Archives for posts with tag: Chicago Astrologer

astrology antique chart

If you look carefully at the image above, it will quickly be apparent that that the zodiac, the planets and their relationships form a mandala, which, by definition, is a symbolic or geometric figure representing the universe. Within the figure, we see that each of the original planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn – are used with two signs, while the Sun & Moon, placed in the 4th and 5th house, are used once. But look at their descriptions: the Moon is associated with security and the Sun with creativity.

We can all find reasons why that might be so, but to me the first explanation is that we need both: we need to be secure to be creative and vice-versa. Only here, I would alter or expand the meaning of the word creative. Creativity is not about doing a watercolor or learning a musical instrument; it is, rather, the growth, the creation of the Self. And for many of us – and I include myself – that is not an easy process. If you look at the mandala again, you can see that there are many potential layers to who we are. Walking through the figure, a narrative emerges: we need all these qualities: appearance (our bodies), acquisition (what surrounds us, both tangibly and non-tangibly, communication (how we interact), security (are we safe, do we feel safe) and so on.

Readers of this newsletter know that I’m always cautioning about the overuse of Sun signs, but they have their role. One is to use them as ideas for meditation – and in this case, I don’t necessarily mean sitting in a cross-legged in a dark room with candles. We can – and we do – meditate all the time: when we’re at work, on the bus, with our families, basically everywhere. Unfortunately, most of it is wasted on worry, anger, fear, indignation and a hundred other fleeting states of emotion. So instead of dwelling on negative states, try using some of the themes below to think about yourself, your life and what you want to do. Keep in mind, as well, that because your Sun sign is only a small factor of your chart, you may feel a great deal of kinship with the sign under which you’re born.

Aries – positive: self-assertion, enthusiasm, the direct approach; negative: hurried, inconsiderate, conceit

Taurus – positive: building and maintaining a secure structure; negative: greed, stubbornness, a ponderous approach to the world

Gemini – positive: flexibility, communication take center stage; negative: disorganization, emotionally restless 

Cancer – positive: nurturing, sensitive; negative: timid, tends to withdraw

Leo – positive: generous, optimistic, independent; negative: dislike of routine, overlooks the details

Virgo – positive: service, methodical, down-to-earth; negative: critical, inhibited, overly reliant on formalities

Libra – positive: diplomatic, able to creat harmonies; negative: indecisive, problems with self-assertion

Scorpio – positive: strong, determination, powerful insight; negative: dependent on recognition, secretive, manipulative

Sagittarius – positive: independent, generous, searching; negative: righteousness, superficiality

Capricorn – positive: practical, disciplined, patient; negative: mistrusting, joyless, cold

Aquarius – positive: original, imaginative, broad perspective; negative: overly detached, misses emotional clues

Pisces – positive: flexibility, adaptive, versatile; negative: boundaries, difficulty with self-assertion and goals

angelina-jolieHow we react, how we respond to the pressures of the world is, in many ways, a strong indicator of our quality of life. Why? Because it is through our reactions that we navigate and  negotiate with the world.  Are our reactions emotional or mental, rash or confused, thoughtful or inarticulate, hysterical or passive, generous or selfish?

In looking at a chart, there is no single feature that gives us an idea of how a person might react in a situation, though there are candidates. The modes – cardinal, fixed and mutable – can be helpful if one of these is highlighted in a chart. The elements can also be helpful. Imagine you’re about to be attacked by a bear. If you’re of a fiery nature, you’ll probably counter-attack.  If you’re earthy you’ll stand your ground. If you’re airy, you’ll be trying to quickly figure a way out. If you’re watery, you’ll likely cry!

But all that aside, we typically look at the Moon to get a baseline measurement of  how we react. As the fastest moving planet, its very nature suggests change and thus gives us a clue to our reaction time. But looking only at the Moon’s sign can be misleading. The placement of the Moon in the chart, along with aspects to it can exaggerate or inhibit a person’s mode of reaction.

