The Carter Memorial was first given by Ronald C. Davidson at the Astrological Lodge of London on 5th October 1970, to honour the contribution made to astrology by Charles E.O. Carter (1887-1968).
Tradition dictates that the lecture is delivered as a highlight of the Astrological Association of Great Britain's annual conference; then repeated as the first of the Astrological Lodge of London's autumn term talks and lectures.
The astrologer selected to deliver the lecture is decided in rotation by the Astrological Association of Great Britain and the Astrological Lodge of London. The transcript of the lecture is subsequently published in the AA's Journal and the Astrological Lodge of London's Quarterly.
ASTROLOGERS UNDERSTAND that the cosmos has a rhythm and a unifying pulse.
We understand that things don't happen randomly without some underlying meaning; but that everything unfolds in sympathetic harmony, reflected in grand-scale by the astronomical cycles.
By the same principle I ought to understand that any theme I build into my talk tonight is going to resonate, one way or another, to the moment's strongest astrological signature: the perfecting Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Pisces, which the Virgo Sun now brings into 'full-on' focus.
Although I ought to know this, I can be slow on the uptake, and that has made preparing this lecture one of the most difficult tasks I have faced as an astrologer. I should explain that I did try, several times, to write a different lecture to the one I'll be giving tonight; but it seemed the talk had ideas of its own. Since this Jupiter-Uranus conjunction is now becoming exact, with the opposing Sun sitting on my natal Moon (amongst other connections that weave my natal chart into this event), I decided in the end to 'go with the moment', integrate the new emerging themes, and let the chaos embodied within this chart express itself as it will.
Bi-wheel chart for the commencement of lecture (inner wheel) and D. Houlding natal chart (outer wheel: 8:30 am BST Mansfield 14/05/1962).
To demonstrate the problem, there have been times in the last week - as I tried to put the finishing touches to the lecture I wanted to give you - that I became the personification of Jupiter-Uranus in Pisces, with a Virgo Sun in opposition. This planetary theme has increasingly defined my state of mind, as it shaped the profile of an astrologer in a state of distraction because words keep shifting shape, generating new thoughts, and not staying within the boundaries of their pre-planned topic. There was also the near volcanic sense of tension as my stress levels rose in proportion to the proximity of the deadline for delivery. (This explanation is more than an apology in advance, by the way - it should alert you to what I think this Jupiter-Uranus conjunction foreshadows for the collective world of astrologers, as Jupiter finds its full illumination together with Uranus, whilst hanging over us as the celestial logo for this year's astrological conference).
But still, I continued wrestling to write my other theme, until I noticed that the emphasis becomes even stronger on Monday night when I repeat this lecture at the Astrological Lodge in London - then the Sun is exact in its opposition and the whole thing falls directly across the angles. That's when I realised there is no getting away from this Jupiter-Uranus planetary alignment; the only thing to do is embrace it.
So, by taking advantage of the dualistic nature of Pisces; by allowing a few digressions and wanderings 'off topic', I have a plan do two things: give an expression to the aspectual mood of the moment, whilst slipping in under-cover references to my 'advertised theme' (which is about how astrologers must engage and converse with heaven, by actually listening to what the astrology wants to say; not just talking about it, or around it, or forcing it to try to say what we expect to hear; but to just listen, and take in what it wants to express to us).
So my new intention is to give an examination of what Jupiter-Uranus might want to say about the people who are signified by Jupiter - like priests, counsellors, and astrologers - and how this conjunction might present a warning about the challenges we face as we realise the upcoming demands of 'Uranian technology'; i.e, the rapidly developing electronic communications and internet-based popular media, such as texts, blogs, FaceBook, YouTube videos and Twitter-tweets.
Because, yes, I eventually realised the irony of how, in trying to keep my lecture strictly on the track of my original theme, I was no longer 'conversing with heaven' myself, merely engaging a cosmic argument. So I will be letting Jupiter-Uranus make its point tonight, although what I have always wanted to do with this lecture is to speak as a representative of the earth signs; to say that all of this rapid development in new technology is fair enough, and useful in many respects, but the study and practice of astrology is uniquely delicate and needs a little shading from the garish glare of the internet. It needs to be brought back down to earth, because it calls upon all the human senses. We have to be careful and use our astrological craft thoughtfully, to think ahead and prepare for the inevitable problems that are only going to get worse as astrology becomes increasingly over-exposed and entangled in the net of the web.
I always felt I should make a case for the earth signs, because as well as the Sun-Moon conjunction in Virgo I've mentioned, the transiting Moon at 24° Capricorn is now in a grand earth-trine with my natal Sun at 23° Taurus and natal Moon at 23° Virgo. So you can see that my chart is very much threaded into the expression of this moment; but by the addition of me, and my own natal chart emphasis, the earth signs definitely gain the balance of power. And I think this is a good thing, because if you stop to think about it, the earth signs don't get to express their opinions very often at astrological conferences - these things generally being so airy with talk, or fiery with enthusiasm, or watery in the soulful nature of the subject matter. The earth signs can get forgotten at these places. They are the fixed and passive observers, slow to interrupt. As indeed, I am myself.
