a mountain glacier — steady in a way the explosive forces of Mars are not. Determined without the draining of energies that are the result of the emotional release, the energetic expression of intense passion.

I feel as though Saturn had doused me with terragen mists, unlocked my X gene… bitten me with a radioactive hummingbird. The result, the purpose, what it all means… we shall see.

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Overview of the Solar System

This is an overview of the Solar system from an astrological perspective. I only intend to touch on each planet briefly, to acquaint you with them if you aren’t already, and possibly to give a new perspective or fresh insight if you are. My main contribution is providing a perspective on the “dwarf planets” Ceres and Eris, who, as I see it, are poorly understood.

The Sun

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The Sun, as we know, is the center of the Solar system. He is its core essence. All things revolve about him, all things are illuminated by him. The Solar system exists only because of the Sun. In a very real way, the Solar system is the Sun. The rest of the planets, then, are merely different aspects of him, smaller pieces within him, about him, reflected back to him and to each other.

The Sun is the authority — that which allows things to be. The Sun makes the final decision, calls the shots, draws the conclusion. The Sun built the city everyone else is walking through. The Sun decides whether it is day or night, autumn or spring.

The Sun is the primary generative force, the yang principle, the ego, and the king.

The Moon

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The Moon is our satellite, and her significance is her proximity. She is ours, or, we could say, we belong to her. Being the closest to us and the fastest, she brings the message of the sky down to Earth. What happens here happens through her.

This makes the most sense if we view the sky geocentrically. Simply look up and watch the planets as they move across the sky. Each planet is speaking, moving at different rates of speed. The Moon is the planet — or, more accurately, the luminary — who moves at a roughly continuous speed about the entire ecliptic in the span of twenty-seven days, crossing roughly thirteen degrees each day. The Moon is not only experiencing the whole of the ecliptic much more quickly and more frequently, but is making aspects to the other planets much more quickly and more frequently.

An astrological concept called “translation of light” is like a way that planets communicate with each other through a third planet. For example, if Planet B separates from an aspect to Planet A, who is “heavier”, and applies to a third planet C, while still within orb of Planet A, Planet B is said to have translated light from A to C. A second method is for a lighter Planet A to join with a heavier Planet B, who then joins with a yet heavier Planet C. Planet B translates light from A to C.

The first type of translation of light is the type the Moon excels at. The second type she simply can not do. But we can see by this that the messenger of the sky is the Moon and why she is the messenger of the sky. We’ll get to Mercury about that in a moment. Consider, from a heliocentric view, the Moon’s relation to the orbit of the Earth about the Sun. She is sometimes nearer the Sun and sometimes further from the Sun. The Moon, in a way, is a bridge between the inner planets and the outer planets, a bridge between the primary generative force and the rest of the Universe.

What is most significant about the Moon, however, is her clear yin nature, her cycle from new to full and back, which is the prototype for understanding relationships among the other planets, who make waxing and waning trine, square, and sextile aspects to each other. The Moon signifies change, growth, decay, birth, and death.

The Moon is very heavily associated with emotions, the subconscious, and instincts. Consider her phases, the speed at which she moves, and her proximity. Emotions are very close to us, rapidly shifting, arising from somewhere poorly illuminated within us. Our emotions are fluid and heavily dependent upon other things, to include our intentions, our habits, and other emotions.

The Moon is often associated with women and motherhood in particular. As such, we are metaphorically her child. If the Sun gets the title of king the Moon gets the title of mother. Think about that comparison. Who really matters more to you personally? Your mother or (use your imagination here) your king? Now who is more important if you consider it impersonally? There we have an important distinction between the Sun and Moon, another aspect of yang and yin.

Mercury

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Except for the Moon, who is best referred to as a luminary along with the Sun, Mercury is the fastest of the planets, orbiting the Sun in eighty-eight days, and going retrograde as he passes us three times a year.

Mercury is the liminal state. Mercury is neither male nor female, neither day nor night, neither up nor down, but somewhere between all of the things. Given that Mercury is that which goes between, it is not incorrect to associate the planet with messages.

