Category Archives: metaphysics-spirituality

The Waking Dream

Ray Grasse’s book, The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of our Lives, explains symbolist thinking:  holistic and right-brained correspondences, metaphor, analogy and qualitative views, rather than facts or figures.  The book is refreshing and wonderful on so many levels, simply because, as the author so eloquently explains, this worldview supports the spiritual rather the material – the opposite of today’s emphasis on science.  It is ancient and cross-cultural, though it unfortunately began to wane with 17th century rationalism. 

Grasse is an astrologer who is extremely well-versed in many other symbolist studies, and draws on a large array of books and esoteric subjects, sharing gems from prominent thinkers through the centuries and around the world, from the classics to popular culture.  His wide-ranging analysis looks at the meanings of external events, nature, dreams, ritual, astrology, psychology, cycles, fractal geometry and much more.  (No previous experience in any of these topics is needed.

This thoroughly researched work is deep, clear and uplifting, reminding us that, despite all of the linear, reductionist thinking in the contemporary world, there are no accidents, and that the Universe is still brimming with meaning.  And for the first time, I really understood how astrology works.  Well done!

Buy on Amazon.com: The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives

Message from the Other Side

I’ve had only a handful of what we might call metaphysical experiences.  But I believe that my father has been in touch with us from the other side.

My dad had Gemini rising with Mercury in Pisces and Venus in Taurus in the 12th house.  He was warm, understanding and compassionate.  He also embraced nature, cultivating a backyard garden for most of his life.  He loved to sit in the yard and watch the birds and had ongoing battles with the local squirrels, who were amazingly adept at stealing bird seed from the feeder.

A day after my husband and I moved into our new apartment, my dad was in the hospital.  He was 87, had lived a very full life, and died a week later.  During this time, a dove began appearing on our windowsill regularly.  As my father was a bird-lover with such a peaceful center, I always associated the dove with him.

My mother survived my dad and within three years was declining.  But like many seniors, she stubbornly refused to leave her home on Long Island, despite the fact that she could no longer care for it, or even herself, very well.  When my sister and I became more assertive about helping her and keeping up the property, she responded with defiance and anger, as someone with the Sun conjunct Pluto and Jupiter in Leo can easily do.

My mom resisted seeing a new and better doctor, though she finally agreed.  But when I called her from the Long Island Railroad train on my way to take her to her appointment, she viciously screamed that she wouldn’t go and hung up on me.

I was very upset as I walked from the station to her house and spoke to my dad in my head.  “How did you tolerate her?  Please help me!  I don’t know what do to.”  My father was always able to make me feel better with just a hug, and I felt a little stronger connecting with him in this way.

As I approached the house, a funny thing happened.  A dove who’d been sitting on the stoop flapped up and down repeatedly and then landed on the roof, as if protecting its nest.  It didn’t fly away.  I always believed this was a sign from my dad, and it helped me get through a rough and challenging day with my mother.  After becoming disoriented on the road as well as hitting her neighbor’s car, she still refused to let me take over the driving.

We had many similar difficulties in the months that followed, and the dove appeared three more times.  Once, walking back to the train station, I turned a corner and found a whole flock of doves who all rose at once.  But my sister, who’d been closer to my father (both with Aries and Pisces and birthdays only four days apart), had never seen any doves.

Two years passed before we got my mother into assisted living and sold her house, and I hadn’t seen the dove in quite a while.  Before the closing, my sister went to check on the property and take a clipping from my father’s old holly tree in the front yard.  As she approached the house, a dove sitting on the stoop flew up and over to the tree!  She was suddenly hit with the finality of the sale and understood fact that we were all moving beyond it. 

The chart for the day and time (February 22, 2017 at 12:40 pm) has family-oriented Cancer rising, which is her Ascendant.  Both Aries and Pisces, the signs they shared, are emphasized, and the lights each conjoin other-worldly planets.  Neptune conjoins the Midheaven and the Sun in Pisces in the 9th house, suggesting both parental and transcendental connections.  And the Moon in Capricorn closely conjunct Pluto could symbolize addressing the past as well moving on. The major T-square in cardinal signs includes expansive Jupiter along with Uranus and Pluto, the two remaining outer planets.  And every sign represented in this chart is present in my father’s birth chart.