But I can also speak as an astrologer who is very much involved in the internet placement of astrology, though my development of the Skyscript website. I am aware that this 'inter-netted' medium is in every sense a double-edged sword. It has the power of rapid communication and exchange of opinion, and unimagined benefits for researchers; yet it is also able to lower the overall standard of astrological knowledge by providing such an open editorial platform that anyone can publish and anyone can present an artificial veneer of authority. It is a place where copyrights get broken, and where the consensus of opinion swings towards those who can raise the most attention; which, of course, is often achieved by the loudness of extreme opinion or the sheer volume of interest in overly-simplified information.
For example, the most commercially-driven websites will dumb astrology down to its lowest level in order to reach the widest audience possible. They might go no further than a superficial presentation of astrological terms intermixed with soul mate adverts, which only passes for being informed amongst an audience that is uninformed. The commercial sites of astrologers with reputations will not go this far, but may present an image of being authorised to sell knowledge in a way that makes little demand upon the student to actually study the subject too. Unfortunately, what is sold on the internet is often "easy astrology", geared towards volume of applicability and quantity rather than quality.
Let's take a look at an example here, using some online footage which shows how 'working the internet' can become an easy route to fame. This YouTube video attracted over 100,000 views within a very short time of its release; so let's give Chris Crocker one minute, as he begins to tell us everything he knows about astrology, from A - to Zee.
Hi everyone, so I'm going to tell you everything that I know about astrology from A to Zee: or should I say Capricorn to Sagittarius. The good and the bad about each sign. [Clap]
Let's start with the first sign: Capricorn.
Capricorns love to be taken serious. Erm, they're kinda like a wine, erm a fine wine, Capricorns get better with age; sometimes they're really rebellious in their teenagehood because they wanna be taken so seriously and wanna be seen as adults, and they're not, so they rebel a little, as teenagers, but as they get olders they settle down. Erm Capricorns are the businessmen of the zodiacs so, erm, I would say the good and the bad about a Capricorn is: the good is they're really good at money; they're good businessmen and, they're usually good … getting money. And erm, the bad would be that they really need to lighten up and learn how to take a joke; they're very self-deprecating; they're negative people, erm, and they're pessimists - they're not very optimistic, at all. So, they need to lighten up; … but they're good at money.
Now, if any of you Capricorns did not appreciate Chris Crocker's 'Ode to Capricorn', it's probably because ... you need to lighten up ... or go count your money. It feels fitting, to me, that Crocker redefined the zodiac to start with Capricorn, nicely tuning into tonight's Capricorn Moon (although he later admits in a YouTube comment that he thought the astrological year started at the same time as the calendrical New Year).
For my own part, I feel I am constantly striving to raise awareness amongst astrologers about the need to reference internet sources of information properly, so that good research can be taken seriously on the web. Also to ensure that quotes and passages placed on the internet give proper accreditation to their rightful owner, so that astrologers retain awareness of treating information sources with respect. But sometimes it feels like running through mud backwards, and even with my own experience I struggle to get a handle on where the net saves us and where it enslaves us; trying to understand the situation better, so that I can be alert to problems and open to solutions.
I think there is a need to remember that web technology is still very new technology, so this is a timely discussion about a current problem, the responsibility of which falls upon our lap, presenting us with dilemmas that have not been faced by astrologers of the past. There is a line somewhere in this conference, which is splitting astrologers into two groups - those who remember practicing as astrologers before the internet, and those who don't. Within our generation that line will disappear, but since the technology has developed so dramatically and quickly, many here, I think, will be surprised to consider just how youthful internet technology still is.
To give a sense of perspective (and forgetting the scientific and military research into computer communications which were away from anything the public used) the idea of the World Wide Web was not developed by the British computer scientist Tim Berners Lee until 1989. The official launch of the internet as a public platform for information exchange dates back only to 1993, (at which time there was a Uranus-Neptune conjunction at 22°Capricorn, which, incidentally, seems to have played a significant part in my own astrological life, and is remembered by the position of the Moon tonight).
So the web might have had its conception in an earlier gestation stage, but it was only born as the public communication system we know in 1993. April 22nd 1993 to be exact, when students at the University of Illinois published a piece of computer code which could transmit information across various public networks, and was then released as version 1.1 of the original Mosaic Browser.
Those who remember, will probably agree that it's hard to look at the early Mosaic logo again without thinking of animated gifs, colourful flashing lines with gimmicky features that move on the page, and the dreadful screech of the modem trying (not always succesfully) to make its connection. The Mosaic browser was developed into Mosaic Netscape, which later became Netscape Navigator; and the rest, as they say, is history...
Astrology World, an earlier venture into publishing astrology articles on the web; created 16 July, 1997, when 'cutting edge' astrologers were likely to have compuserve email addresses and astrocalc software.