Mercury takes that special seventh spot as the planets are paired up. Sun and Moon, Venus and Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, or, if you prefer, we could pair them up Jupiter and Venus, Mars and Saturn. Do Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, or Eris pair with Mercury? No.

Mercury is often associated with the mind. The word “mind” in this context is usually meant to refer to the thoughts, images, and symbols that run through our minds. These constantly running thoughts can easily be likened to the substance named for Mercury, which has no definite shape. We can see why Mercury has these associations. He is the planet closest the Sun and always very near, seen only during and immediately after sunset, or before sunrise, switching between the two and changing direction every four months. Neither here nor there, neither this nor that, but both at once.

From a heliocentric view, as the first planet out from the Sun, we can view Mercury as the principle through which the primary generative force that is the Sun will act. Mercury grants the Sun’s power potential to be any of many things. Mercury gives the primal impulse words, symbols, and images.

Venus

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Every discussion of Venus seems to mention that she is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon, and for good reason. It is striking and it is significant. Venus is called the lesser benefic, which means she is considered to behave in a positive manner, to do good things wherever she goes so far as she is able. Much of this is due to the fact that she is the brightest star in the sky. Why should that be? Why does that matter? When you can, go out and look at the night sky yourself. Look at Venus. Feel what she is saying. More importantly, notice how she is saying it. Sometimes the communication is clearest when you’re out for a walk or driving and she pops out from behind a hill or a cluster of trees or a house. Bam! She is the lesser benefic for a reason.

More broadly, she is also associated with the yin principle. Venus is receptive. Venus attracts. Venus is lovely, pleasing, beautiful. Venus is the aesthetic sense.

I should say now that I do not believe that any of the planets are really inherently masculine or feminine, but that the labels were useful throughout history when people had very definite conceptions of how people should behave, which are foreign to us now. Stated in an oversimplified way, women are not the only ones who are meant to be attractive anymore, nor are men the only pursuers. Venus’s qualities caused her to be conceived as feminine, not the other way around.

From a heliocentric view, Venus takes the potential Mercury brought forth from the Sun and seeks out what part of that potential is wanted. This is not what she does, but how she is — the way in which she exists. Through her, it is made beautiful and desirable.

Mars

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Mars is the pursuer. Mars is aggressive. Mars is those emotions that burst outward — rage, jealousy, resentment, ambition, covetousness, envy. Mars and Venus are the same essential principle inverted, as we might expect, viewing the system structurally, Mars being first planet out, Venus the first planet in. The two are not, however, exactly, perfectly inverted versions of the same principle. Being in the orbit just beyond and the orbit just within are not as symmetrically comparable as it might sound at first.

Earth is the third planet from the Sun. Venus is the second planet from the Sun. Mars is the fourth. This alone creates the dynamic that characterizes Mars and Venus. The two are heavily personal, emotional, full of desire, each of a different kind. Venus says, “I want you to want me.” Mars is more direct and says, “I want you.” He then asserts, “I will have you.”

Venus and Mars are the closest planets to Earth — after the Moon. The Moon, as we know, rules emotions. Venus and Mars do so also, but in very different ways. Venus, the brighter one, the planet who follows the Sun around, in general, holds lighter emotions, the more submissive ones. Mars, in general, holds heavier, more intense, dominating emotions. Mars is dimmer in the sky and red.

Ptolemy said that Mars was hot based on his cosmological system, which he inherited from Aristotle. Ptolemy said that Mars was hot because Mars was so close to the Sun — If we view from a geocentric perspective, the Sun takes the Earth’s place in the order of things. That heat is what was supposed to have made Mars the lesser malefic, but why was Venus not afflicted with the same nature? Was Venus not also very close to the Sun? I know it’s because, he said, Venus is moist due to her proximity to Earth, but that’s not my point. I’m not here to argue with Ptolemy, which would be silly. I aim to show that Ptolemy inherited an understanding of the nature of Mars and then superimposed his system on top of that. Mars is not angry because he is hot. Rather, Mars was thought to be hot because he is angry.

