Friday, November 10, 2017

Moon in Leo Insights: Breaking the Chains of Meanness and Centering the Mind in the Heart

My most recent post shook some things loose, bringing on a load of insights yesterday.

Go figure. Since working with Luna's transits more consciously, the Moon's transiting change from my natal 8th to my 9th has been a nice one these past two cycles. I'm tempted to imagine the Moon's tenure in Leo as benefic despite her lacking all essential dignity in the noble malefic's house, but the accidents of time provide the solve: her Leonine revelations are centaur-specific.

I've also got an eye on the last-quarter phase of the Moon as a "tie-it-all-together" moment situating the lessons learned through the cycle in a big-picture narrative, sometimes arching across the entire lifespan if one wishes to broaden the scope that wide (and I often do).

The quarter Moon phases strike me as a horizon, though not one of earth and sky but one solely of light. Ernst Wilhelm's guidance into jyotish has irrevocably changed me (Vault of the Heavens and Core Yogas blew my mind in the best way and inspire continuous re-readings), and it was in the Vault where I learned about the difference between a light and a dark moon. It's at the quarter crossings where that determination is made: prior to the first quarter the Moon is still dark and mostly empty, but once she makes the crossing she becomes more light than dark and is able to bring growth and fulfillment to what she influences. The reverse is true at the last quarter where she relinquishes her full consciousness and enters her waning darkness and hunger.

Of course Rudhyar's The Lunation Cycle is kicking around in my head (begging to be re-read with my newly updated brain), as is the more recent Lunar Shadows III by Pessin (though she equates places with signs/houses, unfortunately), both of which bring the image of a last quarter moon signifying payment of debts and situation of one's creative fruits in the "canon" or timeline, personal and communal. I hear the question: What do I have to give, and where does it belong?

Yet lately, I'm drawn to wonder if can approach this horizon of light and also ask: What's it all about? What's the big picture? What was it all for?

Or I'm just a centaur and I simply am those questions.

Crossings aside, the bright Moon's time in Cancer illuminated some usual meditations on loss and suffering (or, the mysterious multi-lifetime fruits of karma) as the previous entry reflects, but that's to be expected since, for centaurs, that's her role and office.

(She also brings plenty of esoterica and Isis-inspired witchiness, though I've noticed that theme pronounced when she's transiting Gemini, possibly Virgo/Priestess - my eye will be open these next three days.)

Meditating on Saturn's action of loss and hardship, I felt the black bile running around in my blood and churning fire as I was coming up against things in my heart which cause me pain, aspects of life which I do not yet perform with confidence and which therefore bring up all sorts of mean behavior.

And it's in that word mean where I found the most gold.

Was I screaming and yelling into the mirror? Yes I was. Was I bleating and belching words of rage at the dead and blaming some spirits? Yup. Was I cursing the living? You bet. The most immediate usage of "mean" as equal to anger was ready.

But then a spirit in the mirror started talking back and provided another perspective, inspiring me to think of another Saturnine aspect of meanness: impoverishment.

I suddenly saw the root of my rage and suffering as my very own heart, and I realized how much I impoverish my heart, how much I architect my own impoverishment in this life through fear. I had let fear get the better of me, and I suffered in that moment because, over and over again in my recent and deep past, I gave my heart over to fear.

In other words, I suddenly saw how, my whole life through, I've been letting my mind center itself in my head rather than my heart.

Which is sheer mindlessness.

If the mind is in the head and not the heart, the result is fear and suffering. The head is not the seat of the mind; the literalist fallacy cannot be committed, and the brain cannot be allowed to house the mind.

That throne must remain in the heart.

Let's go back to Wilhelm's Vault of the Heavens, because as I received the bolt, this passage illuminating Jupiter's role in a Virgo horoscope rang like a great bell:

Jupiter is the Virgin's Chastity

Chastity is a woman's ability to never go outside herself to fulfill her needs, which comes from being feminine and receptive, which happens to the extent that she keeps her mind centered in her heart. A woman's chastity protects her by letting her discriminate between what feels good and what doesn't. Without this ability she soon finds herself in romantic situations where she is not fully respected. Jupiter, as the 4th lord of feeling and the 7th lord of sexual relations, indicates the Virgo native's ability for chastity. 

A mind centered in the heart. Now there's a definition of chastity I've never heard! This elemental virtue reeeeeeaaallly needs to get some re-specting and a seriously open-hearted embrace.

As I felt all of the times when someone was mean to me, both hurling rage at me as well as belittling and impoverishing my heart, I could feel a life's worth of chains on my heart put there by agreeing with those humans and situations, by allowing another human's impoverished heart to define mine.

I took the passing impoverishment directed toward me as something that was essential, true, and eternal.

I misunderstood human nature and the nature of the world, wherein as much as we can be radiant beings of love, we can also be assholes.

And that, while we all suffer meanness to some degree, some people are very, very impoverished.

I have loved many who are, many who reflected my own meanness back at me. (Repetition compulsion, anyone?)

Much of this happened before I had the inklings of a light-bodied core that was distinct from my thoughts and feelings, a true sense of individuality poking its head out of its sleepy cave.

So, you know, it was happening up until about ten seconds ago.

I come from a lineage of angular Saturns and a whole lotta Libra. That lineage both precedes me and follows me across four generations. And that lineage includes me. I know of family members who didn't make it out of the mean conditions of their own heart before they left their bodies, humans unable to escape the gravity of their own impoverishment.

Seeing myself in them, my heart breaks in compassion. I don't want to die like that, alone and impoverished. Many did.

When I turned back to the mirror, my eyes were softer with understanding.

When the Moon took what she learned in my 8th (Cancer) and brought it to God in the 9th (Leo), I felt a lifetime of impoverishment start to crack as I moved my mind to my heart. I saw all of my fears and stresses, all of the roots of my dis-ease, as the fruits of my own self-meanness.

I saw my lack of chastity.

To look it in the face is to feel such sadness, such compassion for poor little Jared. That sad sensitive little boy has been running the show for so long, architecting a world of poverty around him.

But fortunately I'm writing this from a 37-year-old body, and I've been talking to child-me a lot lately and bringing him forward into Life. And he has many other friends in the horoscope which I also invoke and grant willingness. Much of what was lost is beginning to return, and I muster the courage to let it.

As I now move forward and re-architect my life so that my mind is in my heart, I'm reminded of the connection the eyes have to the heart. I've forgotten the textual sources (I'll be looking, starting with medical texts), but the ancients understood that what was taken in through the eyes went straight to the heart (and by extension, the eyes communicate and release what's in the heart). The "look of love" is a standout example, where if you receive it (eyes are both active and receptive) darts travel on that gaze like sharp-tippied arrows and go straight to the heart, piercing it. Then one becomes "lovesick" and can waste away and die. Or, presumably, get married, but the point is that the eyes are very powerful magical tools not to be used blindly or carelessly. And most importantly, the eyes aren't communicating what's in the head; they're communicating what's in the heart.

Vaults of Heaven outlines the eye positions of each of the planets, something I work with intentionally in daily life and love, but the next steps for me involve even greater awareness of how my eyes are unified to my heart, even though they're located in my Saturn-skull (look at paintings of all the saints in meditation and contemplation - St. Francis and the Magdalene both leap to mind). And in astrology the eyes are ruled by the Luminaries, the Sun and the Moon. But I shall no longer be mistaking their locus on the skull for an assumed connection to brain, despite knowing the brain's integral importance in all things. Saturn rules nerves, including the optic nerve, and nerves tell us what is not spirit, what is not heart.

But I've been living in my skull-head my whole life.

Now I'm on the hunt for my heart.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Saturn, the Long Clock, and Living Creatively Amidst Fear

I've been reflecting on the last handful of years.

Suffering will do that to you. Seems like you become a Job and start asking the big questions when life is perceived as going to shit.

As the more savvy readers may ascertain, I'm zooming out to take a longer view of the Clock and squaring in on, you guessed it, Old Suffering itself, Saturn.

Or that hook-bearing Twin behind the mirror for the Gaiman readers among you.

Before I start turning into Ficino and bitching about Saturn full bore (the dusky one certainly does inspire bitching and complaining in his/her wake), there's a lot of gained learning and deepening attendant to the trials and tribulations that foster consciousness of detachment and separation. But, that needs to stand side by side with acknowledging some objectively shitty scenarios that, by 16th century standards, certainly would have killed me and other people I know.

Let's be real, folks. I'd be dead now many times over if this were a few centuries back.

That's sobering, to put it politely.

That is not to say that one's state of mind and intentions don't matter here, but lately I think in order to live creatively with what astrology signifies, honest appraisals of what is manifesting and occurring are necessary to unleash creativity. That these manifestations are not necessarily under the control or agency of the individual is an important fundament to an astrological engagement with the world, a discrimination of the mind crucial to managing the mechanisms of fault, responsibility, and blame which can truly break our souls and bodies if left unchecked.

It's like I practice in my musical Art: in order to create, we have to know where the limits land. I need to know the key signatures, musical structures and relationships, and the imperatives of time before I can maneuver within them and engage in flow states of play.

I haven't yet met a horoscope that didn't have tough stuff in it. This is logical within the broad scope of life itself, and equally so within the astrological clock system which reflects unfoldment of life in time. There are at least three places in any horoscope which describe and signify "bad" things like disease, abuse, suffering, chronic pain and surgery, and death. While Saturn is the natural significator of these things, this means that potentially two or three more planets get to carry that mantle of strife and despair.

I have learned in the last five years that when Saturn meets any of these planets in one's horoscope, the time is afoot for trouble. For example, when Saturn moves into the house (aka, sign) that contains the lord of the 6th place of disease, enemies, and slavery in one's horoscope. And Saturn will spend two to three years in any place, so the window feels long and more significant, perhaps more permanently altering in the way trauma or damage "changes" us.

As an aside, the planet Jupiter, which signifies most of the things opposite to Saturn, will also alter, though in a way that is unifying and enlarging rather than demanding strength in the face of adversity. We don't tend to notice "life being awesome" as changing us in some deep way, though perhaps we should be more aware of marking such transformations.

Through brushing up on technique and core principles in my praxis, I've found that the places in aversion to the horoscope (6th, 8th, and 12th on the circle) bring things that are not helpful to the native, even if they are essentially strong in their own houses. In fact, a disease lord being strong in relation to the lord of the native is decidedly difficult: illness and disease triumph over the native's health and life. I've observed this even when the lords of the 6th, 8th, or 12th are benefic planets (Venus, Jupiter, a bright Moon), in which case they take on the accidental maleficence.