Before examining a chart, let me be clear why I think this topic has some importance. As I mentioned earlier, in my experience our reactions to the world constitute a high percentage of our quality of life. For most of us, this gets “fixed” in our personalities early on. But if the goal of astrology is to help you understand yourself, then seeing how you react is a very valuable tool in improving the quality of your existence.

The good news is that there’s plenty of opportunity, even without a reading, to understand how you react. All of us, every day, are in situations that demand reactions and responses. Spend a few minutes reviewing these before you go to sleep at night and you’ll start to form a clear picture of how you react. As to why you react in a certain manner, I think there is limited value in dwelling on that, at least at the beginning. Let’s be honest: we all think our reactions are appropriate all the time. And even when we admit they’re not, we can come up with some very good reasons. So, think less about why. More useful, probably, is to think about how could your reaction have been different. Do you have a range of reactions? Are you in control of them or do they control you?

Jolie Planets

As for a chart, let’s look at Angeline Jolie for some insight. Her Moon is in Aries – “forceful, positive, masterful, independent, self-reliant” – according to the first book I grabbed off my shelves. Consider her recent handling of her preventive double mastectomy. Whatever you think of her decision – and I can’t imagine the difficulty in facing such a choice – she used all the features of her Moon in Aries to do so. And with that Moon at the top of her chart, she did it publicly. And please note that not only is it at the top of the chart, but it’s conjunct both Jupiter and Mars. Her reactions are big (Jupiter) and aggressive (Mars).  According to her doctor, “she knew always that in her philanthropic core she couldn’t keep this a secret and be who she is.”

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I’m located in the Chicago area and give readings in-person and by Skype. For more information about readings, go to the front page of this website, or send me an email: chris@blackhatastrology.com.

One of the most interesting uses of astrology is the delineation of family relationships. When people ask for compatibility charts, they rarely pertain to parents or siblings. Yet, such charts can be instructive, in part for the realization that family members are, on some level, simply other people.  By saying that, I’m not diminishing the ties of family but simply pointing out that there can be essential and painful differences between people who share the same blood. “Is it wrong not to like my sister?” a client once asked.  “If it helps,” I told her, “she probably doesn’t like you either. There’s simply no compatibility between your charts. Stop worrying about it.”

In some astrological circles, it’s believed that people choose their families on some mystical/psychic/soul level. I’m not much a believer in that idea and certainly over the years my clients seem to absolutely hate it. “Trust me, of all the parents on earth, I wouldn’t have chosen those two,” is how a woman put it to me once.

That said, family dynamics are interesting even on a wider basis than comparing the charts of two family members. Without a doubt, astrological themes seem to run through some families. This often centers around particular signs that appear regularly over generations. By saying this I don’t mean that the individual charts are similar; what I mean is that a certain sign or placement gets emphasised. Where it becomes interesting is when you see the chart of an individual who does not share any of the family themes. For instance, in a family full of Cancer themes, suddenly a child with no Cancer but a powerful Aries shows up. In conversation, this usually comes out as “I’m the black sheep in my family” and they are.

In astrological practice, here’s what it looks like. The first chart is the daughter, followed by the chart of the mother and then the two charts together. What jumps out pretty quickly in the daughter’s chart is Aries, with Sun and Moon both in Aries, close to the ascendant. This is a powerful placement, a me-first position. To her credit, the daughter has admitted “I was a tigress as a kid”. In contrast, her mother has a lot of water in her chart. Moon in Pisces, Mercury and Venus in Scorpio.

When you look at the two charts together, there are oppositions and squares (conflict) everywhere

Mother_Daughter

Daughter’s Sun & Moon opposite Mother’s Sun

Daughter’s Sun & Moon square Mother’s Mars & Saturn

There is relief between the two charts, with the Daughter’s Moon in Pisces conjunct the Mother’s Venus in Pisces, but that’s about as good as it gets. The temperamental mismatch was and continues to be hard on both.

