The Solar Myth of Capricorn

The  Sun is now over halfway through the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn.  Capricorn is ruled by Saturn and it’s therefore no surprise that those born under this sign can have a serious or even stern quality to them.  Saturn wants us to work hard and be responsible, so hard work is not something Capricorn is afraid of.  

A myth associated with this sign is one of sons fighting and overthrowing fathers.  We begin with the story of Uranus, father of the Titans who became afraid of the strength of his twelve children.  His reaction was to hurl them into the dark abyss immediately after birth and bind them with chains.  Their mother, the earth goddess Gaia protested but Uranus would not relent.

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Rubens: Saturn, Jupiter’s father, devours one of his sons, Neptune

Gaia pleaded with her children to rebel against their father, but only Saturn had the courage.  Gaia gave him a sickle knife and Saturn over threw his father by slicing off Uranus’ genitals and claiming the throne – nice, imagine what Christmas was like in their house!  Uranus cursed Saturn with the same fate of being destroyed by his children, but Saturn ignored him, freed his siblings and brought peace to the world. (As an aside, when Saturn threw the sliced off genitals into the sea Aphrodite was born and from the drops of blood emerged the Furies and Meliae.)

Now it would be too simple to end things here, what about that curse?  It came back to haunt him when Saturn was given news of the birth of his first son.  He went to his wife Rhea who handed him his son who Saturn promptly swallowed.  He did this with every child.  Rhea became angry as Gaia had before her and eventually came up with a plan.  When Zeus (or Jupiter to the Romans) was born rather than handing over the baby she wrapped a stone in swaddling cloth and gave this to Saturn instead.  Clearly not the most attentive of fathers, Saturn didn’t notice the difference and swallowed the stone instead.  Rhea hides Zeus and when he is grown he returned to confront and defeat his father, freeing his siblings and claiming rulership of the world.

For Capricorn the fear of failure and being usurped underlies all their drive and hard work.  They want to be in control and hold authority in order to avoid failure.  This can lead to taking on responsibility prematurely and fear and depression if they feel they have failed to meet their goals.  For Capricorn the lesson is that time is on their side.  They must learn to set their own goals and grow into their position and authority.  They need to ensure that they do not find themselves living to other people’s goals and standards, be it their father, boss or any other authority.  Only by dancing to their own tune can they achieve the success they work so hard for.  The aim, be the wise leader and not the dictator.

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“Is the person next to you washing their hands with soap?” 100% responsibility!

I’m aware that I seem to write about Saturn and Saturn issues a lot.  In part I suppose this is about my own personal journey as Saturn features so strongly in my chart, but I also think the issues associated with him are something we really struggle with as a society.  Driving into work this morning there was a discussion on the radio about post-toilet hand washing; don’t let anyone ever tell me I don’t know how relax on the way to work!!!  There were some pretty horrific statistics about how few men wash their hands, really nauseating.  The bit that really struck me and made me say, ‘hello Saturn’ was the findings that the signs in public toilets which work the best in improving the number of people who wash their hands are the ones that say

“Is the person next to you washing their hands with soap?”Washing hands with soap and water

This made me laugh out loud.  All the arguments about hygiene, health and the invisible smears on that £5 note you just got in your change, simply can’t match up to the worry of what other people might think if I’m not using soap…  Picture the scenario, you’re washing your hands (because you’re not one of the many people who simply don’t bother) and see the sign.  You glance at the person next to you, who is also glancing to see what you’re doing.  The fear of ‘what will that person think of me if I’m not using soap?’ is enough for some people to do it properly.  How tuned into Saturn we are as a society is pretty staggering, isn’t it???

Although many astronomers consider Saturn to be the most beautiful planet in the solar system because of his stunning rings, earning him the nickname ‘the jewel of the solar system’,  Saturn in the birth chart often gives an indication of where in life our fears can be, especially when we’re younger.  The word saturnine is used to mean gloomy, slow or sullen.  For medieval astrologers he was the last planet visible to the naked eye and so viewed as the edge of the solar system.  In the chart Saturn is often associated with responsibility, authority, boundaries, practicality, reality and building or conforming to social structures.