One Sagittarius man's horoscope has the Moon, ruler of the 8th place of death, chronic suffering, and surgery in Taurus, the 6th place of disease. At the outset I would have thought the Moon in Taurus to be a great thing, since the Moon is exalted in this sign and very potent and able to do her work of growth. However, for this man, that exalted Moon signified severe throat trauma through chronically infected tonsils that caused agonizing pain. In fact, when the situation worsened to requiring surgery to remove them, the doctor remarked that this man's tonsils were the largest and most inflamed that he had ever seen in his entire surgical career. (Technical note: Mars is natally placed in Cancer in the 8th in a day chart, and at the time of surgery this man's ascendant was profected to the 6th place, thereby activating a natal condition which signifies chronic disease that will require surgery related to the throat.)

Another woman with a Capricorn horoscope has the Moon in Sagittarius in the 12th place. When her ascendant moved by the technique of annual profection to Sagittarius, she was diagnosed with cancer and endured surgery and subsequent pharmacological treatment to fight for her life. In contrast to the case mentioned above, the Moon rules the 7th place in the horoscope, thereby signifying events related to marriage and spouse. By governing these things the Moon doesn't come off as malefic, but its accidental placement in the 12th brought loss and difficulty into her life through disease and the isolation of the hospital ward, not to mention the inner cage created by negative thinking and self-cursing which is the too-often actualized potential of this place. (Technical note: the Moon and Jupiter, as well as their signs, tend to signify systemic disease states related to unstoppable growth, especially when the Moon is in Jupiter's signs and vice-versa.) This woman's husband himself also suffered greatly with strong anger issues (note that Sagittarius is a choleric fire sign, and Jupiter is placed in Aries, another fire sign, in her 4th), imbalances which made the marriage itself draining and a strain on her well-being at times.

In these instances, the horoscope itself was not implicated in the troubles endured. By "horoscope" I mean the ascendant itself, the term horoscope meaning "hour marker." The eastern point of dawning awareness is the most crucial and significant to any individual or event (I'd put any planet or sign at the culminating point of the Midheaven as the next most significant hour marker and equally as manifesting as the dawning point of the ascendant). Neither of the above examples had the ruler of the horoscope in the 12th, 8th, or 6th place, nor were the rulers of those places residing in the ascendant, yet that is often the case. I have talked with many individuals where the ruler of the horoscope is in the 12th, or where the ruler of the 6th is in the ascendant (the 1st place). My own horoscope is one such example - I have the ruler of the 6th in my ascendant.

The significations of tying the ascendant itself to the 6th, 8th, or 12th become especially personal, as this usually means that one gets sick or hurt through the results of one's own actions and choices. The level of culpability gets amped up big time and can cause a particular brand of stress and, well, dis-ease. I am tempted to say that this scenario can be especially damaging precisely because of the level of personal agency involved. We get the "I'm suffering because I'm bad or flawed" script, and boy, nothing speeds along disease and decay like an evil spirit breaking one's heart. Or, one is delusional and bound through blindness and addiction to harmful things which the individual knows are dangerous or harmful yet require great struggle and suffering to alter.

Disease and strife are never, never easy to endure, and I imagine that even in the best of times, the locus of pain and suffering in our own bodies is so immediate and universal that we cannot help but feel the leaden, poison chains of fault and blame drain the dear vital spirit from the throne of the heart. All the worse when the Fate governing the horoscope deals a blow that lands culpability for evil and disease in the lap of the individual him- or herself.

My heart opens and imagines itself into the lives of those struggling with disease and blame.

I've spoken to many afflicted people over this handful of years, and I have lived affliction myself.

And yet, I must look forward as we all must. The imperative to live creatively feels all the more necessary. Our mind matters. I know that we can't think away the manifestations of this world (even though I try daily to do so), but I also know that our intentions and what we choose to think about and hold in our heart-minds are integral pieces of the laws which govern this reality. What's inside is important and must meet what is outside, a statement all the more important if the definition of a human is considered as the point where the invisible becomes visible. That definition comes from John O'Donohue, may he rest in peace - and notice that in his definition he defined humanity as the ascendant itself.

This leads me to believe that, more than ever, we need to bump up the strength of the ascendant/horoscope by whatever means are dictated by the entirety of the stars at the moment of birth. Find the planet that rules you, and do whatever you have to do to strengthen it. That includes your mind as much as your actions/rituals, which at this point I really don't distinguish much between. Believe me, there is an altar to Jupiter in my life, and it will only grow from here. Prior to these years when Saturn is moving through my ascendant, I wouldn't have described myself as one who prays.

You'd better believe I'm calling on the name of God now at every turn. Judaic, Christian, Islamic, Greek, Egyptian, all of them.

The spiritual shifts which have occurred since the modernization and industrialization of the world have placed responsibility for the cosmos squarely on the individual. But, this is illogical nonsense. I have grown to use astrology as synonymous with a clock; noting the places of planets is just like looking at the hands of a clock. I wouldn't look at a clock and see it describe "2 o'clock" and think, "I am responsible for it being 2 o'clock right now," yet that is what our current cosmology (or lack thereof) tells us. That in itself is horribly damaging, all the more so when states of disease occur. Instead, how can we separate ourselves out from the flow of time and events and simply see "2 o'clock" and then engage with our light-bearing creative hearts and make a choice? How can we decide what to do at 2 o'clock rather than get all hung up on feeling responsible for the clock describing that message?

This is what I'm rocking even amidst dis-ease states, my own and others'.

Because this shit can get really sad and scary really fast. There is a lot of fear potential built into astrology because there is a lot of fear potential in life. I've been reading 8th place shit in horoscopes for people for the last two years, and you know what? People have died. They're right to be scared.

Hell, you don't even need a planet to be moving through one of the difficult houses to watch bad shit go down; I've watched benefics move into the signs of their fall (the signs opposite to their exaltations) and watch the whole world go to shit in and around me. When Venus moved into Virgo this year, everyone freaked out. They were right to cry out in pain. Bad shit happened. People got sick. Marriages broke up. Work was miserable. (Granted, the two big baddies Mars and Saturn were afflicting the Morning Star, so this year things were really nasty.)

By the way, as an astrologer I expected that, and my foreknowledge did not stop the suffering from coming, nor did it halt my shock when I saw the particular vessels that pattern chose for manifestation.

But it did help me endure and provide a context for a bigger story at work. It provided some meaning, and boy is that meaning piece crucial. Pull in some of that 9th place action! There's a reason the 9th place, providing the superior trine, is the most benefic place for a person. (Technical note: the 9th place is named "God" and signifies our faith and growth from learning.)

Was it the psychologist Maslow who did the research that showed that those imprisoned in concentration camps in WWII who had a sense of meaning were more likely to survive where those lacking meaning were more likely to perish?

At any rate, looking in to the stars can provide the face of Fear staring straight back at you with horrible eyes. When you know you have a packed 8th house in your solar return for the coming year, how do you move on? How the hell do you live a life when the reality for suffering is signified?

One thing I remember is that a horoscope describes what will happen if things continue as they are. In other words, if one takes no action at all, then fate runs its course. And yet here we are with hearts and minds and a sense of choice, however tiny that shard of Light may be. And guess what, when it comes to Light, I don't think size matters. Touch it and you are beyond time and space. God above God.

So, we must define action for ourselves, and we must act. If we go to the grave not having tried, death is horror. This is why I say, even if trouble is signified, you meet it halfway. You give whatever energy is flowing in life a place to go, a vessel.

Your own thoughts and intentions can be that vessel. And then you attend your soul so that thought and action begin to sync up - you get the idea and you act on it or make a vessel out in the world for it rather than pulling a Saturn move and keeping it all invisible inside your own head-prison. Thought is creation, too - so you start to learn to give forth what you think-create rather than hold it for yourself out of fear of loss. (More to come on that - I see that in the students I work with every single day.)

In astrological symbolism, we're talking about being the Sun and Moon rather than being Saturn.

It's why I'm writing this right now, because I need to get over my Saturn fear around what I create and start giving out to the world.

Finding that ongoing sense of co-creation with the world, even in dis-ease states, is vital, perhaps even the most vital when Saturn/6th/8th/12th significations are afoot.

What's shocking is how small all of it can be, how much it can all look like the tiniest action, a decision made in what feels like a fraction of a second - not in ideas of years and months but of the smallest moment of what we conceive of as time. My life has been ruined by the accumulation of tiny moments in which I made bad decisions. Saturn has often won. And these things can snowball, so if you're sick now reading this, you have my respect and you have my courage rooting you on as you battle the Moment.

Maybe what astrology is teaching me is that:

You're creative down to the tiniest particle of yourself.

You matter.

And you're worth it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Astrology of Tolkien's Lord of the Ring's Trilogy, Part Four

The Fellowship leaves the Kingdom of Pisces and makes their transpontine journey into the equinoctial sign of Aries, so put on your Red Shoes and get ready to dance until you drop, because we're about to enter Death's Kingdom.

Aries, Kingdom of the Sun, Domicile of Mars

Whenever I think of Aries these days I get military images buzzing through my head along with the orchestral sounds calling out for valor. I'm tearing up again when I hear them (why does everything make me cry? Jeez!), but there's something about Mars in his highest form of caring sacrifice, effort, and honor that just breaks my soul the way Beauty and Love do. Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man? Chills. Respighi's Pines of Rome? Transcendence and sobbing. John William's Olympic Fanfare and Theme? Put the headphones on me, crank the bass, and watch me crack as my imagination puts on wings and ascends to Heaven. This is the kind of music I want playing as I enter the Gates and the Angel is there waiting to tell me, "Good job, Jared. You made it, kid. We're all so proud of you up here."

Whatever the Olympics have become, the essence of the Games remains pure Aries, and when those athletes walk into the sacred stadiums, they're walking into the Kingdom of the Sun. Going for gold (Sun), as they say. By extension, that Kingdom gets to look like your treadmill, your exercise bike, the gym, the path in the park, maybe your bedroom where you do yoga, or a dojo where you shape body and soul with the Martial Art. Maybe it's your workplace. Maybe it's a room in your home, or the home itself. Maybe it's a chamber in your Heart. A Ventricle Valhalla! Ha!

The Kingdom of the Sun is anywhere you strive.