So, what can we take away from this. There’s an inherent temperamental difference between the client and her mother. This DOES NOT MEAN THEY DON’T LOVE EACH OTHER. What it does mean is that their tendencies and patterns of behavior are at odds. They’re not TRYING to cause friction, but they do because they are who they are. In this case, for this client, that realization was liberating to a certain extent. For her, seeing their differences made the conflict less personal. On a certain level, she saw them as distinct, separate individuals from herself. Not an easy thing to do nor to remember. Relationships – whether they’re parents, siblings, spouse, business partners, friends or the guy behind the counter at the coffee shop – are complicated. And they cannot be otherwise.

 

Saying-No

With thousands of charts and consultations to look back on, there are certain key issues that many, many people seem to struggle with. If I had to identify one of the top three it would be the difficulty people have with saying the word “NO”.

Why is that? I think there are lots of reasons. One is that NO feels prohibitive and we live in a culture where denial of any kind feels akin to an infringement of personal rights. Consider all the messages around consensus, such as “Getting to Yes,” or it’s “It’s a Win/Win situation” or “Don’t take NO for an answer”. In other words, there appears to be a rather powerful subconscious message that saying NO is somehow wrong. But common sense would suggest otherwise, which leads to quote that I particularly like:

“A NO that is constructive is a thousand times better than a YES that is not.”

So how do we know the difference and what does it have to do with astrology? The fact is that you can’t know what is constructive or destructive if you don’t know yourself, if you don’t know what your interests are, if you don’t know what you want. In general, clarity of Self tends to reduce confusion about when and why to say NO. But it’s important to understand the social constructions around the topic: because NO is perceived as prohibitive and negative, many of us are uncomfortable saying it (as well as uncomfortable hearing it) and start avoiding the word. And this confusion cuts across every relationship and circumstance: partners, friends, families, co-workers, etc.

In regards to a natal chart, there are lots of ways this difficulty with NO can develop. For example, it can be a temperament issue, like an excess of water in the chart making you too flexible, unable to take a stand. You may be willing, or simply unable to stop yourself, from giving up too much power. Here’s another scenario: you may be deeply divided about what you want. If your Sun is in Aries and your Moon is in Pisces, the internal dialog may alternate between “It’s all about me. No, wait, it’s all about you.” That’s a lot of tension to carry and potentially leads to behavior that is self-defeating, or that sends mixed messages.

So the need to know yourself is the prerequisite to knowing when and where to say NO. But it doesn’t address the issue of learning how to say NO.

To begin, let me propose a handy rule:

Start with a small NO.

If you’re having difficulty with NO, begin by becoming comfortable using NO in situations where the stakes are not high. Why is that? Because you’re basically building a muscle. If you didn’t work out for a long time, you wouldn’t being with a hundred pound weight, you’d start with a weight that was within the range of your strength and work your way up. The same with NO. Use it in situations that are fairly easy. Like, NO, I don’t want to go there to eat. Or NO, that’s not how I want to spend the afternoon. Basically, you’re looking for any situation where the pushback is not likely to be significant or forceful. Which brings us to the second rule of learning to say NO:

You don’t need a reason.

The fact is, a lot of people become stuck or defensive when their NO is challenged. But in reality, you don’t actually need a reason not want to do something. You don’t need a reason that the other party likes, understands, agrees with or any other reaction they might give. Keep in mind, if you’re having difficulty saying NO, then you’re likely to lose force by explaining your NO. This is again, by the way, the reason you start small. You want to become comfortable saying the word and you want it to mean something. To go back to last week’s quotation:

“A NO that is constructive is a thousand times better than a YES that is not.”

If you know what you want, if you know where you’re going, if you know what is in your best interests, then saying NO is not destructive. But the critical issue is knowing yourself. 

patti-smithjpeg-65bc0c726c43ecec

Saturday night I had cocktails and dinner with two of my favorite characters: my nephew and his girlfriend. At one point, the topic turned to the iconic Patti Smith and later on I was wondering what her chart might look like. She was born, of all places, in Chicago, which surprised me as I so associate her with New York City. The chart is below. Let’s walk through it a little bit.

