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Attention all Shipping!
Shipping rules applied to modern travel
Will I get there? by Deborah Houlding


International travel in the past naturally placed the focus on shipping. Today, it's more likely to be a case of 'Trains, Planes and Automobiles'. This horary, about an international flight, demonstrates that modern travel is very much subject to the rules traditionally applied to shipping, journeys and voyages.




Just before noon on the 23rd October 1997, I started a journey to Copenhagen where I was due to give a horary workshop the next day. My flight departed Heathrow at 8pm, so I had allowed over 6 hours to travel to the airport, plus the recommended 2-hour check-in. I was using an airport coach service that collected me from my home town and dropped me off at the airport terminal. The scheduled journey time was just over three hours, so I felt well prepared for any unexpected emergencies.

Yet for some reason (later put down to being the sheer volume of traffic on the road), the coach hit every traffic disruption, delay and tailback imaginable. Eventually, giving up on the motorway, the driver decided to try an alternative route - only to collide with the wing-mirror of a car on the motorway exit (another delay) and end up on a route with even more major road works that brought the journey to a stand-still. After I had been on the coach for six hours, and started to see my 'check-in time' eroding away, I was becoming extremely frustrated and anxious. At 7pm, on yet another diversion, we were stuck in yet another traffic jam in the centre of St Albans.

I had been making calls home on my mobile, asking my husband to keep the airport informed that I was still on my way, and trying to find out if it was physically possible to get there, even in time for the take-off. Ever the optimist, I asked a friend to call me back with data for a horary - will I get there? I knew that there were no later flights that evening, and no other way to get to the conference in time.

Will I get to Copenhagen?

The chart was not very promising. I am signified by Mercury, ruler of the ascendant, and shown to be trapped and ineffective by Mercury's combust condition in the 6th house. The Uranus/Neptune conjunction on the midheaven, which trines the ascendant, describes the unexpected problems and general state of confusion. I related the afflicted 10th house and its afflicted ruler, Saturn, to the driver, the 'captain of the ship', who had been making bad decisions throughout the day and had even switched off his intercom after arguments with his own company. Mars in the 7th house relates to arguments, conflicts and accidents in a journey, and Pluto sitting on the descendant definitely adds to the pressure.

The question concerned the possibility of getting to Copenhagen, which required me to catch my flight. International flights are ruled by the 9th house of long distance travel, hence signified by Saturn which is peregrine, in its sign of fall, retrograde, poorly placed in the 12th house and making no major contact with my significator. However, Saturn is receiving a trine from an angular Moon which is placed in the terms of Mercury. Though there were certainly problems and delays with this journey, that at least offered a glimmer of hope that I might make the flight.

The other arguments for success were tentative. The Moon from the 4th house is closely approaching the square of my significator. With no mutual reception between them, this mirrors the strain I felt with the way that events seemed to be moving against me. But square aspects needn't suggest that all is lost. As Lilly writes "there may be hopes of reconciliation betwixt them, the other significators or planets helping a little". (CA., p.106)

Primarily, the question of whether I would reach my destination is shown by application between the rulers of the 1st house (Mercury), signifying me as the traveller, and the 7th house (Jupiter), signifying the destination. If I had missed the chance to board my flight I would expect to see these rulers separating or making no contact. In fact they are applying by square out of fixed signs. Again, there is only mixed reception to ease the square, so no reason for me to feel complacent, but Jupiter is by nature a benefic, and strong by being angular. The fixed sign emphasis is a classic indication of slow journeys, beset by delays. Altogether there were a few positive signs, but I took this chart to be describing the situation as it was - very difficult and very unlikely, hopefully not entirely impossible.

The coach eventually arrived at the airport at just past 8 o'clock. Despite chasing off with my luggage in tow (I was in too much of a hurry to grab a trolley), in the wrong direction, and then running like a maniac through tunnels that seemed to go on for miles, I arrived at my airline's check-in point, half on the verge of a heart attack, fifteen minutes after my plane was scheduled to depart. The attendant was quite insistent that there was no possible way they could place me on the flight; they had given three 'last-boarding' calls for me and the plane was now fully boarded and due for take-off at any minute.

However, being told that the plane itself been delayed (Saturn retrograde), and was still on the ground made me simply convinced it was my destiny to be on it. I cannot even remember what level of disagreeable behaviour I stooped to in my attempts to persuade the staff to call the pilot, halt the plane and let me on it, but they included cycles of threatening, pleading, insisting, refusing to leave the airport, back to begging, back to threatening - the usual stuff. In hindsight I remember being totally oblivious to the thought that anyone would be able to stand between me and that plane, and utterly convinced it was only a matter of time before the airline backed down. (This was Pluto on the descendant personified by me!) When the airline staff could stand no more, phone calls were made and I was finally told to drop my luggage at the check-in desk as I was to be 'fast-tracked' through the system and the plane would be held up to allow for my arrival. A male attendant ran me through Heathrow, pushed me through the security checks and delivered the wreck that was left of me to the flight staff.

Had Saturn been angular and dignified, with no contact from my significator or the Moon, the chart would have described a flight that took off on time without me on it. As it was, the flight's own problems (Saturn retrograde in the 12th house) allowed me to take advantage, and although my significator was combust and cadent - showing no real power to direct the situation, the airline's significator was cadent and very afflicted too; the check-in staff didn't really know what to do with me. Thankfully the moon was angular, and tied the significators together through its square to Mercury and trine to Saturn. The significance of Pluto on the descendent came back to me when I took my seat, realised what an emotional drain the experience had been, and became acutely aware of the hostile glances from other passengers.

In fact my trauma for that night wasn't over. I managed to get myself lost in the hotel and went through a self-locking service door that left me out on the streets of Copenhagen after midnight, barefoot, in the rain, knowing that the last of the staff had left for the evening - but that is another story. Sheer luck and sweet coincidence got me back into the hotel and when I finally laid on my bed, prostrate for fear of causing more trouble, it was hard for me to work out whether I'd been cursed with bad luck or blessed with incredible good luck that evening. It's never good to have Mars in the 7th house in a journey, but here it is conjunct Venus with the pair sextile Jupiter in the 10th, so whilst the chart described disturbance and setbacks, there was also an ample helping of good fortune getting me where I needed to be. Despite all the difficulties, delays, and frustrations shown in the horary, this, and the trine from Uranus on the Midheaven to my ascendant ultimately, I think, helped me out.




© Deborah Houlding


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