Let's return back to the Martial image and figure of the Blacksmith. The first image and sound which immediately come to mind is a muscular arm lifting a hammer and then smashing it down onto molten metal. Clink after clink after clink as that sledge descends to forge a new entity out of the old. Transformation through effort!

One of my favorite Solar images for Aries is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Stellar Gellar was born as the Sun was passing through Aries, which is one of those awesome sync experiences where the actor and character are united through an astro-mythic Image. It's like they're both telling the same story; it's gotta feel GREAT as a performer to experience that! Which is why I still want to take a crack at Sweeney Todd.

That, or Elrond: The Musical.

Buffy's journey will find more life in this blog, as it's loaded with the kind of astro-stuff embedded in LOTR, but suffice to say, Buffy is most definitely our kick-ass Sun in Her Kingdom of Aries. There is much to relate between Buffy and Aragorn, our solar protagonist, and at the end of the whole Buffy series (at least the televised portions of the story), Buffy (Sun), with the help of Willow (the Moon, obviously - willow trees are Lunar plants), pulls a complete Aragorn move and closes the Hellmouth for good. It's pure Sun. Hint: Buffy's season 7 move is a line Aragorn says when we enter Scorpio.

Speaking of Scorpio, it's worth noting here that both Scorpio and Aries are under the domicile rulership of Mars, linking them through themes of battle or any other arena where iron cuts into and separates flesh (check out the local hospital's surgery wing). The difference, however, is that Aries has the Sun as King to order the Martial principle and provide structured containment and direction (Leadership) to Mars, where in Scorpio, the Sun is dying (it's autumn) and cannot do this. In Scorpio, without a Leader to Guide, Mars the Soldier gets out of control and becomes a Wolf. (This is also why Mars-as-Scorpio needs his Taurus partner, who we'll meet soon.) Though, let's not shit all over Scorpio. There are plenty of narratives where I wouldn't want to see Mars-as-Aries doing poorly; that Solar Furnace is one mighty hot blast of power, and can you be sure that your Sun King isn't actually lead on the inside? Is the cause Honorable? The dictionary definition of "honor" emphasizes the word "respect" in multiple instances, indicating to me that what is honorable is worth looking at (seeing = knowing) over and over again from different angles (re-spect, to look again). You'll notice that ol' One-Eye cannot do that. Maybe seeing/knowing over and over from other perspectives actually builds worth and honor. Better get your Hermes hat on.

First and foremost, I encourage Mars for protection and defense rather than offensive moves. Don't they say that the a good defense is the best offense? Get the willow branch and beat the bounds. Fortify. Build immunity by moving energy through the system.

Remember Mars from his Kingdom of Capricorn, our Nile Irrigator? Before we leave the Mars element behind, it's worth remembering here that Sam is our Mars-as-King and should be cross-referenced into Mars-themed episodes in the story. Though Frodo isn't quite our solar figure, he is Sam's Sun, and Sam will protect, defend, and support Frodo to the end. Cut to that scene on Mt. Doom where Sam picks up Frodo and carries him the rest of the way! (Tears again.) "I can't carry your burden for you, but I can carry you!" Now that is honor.

Along with themes of honor and effort, when we enter the oracular Kingdom of the Sun, we encounter his guise of Double-Tongued Apollo, master of riddle, divination, and prophecy. Bilbo and Frodo really nail it on this front as competent riddle-solvers (apparently it's a heritable trait), even over and above Gandalf. (If you've got the Sun dignified in the 9th place in your horoscope, get your automatic writing hand ready and start huffing those snake-fumes!)

Nowhere is the double-nature of the Sun more apparent than in its role as a dealer of death who makes life possible. This paradox still makes my mind vacillate wildly. Though Light reifies and makes an entity knowable, when a planet gets too close to the Sun it burns up, is turned to gold and rendered unknowable and inert in its significations and "responsibilities," possibly even signifying physical death.

David Mathisen's works (The Undying Stars, the three huge volumes of Star Myths of the World) have helped to nuance the Sun as life-giver and death-dealer by pointing out the etymological connection between the words "pure" and "fire." Our word "pyre" goes back to the Greek "pur," which means "fire." Hence, if someone is a pyromaniac, they're crazy for fire! Or, a pyre is a pile of wood upon which a body is placed and then set aflame, releasing the spirit from the body. (Note which cultures burn their dead and why, as well as which preserve the body after death. There's a spiritual technology at work behind both.)

So, nested inside our notions of purity is a flame. We could say Sun = Death = Flame = Pure. The Sun, through burning, releases an entity into its purest form (spirit, essence). This also gives us a clue when we read something like "a pure virgin," which can be understood in the astrotheological sense as "the Sun in Virgo." Or, let's take Venus' retrograde cycle wherein she moves backward to descend into the flame, undergoes purification, and is reborn. Her underworld Sister-Queen might even be understood as an aspect of Venus herself, imaged as the Queen at the Heart of the Sun.

By the way, to be in the heart of the Sun (sharing the exact degree with it on the Wheel) is called cazimi.

I just love that word!

I should also mention that when a planet is cazimi, it is the most exalted, powerful place in the whole Zodiac. I'm at a loss for words to describe what something so cosmically radiant and eternal might look and feel like, but fortunately, Tolkien gave it a shot! (Though we won't get the image until The Two Towers.)

Much of the imagery in the Faces associated with the sign of Aries is quite constructive and powerful, what we'd usually associate with positivity. In Tolkien's story, though, the world is quite divorced from itself and in a state of death-wielding madness, so rather than creating Life through establishment of order and effort, we have Aries as a field of death and destruction. The Life-creating Force turned against itself as in War; the dividing blade of the axe and plough have been set to flesh.


The first Face of Aries is ruled by Mars and is the Two of Wands in the Tarot.

The Sun's passage into the sign of Aries in the Tropical Zodiac marks the beginning of Spring and the start of the New Year. At least in the northern hemisphere! Aries is the Kingdom of the Sun because it is at this point on the Wheel that the Sun now begins to increase in light and days become longer than nights. Symbolism of birth and creation abounds here, and in Tolkien's story it is the point at which the Fellowship is "born" and enters into the world at large. I can see the head!! (The sign of Aries rules the head in astrology, too.)

By the way, contrast Aries' here-and-now presentness and birth energy with Venus' preceding Kingdom of Pisces. Might the womb symbolism of Pisces-Venus describe something to us about what's prior to birth? Mother and baby as One? Souls United?

The Sun and Moon can both be understood as aspects of consciousness where the Sun is active and the Moon passive. These ideas get burdened with a bunch of our limiting and frustrating hangups over the sexes, but in their essence these two consciousness modes are about wanting and creating (active, Sun) and learning (passive, Moon). Look to both the Moon and Mercury in your horoscope to determine your learning style and how best to set up your life for maximum learning and reception. Also, look for and notice when your consciousness is in active mode, passive mode, and both at once.  A lot of television watching and book reading falls into the Moon mode (the quicksilver faculty of imagination is given to Mercury).

So, here in the Sun's Kingdom of Aries, the story is all about wanting to do things and create things. A lusty spirit drives the heart here, a zest to go out into the world and expend effort in following your passion. I want! I want! I want! (And it's common and easy to be disconnected from that and feel the burning misery of not knowing what you want - and by extension, why you exist. This may need rediscovering at multiple points across a lifetime.)

So, like Diana Ross, the Fellowship has come out, and right away we see them plagued by the destabilizing Mars ruler of this Face, Sarumon. (Mars = Five = Sarumon) The group must hide from a pack of Sarumon's crows, which he of course can communicate with. Birds have long been and continue to be oracles (watch for when flocks of birds gather around your home!), and there's a long tradition of being able to read signs by them. We are, after all, in Apollo's Oracular Kingdom. Apollo struck the crow with blackness for bringing a message he didn't like receiving, and thus are crows bearers of bad news. Among other things, of course. Crows are highly intelligent and know things. Secret things. I was told a story by a friend who talks to crows (they are always around him and they all caw back and forth) that, when out in the forest alone and in complete solitude, crows sing with the most beautiful song ever heard. Remember how Apollo is the father of the Muses? (Muse = Music)

Sarumon, being a smart cookie and ascertaining from his crows that Gandalf plans to avoid the combustion kingdom of Moria, takes action to force the Fellowship into danger's way. He does this by controlling the weather, another wizardly skill set. (Ever heard of a cloud buster? Reich's orgone energy?)

Gandalf knows exactly what's going on down in the mines and when asked about taking the passage through Moria replies that he'd avoid it at all costs. When we remember Tolkien's experience as a soldier in the First World War, we can read Moria as the Front on continental Europe (Aries = Mars = Warfare) and Gandalf's words as a response to conscription. "I'd avoid it at all costs." But Gandalf is "drafted" - notice that he doesn't choose Moria of his own agency but has Frodo decide - and the Fellowship begins its deathly descent into the heart of the Sun.

Of course when they reach Moria they are met with another riddle (Sun), though in a fascinating script which can only be read by moonlight. The dwarves love their moonlight, don't they? Being Venus, the dwarves are under Luna's regency (in the way that Jupiter is under the Sun's. This all has to do with the doctrine of sect - which planets are diurnal or nocturnal).

Before the gang enters Moria, though, we get some accidental mischief that sets a series of unfortunate events in motion. Our twin Mercury hobbits are going to cause all sorts of trouble in Moria, the Sun's Kingdom, foregrounding the way low, common, impulsive, scatter-brained Mercury acts in the Sun's realm of dignity, forethought, focus, and right effort. In a perfect world Mercury can don Athena's helmet and owl and stand as strategy, but Merry and Pippin, while fun and funny, don't think ahead. God doesn't give with both hands.


The second face of Aries is ruled by the Sun and is the Three of Wands in the Tarot.

As the Fellowship is forced into the mines, we encounter a grim scene. Tolkien uses the Sun like before to signify a kingdom, but the Saturn association with the number Three manifests here as Death, much to Gimli's horror and despair (Saturn = a fall away from hope, hopelessness).

The path leads to an impasse when it forks into three (Saturn) possible doors, which stalls Gandalf as he can't remember the way (Saturn = forgetting).

Frodo engages Gandalf in conversation during the wizard's remembering, and a most Solar exchange is uttered. Again in despair (Saturn), Frodo says that he wishes the Ring had never come to him, that none of this had happened. Jupiter-Gandalf responds invokes the Sun itself by saying, "So do all who live to see such times. But that's not up to us. All that we must do is decide what to do in the time that is given." Back to the Sun as marker of time! And in astrology, the Sun is a guide as to what to do with the time you have - look to the sign it's in, hence the enduring popularity of Sun-sign astrology!