The other big word associated with Saturn is judgement.  Judgement of ourselves and others, as well as attributing responsibility and blame, are all things that society is really hot on.  The hand washing sign really taps into this worry that we’re being judged by others, or gives us a way to judge other people –  and we all like a bit of that, don’t we?  It puts us in the right and we can feel superior.  The media love, love, loves being judgemental and pointing fingers.  A tragedy happens = who’s fault is it???  Who can we blame??

I talk a little bit about Caroline Casey’s take on Saturn in this post.  She’s definitely worth a read to try and see the positive Saturn, and any of the outer planets, can bring.  There’s so much negative stuff written about him and he certainly does seem to be the planet most astrologers love to hate. Fundamentally, it’s about taking responsibility for ourselves.  That’s all Saturn is asking us to do, be 100% responsible for our lives.

Astronomically Saturn is actually the least dense planet in the solar system.  If there was a body of water large enough to hold him, he’d float!  In contrast Mercury would sink the fastest.  Just take a moment to reflect on that.  How many times do we sink because of our thoughts or something that is said?  Think of all the little judgements your thoughts make on you every day.  If that was a ‘friend’ saying those things about you, you probably wouldn’t be friends any more.  Being the authority in our lives and taking responsibility for all our actions and their consequences means we can stop playing the blame game, be kinder to ourselves, stop looking for scapegoats and maybe, just maybe, float!

Astrology and vibrational healing, or what can an essence do for you?

We ran our first astrology and vibrational healing workshop on Saturday.  This was the first time we have run a workshop introducing people to the idea of how they might use essencesPE-combos We love astrology because it gives insight into our greatest gifts and talents, and also areas of life in which we experience tension and difficulty.  Our workshop sought to explain how to use flower, sea and gem essences to reinforce the strengths we find in our charts, and help us transform our difficulties into results.  So if you’re struggling with a particular Saturn aspect or transit, then an essence can help you work through the issues more easily and, perhaps more importantly, more successfully.

The idea behind the use of essences is about creating or restoring balance, helping us to find the best expression of ourselves.  We are all energetic beings and if there is a block or confusion in our energy, this can be manifested mentally, physically or emotionally.  Difficult aspects in our birth chart or challenging transits can throw us off balance and using essences can help us get back on track.  These aren’t magic potions!  We still have to do the work, but they can lend a helping hand when the work feels too much.6a0133f538e9e4970b017ee3eb264d970d-500wi

I thought I’d give an example from my own experience to illustrate this.  In my natal chart I have a tight Mercury Saturn square from my 7th house Scorpio Mercury to my 5th house Leo Saturn.  Saturn is in detriment in Leo, so he needs a bit of support from others at the best of times!  Saturn is associated with age, maturity and experience and speaking as someone with an aspect between Saturn and all my personal planets, bar the Moon, it gets easier to deal with these issues as we get older.  When we’re little (and by little I’m talking up to our first Saturn return!) these aspects can be very constricting and just plain old hard work!  The signature of Mercury Saturn is the fear of communication because, ‘what happens if I say it wrong?’, ‘what will they say if I say/write that?’ ‘no matter how hard I try I’m simply no good at this writing/talking business!!’.

As a child I had to see a speech therapist because my speech development was slow, although family members could understand me; simply too scared to communicate to anyone outside the family?  I was never one of those students who went way over their word limit, I used to struggle to reach it because my writing was too concise.  Similarly, starting to write has always been a struggle because I’m always afraid it won’t be good enough.  Before even writing a word I’ve tried and found myself guilty at the court of public opinion!