Only 1993. Which means that the internet still has three more years of development before it even stops being a teenager. Let's hear that modem dial up noise again. Because if any noise can effectively capture the sound of the last breath of the last millennium this is surely it: the sound of the internet, the sound of stress:
Some of you may also remember another development that kicked off in 1993, amongst the world's community of astrologers. A radical and ambitious new 'project', which meant that whilst the rest of the world was moving forwards, astrologers were daring to buck the trend and go in search of the 'hidden treasures' from the past.
I am talking, of course, about the launch of the Traditional Astrologer Magazine, of which I am proud to admit I had a part to play. There was some little thing in America too, called ARHAT/Project Hindsight, which I believe was set up to celebrate and extend the objectives of The Traditional Astrologer magazine. Some might recall that Dennis Elwell took exception to Project Hindsight, and countered with 'Project Foresight', his own campaign for astrologers to look forwards to the future, not backwards to the past. So it was all a very interesting, dazzling, and quickly moving time, when the astrologers I knew were turning in all directions, trying to look forwards to be modern and catch up; and trying to look backwards to be traditional and understand, and simultaneously dealing with confounding questions like "what is this email thing?" and, "how do I set up a modem?"; alongside equally baffling astrological questions like "what's a zoidion?" and "what does oikodespotes mean?".
But, I digress (I said I would); so back to this Jupiter-Uranus conjunction. Let's think about what that might mean in a general sense, then bring those thoughts back to my concern about the message of this overhanging conjunction as it relates to the modern communications of astrologers. What might the symbolism of this cosmic potent of Jupiter-Uranus be trying to say to us?
With Jupiter 'the Greater Benefic' signifying creative force, and Uranus signifying a sudden revelation and breakthrough (or more often, a shocking realisation and break-down) a mythological logo for this union could be the image of Jupiter seizing the opportunity to discharge the full explosive impact of his lightning bolt. Here [below right] we see an illustration of Zeus experiencing his Uranus moment; which we can compare to the ancient 'Orphic Hymn to Zeus Astrapaios, or 'Zeus the Lightning Maker' [below left]. From the hymn we can see how this modern astrological motif of Jupiter-Uranus highlights a particular element of the Zeus myth, and one which has very ancient roots. Notice the reference to Zeus and 'untamed' 'pure power' which might be dreadful, noisy, angry, frightening in its stark fiery brightness; but also able to bring perceptual clarity, or 'lucidity to the clouds'.
This particular aspect of Zeus, as Zeus Astrapaios bears a strong resemblance to the astrological principle associated with Uranus, whose intention to wake the half-conscious dreamer out of states of numinous realities, hazy illusions and self delusions often manifests as what seems like a lightning bolt moment of realisation, which can feel like a slap in the face.
Actually, the ancient Romans believed that evil spells could be cured by a slap in the face, because a slap brings the sufferer's mental focus sharply back to its sensory perception of the physical body. Hence a popular Roman magical amulet was a purification whip, or stick, called a februum, and it's for this reason that the astrological month of Aquarius, which was the month dedicated to the purification rituals of spring, took the name 'February' (literally meaning the month which relates to the use of the februum). Although I don't personally see a practical application for the outer planets in the traditional sign-rulership scheme, I do notice the symbolic resonances that these planets share with their associated signs, and it does seems appropriate that when Uranus 'the awakener' purifies us from the insidious weakening of fantasies and falsities, its approach is sharp, like the februum, never gentle or light handed. In fact, like the lightning bolt, there is usually some 'tearing asunder' involved in the process.
Here we see another image of Zeus with his lightning bolt, not quite so dramatic or evocative but I think this one perfectly illustrates one aspect of Uranus-conj-Jupiter with the Sun in Virgo, in opposition.
In ancient representation both the lightning bolt and the eagle are the insignia of Jupiter/Zeus, because they are both indicative of power which extends to and from the superior regions of heaven. The bolts also represent Zeus's command over two essential 'heavenly provisions': warmth and moisture, which reach the earth in the form of lightning (fire) and rain - which can, of course, become destructive by excess. So what does it mean when the 'Greater Benefic' is made destructive by fiery excess?
As astrologers we are trained to look towards the bigger picture, which usually allows us to find some sense of reason in disaster; or to glimpse some painful but necessary change, which ultimately brings improvement in the future. But if we are too quick to do this then we artificially sanitise the local effect of the experience; or we heartlessly disconnect from the grief of the here and now, which becomes trivialised in our instinct to seek a positive meaning in some distant, abstract place.
Sometimes we need to keep in mind that trauma actually takes a long time to heal; just as sometimes the earth's cyclical revolutions involve many generations having to bear the brunt of the difficult changes taking place. Keeping a realistic recognition of the pain involved in the destructive turn of events, and an honest realisation that not every seed will flower and fruit, gives us a proportionate understanding of how difficult astrological patterns are likely to be experienced by 'those on the ground' at the time.
So, being earthy, I'm disinclined to see these dramatic planetary unions as inspirational bursts of planetary energy which stimulate idealistic creative thinking, as if each planetary cycle makes the human race more caring, or moves us closer to world peace. I simply don't see that happening. What I notice is that these kinds of power surges alert us to times when we need to counterbalance the danger by exercising more caution, taking more time, and pulling back from our excesses. I believe that as earthly inhabitants we must learn to navigate the planetary cycles, and not give free expression to all cosmic or emotional moods, as if we have no power of conscious control - because we do.
