Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 12, 2018: Remembering Henriette Pimentel

The New York Times reported in today’s paper that the Holocaust is fading from popular memory. Most millennials believed only 2 million died and couldn’t identify where the death camp Auschwitz was. Six million were killed and Auschwitz is located in Poland. Soon to leave this life, the remaining Holocaust survivors and the WWII veterans who liberated them are in their 80’s and 90’s, frequently unable to give personal testimony. Still, the memory of that time, that place in history needs to be shared, and a day in April is just as good as any other date. We are doomed to repeat what history we do not know. Let me share with you one story, told within an astrological framework of an amazing woman’s life:  Henriette Pimentel. 

Henriette Pimentel was born on April 17, 1876 in Amsterdam into a well to do Portuguese-Jewish family. With no public birth time recorded, the natal chart above is set at the neutral time of 12 noon. (Determining an ascendant, ruler of the chart and planets placed in house position requires a time of birth or chart rectification. I’ve chosen to focus only on planetary relationships and important transiting aspects.) Her Sun, Chiron and Mercury form a stellium in the late degrees of the dynamic, fire sign of Aries, indicating a forceful character and intellect, aware of her own internal failures. Her third quarter moon is in the independent, community oriented sign of Aquarius, suggesting a rational and cool soul aware that actions have consequences. She is part of a cohort born with Pluto in the sign of Taurus – a generation of people who lived to see their homes, lives and lands transformed by the Great Depression and World Wars I and II.

Henriette married when she was 23, in the year 1899 as transiting Jupiter moved to conjunct her natal Jupiter at 00° of Sagittarius in December of that year. For her, the beginning of her life’s second Jupiter cycle signified a renewed commitment to participating in the larger community through the act of marriage.

The chart above also speaks to the confluence of Jupiter, Uranus, Mercury and Saturn flooding the world with the adventurous, restless energy of the mutable Archer. 1899 saw an elderly Queen Victoria sending troops to fight the Boer War in South Africa, while Alfred Dreyfus was pardoned in France and Marconi successfully transmitted the news via radio across the British Chanel.  

Trained as a teacher and nurse, Henriette worked as a governess and later as a kindergarten teacher. She herself appears to have had no children, leading one to speculate that by 1916, this may have become a sensitive issue in her late Victorian marriage, culminating in her divorce.

Transiting Mars may have served as Henriette’s personal alarm clock, setting off the first bell in November of 1915 and completing her wake-up call in April of 1916 as the planet completed a series of conjunctions with her natal Uranus, both in Leo. A transiting Uranus in Aquarius simultaneously opposed natal Uranus in Leo – demonstrating how a classic mid-life crisis over identity and its place in the larger community resulted in a release of the bonds of marriage for the forty-year old Henriette. Place this personal crisis within the context of the larger chaos of WWI, when the Netherlands somehow absorbed over 1 million refugees from neighboring Belgium and France. Henriette’s teaching and child care skills were of use and probably kept a roof over her older but wiser head.

In 1926, Henriette was appointed director of the Crèche and Kindergarten Institute in Amsterdam, then located on the Plantage Middenlaan. Infants and young children, many Jewish but also of other faiths were cared for by a team of female attendants, allowing mothers to enter the work force. She was roughly 50 years old at the time of her appointment and soon became known for being a strict but capable director, with a small dog named Brunie as her constant companion. Shown in the chart below, transiting Uranus in Pisces once again shakes up the status quo, joining forces with the natal north node providing a career shift into her life’s potential fulfillment.   

In 1941, German troops occupied the Netherlands and by the autumn of 1942, Jewish citizens in Amsterdam are forced to gather at the Hollandsche Schouwburg, a repurposed theatre located in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood. From there men, women and children were transferred to the Westerbork Camp, a Dutch collection point before deportation to the death camps located in occupied Poland: Auschwitz- Birkenau, Sobibor, Bergen-Belsen, and Theresienstat. Anne Frank was briefly interned in Westerbork before being murdered at Auschwitz in 1944. From 1942 – 1945, 107,000 people were deported from Westerbork with 5, 200 thought to have survived. Of note to my Canuk readers – Canadian troops from the 8th Reconnaissance Regiment along with The South Saskatchewan Regiment liberated Westerbork in April 1945.