Gandalf then pops back into full Jupiter mode and talks of Destiny, telling Frodo that there are other forces at work; both he and Bilbo were meant to have the Ring. These forces at work point us back to the eclipse cycle wherein the New Moon conjunction on the North Node creates the Ring, but the Moon then bears the shadow away. Bilbo and Frodo, being our two Moon stand-ins, are implicated in this Fate: they are part of the celestial drama where the Moon makes a full cyclical return to the North Node eclipse point (Rahu, the Dragon's Head).


Our final episode of Aries is ruled by the planet Venus and is the Four of Wands.

Once the Fellowship passes through the mines and into the great hall of Moria, we enter the final episode of this Kingdom. Balin is discovered to be dead, and we see the first of many Venusian tears to come. Pippin pulls his Mercurial move and starts the goblin-ball rolling, which leads to Balrog straight to the group. In this demon we find personified all of the horrors of combustion and battle, all of the War in its fury dealing death to the land. This is the gatekeeper on the journey to the heart of the sun, and it is Death. The Balrog itself reminds me of those photographs of the Sun where black sun spots can be seen speckled all across its body.

Even though the Balrog is a foe beyond all of their capabilities, Gandalf, in an act of courageous sacrifice, faces his combustion, drops into the abyss, and in so doing drops out of Time and Space. Venus is said to be in the sign of her "fall" in Aries, and here we see the loss of those we love as they meet the purifying flame. The hawks of war overcome the dove here; purification makes us weep as we lose the living flesh to hold and hug.

Gandalf's mantra may come in handy for moments when facing combustion: "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun."

To wrap up this Aries episode, the spring equinox does not bring with it a Balrog, nor a World War every year. What it tells us is that the time has come for us to begin the Season of Works, wherein we use our red-blooded, muscular effort to start preparing the soil for fructification. When that equinox hits, it's time to get out the iron, hit the fields, and begin phase one of the growth season. Our blood is sacred, and our effort is, too. We make holy by giving our bodies and souls to Life. Caring is the root of effort. What is begun here yields harvest when the Virgin arrives to usher in the Season of Grace, where we live off our efforts during the dying time of fall and winter. The Farmer's Almanac probably has a lot to say on this topic.

It's worth striving to make Aries a time of Creation where we forgo our Rites of Spring, our Red Shoes, our Dances with Death, and till not our living blood into the soil but our Will to create an abundant, safe place for those we love.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Astrology of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Part Three

As our merry band sets out from the Prancing Pony, we find ourselves crossing a threshold into the next sign of the Zodiac, Pisces. While Aquarius only has a domicile ruler and not a regent, when we move into Pisces we find ourselves back in a land with two rulers.

Pisces, Kingdom of Venus, Domicile of Jupiter

A discussion of important Venus symbolism is required here. This one escaped me for a long time; I can't believe that in almost 20 years of reading astrological and theological texts that the defining feature of Venus has gone unremarked! (If it was anywhere, it was probably in Lewis' The Discarded Image) And that is this: Venus is the wife, lover, and consort of the Sun.

Like me, you may have imagined that it is the Moon and not Venus who is the Sun's wife, partner, consort, etc. I mean, it makes sense, right? The two Luminaries! The Lights are a pair! But no, the Moon is not the Sun's wife and partner. The Moon herself is actually untouchable, which we'll see soon; her true nature is Mystery and will never be revealed to us.

To unpack Venus' status as lover and wife of the Sun, we must return to the Thema Mundi and the order of the planets (back in part one). Recall that the order from Earth up goes: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Notice how Mr. Sun there is situated about halfway up. If we take him as the center (which is the basic meaning of the Sun anyway) we have three below him (Moon, Mercury, Venus) and three above him (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn). 6 + 1 = 7. This also highlights the Sun's essence of pontifex, as Bridge and Unifier from heaven to earth and back (remember that second Face of Aquarius? It's a Six = Sun!). In astrology, the planets below the Sun's orbit are called inferior planets, and the planets higher than the Sun are called superior planets. And no, value judgments based on verticality don't come into play here; we humans foolishly love to equate low with bad and high with good. As if anyone with an ounce of Mercurial sense couldn't see that the poles change places all the time! Flip flop! What do you think this whole Lord of the Rings story is about anyway???

Caveat: when it comes to the retrogradation of the planets (when they appear to stop and turn backward in their orbits; the Lights are exempt), the inferior,  or shall we say, "inner" planets are more troublesome and difficult in their significations than the "outer" planets. This has a little something to do with their speed, for the Moon, Mercury, and Venus are the fastest of the bunch. We've already encountered Mercury's speed factor in the story!

Now, we're going to set the Moon aside for now during the inner planet discussion because she is not bound to the Sun the way the other two are ("There shall be one Mistress here, and NO Master!" Now you know why she painted her body white!). But Mercury and Venus are really tight up to the Sun and close to him, and as such, they are never very far away from him on the Great Wheel. Where he goes, they go. I forget at the moment the maximum distance away from the Sun that Mercury can get in terms of degrees, but Venus can never be more than about 46 degrees in front of or behind the Sun on the Wheel. We can simplify and say that Venus and Mercury will always be either in the same sign as the Sun or in the sign immediately in front of or behind him.

The Sun-Mercury relationship can be unpacked in a few exciting ways, but we'll get there once we come to Rohan. For now, let's look to the Sun-Venus bond, and, from our perspective, Venus is even closer to the Sun than Mercury is. (Yes, from a heliocentric point of view that's flipped, but I'm not writing this from the surface of the Sun. I know, the dream is ruined.)

An important equation: Sun = Red. The Light and heat of the Sun is understood to redden things that get close to it, or things that its beams touch. (Sunburn, anyone?) In Alchemy, when the Work enters this solar phase, it's called the reddening of the Work: the rubedo. And now you know why rubies are called rubies! And to which planet they belong. I'm going to bet that they're all over crown jewels across the world. But like a jewel in the crown, Venus is also red because of her proximity and relationship to the Sun. Ever heard a woman called a Scarlet Woman? How about the Woman Clothed with the Sun? What color hair does The Little Mermaid have in Disney's film? Did you know that mermaids are Venus symbols? And that mermaids also are symbols for prostitutes? Well, mermaids would simply mean sex in general, but we have Moon and Venus trouble in our culture and therefore tend to hate Venus, poor Lady. Besides, prostitution is slavery (human bodies should not be assigned monetary value) and therefore has no place in Venus' world. But, a quick and easy cultural reference for spotting Venus is simply to look for the woman with red hair in most stories. Jolene, Jolene, Joleeeeeeeene, I'm begging of you, please don't take my man! (She even has eyes of emerald green, another Venus color! Girl's doubling up!)

Those of you thinking ahead will also note that Mars is also in the same proximity to the Sun as Venus, he's just on the other side. And what color is Mars? And what Mars substance makes blood red?

Things could get a lot more sexy and graphic here with this Venus discussion, and I even invoked Mars into the conversation, and he looovvvveeesss Venus. Although, unfortunately, for about one thing only it seems, but I digress. Those born to her Kingdom of Pisces share a love of sexual union, but only insofar as this suits their need to Unify and create wholeness. Pisces-Venus is no wanton slut - that's more Mars' game (in some of the Arabic texts he's described as a fornicator when lacking dignity in a horoscope). Remember how Mars likes to disperse and "spread it around?" I'd say he's Lust, not Love. (c.f. Crowley's attribution of Lust to the Sun's sign of Leo in the Thoth Tarot. Discuss. 555-4455.)

Venus shares a drive to Unity with Her Husband the Sun, the pontifex. And I'm tempted to say that she does it even better than He does, since it is Love which endures his Death (you know why he dies?).

Go ahead, imagine the face of someone you love so dearly that has died. What do you feel?

Are you smiling yet?

Bringing Life together is Venus' essence, for she is fidelity itself, Love's draw to be Near. ("It's not the pale Moon that excites me, that thrills and delights me. Oh no, it's just the nearness of you.") It is unsurprising that Venus' major signification in astrology is love and marriage. Most of the comedies in Shakespeare's canon fall under the heading of Venus, for they end in marriages. Happy ending! Hell, even LOTR ends that way for a number of characters, if not explicitly then implicitly.

The glyph for the sign of Pisces is two fish bound by a cord. They're often described as swimming in opposite directions, but I think direction is tangential to the fact that these are two entities bound by love. There's a nice twist on the old binding spell, eh? Turns out Love is the ultimate binding agent! If I were to put true marriage anywhere, I wouldn't place it in Libra where it usually gets attributed. No, no, I'd put it in Pisces. That's soul love. I can see where the thinking leads one to think of Libra as being the natural place for marriage; after all, Libra rules binding words. But as we'll see with Return of the King, Libra is Saturn's Kingdom, not Venus'. Venus is the domicile ruler of Saturn's Kingdom, so it is she who is doing his work by, but she's not calling the shots or making the rules. And she is classically not Saturn's friend, daughter though she may be. They don't work under the same rules. The dude had to have his balls cut off in order for her to come out of them, so this is telling you that the father-daughter relationship is....complicated.

(James Hillman in Aphrodite's Justice writes that Venus is the very essence of "complication", which etymologically means "to fold together." Back to unity. Sex does tend to complicate things, doesn't it? Of course, that's the point.)

So, a little fishy diversion so that I can bounce an idea off this whole Libra-Pisces-marriage thing. Take Crowley from his Book of Thoth  to start us off. When writing of the Death card of the Tarot (which is Scorpio), he says: "This card is attributed to the [Hebrew] letter Nun, which means a fish; the symbol of life beneath the waters; life traveling through the waters." He goes on to point out that fish (and the gods associated with them like Oannes and Dagon) were the central symbol in spiritual technologies that emphasizes reincarnation and resurrection.

One of the new ways in which I'm reading and experiencing Pisces is taking a cue from this equation of Fish and Soul, especially in relation to Death. I imagine fish under the surface of a glassy pond as souls yet to come through into incarnation, or souls having left this world. Surface of water = Death. And remember, too, Water = Mirror. (Take a think on that one next time you're doing your hair after the shower. I know I do.) Pisces, being one of the two Kingdoms that straddles the spring equinox (Aries is on the other side), is understood to be situated at the Crossing. This is also true of Virgo, which is situated at the Crossing of the autumnal equinox (which is Libra). Pisces and Virgo, therefore, are said to give birth to the signs that represent the equinoctial seasons. Let's see...where do we know of a story where a Virgin gives birth to the Dying Son? I mean, Sun? Do we have any wine and water and bread/wheat imagery, or perhaps fishes and shepherds and flocks related to a Cross(ing)? I can't quite recall...