Using traditional terminology we would say that Jupiter is hurt (or 'accidentally afflicted') when brought into contact with a planet that has an excessive or immoderate flow of energy; because intemperate planetary influences always highlight some measure of destruction. And there seems to be some lesson about hubris built into this particular alignment, because the places where Jupiter-Uranus alignments tend to demonstrate explosive outbursts and violent breaks, are not so much the places of weakness and decay, but the unexpectedly healthy, or supposedly profitable places, where an assumption of strength or power has been overly exaggerated, allowing pressure to build to an unsustainable proportion.
For example, this present conjunction brings attention to the threshold of Pisces and Aries.
The first perfection of the contact occurred on 8 June, 2010, as both planets joined at 0°17' Aries. Their retrograde reunion perfects tomorrow night at 28°43 Pisces. Then the two will make the final conjunction of this cycle on 4th January, 2011, at 27°03 Pisces.
Pisces and Aries makes us think of water and fire, and so perhaps the defining mundane event of this year's contact will be the man-made disaster that occurred a few weeks before the first alignment, (as Saturn opposed the degree of the conjunction), when the Deepwater Horizon Oil-rig blew, causing the worst oil spill disaster in American history.
This is a particularly destructive expression of Uranus and Jupiter, but an explosion in an oil plant seems an obvious target for malefic activation when we apply the traditional principle that Jupiter is the natural significator for oil (William Lilly, Christian Astrology, p.354).
Prior to the current conjunction, the last Jupiter-Uranus meeting occurred in February 1997, when the two planets met at 5°55 Aquarius. They united in February; separated; then turned retrograde together in June. They came back to within a few degrees of each other at the end of August/beginning of September 1997; the week in which we were collectively stunned by the death of Diana, and then given a further spiritual blow in the loss of Mother Theresa a few days later.
I don't want to put Diana into the same bracket as Mother Theresa, but the fact that both these women felt a professional calling to turn the world's attention towards healing the sick and aiding the underprivileged, placed them both under the natural signification of Jupiter. And the period of collective mourning that followed, did seem to be amplified by shock, that the world should be left emotionally bereft, or 'emptied' of something comforting, by losing two of its most well known symbols of compassion so suddenly and so closely together.
However, the 87 year old Mother Theresa's death from a heart attack was not surprising considering her great age. Her death was a loss for the world, but not the shocking expression of Jupiter-Uranus that Diana's was. Diana's death plugs everything into Jupiter-Uranus. The perfection of the conjunction in February had prefigured her personal resonance to its effects by connecting to Diana's natal Jupiter at 5°05 Aquarius, a degree to which Uranus, having moved to 9° Aquarius in the summer, then returned at her death. Diana's accident occurred as the Moon translated from the opposition of transiting Jupiter to the conjunction of her 8th house Uranus, which opposed her natal Moon.
Just as the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is likely to be the mundane disaster that defines the current Jupiter-Uranus event, the death of Diana remains the definition of Jupiter-Uranus in 1997 - both events testifying that Uranus will rupture where the expansion is too great, and the pressure too intense. (Hence with Diana's death came angry accusations that no one should have been subject to that much media-pressure and exposure, which create the circumstances that inevitably lead to accident).
Most astrologers who incline towards traditional techniques but make use of the outer planets, consider Uranus to be a naturally 'malefic' planet. Its name derives from the Latinised form of the Greek 'sky' god Ouranus, and there is something truly dreadful about this god's myth. It ends with Chronos, the fruit of his loins, growing up to castrate his father by cutting off his genitals with a huge sickle - a dramatic statement about the sudden loss of the ability to be creative and generative - the qualities associated with the Jupiterian humours of moisture and warmth.
The story of Chronos castrating his father is archetypically disturbing. The Greek myth claims that when Chronos realized it was his fate to be similarly disposed by one of his own children, he took it upon himself to devour each one at birth - a story which artists have enjoyed depicting in darkly horrific artwork, clearly intended to shock our emotional sensibilities. We would need a whole new lecture to explore the meaning of the detail in such artwork, but the basic premise of the myth of Chronos devouring his children is probably to warn us, that whilst we may think it is our priviledge to be able to kill time, time will, eventally cause the destruction of all its offfspring.
As in the myth, there can be something shocking and emotionally castrating about the expression of Uranus; which suspends us from the ability to be generative, whilst its effects numb the nervous system and our minds realise the emptiness of space that had once been filled with something comforting and creative. My own defining experience of Uranus, as it transited over my natal Jupiter a few years ago, is one where I had considered myself prepared for whatever event might come my way, yet it still managed to blind-side me by the unexpected nature of the emotional disturbance it brought. Jupiter is the strongest planet in my chart, by the way, being in its own sign and angular within a couple of degrees of my midheaven in Pisces. My effective 'drying up of emotion' was compounded by being within a professional situation where I felt that I had no option but to deny my Piscean instinct to express grief, by disconnecting from my emotional acknowldgement of it.