In 1941, Henriette experiences the German occupation with a life time lived as an able administrator, teacher and guardian to countless children. She is now called to care for Jewish children being prepared for transit to Westerbork. She has proven to be intelligent, capable, independent – interiorly how did she respond to this dire situation? What strength or belief sustained her? In the chart below, note transiting Saturn in practical, earthy Taurus conjuncts Henriette’s natal Pluto. Her world has turned inside out and upside down and nothing will ever be the same, yet with sustained work and discipline a radical rebirth is possible.

Henriette collaborates with Walter Suskind, the Jewish official in charge at the theatre along with Johan van Hulst, who directed the adjacent teacher preparatory college. Together, the troika made arrangements with Dutch resistance groups to smuggle an estimated 600 or more children to safety. Somehow, a scheme to remove the childrens’ names from transport schedules went undetected, even as many more were deported. Henriette was often tasked with securing parental approval, asking mothers and fathers to choose which in their family would live. Babies were transported to safety in boxes and backpacks, while deported mothers carried inert dolls wrapped in blankets as they boarded the trains to Westerbork. Other children slipped away with help of the crèche’s care givers to the waiting resistant groups, or through the help of van Hulst and staff at the college. The Germans closed the crèche in July 1943, sending Henriette, the remaining staff and children to the theatre and on to Westerbork.  Henriette died in Auschwitz in September 1943.

Henriette Pimentel so clearly lived a full life, serving her community and saving lives at a moment in time when hope was almost extinguished and death was a certainty. In an astrological framework – she lived her natal chart’s potential to the fullest, finding the strength and skills necessary to meet the many challenges of each transit and planetary cycle.

It is said that we die twice. Once with our last breath, and then a second time when the last person who speaks our name takes their last breath. On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, Henriette Pimentel lives. May her story quicken your heart and challenge you to remember.

 

 

IWD 2018: Six Women To Celebrate!

Celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 with me!  Here are six special women to discover or reclaim: 

Buffy Sainte Marie (b Feb 20, 1941) and Tanya Tagaq (b May 05, 1975) are indigenous women of rare grace and artistry. Buffy sings her universal truth under a Pisces Sun while Tanya brings a Taurus Sun to life through Inuk throat singing. Both defy indigenous stereotypes while empowering any who would listen. Their latest collaboration was “You Got To Run (Spirit of the Wind)”.

Lorri Neilsen Glenn (b Nov 16, 1947) is a Prairie born poet now living in Nova Scotia. For a great read pick up her latest book, Following The River: Traces of Red River Women. This Scorpio author with persistence and passion writes about the life of her great-grandmother, Catherine Kennedy Couture and other Cree and Metis foremothers, while exploring the legacy of Red River history and culture. This hybrid memoir weaves story, historical accounts, poetry and personal testimony in ways that tug the reader’s heart.

Cristy C. Road (b May 26, 1982) is a queer Latina who is a well-known graphic artist and punk-rock performer living in New York City. The versatile, Gemini born Road illustrated the Next World Tarot – a queer and people of color, archetype-smashing deck that challenges users to rethink their world view.

 

 

Yayoi Kusama (b Mar 22, 1929) is a Japanese contemporary artist who’s Infinity Mirrors exhibition can be seen at the AGO museum in Toronto. With her famous red anime wig, this dynamic Aries has pushed through personal turmoil and psychic disarray to create a body of work that serves to obliterate the ego while expanding cosmic consciousness.

Annie (b Jan 31, 1979) is an anthropologist, public administrator, academic and one of my dearest friends. Under an Aquarian Sun, she builds community by empowering those around her to seek their truth. She has graced me with her patient understanding, her native intelligence and warm smile. She celebrates IWD every year, understanding that the world grows richer when women are honored for their social, political, academic, financial and cultural achievements. Love you Annie.

Celebrate these and ALL the special women in your lives. 

 

Guillermo del Toro – At Home With Pluto

Guillermo del Toro – film director, screenwriter, creative auteur of fantastical monsters, evil men and empowered women. Who is the man?

The Art Gallery of Ontario’s current exhibit Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters takes “inspiration from del Toro’s extraordinary imagination, reveals his creative process through his personal collection of art, artefacts, books, and props, all culled from Bleak House, del Toro’s creative haven located in Los Angeles.” (www.ago.ca)    I got a chance to view the show early on a quiet Sunday morning, before the normal crowds arrived. At every turn, del Toro’s genius springs up from the dark shadows of humanity’s beating heart and aligns him with the esoteric power of Pluto.