At any rate, Pisces is well acquainted with the glassy surface of the Birth-Death Threshold Crossing.

My next step now is to puzzle out that cord binding the fish, which to me is Love, and thus I come to Pisces = Soul Love.

Soul Love is beyond sex, beyond the genitals, beyond bodies, beyond our idiotically puny definitions of love that have resulted from the Sauron Division Culture. I do think the happily ever after/soulmate thing can work (see the Ten of Cups), but like all things magical, one cannot lust for result, and we're given a whole lotta crappy results to bewitch us by the aforementioned SDC (monoculture). But, and it's a big but, Love and Death come as a package; James Hillman spent his whole life unpacking the Soul's love for Death (if you don't own Dream and the Underworld yet, get it!); Freud picked up on the strange union of Love and Death (Eros and Thanatos). Like the Germans, it's not all smiles and sunshine.

Yet here with Pisces, the symbolism is telling me that we're upon a Mystery wherein Love crosses the Death-barrier and can both push into it and bring things out of it. And I suspect that also doesn't look the way this Western culture has mediated it to you, either.

So, back to marriage. Here in Pisces we have the Kingdom of Venus in which Love unites two souls together, or they are already bound together (please for the love of God can we give some dimension and perspective to the term "soul mate?") and they must find each other in this level of reality. When we do, LOVE! Notice how, if we operate by Libran standards, two people can be bound together even if they are not Soul-Bonded? This seems a very dangerous thing, and probably not optimal for overall health and happiness. I have made humongous Libra-generated mistakes by making unwise attachments, and lemme tell ya, folks, it does NOT end well! I mean I guess two people can "learn" to love each other, and maybe soul-bonds can by forged (aka, by hard work - should love be difficult?), but there's something here that gives me pause.

Let's play with this: what are the similarities and differences between "unite" and "bind?" Which feels more Venus, and which feels more Saturn? Is binding always bad?

Now we move on to the domicile ruler of Pisces, Jupiter. Grand, fatherly Jupiter here is in service to Venus. It is he who accomplishes Venus' work of marrying souls by being as cosmic, wise, spiritual, and hopeful as can be. Yet in Pisces, Jupiter has a particular feeling and dynamic to him that he does not experience elsewhere. Remember how I said that Venus is never very far from the Sun and that she stays with him through his Death? Well, here, Jupiter must watch Venus die with the Sun because she is united with him, and there's nothing the Good Father can do about it. His little girl must be lost to him. This leads one to the classic reading of the Pisces Kingdom as full of love (Venus) and hope (Jupiter), but wherein its natives feel helpless to do anything or make a difference because there is an inevitability of Death at work here. Venus will die with the Sun. (Another kiss for those of you who have already figured out who these characters are!) This dynamic also leads its Piscean natives to FEEL EVERYTHING; they feel emotionally into and unite with all of creation (the Big Good Father), yet cannot fight back against the feeling that one just "can't do enough" to save all the little fishies out there in the world. And if anyone can reach into you and touch your soul, it's Venus. And yes, she suffers for it; the walls are porous or non-existent for her (Pisces people have to erect some sort of emotional coping structure - my guess is that it may look like a jellyfish's body rather than the Great Wall.)

And now to the Vale of Tears. Feelings so strong often make Piscean natives weep. Through the Trilogy, the scenes in which we see characters weep in the film correspond to the Faces Venus rules. Venus = weeping. Venus is a water elemental, a being born of and made of water. Venus brings wetness (and yes, that kind, too). In astrology, in fact, she is understood as one of the rulers of the water element itself a dignity she shares with Mars - remember that in Capricorn Mars brings the water with his effort? He's a water master! I have wept at the scene closing the first film where Frodo tries to leave Sam but he follows and almost drowns for loving Frodo so much. Damn it, I'm tearing up now as I write.

Though, you know who's important to you in your life by knowing who would make you cry if they died. For whose loss would you weep? This is Venus talking, telling you who is Lovely and Beautiful to you in this world, and who to cherish. Hey, remember how Madonna's "Cherish" video is set at the shoreline (where Venus was born and where she rules) with a bunch of mer-men (Venus)? Fuck, that just hit me...I love that song. "Gimme faith, gimme joy!" Spoken as Aphrodite herself! (Venus = Faith and the sensate particulars which render God knowable - colors, smells, sounds, ritual - and keeping the Sanctuary clean).

Maybe you still weep for the loss of some people. I sure did, but the more I make them part of my daily life through ritual, remembrance, and dedication, I just sigh and then smile more. But hey, She wants you smiling, too. Ask your beautiful fishies on the other side if they want you to cry in sadness or go smell the roses, orange blossoms, and gardenias. (I'm talking long term. The funeral and its aftermath are another matter. See beloved John O'Donahue's "For Grief" in his To Bless the Space Between Us. Radiant, beautiful soul!)

For my own part, I will say that I cry all the time (yes, She is strong with me), but it's Beauty that moves me to tears more than anything. And that's also why I cry all the time; it's our responsibility to see Beauty in the world, as my dear Friend of the Fish tells me. Maybe Beauty makes us cry because when we are moved by it, we see our Source and want to go Home. The cord pulls.


The first Face of Pisces is ruled by Saturn and is the Eight of Cups in the Tarot, and boy, is this Face a tough one! It's rulership by old malefic Saturn lends it some pretty grim imagery, and our characters in LOTR go through a helluva time in this episode.

Pisces is a water sign, but with Saturn as ruler of this elemental Face, what we are left with are pools and swamps of stagnant, stinking, toxic water. You know, the kind that mosquitos lay their eggs in and which breeds pestilence. Images of miasmic poison abound - Saturn in astrology is said to rule poisons and narcotics, an attribution we also see connected to the Death Kingdom of Scorpio, itself a rather Saturnine place. Mars, ruler of Scorpio, is also a pharmakon (Greek for "drug, medicine.")

As a contrast, pick up Coppock's 36 Faces and read his delineation of this Face. It's a lot more constructive and positive. Austin is a good Blacksmith.

Tolkien, however, sticks with Crowley's interpretation and foregrounds the really crappy Saturn bits. In this case, even though we are in a Mercury-ruled number (8 = Mercury),  big, heavy, superior Saturn overpowers light little Mercury, and we see Frodo get stabbed and poisoned (by the Nine's leader - remember how the Nine are connected to the Fallen Moon Kingdom of Scorpio? The venomous stinger?), a wound he will carry unto his death.

We also see a Saturnine action going on in this episode when we see Sarumon first begin to destroy the forest, killing the Living Trees to feed their bodies to his flaming furnaces. Keeping in line with Mercury and his connection to industry and craft (remember the Seven-Eight tier on the Tree of Life?), another possible reading for this Saturn-Mercury episode could be "industry and craft which kills." Although this begs the image of what a harmonious arrangement of the two could look like.

We get more of Mercury's nature as, like before, the Nine must be speedily outrun (even on the Mercury instrument of bridled horse), but first we meet Frodo's vessel of delivery and the very Queen of the Kingdom herself, Arwen!

Let's back up a minute. Earlier, we see Aragorn singing a song about Arwen herself while the group is camped for the night, which makes sense because we are in Her kingdom. She calls it out of him! (Did you know that's what "education" means? When in your life has Love called something out of you?) He's sad, and the song is sad, which resonates with the Saturn (melancholy) rulership of this face.

Our first glimpse of Arwen in the film is moving in its luminous purity. She arrives to us as the Evening Star herself, radiant and soft. And she says, "Hear my voice. Come back to the Light." Have you ever needed Love to say that to you? I will openly admit to having wept at this moment. "Come back to the Light." The Tolkien-Jackson hive mind really set us up for a spectacular moment here!

Once Arwen has Mercurially outrun the Nine and crossed the river which borders Rivendell, Frodo lets out a death-rattle gasp and is about to let go, which causes Arwen to weep (Venus again). And she says one of the most amazing, stunning, heart-wrenching, Beautiful things that is the absolute essence of Venus captured:

"What Grace is given to me, let it pass to him! Let him be spared! Save him!"

Now, I'm even crying again writing this, because let's remember that both Lewis and Tolkien experienced firsthand the horror that was the First World War, a demonstration of cursed soullessness that prompted them both to write stories which would redeem this fallen state. But, hearing Arwen say those words, I cannot help thinking that Tolkien would have heard these words said on some desolate, senseless battlefield in Europe where men were holding their dying brothers and wailing in grief.

Maybe he even said them himself.

How many mothers do you think were saying that?

How many do you think are?


Once into Rivendell, we're in the second Face of Pisces, which is ruled by Jupiter and is the Nine of Cups in the Tarot.

The action in this episode is characterized by Jupiter, and indeed we meet our Jupiter Domicile Ruler of Pisces, Lord Elrond. We know he is wise, and he's the go-to guy for medicine, healing, and as we'll see later, some nifty chemistry (which by now you should just be reading as Alchemy).

Naturally, since Gandalf is also a Jupiter figure in this story, he's there in Rivendell, too, marking the reunion with Frodo and Sam. He updates Frodo on what happened to him since they parted ways in the Shire, which involves us seeing how Gandalf made his prison break from Eisengard.

The Eagle has always been a symbol of Jupiter, so it's no surprise that we see the Eagles' action in connection to Gandalf. While Gandalf knows how to call them, it should be made clear that he does not command them! They are the embodiment of God's Grace! He can only ask for their assistance; he has no guarantee if they will even show at all. He's essentially saying a prayer into the moth. Moths and butterflies in folklore are said to carry your message to the Great Spirit if you whisper it to them as they pass. I learned from the Radio Lab episode called "Black Box" that the physical structures of the future butterfly are already in the caterpillar before it even goes into the chrysalis. What does that make you think about Gandalf our Good Father and Destiny?

Jupiter in astrology is a signification of Faith. It is most certainly not Knowledge - that would be Mercury. Faith-Jupiter picks up where Knowledge-Mercury ends, which speaks to the priesthood as a classic career delineation for Jupiter. (Watch The Father Brown Mysteries - a great example of Mercury-plus-Jupiter in one; notice Mercurial Agatha Christie's character Poirot struggle with Jupiter's realm of Faith in Murder on the Orient Express - the stellar David Suchet portrayal. I weep at that one every time, too! They all Loved that girl and her family so much!)