From that heliocentric view, Mars picks up the football of Mercury’s conceiving and Venus’s choosing, and runs with it. But where?

Ceres

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Between Mars and Jupiter lies the asteroid belt. I have been fascinated with the asteroid belt since I first learned about the Solar system in, I think, second grade. I, as had every kid, imagined it to be just like it was pictured in every single totally false depiction of the Solar system children are ever allowed to see — one of them showed Pluto’s eccentric orbit cross all they way through Mars’ I assume out of sheer laziness in construction. In every depiction, the asteroid belt was densely populated with great big rocks, kind of like you sometimes see in science fiction movies. But the asteroid belt, we know, is rather sparse.

One third of the asteroid belt is Ceres and she is quite small. All of the asteroid belt together holds a little more than one fifth the mass of Pluto, thus Pluto is fifteen times more massive than Ceres. It is sparse, yes, but not negligible, and Ceres is its queen.

From my perspective, astrologically speaking, Ceres is the asteroid belt. If there is any point that is a clear symbol of the belt, it is Ceres, no question. The second largest object in the asteroid belt is much smaller and everything in the belt shares the same basic orbit — the belt. I regard all of the little asteroids as I regard the moons of Mars or Neptune. They have relevance, maybe, but not really to us. The purpose of our study of the Solar system as astrologers is to unravel the language contained within its structure. Ceres holds the orbit of fifth planet from the Sun at two and three quarters AU’s, between Mars at one and a half AU’s and Jupiter at five AU’s.

Ceres lies within the orbit of Saturn but Ceres is not one of the original seven planets because she is too dim to see without a telescope, except under extraordinary circumstances, if you know where to look — just like Uranus. She is positioned exactly between what are often called the personal planets — Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars — and the social planets — Saturn and Jupiter. Ceres is like a bridge, yes, but she is more similar to the personal planets than to the social planets, who are much further from the Sun.

The seven classical planets project themselves into our consciousness when we look up at the sky. Ceres we have to search for with telescopes. I believe this is important for understanding what she says to us. Ceres is not silent, but her messages are subliminal. She speaks to our subconscious, personally. Remember that Mercury was thoughts, Venus was desire, and Mars was anger? Ceres is nothing of the sort.

Ceres is the asteroid belt. Ceres is here, but also there and there and there. By my view, Ceres is a bit like Mercury and a bit like the Moon in nature. Rather, Ceres’ partial similarity with Mercury is more like the principle shared, inverted between Venus and Mars. Mercury’s way of being in between is through itself; his own nature evades categories. Ceres’ way is to be cast out among many hundreds of thousands of pieces of herself. She is like the Moon not only by name but by her constantly shifting nature and her connection to the subconscious.

Within the heliocentric image we’ve been creating, Mars runs with that football and Ceres presents him with the many directions he could run, presenting them individually but simultaneously.

Jupiter

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Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the sky after the Sun, Moon, and Venus and is called the greater benefic. I think we can see a pattern. But again I tell you, walk out and take a look when the planet is visible. Feel it.

Jupiter is said to be expansive. Jupiter takes the wide view, the high road, sees the big picture, aims for the stars. Jupiter is optimism.

Jupiter is by a very wide margin the largest planet in the Solar system. You’ve probably heard that the sum of the volumes of every other planet is less than the volume of Jupiter and that Jupiter’s diameter is one tenth the diameter of the Sun. Very impressive numbers. Jupiter relates to philosophy, religion, historically to the monarchy, and education. Why is that, and what do these things have in common?

It all comes to two things: Jupiter’s speed and Jupiter’s appearance, by which I mean brightness and color. I’ll get to why this is so in another post. For now, the what. Jupiter is bright and moves slowly, but not nearly as slowly as Saturn. Jupiter, thus, is steady, yet potent, unlike Saturn, who is often dim and very slow by standards of a person who stands on a hilltop and watches the sky every night for years. In my entire life Saturn has just barely completed a single lap around the ecliptic. Jupiter has done it a little more than two and a half times.