Born on October 9, 1964 in Guadalajara, Mexico, del Toro has no publically known birth time. As an astrologer though, I believe his work pulsates with the touch of Pluto’s underworld energy. With a bit of fantastical thinking of my own, I’ve chosen to rectify his birth time to 4:37 AM (see chart below), placing his natal new moon in the sign ruled by Pluto, in the critical degree of 29 Scorpio. This moon sits with Neptune in the 3rd house of day to day communication – gifting him with the drive to communicate the underworld energies of this passionate, intense new moon energy.

Pluto also dominates the Virgo ascendant angle in this natal chart – announcing the importance of Scorpion themes that the chart’s ruler, Mercury will communicate in the sphere of its influence, the 10th house of public life and career.  There will also be a need to physically and socially manifest Pluto thru the ASC and 1st house, with Mercurial wit and intelligence balanced on Libra’s fair scales of justice. 

In del Toro’s Wikipedia page, the claim is he picked up his father’s Super 8 camera at age 8 and began to make short films. Note in the dual chart below his natal Saturn is in the 6th house square the 3rd house Scorpio Moon. Del Toro must physically labor in the day to day of life to manifest the moon’s creativity. Around age 8, transiting Saturn in Gemini conjuncted the mid-heaven in three distinct hits and later conjuncted his natal North Node in Gemini, suggesting his early interest in film was no accident but part of a life’s plan.

 

In astrology land, I often look for serendipity in groups of 3 when working with a chart and more with an unknown birth time. For the purpose of brevity, I have counted the Scorpio moon as #1, the Saturn 10th house transit at age 8 as #2. Now for #3.

Once again as per Wikipedia, in 1997 the 33 y/o del Toro was given a $30 million budget to shoot the film Mimic for Miramax. Following this career coup, his father was kidnapped in Guadalajara, culminating in del Toro and his family’s involuntary exile from Mexico.

Del Toro’s 1977 chart below shows transiting in the 8th house of life and death, Saturn in martial Aries opposes del Toro’s natal Libra Sun located in the 2nd.

Astrology doesn’t necessarily express itself so concretely, but in this quick assessment the pieces fall together nicely. Saturn’s archetype of the elder comes alive:  it is del Toro’s father who is threatened in an 8th house life/death situation. Del Toro was literately forced to make the choice inherent in an opposition and chose a transformative, life giving 8th house move away from his country of birth.

Trick or treat – this is my Halloween gift to you. Know that this natal chart has been creatively rectified to suit a particular interpretation of one person’s birth on a particularly monstrous day. Reader be(a)ware!

The exhibit remains at the AGO until January 7th, 2018. Toronto is a great town for a weekend visit, so consider Guillermo del Toro in the light of both his creative work and natal astrological potential as he beckons you to join him At Home With Monsters.

 

August 7, 2017 Lunar Eclipse

Image resultCo-creation is a basic tenant of my astrological practice.  “As above, so below” when reversed becomes “so below, as above” and the polarity is brought to life with active intent.  The lunar eclipse energies of August 7, 2017 bring into private and public life the possibilities for new understanding and external change.  The personal planets of Mercury and Mars bring into focus opportunity’s knock while the outer planets hold their collective breathe.

The August 7th partial lunar eclipse sows the subjective seeds of change with the Sun at 15 degrees of Leo and the Full Moon at 15 degrees of Aquarius.  The dramatic, self-centered and creative will of the ego is in contrast to the humanitarian needs of the collective.  The Sun’s dynamic partner is and will remain  through August the planet Mars, who roars with fixed desire to create alongside the ego’s need to shine.  Note that diminutive Mercury in Virgo will soon turn retrograde and calls for repeated analysis to underpin the passionate script of the solar self and cosmic will.  Venus as a morning star in Cancer, ebbs and flows in sextile to Mercury, adding the value systems of care and nurturance in the ever shifting scrum.

Jupiter in Libra directly squares Pluto in retrograde Capricorn conveying tension between society’s desire for balanced justice against entrenched plutocratic entities struggling with the winds of change.

Uranus retrograde at 28 degrees of Aries loosely trines retrograde Saturn in Sagittarius and will remain there to trine the Solar eclipse later in the month.  This is a wiser, late degree Uranus reevaluating the revolutionary deeds needed to move society along.  In harmony, retrograde Saturn asks for similar reassessment in areas of law, education, philosophies and spiritual value systems.  Talk and walk personal philosophies when Saturn retrogrades in Sagittarius or risk moral doubt and confusion.