So next time someone says, "Why didn't they just take the Eagles to Mordor and skip the whole journey?" you'll know you're in the presence of a fool.

Our list of Jupiter characters is rounded out by a third as Frodo finds Bilbo has made it to Rivendell. And lo! He has finished his history book! The reunion is bittersweet, though, as the weight of Bilbo's actions crushes his heart upon seeing Frodo nearly die because of them. Bilbo weeps, saying he's sorry for everything. Venus and tears again.

It is in this episode that Tolkien gives us another temporal clue which indicates that multiple time frames are happening across Middle Earth. When Frodo emerges from his NDE (near death experience), Gandalf lets him know that it's 10AM on October 24. Being an astrologer, that date immediately rang in my ears as the date when the Sun enters the sign of Scorpio in the Tropical Zodiac (it's actually somewhere from the 21st-23rd, depending on the year). So we know for sure that it's autumn, and the surroundings of Rivendell make that clear. But we know that the journey began just after the winter solstice (Dec. 21-23ish), so if everyone were on the same time frame, that would mean the Hobbits have been on the road for almost a whole year! And we know they haven't been; Frodo will mention at the end of the story that the whole ring journey took 13 months (that's an important number), so what's up?

Let's look back to Elves = Saturn = Three. Remember how I said that the Triplicities in astrology describe the elements? If you were to connect the signs of a particular element in the Zodiac, you'd end up with a triangle, as the signs belonging to each element are 120 degrees apart on the Wheel (three signs multiplied by four elements gives you the total twelve). Taking Rivendell for Pisces, that would mean that the Elf Time is one point of the triangle behind the rest of the world: Scorpio is the sign 120 degrees earlier than Pisces. Or, we could look at it as being two points of the triangle ahead of where the gang is now. Either way, the Elemental Elves are moving through Time at a different rate than the rest of Middle Earth and that movement is based in their own image of the Triangle. We know, too, that the elves are leaving Middle Earth, their life energy dying away just like in the fall. The bonus documentaries on the Trilogy DVD contain the designers explaining this when they get to the part on Rivendell; and if you watch The Hobbit, you'll notice that when Bilbo gets to Rivendell, it's a Green Summer there.


The last Face of Pisces is ruled by Mars, and it is the Ten of Cups. Being a Mars-ruled Face, we can expect to see some conflict.

This episode sees Elrond hold the secret council wherein the delegations of elves, men, and dwarves convene to decide a plan of action to achieve the One Ring's destruction. Destruction is an apt topic of conversation for a Mars-ruled Face! Naturally, quarreling results, and if there's one thing that Venus dislikes in her Kingdom, it's quarreling! Frodo really gets moved by Her spirit, and seeing the writing on the wall, he steps into Her role and commits what may be seen as an ultimate act of selfless love by volunteering to take the Ring. And just like that, the quarreling does a 180 and Unites everyone there! Men, dwarves, and elves come together in marriage to help Frodo. Once the Fellowship is "married," notice that Elrond enunciates the ultimate Jupiter-Venus "binding." He tells the members of the Fellowship that they are bound by no oath and only have to go as far as each of them feels in their hearts to be right. Any one of them can leave at any time.

Take a note, Libra.

An interesting note provided by Boromir: having ever dwelled in the presence of the Shadow, he states that there is evil there which doesn't sleep. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, a Scorpio story loaded with Mars themes, we see a few examples of Macbeth and his Lady living in a state of sleeplessness. Mars, it seems, especially when up to no good, denies the body of life-affirming rest and sleep. Too much adrenaline in the system corroding and degrading body and mind. While it seems to be yet a Mystery as to why we sleep, we know that if you don't sleep, you die. If you don't dream, you die. Sleepless = Death = Sauron. Remember how the Moon is Fallen in the sign of Scorpio? Another kiss to you who guesses what the Moon is!

A final note before we leave Pisces. This episode contains that iconic bridge scene where Arwen and Aragorn share their lovers' moment. The Sun and Venus, uniting as one - on a bridge no less. Just a wee bit of symbolism there; bridges and thresholds are both places where these two live, and to top it off their love is bridging a gap between two very different Beings. To close us out, some final essential words of Arwen-Venus:

"I would rather share my lifetime with you than face all the immortal ages of this world alone."

UPDATE 6/18/17: Chris Knowles' blog The Secret Sun has a very, very timely and quite mind-bending post as part of a series right here that speaks awesomely to our topic of Venus and her kingdom. These stories are not just for the screen.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Astrology of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Part Two

We pick up our analysis where the Prologue left off, at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Here, Tolkien will set us off on our journey around the Great Wheel, beginning with the sign of the winter solstice, Capricorn. We'll move through a total of five Zodiac signs in this film, moving from Capricorn to Aquarius, then Pisces, to Aries, and making it through Taurus before stopping at the gates of Gemini (the next film, The Two Towers, picks up there. It's so obvious I can't believe I missed it!)

Capricorn, Kingdom of Mars, Domicile of Saturn

As I mentioned in part one, our King in this land is Samwise Gamgee. If there were any doubt, Tolkien is using the name of the Angel of Mars, Samael, as a key. And not only Sam, but Samwise, aka, a Wise Mars. Here we see Mars at his best: effort to irrigate the land and make it habitable for Life. Significations for the sign of Capricorn list laborers of the land, irrigators, and seafaring/sailing careers for its natives. Not only are we near water, we use our effort to move that water to other places. Images of Egypt populate this sign: its middle face is the image of a pyramid. The word "alchemy" means "art of the land of Khem", where Khem is the word for Egypt. Guess what Egypt was good at? Irrigating that Nile delta and engineering abundance! Among other things, of course (magic!). A dear friend of mine remarks that wonder is the root of care (aptly, she's a super Jupiter Cancer, the opposite solstice), but after watching LOTR and learning from Sam, I would add that care is the root of effort. 

The sign of Capricorn finds its beginning at the winter solstice (around Dec. 21-23 in the northern hemisphere). Solstices are unique in that they can be understood as stations of the Sun, points in time where the Sun appears to stand still (all of the other planets except the Moon do this). In fact, it's quite difficult to tell when exactly the solstice is because the Sun appears to be stopping and changing direction; to discern the difference takes a few days. (Weird how we made up this "calendar" idea and disengaged ourselves from the Planet Clock...why don't we celebrate New Year's on Christmas?) 

Capricorn Face One

This Face is ruled by Jupiter, and in the Tarot it is the Two of Disks (the terms Pentacles or Coins are also used). Crowley titles it "Change." (Can you tell when exactly Galadriel is speaking the Prologue voiceover? "The world has changed.") The Rider-Waite Tarot shows a figure holding two disks with a figure-eight infinity loop around them. This point is a handover, the old year handed over to the new. The Sun at this point has just poured out the last bit of its light and is now ready to begin the ascent back up again. 

We first see Bilbo, a Jupiter figure in this story. He is writing his history (a Jupiter theme), including a notation of the date that not only situates us in time (remember how Jupiter is about epochs and ages?), but which lets us know that there are multiple time frames going on in Middle Earth at once ("by Shire reckoning"). In describing for us the nature of Hobbits, Bilbo lets us know that in the Shire, "change comes slowly, if it comes at all." This picks up on the fact that this sign is about the station of the Sun. It also foregrounds the amount of effort required to get a big behemoth up and moving! Push! There's five more acres in the lower 40 I've got to plow! And Mama said it was a shame about Billy Joe anyhow.

The Sun functions as a major timekeeper (when particular stars, like Vindemiatrix in the constellation Virgo, made heliacal risings, it was time to do certain things like begin the grape harvest), and here in Capricorn/The Shire, time does not move at all. Those with strong Capricorn placements in their horoscopes tend to be conservative in nature, valuing the past and "the way it's always been" over new possibilities for the future. Yes, this includes the political sphere (I just heard a factoid that conservative Republicans tend to be statistically Capricorn). But lest we forget, in their most Samwise form, that's because these people care. They love and want to preserve. Capricorn is given the element of Earth in the Zodiac, an element given  to stability and nurturing. (Check out Dondi Dahlin's The Five Elements - it's based in Chinese medicine, and I love how it illuminated this missing Eastern perspective and provided fresh blood to my understanding of Western humors!)

Taking the narrative a bit further into the body, Saturn, the domicile ruler of Capricorn, is said to rule the bones (and teeth) in astrology, and while muscles and the chubby bits can grow and shrink, once you're done growing the bones stay the same and support you. Of course, Saturn in astrology also rules the blunt-force trauma that breaks bones, or a gravity-induced fall from a great height (spoiler alert: Steward). Saturn makes 'em and breaks 'em. Extrapolate from bones to "supporting structures" of all kinds, both material and mental, both firm and supple (think cell walls or jellyfish), permeable or airtight, and you're in Saturn's substantial wheelhouse. 

In astrology, Jupiter and Saturn, while alike in power and scope, often feel like two sides of the same coin. Jupiter expands, Saturn contracts. Jupiter is hopeful, Saturn is cynical. Jupiter releases and frees, Saturn imprisons and binds. Here, Bilbo, being a Jupiter figure, has earned the reputation for disturbing the peace. Notice how the adults in the Shire view Gandalf in the same vein (Jupiter rules children in astrology, so naturally the kids love him). Gandalf-Bilbo represent the Change promised by the Tarot card/Face, the very pot-stirring of old into new. You know, crank the heat and get that film off the top of the soup!

But something is amiss. Bilbo feels like butter spread thin over too much toast. He feels old. The essence of the One Ring has created false time. The leaden Saturn-gravity has prevented the changeover from taking place. Time is out of joint. It's as if the Ring locks one in a moment in time, stops time in its tracks (which Capricorn likes!). We will see a Gold Sun handed over from one bearer to another, but it is a false Sun - it represents stasis, the very opposite of what this Face represents. Change is the foundation of Stability. The earth cannot be allowed to get hard and dry; the old must be let go to make way for new life. 

Most of the Seven Deadly Sins can be attributed to Saturn in one of his facets. Remember the  dire inversion of Mars and Saturn in this sign (Sauron-Sarumon)? The Deadlies are another way of seeing that. Imagining the Shire Soil getting too hard and dry puts us in the camp of laziness and depression (I know, depression isn't one of the Deadlies but it's also considered a biggie). Saturn's heavy sadness and immobility put out the Mars fire: ever put a campfire out by throwing dirt on it? Sadness leads to immobility, which leads to one hell of a pissed-off Mars fire on the inside that burns you alive with un-lived Life. Ever notice how depressed people tend to trigger lots of anger in the people around them? Guess where that pent up fire goes.