The story is not an uncommon one - I had young dog that I was especially fond of, not yet two years old, and on the morning that I had to leave for an international astrology event I noticed her being sick and looking unwell. Although she had shown no other symptoms, I felt concerned because I knew I would be away for over a week. So, with the rest of the family ridiculing me for panicking so quickly, I took her to the vet, just to make sure that I could leave her without cause for concern. And he did tell me not to worry, because it was just a touch of gastroenteritis which would clear up in a few days. Except it didn't clear up, and in the two days between leaving home and beginning the astrological event I was preparing for, I started to receive worrying news about her looking worse instead of better. I couldn't do anything personally about the situation then; so I tried not to dwell on it.
The event was a 5-day residential horary course that I was giving to a group of students in France. Students were flying in from various countries, including one from Australia, so it was a case of the show needing to go on. On the morning that the course began that I received an early morning call from home to tell me that my dog had taken a turn for the worse and had been left at the vet's overnight following a barium meal examination. She had been found dead by the vet when he returned to check on her that morning.
There was too much pressure in the situation and not enough privacy to have an emotional processing of this shock, so the only thing I could do was reject my instincts and disconnect from what I was hearing. I made my presentations with no outward show of being upset. I welcomed students and went through the grooves of teaching material I knew well enough through past experience. Towards the end of the first day my voice started to dry up. I managed to communicate throughout the rest of the course by a kind of forced rasping, and the students were kind enough to say that they didn't really notice. At the end of the first day I went to my room early, but I couldn't cry or sleep because everything seemed to be operating through my brain and nerves instead of my emotions. Emotionally, I was in a very dry and restless place, where the senses feel too stretched to have any kind of flow. As I tried to sleep, I became aware of the word "distress" echoing over in the back of my mind, repeating like a drum beat.
Eventually, in a state of auto-pilot, I felt compelled to walk over to a big old dictionary on a shelf and look up the definition of this word (which, consciously, of course, I knew very well). The definition included the phrase "to feel torn apart ... to enter into a state of shock or horror; to be rendered speechless with grief". Looking at the words, I understood why I was still able to teach my material, but that my 'real voice' and my 'real sense of self-expression' had gone. I could not allow myself to communicate what I essentially was at that time. I could not 'converse' in the true meaning of the word converse: which in its root form means to turn at the same time, to be in tune to the same beat. Instead, I found myself analysing how this separation of my emotional self from the public presentation of myself was a typical symptom of a sterilising Uranus influence over a normally moist and emotionally expressive Jupiter on a Piscean Midheaven. Not knowing much about Latin derivatives at that time, I distracted myself by reading the rest of the 'dis' words in the dictionary; which all had this same 'separative' feel to them - dismay; disconnect, disengage, distance, disrespect, disparagement, disability; dislike; disown; despair - all this analysis helped to drive home my realisation of Uranus, as having the power of castration through emotional separation.
The problem I later faced was that it took a long time to come out of this state of empty emotional dryness. A turning point came weeks later, when I was sent a review copy of Darrelyn Gunzburg's Life after Grief, which helped me to realise and process how emotionally shocked I had been by the ill-timed news I had instinctively disconnected from, in order to continue functioning physically and mentally, but to the detriment of my emotional expression.
My astrological observation since this event is that the meeting of Uranus and Jupiter can be an especially difficult because of the nature of the contrasting principles involved. According to traditional astrological logic, in any planetary combination the speedier planet which is nearer the earth is marked by the effect of the slower more superior (distant) planet, which means that in their union it is not Jupiter which expresses its influence upon Uranus; but Uranus which gives its effect to Jupiter. The result is that Jupiter's natural signature of warmth and fullness is 'afflicted' by Uranus's signature of separation, emptiness and coldness. Obviously - Uranus being a modern planet - we can't turn to traditional texts for authoritative statements on its meaning; but since the rationale of astrology as outlined by Ptolemy is as valid today as it ever has been, it seems useful to consider what the traditional rationale would describe of the union of these two planets, based on their noted temperamental effects.
According to Ptolemaic reasoning, Jupiter is a naturally 'benefic' or creative planet because its principle humoral quality is warmth. This doesn't mean that Jupiter emanates warmth as a planet, but that where its astrological influence finds expression there will be some practical or philosophical sense of warmth. And we are talking about a temperate level of warmth, which is liberal and facilitates growth and increase; not the kind of excessive heat that becomes unpleasant or destructive.
Jupiter is also described as fertilising because its natural humour is a little 'humidifying'. This is because, in meteorological effect, gentle heat precipitates moisture in the atmosphere but without causing the parched dryness associated with too much heat. Moisture is the fertilising element because its function facilitates free-flowing emotion and empathy - and dilution, so that we can have a proper blending and adhesion within a union. Moisture also allows the elimination of what needs to be ejected so that there is a fluid responsiveness to life experiences: for example emotionally, with an outpouring of sentiment; or medically, in allowing the body to flush itself. However, Jupiter only expresses 'a little humidity' because its main temperamental principle is to add warmth which leads to increase. As Ptolemy explains, the 'Lesser Benefic', Venus (the planet of 'love and emotion'), mirrors Jupiter because the main principle of Venus is to add moisture; although she is also, temperamentally, a little warming in effect.