Think about this as that person who stands on the hilltop every night with no prior knowledge, merely observing. You have five wanderers in the sky and the Sun and the Moon. Two of those wanderers obviously follow the Sun around and one of them is quite flashy about it all. Three wanderers do not follow the Sun around. They are by this measure independent. One of them is reddish, and of mediocre brightness, relatively speaking, moving on average at about half the speed of the Sun. Another is often dim, yellowish, and moves very slowly. You get the sense this one is far away. The third moves clearly, obviously, neither very quickly nor exceptionally slowly. In the span of four years, for example, it has moved through a third of the sky. What are we thinking about Jupiter, given the context of the whole sky? Jupiter is friendly or at least respectable. Independent. Maybe we’ll say he has potency. We could say any number of things. Jupiter is the bright one who holds the mean of the outer planets.

The Earth orbits the Sun twelve times for every time Jupiter orbits the Sun once. Jupiter’s orbit is to Earth’s what Earth’s orbit is to the month, which is determined by the motion of the Moon. The Moon does orbit slightly more than twelve times in a year, but the comparison is not harmed by the fact.

The number twelve is significant. There is nothing arbitrary about the fact that there are twelve signs of the zodiac. Twelve is the smallest composite number that can handle both a square and a triangle, both the number three and the number four. The prime factorization of twelve is [3, 2, 2]. That is the same as six and two and three and four. It is twelve.

Two, as we know, is heavily ingrained into the nature of how things are, as symbolized by the yin and the yang. The fewest points necessary for creating a two-dimensional figure is three — the triangle. Also, consider the value of beginning, middle, and end even for a one-dimensional figure. The number three has long been considered a mystical number for very good reason. The Christians even have the Holy Trinity. Hindus talk about the three gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas. The list of significant things that come in threes is endless. Four is implied by the shape of what we are measuring — the ecliptic — at the two equinox points and the solstice points. Six and twelve arise from consideration of the triangle and the square.

To be complete, consider, for example, the sign Pisces. Pisces shares a relationship by trine, by the number three, with two other signs: Cancer and Scorpio. It also shares a relationship by square, by the number four, with the two signs Gemini and Sagittarius, or three, depending on how you’re counting, as a third, Virgo, relates to the sign by opposition, by the number two, which is contained in four. We have two things here, given any point: a square and a triangle, and from those two alone we have twelve points.

If you’ve stopped to think, maybe you wonder how I got that, given that I’ve only provided six points. The others are implied, if you fill the circle in with more points, evenly spaced. More specifically, and more meaningfully, do the same thing to all of the other points. At each point place a triangle and a square, then fill in the gaps between, label them, and you have regions. This is why we have twelve signs.

There’s more to say about this, but that’s best left for my next post. I feel that recognizing Jupiter’s relationship to us by way of the number twelve may provide some insight to his nature.

Jupiter is generous and wants only your gratitude.

From that heliocentric view, Jupiter grabs the ball, sees the full picture, puts all of Ceres’ little insights into place and expands upon the purpose. Jupiter knows the plan and can act upon it, not with force but with sincere enthusiasm. Before the primary impulse got to Jupiter it was as though there had been no plan from the start, and, really, there wasn’t. Ceres almost got us there, but Ceres’ purpose was not to put things together.

Saturn

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Saturn is that slow planet I had mentioned, yellowish and far away. Saturn, as we all know, is the one with the rings with whom astronomers are so apparently obsessed. Also, everyone else. Saturn has come to be the symbol of planet in general: a circle with a ring around it.

A ring around it. Saturn sits at the very edge of observable planets. Saturn is the furthest of the classical septenary of planets. The light stops at Saturn. I imagine there is a giant sphere of light within the Solar system, an invisible boundary beyond which the light does not return without special tools, and Saturn sits just within it. Planets beyond Saturn are in a completely different sort of territory.

Seeing our sky symbolically, as is an astrologer’s purpose, this is very highly significant. It really, really matters that Neptune can not be seen without a telescope. Saturn is the end.