Capricorn Face Two

Speaking of fire, this Face of Capricorn is ruled by Mars (notice that this is also the Regent of the land), and  it is the Three of Disks. It's called Work in the Thoth Tarot, and this face bears the aforementioned image of a pyramid. This is Mars taking the elements (Three) and constructing something out of them: it is Mars the Engineer, Mars the Builder. Maybe even Bob the Builder. Weren't they called Dozers in Fraggle Rock? (Saturn is often imaged as a sleeping old man! Elemental inertia as Slumber!) 

Three is Saturn's number, so we should expect some additional Saturn themes to pop up. 

This is Bilbo's big birthday party to celebrate living to be The Oldest Hobbit Ever. Saturn rules old age, very old age, for which 111 qualifies. Notice that in numerology 111 = 1+1+1 = 3. Saturn also, by its nature, rules obscurity, invisibility, and blindness. While the ring is Solar Gold on the outside, it's also Saturn Lead, and when the One Ring's wearer puts it on, invisibility is the result. Bilbo uses this to "end it all," to vanish and leave life behind, echoing Saturn's role as the Threshold Gatekeeper ("Are you the Key Master?" Phallic symbol alert!) at which we leave a physical life behind and enter into the invisible realm of Spirit. For once and for all, that is; we can cross while still alive, too. Point being: Finality is another Saturn theme. But, by extension, so is Eternity. ("Change comes slowly, if it comes at all.") Final = Eternal.

By the way, you'll see me playing with the equal sign ( = ) quite a bit, and you should be noticing that it's the astrological glyph for Gemini simply turned sideways. Remember our Gemini story of Romeo and Juliet? The Two Towers? Sadly in Shakespeare's version, Sauron wins and Helm's Deep is lost. But I digress. 

We get a little Mars action on the side in this Party scene, too. We meet Sam, our Shire King, and get introduced to his Queen, Rosie (whoever guesses which sign/planet she is gets a kiss from me!), a beautiful woman to whom Sam is bound in love and yearning (remember how Saturn rules binding? He rules marriage, too! I do, I do, I do!)

Since this is a Mars-ruled Face, and Mars = 5, we can expect some wizard stimulation in the story here, too. Gandalf's action serves to separate Bilbo from the ring; Mars' action is to sever, divide, and disperse (often unwillingly if you're not careful). Think iron ploughs dividing the black soil, iron swords dividing flesh, iron penises dividing...oh you get the idea.  But this Ring has peaked Gandalf's wizardly interest, prompting him to kick Bilbo out the door again and mediate the Ring to Frodo. The Change promised in the first Face has by now been achieved: the "Sun" has passed from Bilbo to Frodo, new year divided (Mars) from old. 

Capricorn Face Three

The last Face of Capricorn is ruled by the Sun and is the Four of Disks. It's called Power in the Thoth Tarot, and Crowley goes on to say that it is the principle of Law and Order. Which means that for all of you fans of the TV show (and it's many Hydra-head reiterations), this is the Face! I've honestly never watched an episode. 

This face in particular emphasizes the way in which the Capricorn solstice is a point around which the year turns. The astrological glyph for the Sun is a circle with a point at the center. (Buy yourself a compass just like in geometry class and play!) Here, the Sun's energy it consolidated in matter, and its power moves energy around to fortify and defend. The castle walls are a symbol of defensive Law and Order itself, the King (or if you'd simply rather: Leader) its central focus.  

The Sun in astrology relates to a kingdom and its leadership, and whenever the Sun is symbolically active in Tolkien's story, he takes us to a new kingdom (or, a new episode of Law and Order). In this case, we get a peek into the kingdom of Mordor where the Nine (remember, 9 = Moon = Men) set out for the Shire. However, we also get to see the most Solar kingdom of all, the City of Gondor where the King of Men resides. Gondor, being the seat of power for the Sun, is the Zodiac sign of Leo. There is no planetary exaltation or kingship here, because Leo is the very principle of Leadership itself. However, things are not all Leonine in Gondor since there is no King, but the exploration of Gondor and its dynamics comes later in Return of the King. We spend a lot of that film sussing it out, so stay tuned. 

Since this Face/Tarot Card is one of the Fours, we should expect some Jupiter action along with the Solar rulership of the Face. Gandalf goes to Gondor (Sun) and does Jupiter things: he goes to the library reads a history and does research (Jupiter rules books in astrology). Looking ahead, we should also note that it is Jupiter which crowns the King and confers kingship. While Gandalf will perform this function for Aragorn later at the end of the story, for now Gandalf meets a King (Sun) of a past age (Jupiter) only through his written account (Jupiter). 

It's also worth noting that Gondor (the Sun) dwells ever int he presence of the Shadow, Mordor. The Sun and the eclipse's shadow are bound together in essence. Eclipses are always a potential!

This final Face of Capricorn also sees Frodo offer Gandalf the ring, a test which the wizard passes. Sun = Gold =  One Ring. Frodo remains the bearer of this Sun's tainted light, and Gandalf sends him on the road. However, not before attaching Sam to Frodo, and we must remember that Sam is the true King here. Sun = leadership. This Face presents as the image of a Throne, after all. 

While he sends the hobbits out the door and onto their Destiny, Gandalf must go and see the head of his order (Sun = leader), Sarumon. And once we leave the Shire, we're off to the next Zodiac sign!

Tolkien is nice and neat about letting you know when you're in a new sign for the most part; the characters leave a kingdom or realm and enter a new one. Tolkien occasionally use the ruler of the last Face of a sign to instigate the changing of scenery, like the way in which Gandalf must now go and see a leader (the Sun). 

Aquarius, Domicile of Saturn

Boy do I love this sign now after watching LOTR! There is such mystery and beauty here! The experience of the characters in this part of the film isn't what rocks my world, but the entire story as a whole does it. 

Let's start with some basics. This is a sign that has no exalted ruler, so we get to feel deeply into Saturn him/herself. The him-/her- binary does not, in fact, apply to Saturn, for Saturn is not sexed. It is beyond sexuality. Governing old age and senility, it Rules the part of life where procreative generation and all its attendant sexual roles and identities have faded, releasing humans into a phase of Life and Mind outside of the body's passions. (Pharmaceuticals have since made a dent in this stage of life, however, with chemicals that stiffen the plough and moisten the soil.) Remembering how the elves are Saturn beings, notice how androgynous and dispassionate they are? I somehow think there are no Rivendell orgies happening. Venus in astrology governs sex and the genitals, and Venus and Saturn are often imaged as rivals (their combo in a horoscope makes for "issues" around sexuality and desire). Remember how Saturn got castrated? He rules eunuchs and people without genitals, but for the love of fucking God, people, it's a metaphor! Don't cut your balls off! The castration is simply Old Age. Sheesh. Oh, however, Jupiter rules semen (as well as the ova and womb), and that's the part where Saturn is vulnerable, which is why Saturn's son Jupiter went right for dad's balls. Semen = wetness and water, all aspects of Jupiter, and Saturn is Old Dry-as-Dust. It's like when you're about to "get there" but all that comes out is a flag that says "Bang!" on it. 

Lest we get overly physical, Saturn would also rule the emotional hangups in your Head-Heart which would prevent you from having and enjoying sex in the first place.

There's an Elemental Saturn story at play here, too. Remember what I said about Elements wanting to resist coming out of the earth and changing? Many of Saturn's issues about sex come from an intense yearning to remain one's Essential Being, un-mingled with the Essence of another. The elves (Saturn) don't like the dwarves (Venus). An especial favorite example of this is Agatha Christie's Poirot and Miss Marple characters: Christie herself had Saturn in Virgo, and both of her characters could be described as "stuffy virgins." They're also geniuses, but we'll get to that in a minute. 

People with Saturn strong in their horoscopes (by the planet's accidental place on the Wheel or by emphasis on his Kingdom/Domiciles) often come off as cold, dispassionate (unless it's anger - melancholia), and unfeeling. They're "hard as stone," "cold-hearted." This is to be expected and natural, however, for they are in touch with the inner Coldness inherent in all things. 

Ordinary human relationships, however, require more than a little mastery of the water element, and while our friend Saturn here in Aquarius is the Water Bearer, the water it bears is no ordinary water. Saturn's Capricorn domicile would correlate more toward oceans (from which Saturn's daughter Venus emerges - there was something left in those testicles!) and terrestrial waters. Aquarius, however, is heavenly waters. 

I once heard astrologer Michael Lutin say that Aquarius is the potential for Genius, and I love that more every day. I like to think that the sign of Aquarius places its natives on a little tiny boat in the vast sea of stars that is the Heavens. Remember when God divided the waters? Capricorn = the waters below, Aquarius = the waters above. Oh, and didn't Gandalf mention something about two blue wizards? 

Let's take a moment to imagine how seafarers (Capricorn) used to navigate by the stars (Aquarius). Can you see yourself out on the Mediterranean at night under a breathtaking Blue Vault as bioluminescent algae and plankton glow in Answer? And hasn't some ancient Greek computer been found that is for navigation by stars? Capricorn gives the substance, Aquarius the technology and genius to navigate it, and both are Saturn. Nautical metaphors abound in astrology - there's a place in the horoscope to determine who's steering the ship (that planet equates to your mind, your body, your health and well-being). Here in Aquarius, we are with Ezekiel, sailing among the stars. 

Notice how the elves are always giving out stars to people? Elves = Saturn = Aquarius = Stars = Firmament = Water. (The one Galadriel gives Frodo is Venus Herself. We'll see why.)

Take a moment to ponder: Elves = Elements = Stars. Now hear Joni sing "Woodstock." God, I love, love, love that Sainted Woman. She sings, "We are stardust, billion-year-old carbon. We are Golden, caught in the Devil's Bargain, and we've to to get ourselves back to the Garden." And where's that garden? You guessed it. Aragorn knows. 

Looking ahead into Return of the King, we'll learn through Gandalf that the old kings of Gondor (Leo) let their line dry out (Saturn) and instead of taking Action out in the world and Leading (Sun), they spent their time in towers asking questions of the stars (Aquarius). Leo and Aquarius are opposite signs, and this line of Gandalf's paints a picture of what the Sun in Aquarius looks like. Without the King, Gondor becomes Saturn's kingdom. Saturn is associated to three different signs in astrology by either their Regent or Governor, and we'll see later in the story how Gondor and the Steward are rocking all three. Gandalf's disparaging turn of phrase points to the Sun's exile in Aquarius, so I wanted to bring that up here. 