In simplified terms this means that Venus mainly governs moisture whilst Jupiter mainly governs warmth. Moisture and warmth are the two life enhancing properties needed on Earth to allow fertility and growth, and they are needed in that order. First there must be some form of moisture, and then there must be some form of creative heat in order for life to stir. The two destructive qualities are simply the withdrawal of these two creative qualities, which then results in dryness and coldness. The destructive qualities are therefore attributed to the traditionally 'malefic planets': the effect of Mars being drying, to take away the moisture of Venus, and the effect of Saturn being cooling, to withdraw the warmth of Jupiter.
In a very simplified form, this presents a fundamental temporal analysis of the cycle of life. The cycle is initiated by the moisture of Venus and enhanced by the warmth of Jupiter; then Mars takes away the moisture of Venus (leading to dryness which causes destruction), and then Saturn takes away the generative heat of Jupiter (leading to coldness which causes death). This cycle has many applications in astrology and we see it immediately in the seasonal cycle of the Sun, and in the recorded humoural shifts attributed to the lunar cycle and the synodic phases of the planets.
But how do we apply this scheme to Uranus, which as an outer planet cannot be slipped at random into the traditional humoral scheme? What I like about the reasoning brought forward by Ptolemy is that it is based on the observation of effect applied to philosophical reasoning. So I see it as an acceptable continuation of the astrological tradition to think about the outer-planet effects in this way. One of the first astrologers to try to define the influence of Uranus was Raphael in his Manual of Astrology (1828, p.70), where he stated that its influence is observed to be like a combination of Saturn and Mercury, being "extremely frigid, cold; dry, and void of any cheering influence". So with Uranus we know that there is no humoural expression of moisture or warmth, and we can then realise there is no natural compatibility between Jupiter and Uranus, and so understand why the effect of Uranus upon Jupiter will usually manifest as a 'malefic' one.
Let's bring this back to my earlier question, to consider what this has to say about astrologers, remembering that although Uranus is often associated with astrologers in modern texts, traditionally the signification for astrologers is given to either Jupiter or Mercury. Historically we have a dual association and I can see there are different levels of application there, but in general the Mercurial signification is related to the sharp analytic and mathematical knowledge required to understand the principles of ancient astronomy, whereas Jupiter is more relevant to the expression of philosophical judgement involved in the divinational elements of astrology. Certainly Jupiter has something to say about people who work in counselling roles, which is why I see this current conjunction, overhanging our astrological gathering, as likely to concern what we have to say to each other, at this time, as we meet together here and confer upon matters of astrological significance.
So, what is happening around us now; which might give us some pointers as to how this conjunction is starting to define our astrological future?
One obvious point of relevance is that there is shortly to be the first ever internet-based conference of astrologers: involving three days of live video broadcast and featuring around 40 internationally-renowned astrologers. This event has been billed as the conference that is going to change the future methods of conferencing for astrologers, because to attend this conference you don't have to leave your living room; there are no practical or physical inconveniences; no travel expenses; no time to be wasted on travelling; no need to give up the day job; and you don't have to worry about who is going to look after the children or the cat. This is being billed as the way that astrological conferences need to move in the future, and the inaugural conference of this particular type of event - the first ever 3-day live astrology conference - will run between October 1st-3rd, a few days from now.
Just a few weeks later, in November, we are to have the second 'first ever 3-day online astrology conference' (?) this time featuring a collection of around 60 well-known astrological speakers from various regions around the globe. So with two very significant events about to 'break down the borders' of astrological conferencing and networking, this is perhaps a good time to consider the consequences should these virtual meetings make redundant the necessity to hold physical meetings too.
Given my view that development of such technology is one correlation of the Jupiter-Uranus theme; and my argument that this conjunction warns of explosive damage falling on elements of life that are over-filled, over-extended, or over-exposed, then maybe the conjunction is warning us to just be careful, so that we loosen the borders, without overstepping them completely. As much as I am passionate about the internet there is something worrying about the rapid development of astrological services that require no dedicated commitment or physical presence. For one thing, I have never liked the idea that someone can pay for and receive an astrological 'consultation' with an astrologer they never meet or converse with freely on the phone, and without even so much as a heartfelt letter that could carry the imprint of one person's aura and emotional concerns to another. Not everyone will feel the same way about this; but I am speaking for the earth-signs tonight. Earth signs would want to recommend a little caution about cyber space consultations that operate without any tangible connection by which the underlying emotion can express itself: there being no sensory perception, no visual or auditory contact, just the electronic submission of words in a web-form, the virtual environment of which keeps our knowledge of the problem consulted upon at an artificially constrained and superficial level.
