An Elemental Afternoon

Tuesday in Toronto. Cold. A high of 11° C for a mid-October day. The sun is brilliant, cutting the sky with golden light. Not much wind. Just enough to rustle the trees and shake orange, yellow and red leaves one by one to the ground.

Shirt, sweater, jeans, sturdy sneakers, hat, half-gloves, double fleece jacket on in a flash. Grab the dog, car keys and sun glasses. Out, out and out into the light. Traffic on the Gardner uncomplicated and light, making our way to the outskirts of Etobicoke. Drive down Brown’s Line to a deserted park with a wide expanse of Lake Ontario.

Merlin and I together in solitude, except for a stray squirrel and a distant biker dressed in spandex red on the paved trail. We turn to the water, full sun high in the southern sky warming the expanse of field, beach and suburban forest. Oh Lake Ontario. This living, breathing body of water is crystal clear today and shimmers in waves of blue sapphires, gently breaking on the shore.

The elements of fire, earth, air and water surround and pulse with life. A stray Monarch butterfly dips by. Merlin buries his nose deep in a patch of ground, throws himself down and rolls belly up over and over again. Comes up for air with a loopy grin, tongue to one side and eyes bright. He disappears among a patch of trees and vegetation and I turn once more to the lake. A pair of geese flies low, honking in near unison as they merge with the horizon.

Gazing into the southern sky, closing my eyes against the sun’s full gaze. The fire signs leap to mind: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. All alit with solar radiance. Earth signs follow: Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. Each grounded into some degree of the material. Gemini, Libra and Aquarius chatter and declare their resolve on the breeze, while Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces bob on the lake in emotional resonance. Twelve signs dancing on the rim of the horizon forming a sacred wheel of fire, earth, air and water.

The reverie is broken as Merlyn dashes out of the rustic grove and tumbles towards me covered in burrs and brambles. Patiently, he stands still as I take one, then two then a half dozen out of his wiry coat. We move on.  The magic of the day shatters with our motion.

The echo of it remains.

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. 

 

3 Unique Saturn Returns: Rihanna, Emma Thompson & Christopher Plummer

Rihanna, Emma Thompson and Christopher Plummer are individually celebrated for their artistic achievements around the world. Beginning in late December 2017 and through 2018, they also celebrate a Saturn return to their natal Saturn in Capricorn.

They each share the hallmarks of Saturn as expressed through Capricorn: a call to duty, perseverance and prizes won against worldly obstacles. Individually, they will express in some sphere of their life organizational skills that with age and experience lead to accomplished life goals. There may be displays of dour practicality or frugal efficiency. Each will feel a unique interior pause as one Saturn cycle ends and another begins.

In general, Time Lord Saturn returns to a person’s natal position every 28-29 years. Most of us experience the first return before our 30th birthday while many of us will age to understand the second return as we welcome our 58th-59th year. Some of us will physically endure to celebrate a third return as we approach our 88th year. If any soul upon their 117th year reaches the 4th Saturn return….their worldly wisdom is beyond compare.

Saturn returns signify a cycle of world experience has completed. An inner tally of challenges met, hurdles overcome and lessons learned is part of the transit no matter what the native’s age. The return is the culmination of Saturn’s cycle through our lives. The chart below is a cyclic example of Saturn in action for these three individuals.

Saturn’s similarity with a lunar cycle is noteworthy. The moon’s 28-29 day cycle symbolizes the flux and flow of our interior life, while Saturn’s 28-29 year cycle heralds our mastery of this earthly reality. Saturn’s waxing, outgoing square has a first quarter feel, while an opposition alludes to a full moon moment. The waning, incoming square is similar to a third quarter moon which leads to a natal Saturn return and new moon promise.

Rihanna is experiencing a first Saturn return, with the exact transit having occurred on December 24th, 2017. If the reported birth time is correct, the Saturn return will echo through the 9th house spheres of life:  spiritual quests, long distance journeys, life philosophies, higher law and education.  As I write, she is making a public call to end gun violence as she mourns a younger cousin’s tragic death over the Christmas holiday in Barbados.

Christopher Plummer follows with his 3rd Saturn Return on Jan 02, 2018. He recently received a Golden Globe nominee for Best Supporting Actor for the role of J. Paul Getty in the film “All The Money In The World.” With Saturn like discipline, this 88 year old actor credited his early theatre training in allowing him to step in and replace Kevin Spacey over a demanding 9 day re-shoot. Will Plummer be rewarded with an Oscar nod later in January?