Patti Smith

Before I start, I have to say that one of the things I’ve always found interesting about Smith is the odd blend of sensitivity with a very down-to earth sensibility. Reading her book, she is entirely, almost brutally forthright about her strengths and weaknesses.

Not surprisingly, the chart is loaded with interesting placements. In the brackets on the left side, we see the Sun and Mars conjunct in Capricorn. That’s about as down-to-earth as you can get: there’s a practicality with Capricorn, as well as a high potential for self-discipline and ambition. With Mars in Capricorn – which Smith shares with Lady Gaga along with the Sagittarius ascendant – the energy will be bold, forceful, self-reliant and so on. It’s sometimes said about Capricorn that work is the most important thing in their lives and one might say that Patti Smith has worked very hard at being Patti Smith.

But what about the sensitivity? The Moon in Pisces (bottom of the chart in brackets) is highly sensitive, perceptive and intuitive. That Moon makes a very strong aspect to both Venus & Jupiter (both circled in the upper left of the chart) in Scorpio, which lends a passionate, aggressive quality to her emotional nature. And then of course, the Moon is also in touch with Mercury – communication, thinking – in prophetic Sagittarius on the Ascendant. With this placement, we might say: “Smith sees and reaches for things that others don’t know are there”.

Certainly there’s more, but much of it is nuance and largely repeats the main themes: the balance of the practical and the poetic. Or as Smith herself has said: “In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.”

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As long-time readers of the newsletter know, a chart can not only be cast for a person, but for a country, a question, even an event. So this week, we’re going to take a look at the opening of Baz Luhrmann’s much anticipated version of the Fitzgerald classic, “The Great Gatsby”. How is this done? The film had its public premiere in Los Angeles last Thursday night (May 9, 2013) at 10:00pm. The chart is below, with a few relevant placements marked.

 Gatsby

As we’ve done in the past, we’ll simply examine the placements of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and its ruler. The question we want to keep in mind is: what can be expected from this movie? In a word: EXCESS! Cast your eye to the lower right of the chart where the exclamation point is. That’s the 5th house. What is the 5th house? The house of creativity. What is in the 5th house? Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Mars, all in Taurus. Now, one of the characteristics of Taurus is sensuality, so we can expect that the film will be sensuous and creative to the extreme, with 4 planets sitting in the sign and house.

Going further, we look at the ruler of Taurus, which is Venus and that planet has just entered Gemini. Finally, we look at the Ascendant – Sagittarius – and its ruler, Jupiter, which, like Venus, is also in Gemini. So out of the 7 major planets in a chart, 6 of them are in Taurus and Gemini. Can we craft a statement, using a few keywords for these planets and signs? How about:

The movie is an expansive (Sagittarius) excessive (Jupiter) projection of sensuality (Taurus with 4 planets) that never stops moving (Jupiter in Gemini) but is ultimately divided in its feelings (Venus in Gemini).

Now here’s a paragraph from the New York Times review by A.O. Scott:

“The result is less a conventional movie adaptation than a splashy, trashy opera, a wayward, lavishly theatrical celebration of the emotional and material extravagance that Fitzgerald surveyed with fascinated ambivalence.”

Did I pick through a lot of revies to find this one? No, it was my first choice. Are there are other statements that could be made from the planetary placements? Sure, but given the excess of Taurus and Gemini the chart for the release and the general perception of the critics, this all seems pretty accurate.

the-desperate-man-self-portrait courbet-1845

One of the most common questions I get from people seeking readings is why they don’t identify with their Sun signs. “I don’t feel like a Pisces,” a woman said to me recently, and certainly she was not typically a Pisces type. And this is the drawback of only looking at the Sun sign: it’s a piece of the puzzle, a significant piece to be sure and in some charts the most important piece, but not always.

One thing to realize is that every Sign is ruled by a Planet. And the placement of that planet is just one of the important considerations in how much or how little you feel like your sign. That’s why we look at all the planets, where they are and how they relate to each other. Going back to something I’ve written about in the past: the chart represents levels of behavior, of being. This is why there are contradictions in our characters and behaviors.