The Dragon’s Head beckons at 24 degrees of Leo to those who would reach in acts of creative compassion towards the North Node’s point of possibility.  Acts of empathy and kindness are the keys to unlock the door to this lunar eclipse as the Sun in Leo attempts balance with the full moon in Aquarius.  Choose to see what new opportunities exist when the needs of the individual artist balance with the essential desires of society.

Fireworks: Mars Conjuncts Pluto Oct 19, 2016

pablo-2-fireworks-mars-plutoTaking up its sword and shield, the planet Mars prepares to join forces with transformative Pluto in a galactic pairing of energies peaking on October 19, 2016 here in Toronto early in the morning at 4:51 AM. Using a 7 degree orb before and after the exact conjunction, this twosome was within arm’s reach on Friday, October 7th and will completely separate by Saturday, October 29th.

Mars’ energy is active, assertive at best and aggressive at worst, with a boundless sense of energy and initiative, often associated with sex. Mars is exalted in the sign of Capricorn, harmonizing with the goat’s pursuit of earthy, hard won achievement. Pluto’s transforming power secretly builds until in an unguarded moment, the energy bursts forth in a regenerative crescendo. It too has sexual undertones, but ones that may lie buried in phobia or obsession or erupt forth in unexpected transformation. Pluto in Capricorn represents both the ultimate “plutocrat” as well as balanced community leader. Together, Mars and Pluto energies are fused together as a dynamic duo shaking up the complacency of the staid, sustainable Capricorn climb towards riches, power and authority.

There was cosmic synchronicity on Friday, October 7th when the Washington Post unearthed the Donald Trump and Billy Bush video from obscurity and forever changed the U.S. presidential race dynamics. Coursing with the blunt force of a Plutonian tsunami, the video shows Trump aggressively verbalizing his predatory intent towards women based upon his Mars-tial sense of fame and fortune. Recorded in 2005 and hidden away, this radioactive bomb has blast open public censure from all areas of society.

The Mars/Pluto fusion is uncovering women who have directly suffered from Trump’s unwanted sexual behavior. It is also forcing public figures from both the Republican and Democratic parties to repudiate Trump’s language and in some cases his presidential candidacy. More importantly, the painful regenerative and transformational Mars/Pluto energy will lay the foundation for tangible change in the objectification of women in American society.

Run for cover and let the sparks fly. This Mars and Pluto firestorm will continue to blaze through the end of October – and Americans will be left to rebuild what’s left of civil society with the November election.

 

Autumn Equinox, Jupiter in Libra and Justin Trudeau at the UN

pablo-autumn-2-equinox-2016

For the northern hemisphere, Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 10:21 EST is the moment of the Autumn Equinox, when the sun is directly over the earth’s equator and night and day are an equal 12 hours. In a heavenly balancing act, astrology moves into the zodiacal sign of Libra at the same moment. The only sign not represented by a mythical or animal figure, Libra attempts equilibrium among the stars. Its quality is cardinal, its element is air:   Libra is uniquely qualified to marshal the resources of Virgo’s harvest of data and public opinion and diplomatically apply it to create harmony in face to face relationships. It could be two people working out a business or personal relationship or two countries attempting a dialogue around a shared problem. Where negotiation and communication is needed to support a joint identity of you and me, there is Libra endeavoring to bring social equity to the “we”.

Jupiter highlights these shared social equity issues as it begins its journey through the sign of Libra. This big gas giant moves through a sign in approximately 12-13 months, with this current stately dance begun a few days ago, September 9, 2016 to be exact and ending in October of 2017. Jupiter grabs center stage and grandly airs its beliefs around higher law, philosophy, spirituality and academics. Jovian energy encourages a broad view, long distance travel and shared excess.

When the tactful character of Libra is applied to Jupiter’s larger than life energies grand social schemes and endeavors that embrace parity and fair play abound. In current global affairs just look to the United Nation’s 71st annual General Assembly and Justin Trudeau’s September 20th maiden speech calling global members “to choose hope over fear, and diversity over division.(1)”  CBC report Matt Kwong calls this a “rebranding of Canada as the progressive, liberal voice of international diplomacy (2)”, while The National Post’s John Ivison states in realpolitik form “The lesson from both Obama and Trudeau is that if everyone just did more nice things, and not so many awful things, things would be much nicer (3).”  Jupiter in Libra steps up to the global affairs plate, swings and… was it a homerun or a ground out?