Even though Saturn has the lowest density of the planets, Saturn is the heavy one, the slow one, by a wide margin. Saturn was named for the god who was overthrown and cast out to the outer regions of the cosmos, and, by the perspective of that guy standing on the hill and looking up every night, it is very much as though he was. Saturn is the boundary. In older texts he’s often described as a bitter old man, resentful even.

Saturn is sturdy, steady. He has structure. He is thus associated with tradition, but not necessarily the following of tradition — that belongs to Jupiter. Saturn is also associated with weighty, tangible, material things. That is why I find it fascinating that the scientific community seems to be so in love with the image of Saturn — material tradition. But not only, of course. Not only.

Saturn demands that you work for what you want, and then probably doesn’t let you have it even then. (Saturn is a Republican)

Saturn picks up Jupiter’s plan, holds on to it, gives it form, tangible reality, and brings it “down to Earth” in a useful, practical, functional, durable form. And then guards it like Gollum.

Uranus

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Uranus sits on the other side of that boundary, but not always. Occasionally, and usually unnoticed, Uranus does pop in to the sphere of visibility. This is significant.

Much has been said about Uranus’ discovery, and I do believe this is so for good reason. It was how Uranus entered our collective psyches. I’ll not recount the story, but the discovery of Uranus is responsible for a massive shift in the way we view our cosmos, akin to the Copernican revolution. We saw that Uranus is clearly, undeniably a planet, but our cosmos had been complete with a beautiful system of rulerships, exaltations, planetary joys, triplicities, terms, faces, firdaria, sects, and so on. We had our seven planets. There could be no eighth planet.

Everything seemed to be accounted for. If Uranus was an eighth planet, what role could he have? What new thing could be had? In a flash, popping suddenly, unexpectedly into awareness, Uranus tore a part of the human psyche asunder. Two hundred thirty-five years later we are still arguing about it, aren’t we? Then again, we’ve been arguing about everything.

And here we have the essence of Uranus. Uranus is he who roams about the periphery, popping very infrequently into the enclosed territory, sudden, unexpected, disruptive, presenting an apparent impossibility all at once. Uranus is responsible for those flashes of insight that seem to come from elsewhere, as though they dropped upon a person from another universe entirely, as though the thoughts were not the person’s own. Uranus does not govern art, but Uranus is responsible for the flash, the revelation, the lifting of the artist’s block. Uranus pulls back the curtains of the psyche to show what had always been there, or opens the door to allow something new to come crashing into our pre-existing structures —

— but not merely to destroy them. Uranus has a vision. Uranus knows what’s on the other side. Uranus has been associated with Prometheus for being the one to introduce something new that changes everything — the fire from Mount Olympus. As with Ceres, I don’t think the name is wrong entirely. Uranus is also the sky, that apparent boundary, the aspiration, the object of inspiration. Uranus is above, away, untouchable. Uranus is the flash of lightning, even the sudden burst of wind. Uranus has his hands in the weather, which is unpredictable by its very nature — but don’t take this to mean he has full control of it. He does not.

Uranus takes Saturn’s rigid, black and white plan and adds some color to it, dresses it in tights and a cape and sends it off, optimistically, enthusiastically, forward-thinking.

Neptune

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Neptune was discovered by observing perturbations in Uranus’ orbit and calculating the position where a planet should be. And there it was.

We have several differences between Neptune and Uranus already. Neptune is the first planet so far who is completely in the dark. Neptune was not discovered by accident. Neptune’s discovery is not something that happened to us, but something we created, a direct pursuit for this thing which we had never seen, but about which we had an idea.

Neptune is in the dark, hidden, but does have an influence on Uranus and certainly the many, many objects in the Kuiper belt.

Neptune is the end of the structure of the Solar system we’ve known so far, with the exception of Ceres and the asteroid belt, but with no boundary, entirely unlike Saturn; it is no end at all. Neptune is the edge of the region of the Solar system recognizable as what we understand the Solar system to be so far as we conceive of it as being composed of planets in orbits about a star.