For instance, Moon in Cancer wants to nurture. Sun in Aries wants to go out and conquer. How do those conflicting needs get resolved? Is there a comprise? Is one chosen over the other? So with Aries ruled by Mars, we would look to where Mars is in the chart. Strong? Weak? Connected to the Sun or to the Moon, or neither?

Remember: planets can be described as needs. Growing up in your particular family, is one need much more rewarded than the other? The way the planets fit – not just the Sun sign – but all of them together starts to give us a portrait. Too many conflicting needs may leave you uanble to act with certainty or confidence. Not enough inner conflict and you may lack motivation to do much.

In addition, the relative strength of other planets may take center stage over the Sun sign. A strongly placed Venus or Jupiter – for instance, on an angle of the chart – may give it precedence over the Sun sign. But let’s use an example, and to do so we’ll use one of my favorites: the chart of Angelina Jolie below.

  Jolie Planets

Jolie is a Gemini: Sun and Mercury are in Gemini. Mercury rules Gemini, which should give her strong mental qualities. She should be diverse in her interests and her approach, if we’re looking at it strictly from a Sun sign perspective. And with her humanitarian work, interest in directing and so on, that certainly seems to be the case.

But what we know her for is her beauty and her roles in which she projects herself as a person of powerful action. In the chart, we see that in two places: Venus right on the Ascendant (marked on the left side of the chart) and Mars, Moon and Jupiter in Aries (fighting, headstrong, force) at the top of the chart (also marked). The Gemini signature is there, but there’s a way where it is subsumed by the Moon, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. She described herself once as someone who gets what she wants. That’s not a Gemini statement, that’s an Aries statement, and the placement of those three planets at the Midheaven (career, public exposure) testifies to those needs.

Summing it up: the question of why you do or don’t feel like your Sun sign is a complicated one. And there may be a very good reason why you don’t.

 

varonofrogvd1

Vice and Virtue. Long ago, people used these words to describe the flaws and strengths, the good and bad qualities of those around them. But times change, and the words Vice and Virtue have largely fallen out of favor, which is probably a good thing. They still have a use, however, and we can use astrology to figure out what that use might be.

The fastest way to do that is by taking a look what used to be called The Seven Sins and the Seven Virtues. Here’s what it looks like:

Planet:                 Virtue                        Vice

Sun                        Faith                        Pride

Moon                    Hope                        Greed

Mercury                Prudence                Envy

Venus                   Charity                     Lust

Mars                     Courage                   Wrath

Jupiter                  Temperance           Gluttony

Saturn                   Justice                      Sloth

Before I start, it’s important to put aside the religious connotation of these terms. Most of us have indulged in a fair amount of vice during our lives, so there’s no reason to rain on anybody else’s parade. What’s useful here is to look at the planets as symbolizing potentials – both good and bad potentials. For instance, at its best, Mars will symbolize courage, fortitude, right action; at its worst, we will see anger, vengence, cruelty, and so on. In a chart, those qualities are expressed through the sign of Mars, as well as its position and its relationship to other planets. We all know people in whom anger is a chief characteristic; it has, almost in a literal sense, captured the person’s personality.

In a natal chart, we will see this in different ways. For instance, here’s Sylvia Plath’s chart:

Sylvia Plath

Mars (in hot Leo) squared to Mercury (in deep Scorpio): the mind and tongue will be sharp, cutting, there will be impatience, nervous tension.

Or go back to Donald Trump’s chart from last week.

Donald Trump

Mars (again in Leo) right on the Ascendant. He’ll force himself (Mars) into the world in a dramatic (Leo) style. Both Mars and Leo are hot and dry in their qualities. What is Trump best known for? Telling people that they’re fired!

Now here’s the interesting part. If there was no free will, we would be prisoners of our nature, but we are not. The chart indicates the potential but not the outcome. Energy and qualities – which is what the planets are – can be re-directed, reformed if you will, when you see them clearly within yourself. Because, while it can be very gratifying to occasionally indulge in our vices, it’s not a great long-term strategy. And that’s not because of some soppy religious idea of “it’s better to be virtuous”. It’s more that to indulge in the worst nature of our planets is to deny or block other opportunities, potentials and paths.