As I write this my throat is starting to feel sore.  This is a common physical manifestation for me of my fears around communication.  A physical symptom of the fear of saying the wrong thing or being judged by those around me.  As I say, this has got easier as I’ve got older, but sometimes I still get a bit stuck.  This blog has been a perfect example.  We first started this blog back in September 2010 and there have been several false starts. I used to start loads of posts, but never finish them, or come back later and scrap them because I thought they weren’t good enough. article-0-0BC38D2F00000578-51_964x634

Recently when I asked Matthew to see if there was an essence I needed he came up with Bluebell.  On the Pacific Essences site or in Sabina Pettitt’s beautiful book it says,

  • “For giving up constraints; opening the channels of communication
  • Resonance: Expression
  • Key Attractors: Openness, Communication
  • Key Challenges: Shyness, Fear, Panic Attacks
  • Meridians: Lung, Kidney
  • Chakras: Throat

Well that sounds like Mercury Saturn issues to me!  Matthew recommended taking the essence, which I did.  Not long after finishing the essence I wrote my first blog post for a long while.  Now I can’t stop!  That’s not to say that there isn’t still a worry about how my posts will be received; but I don’t want that to stop me putting some of our ideas out there.  I’m not saying there won’t be a wobble now and again, Saturn will transit over my Mercury later in the year and I would fully expect to be presented with some of these issues again.  Having said that, it’s a wonderful illustration of how essences can work to give balance when we struggle.

An essence consultation with Matthew can help you find which essence might best work for you.

Goat trading: or what are my responsibilities as an astrologer?

The power dynamic between the astrologer and client is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this week.  With a stellium in Scorpio squaring Saturn I’m not unfamiliar with the exploration of what power and authority are and how they can be handled well, or not so well!  I’ve often felt very humbled by the power and trust invested in me and my skills as an astrologer.  When you give an astrologer your birth details, you give them an insight into who you really are and the gifts, talents, challenges and battles you live with every day.  You also offer trust that they will work with that knowledge responsibly and with integrity.  An incident at the weekend made me think about these issues again and it’s been playing on my mind.  It worries me that for a variety of reasons this trust may not always be handled with the respect it deserves.

Before I explain what happened and take this any further, I want to just mention Caroline Casey.  She’s a wonderful astrologer who wrote Making the Gods Work for You.  If you haven’t read it, get hold of a copy (unfortunately out of print, but available second hand) and read it!!  Her chapter on Saturn is a wonderful take on an energy many people struggle with, or are simply scared of.  And when I say many people, I’m not excluding astrologers from this.  Many only ever read Saturn in a negative way.  A Saturn transit is always scary; Saturn aspects are always bad news; if the great malefic is coming your way hide under your table and brace yourself! brighton-tech-1942 Caroline Casey talks about the issue of authority and the root of the word being ‘author’.  She explains how Saturn simply wants us to be our own author, to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives.  Oh, and work hard because that’s how you really make progress, but hard work isn’t easy – the clue’s in the name!  Stop blaming everyone else and ‘giving away your goat’ (as in Capricorn, ruled by Saturn) and author your own life.  Imagine if everyone took responsibility for their own actions, what would the world look like?  If people didn’t try and find blame or attribute actions and meaning to other people, wouldn’t the world be a whole lot more adult?!?

Think about this a little bit more.  Who do you give your goat up to?  Parents, employer, partner, government?  How often do you think about doing something and think, oh no, can’t do that, what would they think?  We all do it or have done it, but every time you do this you give up your goat to someone.  Of course a variation on this is taking a position of authority, but without taking full responsibility for the consequences of our actions, which brings me back to what got me started…

At the weekend I came across an astrology blog via Twitter which I just couldn’t help but comment on.  I suppose it pushed my own personal Saturn button that just can’t stand seeing authority and responsibility misused.  It’s not going to come as any surprise at this point to know that the post was about Saturn, specifically Saturn transiting through Scorpio and the impact of this on anyone with a Moon in this sign.  Ok, the Moon is in fall in Scorpio, any astrologer worth their salt is going to tell you this.  And yes, a Saturn transit to the Moon is challenging energy, I agree with this too.  However, there is NOT one simple way to read such a transit AND they are not all bad!  Think of the person who during this transit learns to deal with deep, dark emotions in a really responsible way or the person who is able to work really hard and responsibly in a situation other people are just too scared to face. We would read any part of the natal chart, transits or progressions as having a spectrum of possibilities, some easier than others.