Neptune’s discovery did not disturb anyone, at least not anyone’s conception of the cosmos or anything of the sort, and more or less quietly slipped into our growing picture of the Solar system. Neptune’s discovery, rather, was eventually responsible for Percival Lowell’s search for “Planet X”. It was never found, but Clyde Tombaugh found Pluto instead.

Neptune is associated with nebulousness, uncertainty, delusion, ideals, boundlessness, formlessness, and obscurity.

Neptune is associated with art, but not in particular. That part does still belong to Venus — the aesthetic sense as personally experienced. Neptune is, rather, associated with art as a phenomenon, as a human activity, not any particular human’s activity. Neptune is also associated with religion, but not the particulars of religion, such as personal piety, virtuousness, theology, or cosmogony. That belongs to Jupiter. Neptune relates to the religious impulse as a property of the human being, of being human. Neptune is the awareness that there is something more to reality than what is contained within the bounds of Saturn — this physical world, consensus reality, this illusion.

Uranus, Neptune, and further planets are what we call transpersonal. Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Eris take such a long time to orbit the Sun relative to human lifespans and the pace of human activity that they are best understood within a historical context.

Neptune casts Uranus’ idea into utter doubt, forcing it to slow down and search for its initial inspiration. Uranus had pulled the idea out of potential stagnation and struck it with a flash of inspiration. Neptune rather lifts it up and exposes it to the unknown, to a vague but potentially powerful awareness of the ideal lying behind this plan, this idea, this thing, whatever it is, that has been constructed in this metaphor.

This metaphor has been fine up until now, but let’s revisit it. Jupiter expands and explores within the confines of Saturn. Uranus breaks open those confines and in a flash of insight gives view to Neptune’s ideals. Jupiter seeks what Neptune contains; Saturn and Uranus are the gatekeepers between the two.

Pluto

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Pluto is considered and will continue to be considered a planet in the astrological sense because he is the object in the Kuiper belt who entered our collective consciousness as a planet in a powerful way. He is very much like a planet and with a small exception he behaves exactly like one. It is fascinating that so many people were so distraught by Pluto’s “demotion” to the status of dwarf planet. The simple fact that he was demoted to dwarf planet status is also fascinating. The entire story is fascinating.

Pluto is a small world with an eccentric orbit in 2:3 resonance with Neptune, meaning that for every three orbits Neptune makes, Pluto makes two. Pluto reaches far deeper into the outer reaches of the solar system, from thirty AU’s, the same as Neptune, to forty-nine AU’s. This distance from the Sun is the inspiration for the name as the outer reaches can understandably be related to the Underworld. As Richard Tarnas explains in Cosmos and Psyche, Pluto is also closely associated with Dionysus. Heraclitus and Euripides, he points out, identified Hades and Dionysus as one and the same deity.

Pluto was probably named well. Pluto is a prominent portion of the depths of the collective unconscious beyond the sphere of Saturn and within the Kuiper belt. Pluto has a highly eccentric orbit. Uranus may create rebels, but is not rebellious itself, I will argue. Pluto is rebellious. Pluto is determined. Pluto is heavier than Saturn, even more paradoxically, and is the Kuiper belt object to make his presence known, long before any other.

You know what happened in the 1930’s and the following decade, so we’ll not go there.

The discovery, very simply. Uranus was found by accident, by surprise. Neptune was found by math, by the idea of a planet and is the only planet to have been discovered theoretically before being discovered empirically. Pluto’s discovery, on the other hand, was the result of obsession. The process Clyde Tombaugh had to go through was excruciating and required extreme amounts of dedication and focus. He wasn’t even looking for Pluto specifically, or anything like Pluto, but he was looking for something. And Pluto is what he found. This is how Pluto presented himself to the collective human psyche.

Pluto is associated with powerful drive, intense motivation, extremes — both high and low — upheaval, death, destruction, regeneration, rebirth, sex as a phenomenon and one of the primary motivating forces of mankind, power, control, purification, and pulling up from the depths. The list of course goes on.