 

 

parameter

With his orange face, orange hair and smokin’  tagline – YOU’RE FIRED! – I wondered how much elemental fire we would actually find in the chart of “The Donald.” Turns out, there’s quite a bit, but also a great deal more, which is why we’re going to take a look at the natal chart of America’s most visible and ridiculous tycoon. Here’s the chart, followed by a quick read.

Donald Trump

If you’ve been reading the newsletter over the past couple of years, you’ll recall the importance of temperament. It is considered to be a permanent and largely unchangeable aspect of ourselves. The best description I’ve ever heard of it is also the simplest: temperament is the cloth from which we’re cut. Think of the essential difference between a silk skirt and a wool skirt. They have a different essence, a different materiality.

In Trump’s chart, the main temperament is choleric (hot & dry), thus: controlling, dictating, forceful. But there is a secondary temperament, which is sanguine (hot & wet), thus: persuasive, energetic, engaging.

While most of us associate Trump more with the choleric characteristics, it’s undeniable that he can talk up a storm. And it makes sense that there would be a sanguine side to a person who’s written a book called “The Art of the Deal”. Fact is, you can’t make a deal without being able to talk a good game.

Next, the Ascendant and its ruler. Here we see Leo rising. Leo: the lion, the king, royalty, the person who wants attention. And before we even look at the Ascendant ruler, which is the Sun, check out what’s right on the Ascendant: Mars, planet of war, of action (right side, marked with an exclamation point).  A critical placement – and one he shares with Beyonce – fiery Mars right on fiery Ascendant suggests someone who burns with a lot of passion.

Moving to the Sun (ruler of the Ascendant and marked at the top of the chart) and the Moon in Sagittarius (another fire sign, marked at the bottom of the chart), we have a combination that suggests a drive to be influential, to make their opinions and ideas known.

Strongest planet in the chart? Without a doubt, it’s Mars, whose placement on the Ascendant gives it a lot of force and suggests someone who is ready for a challenge. But that Ascendant becomes even more important and powerful when we realize it is conjunct the fixed star, Regulus.  What does Regulus symbolize? Named by Copernicus (yes, that old guy Copernicus!) it means “little king” and is associated with ambition. When well-aspected as it is, it will “raise the person to high positions in life and denotes successful activity, prominence and wealth”. Maybe it’s not surprise that when he was a kid, his brothers and sisters called Trump “the Great I Am”!

another-baby

The idea that astrology can be useful in questions of fertility is both an interesting one and a very old one. As far back as the 17th century, astrologers have attempted to answer or provide assistance to issues about fertility. For the skeptical, the first question would obviously be: how would this work? In some ways, the theory is rather simple. For hundreds of years, the signs of the zodiac have been divided very loosely into those that are fruitful (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces & sometimes Taurus), barren (Gemini, Leo & Virgo) and the rest of the signs are somewhere in between. Please note: this has nothing to do with your Sun sign. We are looking here at the sign that is on the cusp of the 5th house, which rules children. So we look at that sign and any planets placed in the 5th house. Moon in Pisces in the 5th? Very fertile. Saturn in Gemini in the 5th? Not so much.

Along with looking at the ruler of the sign on the 5th house cusp, we also look at the Moon’s sign and placement. And on top of that, we look at any close aspects to the Moon. A trine from Jupiter (abundance) would be generally favorable, while a square from Saturn (limitation) may suggest difficult.

There’s much more, of course, but the point here, is that you have to look at the entire chart. Just as importantly, you have to keep in mind that the chart factors become more important in situations when a woman is having difficulty conceiving. For instance, if a 22 year-old woman approached me for a fertility chart before they she tried to conceive I would to decline to assess the chart. Why? Because there’s no reason to. You look at the chart when there are difficulties, or there has been a history of not being able to conceive.

Please note: because of the interest around this post, I now have a separate page for the topic of astrology and fertility.