Emma Thompson will experience a 2nd Saturn Return in 2018 beginning in February and ending in November. In October 2017 her frank assessment of Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood culture made headlines around the world and illustrated this Saturn in Capricorn native’s ability to overcome career impediments placed in her path. Thompson’s interior dialogue with Saturn will determine the direction of her next 28-29 years. 

Are you born with Saturn in the early degrees of Capricorn? Then you have or will experience a Saturn return in the coming months. Your experience may not be as public as the three mentioned above, but it is a moment to take a deep breath and consider lessons learned, challenges met and plans yet to achieve. The celestial taskmaster has returned and beckons you to grow in maturity and wisdom. Many happy Saturn returns to all.

Saturn Introduced

Somewhere in the middle of life, I was sitting with John Marchesella, a skilled New York City astrologer, for one of many astrological counseling sessions he graced me with over a 20 year period. Though aware of astrology basics, the finer points eluded me back then. He kept repeating basic themes of discipline, mastery, overcoming fear and rising to the occasion and pairing it with the planetary energy of Saturn. Finally, in a fit of impatience I said “Saturn, Saturn, Saturn – what is it about this planet that makes it such a prominent part of life?”   He chuckled and gave me a line or two that smoothed my edges away…but not my curiosity.

Upon the 2017 Fall Equinox, Saturn sits at 21° of Sagittarius and will soon move into Capricorn around the Winter Solstice. This numinous, planetary energy was given form and structure in ancient myth by the Titan god Kronos who swallowed his children in an attempt to avert his eventual removal. Zeus and other Olympians gave battle, forcing generational change.

In modern myth, Saturn is often depicted as an older man in a long robe holding a staff or scythe. The tarot hermit card is an older but wiser archetype worthy of weaving into a more holistic, conscious consideration of Saturn’s energy. Liberating the planetary energy from myth, cultural and gender bias loosens up the many positive possibilities inherent in each of us. Saturn’s many themes include: mortal reality, the aging process, limitations, depression, mastery through discipline, shouldering responsibility and plain hard work.

In the birth chart, Saturn’s themes will be expressed through the lens of an astrological sign and in the sphere of life signified by house placement. For example, Saturn in the mutable, air sign of Gemini will find day to day communications challenging or limited in some way. Place this combination in the public and career 10th house and this may be the executive who enrolls in a speech class to overcome their childhood fear of public speaking.

Saturn takes 28-30 years to cycle through all 12 signs of the zodiac (about 2 ½ years in each sign) and will return natally 2-3 times in the course of a person’s life. These Saturn returns are bellwether moments, where life experiences are tallied and the wheel is set for the next spin of time. An individual’s return will be uniquely sensed and processed either in full awareness and increasing mastery or within the shadows of doubt and lurking disappointment. Either way the celestial taskmaster’s presence will be felt; if not in the day’s waking moments then in the night’s dream world.

The first Saturn return as a person nears 28 to 30 is the final hurrah of youth and the journey towards mature adulthood. Responsibilities normally increase, relationships grow or wither away and life’s purpose continues to be shaped by Saturn’s call to authenticity.

The second Saturn return between 58 and 60 will reflect wisdom hard won through the course of the adult years. Shamans of experience, the wisest among the second Saturn returnees will walk into their elder years laying foundations for future generations.

At the age of 88-89, the third Saturn return signals culmination, an approaching mortality, a final opportunity to bring talent, wisdom and a bit of hard work to relationships and life projects the ancient one loves and cares about.

Weaving Saturn into the larger picture will bring definition and clarity along with the passage of time. Wisdom is always hard won and bittersweet – to be treasured as well as shared for the benefit of all.

 

Centaur Moon in Conjunct with Saturn

Earlier today, a disseminating moon rested a moment in conjunction with Saturn Retrograde, both at 16 degrees in Sagittarius. The moon began the day at 10 degrees of Sagittarius and will end its gallop at 22 degrees. The centaur holding a bow, preparing to shoot the arrow into flight is an ancient archetype. It represents humanity’s climb from chaos into rule of law and with the flight of the arrow, further into philosophy and intellectual pursuit. Sagittarius is a fire and mutable sign, which leads to arrows flying here there and everywhere! The goal then is to add the discipline and hard work of Saturn to the freely flowing emotion of the moon to achieve a perfect bullseye towards your lofty aims.  Dream big and be prepared to work – the fruits of your labors are yours for the making.  67 Arrow Red Happy After