Pluto takes Neptune’s inspired idea and gives it an irresistible drive to control and overpower, or, more likely, pulls it inside-out or turns it on its head, exposing its underside, its depths, possibly transforming it into something new, pulling out newly-revealed potential.

Neptune’s ideal, revealed by Uranus, meets Pluto and is buried, to grow later as something new.

Eris

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I won’t recount the story, but Eris was named thoughtfully by someone with a mind for astrology. I do trust Eris’ characterization as indicating chaos. Eris’ strong entrance and continued presence in the human psyche, unlike Quaoar, Haumea, and Makemake, gives her a place in my charts and consideration among the other planets. Also, this gives me twelve planets, which is nice. We’ll see how long that lasts and what will come of it.

Eris is associated with discord, chaos, confusion. However, I believe she shares in some of the forceful impulse Pluto possesses, which is a blown-up version of Mars’ drive to do and to dominate.

It is said that Uranus is the higher octave of Mercury, Neptune is the higher octave of Venus, and Pluto is the higher octave of Mars. Eris is not the higher octave of Jupiter. Eris is, rather, also the higher octave of Mars. I do not know what to make of that. It frustrates my sense of symmetry. Eris cannot be the higher octave of Ceres for the sole reason that Ceres is not one of the classical planets. Whatever the case may be, I generally do not consider the idea that the outer planets are higher octaves of the inner planets. However, I do wonder whether it would help with determining essential dignities for the outer planets. I tend to feel that Eris is strong in Aries right now. I do also realize that much confusion and flared tempers could arise if I begin to say that Uranus is the co-ruler of Gemini and Virgo and Neptune co-ruler of Taurus and Libra. Eris, Pluto, and Mars would then be co-rulers of Aries and Scorpio. What comes of that? I will leave it a question.

Eris not only has an eccentric orbit, but her orbit is tilted at forty-four degrees. Compare to Pluto’s seventeen degrees and Ceres’ ten and a half degrees.

Eris is not only about chaos and discord. The rolling of the apple is an excellent example of the Erisian principle and is the reason it is the story everyone thinks about when it comes to Eris. She had a deep understanding of human nature — shared even by the gods — and utilized it expertly for the creation of discord. Eris requires order for the chaos she generates to be meaningful. Eris is chaos first, certainly, and insightful discord, but she is also a deep understanding of structure, order, and how things work. She knows what the rest of the planets are up to, how, why, and how to undo it, ideally.

Pluto’s irresistibly driven idea to control in pursuit of power, or Neptune’s idea turned upside-down or inside out is taken apart, smashed to pieces, or merely tinkered with in such a way that it behaves in no way it had been intended to behave, but exactly as it would behave.

The image, by the way, is the symbol for Eris used by the Discordians, which they call the five-fingered hand of Eris.

The Solar System

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This image is my primary inspiration for writing this post.

Imagine that all of the planets had begun their orbits in alignment, say, at zero degrees of Libra. What happens?

Relative to the rest of the system, the Sun stands perfectly still, immobile, shining. Mercury speeds around, setting up thoughts, ideas, images, and notions. Venus moves more slowly, following those ideas and brightening them, identifying the parts of them that are pleasing and worth retaining. We skip Earth because all of this really only has meaning from a geocentric perspective. Mars gives the beautiful ideas, images, and notions motivation and desire to act. By the time Mars has completed an orbit, keep in mind, Mercury has almost completed his eighth. Ceres picks the idea apart and gives it direction. Jupiter fills the idea out and explores its potential. Saturn gives the idea place, structure, and prevents it from over-extending itself. Uranus pops in and shakes the idea up, opening it to a view of the vast, unfathomable complex of ideals — Neptune — it had all this time been approximating. Pluto drops in and says, “Okay, start over (And this time do it my way).” Eris most of the time follows closely behind, causing trouble… laughing at the rest of the system’s attempts to create.

This follows a steady progression.

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And a statement of the futility of it all.