I see that as potentially worrying. Not wrong in itself, because remote 'cold consultations' have their place, and for some people this may be the only way to engage in a consultation that would otherwise be impossible to attain. But the problem with the internet is that it leads to exaggeration and over-exposure, and if this starts to become the 'norm' for astrological services then astrology will suffer through its lack of the 'human touch'.
Let's consider for a moment the almost miraculous difference that can be made when human beings simply follow their instincts to apply the power of the 'human touch'. Some of you will be acquainted with this wonderful story which gained nationwide media coverage a few weeks ago, about a baby boy who was still born, pronounced dead after 20 minutes of emergency resuscitation, and then given to his parents to allow them to start the process of expressing their grief. The parents spent two hours stroking and holding their still-born son, talking to him, telling him what his name was going to be, and of all the plans they had made and wished they could still give him. All the while, the mother was cuddling and loving the baby, kissing it and holding it close to her breast. After two hours of this close physical contact, and to the total disbelief of the doctors involved, the baby started to show signs of breathing. Initially doctors would not respond to the mother's call for their attention and blamed the breathing movement on the effect of lingering reflexes. Eventually, it was perfectly clear that the baby had indeed 'come back to life' when it started to suckle and feed on its mother's breast (the baby is now perfectly healthy).
The 3-month old story of how this baby was brought back to life, two hours after being proclaimed dead, with no medical treatment other than close contact to its own mothers body, every cell of which was filled with her will for his life, was recently used to support a long-running campaign by scientists, doctors and midwives, to adopt a different form of care for premature babies, since numerous studies have shown that seriously ill babies that are separated from their mothers and kept in the sterile environment of the incubator, are actually less likely to enjoy a swift return to health as when the baby is just given into the loving care and cuddles of its mother. Hence the campaign is for what is called 'kangaroo care', which argues that the best results come from keeping the baby in close and constant physical contact with its original source of life (the mother).
On behalf of the earth-signs I want to say that, communications systems are great; but let's not forget that matter matters too. The same applies when we have one-to-one consultations where we can look at the person behind the words in the web form, or when we hold real astrological meetings instead of virtual ones, where we can learn from the shared experiences of being truly together, in one physical space, building up an energy and environment that each of us adds into, and then takes back a share of the mix.
Having said all that, I would like to end this presentation by clarifying that I don't want astrologers to underrate the value of web-based technology; I'm actually addicted to the internet myself, and feel extremely grateful for the benefits it has given me as a research and communication tool. I love the fact that it is easy to publish widely on the internet without entailing major cost, and that we can include full colour illustrations, and incorporate elements of movement and sound. My intention is only to argue that we should be mindful of both the positive and negative aspects of new media devices which may trip us. Most of all I want to express my view that it is at conferences such as this, where we gather together in numbers and confer about the relevant issues that concern our community that we get the opportunity to make our policies and raise attention to elements that work well for astrology, and those that work against it.
So I am going to conclude my talk with an example use of new technology that had a very positive influence on me, and gave me a realisation of how powerful and beneficial live video conferencing can be, when used proportionally and not as a replacement for our tradition of meeting together in person. I refer to the AA's celebration of its 40th anniversary two years ago in 2008, when the Carter Memorial Lecture was not only delivered here in the UK, but also transmitted via a live video-link to a simultaneous conference in Sedona, Arizona. (Incidentally, I doubt it is irrelevant that I am delivering this 'Uranus' theme for the AA's 42nd annual conference). Anyway, being one of only a handful of British astrologers present at the Sedona conference, I would like to tell you about my own experience of the video-link, and how I observed its effect on the other astrologers around me.
Instead of one astrologer giving the Carter Memorial Lecture that year, the video-link featured commentaries from several of the well known astrologers who have given this lecture in the past. Each spoke for a few moments about the theme they chose to present, and why; and what preparing and delivering the lecture meant to them personally.
The summaries presented were concise but made some intense and powerful points, being fronted by a group of astrologers who had each, clearly, wrestled deeply with astrology's underlying philosophical principles. Although different perspectives were presented, there was a strong sense of consistency in the common line, which was that this subject has a very long and important history, that it presents opportunities for healing and illumination of life meaning, but that it also carries a responsibility, demands a conscience, requires a commitment and bears a consequence. As we sat and listened in Sedona, I believe most astrologers realised that what was being heard was striking a fundamental chord, and drawing attention to the significant issues that astrologers need to think about when they meet together and engage in conference with each other.
So for its sincerity, its gravitas, its line up of respected astrologers, and for many other various reasons, the video-link had quite a poignant effect upon its listeners. It generated on my part a sense of pride to be able to consider myself a member of this community of astrologers that we have here in the UK. It allowed me to realise that all those familiar faces had all been like points of anchorage in my own astrological journey, because every one of those speakers had been instrumental in some way in shaping my own astrological ideas. The video also brought a reminder of my own personal fondness for a collection of astrological individuals with whom I have enjoyed debates, discussions, drinks and arguments, and how all aspects of that sharing of our astrological thoughts, feelings and points of view, (including the drinking and the arguments) have been important in stimulating and sharpening my own astrological understanding over time.