As Prime Minister, Trudeau is experiencing his own singular transit of Jupiter conjuncting transformative natal Pluto in the 2nd house of personal values, resources and ethics, followed by a square with his natal 5th house Capricorn Sun all in September 2016. Pluto elicits elimination, followed by a state of emptiness leading to renewal and transformation, normally in a person’s deep unconscious. Triggered by larger than life Jupiter amplifying Pluto life lessons, Trudeau’s UN speech may be deeply felt and reveals personal beliefs acquired over a lifetime. He voices these beliefs even as he balances the tensions of public leadership. He is both a private Canuk and the leader of Canada bringing to the global forum a plea for sustainable, shared social justice.jpeg-biw-j-trudeau-natal-transits-sep-26-2016

Take a moment tomorrow to ponder the balance between the light of day and the darkness of night. Tangle with the Librarian scales of fair play, parity and equality in your own personal relationships whether with a particular friend, intimate partner or colleague. Ponder Jupiter’s robust role in your life through the lens of your experiences in higher education, spiritual life, run ins with the law or philosophical outlook. Fall into autumn with the gusto demanded by Jupiter and the delicate balance diplomatically suggested by Libra. Cheers!

(1) Complete speech:  http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/09/20/prime-minister-justin-trudeaus-address-71st-session-united-nations-general-assembly

(2) Full article:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/justin-trudeau-united-nations-general-assembly-unga-rebranding-1.3766405

(3) Full article:  http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/john-ivison-trudeau-wins-over-un-with-strange-speech-full-of-liberal-platitudes

Jackson and Miranda Sing in the Key of Saturn and Uranus

Twenty-nine years ago, at the end of August 1987, Michael Jackson released the album, Bad. The seventh cut was “Man In The Mirror” released as a single early in 1988, and hitting #1 in March of that year. Saturn and Uranus in the late degrees of Sagittarius joined energies for most of 1988, signaling changes in worldwide political and financial systems merging with advances in technology and communication. Wall Street tumbled through Black Monday in October 1987. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Personal computing was never the same with the advent of the World Wide Web in 1990.

The sign of Sagittarius speaks to the individual attempting to navigate questions of higher law and freedoms including world philosophies, spiritual quests, and ways of governing. Sagittarian Saturn and Uranus are perfectly reflected in Jackson’s lyrics: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror/I’m asking him to change his ways/And no message could have been any clearer/If you wanna make the world a better place/Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

Saturn and Uranus conjunct roughly every 45 years. The waxing square of this cycle occurred in 1999-2000 with Saturn in Taurus and Uranus in Aquarius. The opposition followed in 2008-10, with a Saturn in Virgo polarized with Uranus in Pisces. The ebbing square will occur in 2021, with Saturn in Aquarius and Uranus in Taurus. The cycle’s rebirth/renewal will occur in July 2032, with Saturn and Uranus conjunct in the mutable sign of the twins, Gemini.  

Take a moment and reflect about your life in 1988. Consider on a personal level how the political structures and technological advances of that time period served as a marker, a spiral forward into a continuum of change that hit hard with the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001 and into the polarity of 2008 Global Financial Crisis versus the Arab Spring of 2010. In 2016 the world struggles as climate change threatens, the migrant crisis converges with the Syrian war and the US struggles with gun violence and political chaos. Fascism rises in Europe as it reels from militant terrorist attacks. Globally, financial fluctuations make economic inequality a painful reality.

Where to turn for relief? Listen to Lin Manuel Miranda freestyle what would become the opening song of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, in front of skeptical Washington elites in late 2009. Through the reclamation of revolutionary themes, aligned with diversity and strengthened by lyrical rap – American history has been reborn. Let the message rise up and bring hope to listeners around the globe. Individual efforts play a part in the larger cycle and help write the history that matters.

Orlando On My Mind

Heart with Eye

The people of Orlando are on my mind. Are they on your mind too? My sorrow runs deep when confronted by such a senseless loss of life. To the mothers, partners, lovers, children and friends who lost a dear one, please accept my deepest sympathies. May all people of good will gather against the tide of violence and stand firm in shared compassion and love. One life lost to a gun shot in hatred is one too many. Let not race, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation or gender identity divide us, but instead bind us together in shared humanity. Rise up within your communities and demand legislation that bans the sale of assault rifles and controls other gun purchases.   Vote for the politicians who support gun control. Reach out and ask a gay family member or friend how they’re doing. Go to a vigil, attend a Pride parade. Retain your hope, work for a better day and share your faith in a brighter tomorrow.