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This is the ‘bell curve’ approach we were taught with Astro Logos.  A really basic example would be someone with Mars in Aries, an easier expression would be someone enthusiastic, energetic who is able to start things off and get them moving, but a more difficult expression would be someone quick-tempered, who rushes into things impulsively without thinking them through.  A simple illustration but you get the idea.

Having commented on the blog that I thought there might be other ways to read this transit, I received pretty short shrift in response.  I simply couldn’t help myself and I tried again! This is definitely my Saturn weak spot; if you put yourself in a position of authority, use your power responsibly.  So, I posted a second time trying to explain my viewpoint.  The result?  I’ve been blocked from that particular astrologer’s blog.

So, going back to where I started and what I see as my responsibility as an astrologer.  What concerned me about the interaction wasn’t that I’ve been blocked, I’ll cope.  However, I feel as astrologers we have a responsibility to offer our clients the whole range of possibilities their chart offers to them.  Some of these are more difficult; we all know we have parts of ourselves that we struggle with and we keep making the same mistakes as the universe gives us more and more chances to learn the lessons we need to learn.  Some transits are definitely more challenging, life isn’t all cosy and easy, but it isn’t meant to be.  This is a journey, we’re supposed to be learning and often we only really learn from the crunchy bits or the mistakes.   My responsibility as an astrologer is to talk through the entire possibilities of a transit.  If it’s a challenging clash of energies, how can the client look to deal with this best?  What action can they take (be their own author!) in using the energy to their benefit?  How does this relate to their birth chart and how have they dealt with similar energy in the past?  If I don’t offer them the full range of options then I’ve failed them and I’ve abused their trust in me.

The other responsibility I feel astrologers have is to each other and themselves.  Talk to each other, challenge each other, play with the ideas and learn from each other.  Perhaps it’s the fact that Matthew and I come from a background working in universities, we’re used to critiquing others or being critiqued (constantly!).  I realise not everyone may be as comfortable or used to this approach, but getting feedback from others, reflecting on this and taking appropriate action is how we learn.  If we close down the discussion or aren’t willing to hear any dissenting views then we won’t grow ourselves.  If you really want to help people develop and learn about themselves, then you have to be willing to do the work on yourself too.

Smashing Egg Shells with a dash of Saturn

Ok, Ok, so this doesn’t start off being about astrology, but give me time and I’ll get there.  It started off with a strange conversation over a boiled egg this morning and became a reflection on personal responsibility.  I suppose it is a gentle build up to a post I’m planning about the use of myth in the chart, especially solar myths, and how myth and superstition is important to how we view the world and make connections – (this link is tenuous at best and I’m just making excuses because I wanted to see how many other people smash their boiled egg shells when they’ve finished!).

It started with us having egg and soldiers for breakfast this morning.  Yum, an ideal cold weather breakfast that takes me right back to my childhood.  Dipping the bread into runny egg yolks, delicious!  We both sat quietly enjoying the moment.  I finished and calmly turned my egg shells over and set about smashing them to pieces on the plate.  Suddenly I became aware of being watched, and watched by a slightly confused and incredulous other half who clearly had never seen anyone behave like this after eating boiled eggs.

“Well,” I said, “you don’t want the witches to use them for boats, do you?”

“Eh?!?” he replied.

“My Mum always told us to smash the egg shells so the witches couldn’t use them for boats…”

He laughs.  I don’t – because clearly this is a serious matter!  Having smashed up his egg shells too (I don’t want to take any chances), I retire to another room to check out the origins of this tale.

No witches using these!