A video-link is a wonderful thing when it can bring a reminder of that sense of being integrated within a community; but it cannot create that sense of being integrated, in my opinion, without the communal experience being simultaneously developed by real life, social contact. And that's why it's important for astrologers to act as masters and not servants to new technology; to make effective use of it in the building of bridges, but not resting our foundations upon it. We do this by being here, in body as well as mind and spirit, ensuring that these physical conferences are not neglected, and by making the effort to generate, support and attend local groups, which are very much in decline as a result of new astrologers having easy access to information and virtual discussion on the internet.
So I want to close by thanking both the Astrological Lodge of London and the Astrological Association of Great Britain for inviting me to be here to present (in person) this year's Carter Memorial Lecture. For giving me an opportunity to be part of this valuable tradition which allows a seasoned astrologer to speak freely from the heart, about some personal view on the astrological system, and an issue that they would like to ask other astrologers to take seriously and consider, if only for the hour in which we are allowed to make our case. And finally, thank you, for listening and giving me your time and attention.
The Jupiter-Uranus theme was particularly powerful because the Sun's opposition meant that Jupiter dominated the night sky in its brightest phase. Jupiter became exact in its conjunction with Uranus during the conference (10:27 pm the next evening at 28.43 Pisces).
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This shows the chart for the delayed commencement, which was pushed back from the scheduled time of 8:30pm (the chart used on the night, as shown in title graphic). The scheduled chart was equally interesting in placing the degree of my natal Midheaven upon the ascendant; however, the delayed commencement made the connections to my luminaries stronger by placing my Sun on the ascendant and my Moon on the trine of the commencement MC.
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Through later learning Latin I later discovered that dis is a Latin prefix which conveys the meaning of 'apart, asunder, away, utterly' or having a privative, negative, or reversing force, such as 'anti' (hence even the odd positive word like 'discover' is making use of dis as an anti-word; 'discover' being the opposite of to cover up).
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Two relevant observations made after the delivery of the lecture:
On the day following the delivery of the lecture (18 Sept. 2010), when the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction became exact, the Daily Mirror newspaper, like many others, ran a front-page headline which perfectly encapsulated one possible expression of the aspect: "BLOW UP THE POPE".
This was not an instruction, but the story of how UK police had supposedly foiled a plot to kill the visiting Pope by Muslim terrorists masquerading as street cleaners (so very virgoan); the real story, however, was only jitteriness over religious fundamentalism. It later emerged there was no evidence, nor charges, to be brought against these men, leading an Independent journalist to report "So the plot was smashed and foiled through the tactic of it never having existed in the first place" (22 Sept., 2010). Real or not, the story hit the astrological spot and landed right on cue.
On the 3rd Jan. 2011, the eve of the final Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, the BBC ran a program called Stargazing Live which was mainly dedicated to this astronomical event. In the course of explaining how the solar system works, the presenters sought to prove "once and for all" that astrology is just 'nonsense' and 'rubbish'. How did they do this? By pointing out that the Earth is the only planet to go around the Sun in 365 days. Aah.
This kicked off a prolonged period of media misrepresentation of astrology, involving foolish stories which went viral on the internet, such as the US media's sensational news coverage of the Minnesota Planetarium Society's claim that the zodiac should have 13 signs instead of 12. Their defence for misrepresenting the whole situation? Well they didn't really have one, they just made sure the story was not given coverage on their website and gave links instead to other, equally misrepresentative criticisms, such as Phil Platt's skeptic blog, which berates uncritical thinking whilst employing it to present arguments about gravity, and other points which have no relevance to the theory or practice of astrology. (So the 'astrological-plot' was fooled through the tactic of exposing criticisms of arguments that never existed in the first place; do we see a theme of knee-jerk instability here?).
And the BBC's defence for misrepresenting the whole situation? Well they didn't really have one either - they just said that though the facts were wrong, they would like the conclusion to be right, so they don't feel the need for accuracy when reporting upon something that their inaccuracy has identified as nonsense ... Thus, the perception of the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction as a warning of disturbance in astrology caused by media distortion and internet exploitation, has turned out to be a salient one - at least as far as I'm concerned (the rest, as they say, is history).
About the author
UK astrologer Deborah Houlding has been instrumental in bringing traditional astrological techniques back to the forefront of modern day practice. She was the editor of The Traditional Astrologer magazine, founder of Ascella Publications, and currently runs the astrology website www.skyscript.co.uk. She is also the author of The Houses: Temples of the Sky.
Since the late 1980s she has been active in researching the astronomical and symbolic basis of the techniques used in western astrology. Deborah's astrological practice specializes in horary and electional astrology, and she is the principle of the STA School of Traditional Horary Astrology. In 2010, immediately before delivering the Carter Memorial Lecture, she was awarded the Charles Harvey Award by the British Astrological Association in recognition of 'exceptional service to astrology'.
This presentation incorporates video footage, sound files and additional graphics which are not included in the published article.
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