Now, I love me my astrology, but Gandalf's words are worthy. Astrology is knowing when to act. Divorcing Action from Time is one way of defaulting on Right Effort and Leadership. We've all got Saturn somewhere in our horoscopes, and we've all got the Sun. Welcome to the reconciliation of opposites! Piece of cake, right?

By the way, each of the seasons in astrology correspond to one of the four elemental humors of the cosmos. Spring is sanguine, summer is choleric, autumn is melancholic, and winter is phlegmatic. It's winter, the phlegmatic one we're interested in here, because phlegm = cold and wet. In the northern hemisphere, Capricorn begins the season of winter, and Aquarius follows. While the season of winter itself is considered cold and wet, the solstitial Capricorn is cold but it's not wet. It's dry. Aquarius, on the other hand, is considerably wetter. Aquarius brings to mind the rainy season which visits many other parts of the world. Monsoons anyone? Water itself saps heat out of an organism 25 times faster than air does, and one can imagine Saturn's Aquarian Jug spilling heat-sapping star-water all over the land. Venus' fires of passion are soaked and cold, for she's journeying with Her Husband the Sun as far away from his warm Summer Palace as can be. (Don't worry, she's doing better in the next Kingdom over from Aquarius where it gets a little warmer.)

Aquarius Face One

The first Face of Aquarius is ruled by Venus and corresponds to the Five of Swords in the Tarot. It's notable here that this is the first time Frodo and Sam encounter the Saturnine beings of the elves on their journey. The pair get a glimpse of the Elementals leaving Middle Earth, to which Frodo replies that, although he doesn't know why, their leaving makes him sad. Remember how Saturn is depression and sadness? 

Venus, ruler of this Face, is often used in Tolkien's story to signify release due to an oath fulfilled (this picks up on the sign of Libra, a Venus-Saturn duo = words that bind). It is bondage finished, and this image of the elves leaving speaks of link to Middle Earth which has expired and freed them.

Crowley's Book of Thoth calls this Face/Tarot card Defeat, and it is here we need to remember that we are dealing with another of the Fives (wizards). Gandalf arrives to speak with his leader Sauromon, only to discover that Sauromon has joined forces with the Shadow. Check out Crowley's words on this Face: he says that the Five "as always produces disruption; but as Venus here rules Aquarius, weakness rather than excess of strength seems to be the cause of disaster. The intellect has been enfeebled by sentiment. The defeat is due to pacifism. Treachery may also be implied."

This seems to be saying that the Venusian weakness involved is Gandalf's trust of Sarumon, and it comes to bite him in the ass! I've gotta love, however, that in this scene of the film, we see Sarumon give Gandalf a helluva put-down by saying that his love of the halflings' weed as made his mind weak and enfeebled his judgment! Because he loves the Hobbits, Gandalf is "too sentimental" and thus did not see the One Ring right under his nose! Notice how Sarumon gets down on his wizards buddies for doing drugs (the shaman's toolkit of cannabis and psilocybin), while it is Sarumon himself who has the weak and feeble mind! He accuses others of being weak-minded and unreasonable, yet remains blind to his own madness. 

As the wizards converse, Sarumon, mentions that the Nine have left their fortress and crossed the River Isen on Midsummer's Eve. Since we know that astrologically our story begins with Frodo and Sam leaving the Shire in the winter solstice Kingdom of Capricorn, we learn that the Nine left at the same time on the summer solstice, in the opposite Kingdom of Cancer. This says to me that we are dealing with two inverted worlds overlapping, and that Sauron has indeed created a cursed Inversion of time and space. While the Nine actually live in the Kingdom of Scorpio, the sign of the Moon's "fall" in astrology (aka, Life enslaved to Death), it is interesting that the Nine leave from the solstitial sign of Cancer, the Moon's Domicile. Remember that connection of 9 = Moon = Men? 

Aquarius Face Two

The second Face of Aquarius is ruled by Mercury and is the Six of Swords in the Tarot. In his Book of Thoth, Crowley states that this card is called Science, and that the Six (Sun) in all its forms is the Intellect. Here, we have a combination of speed (Mercury) and intellect (Sun) that results in considerable brilliance of mind. 

The bulk of the themes in this scene go to Mercury, for it is here that we meet our Mercurial Gemini twins of Merry and Pippin as they join the journey. Notice how Tolkien has even given them double repeating letters in their names! 

The names of these two trickster Hobbits are very important in delineating the nature of Mercury in astrology, for Merry and Pippin are not their full names. Nicknames are a Mercury thing, too, though. Check the dictionary: a familiar or humorous (Mercury) name given to a person or thing instead of or as well as the real name. Origin: late Middle English from an eke name (eke meaning addition), misinterpreted by wrong division to result in a neke name.

Can you believe it?! Not only does "nickname" imply doubling with the aim of fun (Gemini), we have it because somebody divided the word and put it back together incorrectly! Pippin's full name is Peregrine, and in astrology we use the word Peregrine to mean a planet has absolutely no strength or "dignity!" Pippin is fucking up and creating accidents all over the place like a Fool! (Look ahead to when he knocks that dwarf skeleton down the well in Moria and sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Gandalf's death. The film does not profile what has to be a ton of Mercury-Pippin's survivor's guilt.) 

Also, take a moment to ponder the ambiguous role of Accidents in your own life. Were they really accidents? Mercury, Our Patron of Synchronicity might beg to differ...

At any rate, many of us have peregrine planets in our horoscopes (yup, four of the seven are for me), and in these arenas we may expect to be pulling a Pippin and not knowing what do to or how to behave. If our head isn't on straight and causing blunders, we may find ourselves overcompensating in these areas and fucking up for trying too hard. Right Effort = Dignity. (We can circle back to the comedy team of the Straight Man (dignity) and the Funny Man (peregrine), because Pippin's gifts can be used to great comedic effect! It's fun to humiliate Apollo and bring him down a few pegs!)

Not leaving out Merry, his full name is Merriweather, which to my mind scans as: a climate of mirth, joy, and laughter; a festive atmosphere. We must not forget that Mercury, and his Gemini Domicile in particular, carries with him the capacity for Joy and Delight. It would also resonate as the love between siblings (mine are incredible - I love you so much!). But: if you can't laugh (which by its nature includes at yourself as much as at others), you know a One Ring Binding Spell has got you and you've lost your Mercury. Or maybe he's not doing so well in your horoscope and his broken feet need to be rehabilitated! 

Merry and Pippin, our comic relief team in the story, come to us in another of Mercury's guises: as thieves. We meet them as they're making a getaway after stealing vegetables from a farmer. They're running quickly and blindly, and sprinting and speed are themes we'll see repeated when Mercury rears his head in the story. Indeed, once Merry and Pippin complete the foursome, they spend the rest of the Face outrunning the Nine. Mercury does not win the battle with superior force and strength; he wins with speed, strategy, and cunning. (What'd you just call me?!) My favorite image for this, by the way, is my Patronus, Bugs Bunny. He never engages in battle and is willing to let it go, but once you cross him three times and he says, "Of course, you know, this means WAR!" he will win!

Finally, in what is one of the most blatant depictions of a Rider-Waite Tarot card Tolkien borrows, Mercury's Six of Swords depicts a man in a boat rowing two huddled figures across a body of water. Buckleberry Ferry, anyone?

Final thought on this Face: it's one of the most generative, and for some reason a favorite of mine, because it's also called Heaven and Earth. As Austin Coppock begins his description of this face:

"While the first decan of Aquarius pictures rebellion against established order and the exploration of what lies outside it, the second builds bridges between the exile and the citizen, beggars and kings, heaven and earth, inside and out. Its wise and independent inhabitants ply the rivers between established kingdoms, charting liminal spaces."

Isn't that great? There's just something so beautiful to me about that metaxical image which fills my soul with starlight and makes me feel as tall as the sky! Which to many of you who see me in person, I may appear to be...What can I say, I've got a Gemini body!

Aquarius Face Three

The third face of Aquarius is ruled by the Moon and is the Seven of Swords in the Tarot. 

This face finds our party arriving at The Prancing Pony. I find this image and interesting riff on the theme of horses. Mercury has association to horses through the taming bridle, a technology which allows the domestication of horses (check out Lewis' The Horse and His Boy). Notice, too, how this allows humans Horsepower, aka, Speed. Back to Mercury facilitating speed! But the horse itself bears Solar symbolism and is connected to "spiritedness," akin to the Vital Spirit which we experience as our heartbeat. The Sun is said to rule the heart in astrology (we'll meet a horse = king example in Rohan later), and here we have a pony. If I may extrapolate, the big light of the Sun = Horse, smaller light of the Moon = Pony. 

Connecting to the Moon rulership of this Face, we find ourselves again in a locus of Men (9 = Moon = Men), and it is here that we meet perhaps our most important Man of the story: Aragorn! But we do not meet him by that name here; instead, we meet him as Strider.

Our King-as-Ranger here is the image of what the Sun in Aquarius looks like: a man as far removed from King (or Duty) and Country as can be. He is even incognito and unrecognizable to his fellow men, a perfect image of how a leader in a foreign Wilderness must feel. The King cannot Lead in Aquarius and is instead Led by the laws of others. He is divorced (opposition) from this Wild Kingdom, completely alien to it. Yet Aragorn has chosen this in response to the binding curse of the One Ring, and Aragorn is excellent at most things he puts his hand to. He is well-adapted to the Wild (remember that second Face, Science, the union of Mercury and Sun?) and can in fact Lead others through it. All is not lost! 

There's a line Aragorn says to Frodo that makes me delight in his Solar turn of phrase. After he sees Frodo wear the ring, he says, "I can avoid being seen if I wish, but to disappear entirely, that is a rare gift indeed!" If I imagine the Sun itself saying that, I think of not only the Sun's blinding brilliance which forbids anyone to look at it and thus see it, but also of the Sun disappearing under the horizon and avoiding view. The Sun knows how to stay out of sight!

According to Crowley, Venus' sephira, the number Seven, is called Victory, and in this Face we have the victory (Venus) of a man (Moon) over the Nine (Moon). Once the Nine are tricked, the band can make their escape, leave the Prancing Pony, and leave the Kingdom of Aquarius altogether for the land of Pisces.