So after some brief research I discover that Sir Thomas Browne in his Vulgar Errors (1686) wrote:

to break an egg after ye meate is out we are taught in our childhood… and the intent thereof was to prevent witchcraft; lest witches should draw or prick their names therein and veneficiously mischiefe ye persons, they broke ye shell …. This custome of breaking the bottom of the egg shell is yet commonly used in the countrey. (Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1686), V. xxii, para. 4)

If you search the internet there are references going back to the sixteenth century on the belief that witches sailed in eggshells and caused shipwrecks.  It was believed that by smashing the bottom of the egg you could prevent this happening and prevent shipwrecks.  As late as 1934 Elizabeth Fleming wrote a poem for children which goes:

“Oh, never leave your egg-shells unbroken in the cup;
Think of us poor sailor-men and always smash them up,
For witches come and find them and sail away to sea,
And make a lot of misery for mariners like me.

They take them to the sea-shore and set them on the tide –
A broom-stick for a paddle is all they have to guide
And off they go to China or round the ports of Spain,
To try and keep our sailing ships from coming home again.

They call up all the tempests from Davy Jones’s store,
And blow us into waters where we haven’t been before;
And when the masts are falling in splinters on the wrecks,
The witches climb the rigging and dance upon the decks.
So never leave your egg-shells unbroken in the cup;
Think of us poor sailor-men and always smash them up;
For witches come and find them and sail away to sea,
And make a lot of misery for mariners like me.

So I’m not completely crazy and this isn’t just my mad family ritual….  I’m wondering if this is also a regional belief, although I haven’t found any evidence to suggest this.  My Mum grew up in Liverpool and that’s where her family are from, many of them having been employed on the docks when Liverpool was a thriving port.  Sailors were renowned for being superstitious and perhaps this is where the belief came from. It makes sense as the thought of going out to sea dependant on the wind, weather and fates is a scary thought.  Superstition offers a means of trying to gain some control over the gods for those who feel at their mercy.  I suppose superstition is also about allowing something else to have authority over you and giving up responsibility.

(Ok, here’s some astrology to allow me to further justify this post)

These images of control, responsibility and authority make me think of Saturn.  Caroline Casey in her book “Making the gods work for you” is wonderful in helping us see Saturn in a more positive light and recognising what he is asking of us.  Saturn transits present us with opportunities to explore these themes of responsibility and authority.  All we have to do is learn to take responsibility and reclaim our authority, simple right?  Er, no, not really, because as Casey points out more eloquently than I can, we constantly give our authority away to other people.  Our parents, boss, the government, partner etc etc, all receive our generous offering and give us someone else to blame when things don’t go the way we want them to.  We blindly follow without asking why or reflecting on whether it’s the best course of action – a bit like me and the egg shells!  Casey encourages us to take responsibility for our actions and be our own author – author being part of the word authority.  She tells us that Saturn transits as well as being an opportunity to work hard, which is not a bad thing, can really help us explore these issues of personal authority.  So, as Saturn transits my natal Pluto, this really is an opportunity for me to explore some of this.  Saturn Pluto energy can be incredibly destructive, Saturn restricts whilst Pluto wants to explode.  However, recognising this energy and taking responsibility for the opportunity will allow me to use the transit more effectively.  This is a time to take on extra work, big projects and use the great power of Pluto allied with the discipline of Saturn to really get things done.  Taking place in my sixth house of daily routine and hard work this is even more important because not using this type of energy well could also impact my health (sixth house is also health).

Coming back to the boiled egg issue, or rather me and my superstitions…  Perhaps this is time for me to really reflect on how much authority I give, not just to other people, but also to routine and superstition.  After all, even though I do believe that everything is connected, if something unpleasant happens, can I really blame it on that magpie I didn’t salute this morning?  Or, alternatively, might I recognise it for a learning opportunity and take responsibility for my own actions and decisions?  Interesting, but at least no sailors will be shipwrecked because of me tonight…….