The Moon’s Nodes are often astrologically linked to reincarnation and the continuity of life.  Over five years after his death, the Nodes for the dove’s final appearance were in the 3rd and 9th houses, only a few degrees from an exact return to my dad’s birth Nodes.

I feel the event chart has many more synchronicities than coincidence would allow.  I’m not sure what the chart for a message from the other side looks like, but I suspect it’s something like the one we found.

My Most Important Birth Twin

One of the first guys I dated as a teen had the same birthday as my sister.  What are the odds?  Their personalities were similar but their lives couldn’t have been more different.  And he ended up, in an odd way, leading me to astrology. 

They both had the Sun in Aries square Jupiter, along with Mercury, Venus and the Moon in Pisces trine Neptune.  The guy seemed to be much more impulsive than my sister, who has an angular Saturn.  He had an untamed spirit, and despite coming from a nice family, he dropped out of school at 16.  My sister went on to finish college.

Years later, when the two were experiencing their Saturn returns, my sister was working full-time while completing a Master’s degree.  My former flame was married and his wife was eight months pregnant.  One night he sat in a bar with friends (remember all the Pisces and Neptune) and said, “I’m so depressed I feel like putting a bullet in my head.”  And he did.

The story is so disturbing and dramatic that it’s a shame I’ve never had his birth time.  I’ve wondered if he had Pluto rising, which would put his Aries Sun in the 8th house squaring Jupiter in the 5th.  The Sun’s ruler, Mars, would be widely opposite Uranus in his 12th house, relating to unconscious impulses.  (True to the Martian archetype, my sister went on to a career requiring a firearm, but she always used it with care. )

Though my sister has remained consistent in my life, at 15, my relationship, predictably, hadn’t lasted long.  I had transiting Uranus squaring my Sun, showing excitement and spontaneity, but also the short-term nature of our connection.  Transiting Saturn opposed my Saturn then, too.  And I was upset.  My mom had already been studying astrology for a number of years, and brought out one of her cookbooks, turning to the page for Uranus squaring the Sun.  The description so exactly described my situation that despite being a skeptic before, I was now completely fascinated.  Uranus awakened astrology for me through a person who didn’t remain in my life.  And Saturn put me on a path that would remain constant long after many relationships had run their natural course.

About Wholism

Whole by T. Colin Campbell, PhD explains the difference between a holistic paradigm and the view favored by science and medicine. The linear reductionist view is generally accepted as the “truth” by government agencies and in the media. Campbell addresses nutrition and health and the extreme and debilitating effects resulting from the American population’s acceptance of government guidelines and medical professionals’ second-hand opinions. Those of us who are astrologers face similar challenges with our holistic perspective, which is often at odds with the norm.

Dr. Campbell was an insider for over 50 years, teaching standard courses on nutrition at Cornell University, and receiving numerous research grants throughout his career.  He explains that funding is only available to those willing to tailor their research to a strictly linear, cause-and-effect model. While I was already aware of the many ways our society diminishes a holistic view of life, this book was still an eye-opener. It’s disturbing to see how medicine and the media are deeply enmeshed with corporate America.

Growing up on a farm, Campbell began with and advocated for a standard American diet. Yet over his years of research and study, he came to support whole foods and plant-based nutrition. Studies for such a diet are difficult to find as they are not linear and are not supported by industry. Apparently there are nevertheless many such studies, which show the positive effects of the diet, though they often cannot gain the attention of publications or the media (both of which are also often funded by industry, especially pharmaceuticals and other special interests).

This is an important book, however as with many of its kind, its value and limitations are both due to the author’s strong point of view. He comes just short of saying that vegetarianism can cure cancer, for example. It’s hard for us to know if he’s right or wrong. But given the predominant influence of the pharmaceutical and food industries on medicine and lifestyle in this country, more alternative voices need to be heard.

Arcturus/Psyche

I recently wrote about Edgar Cayce’s psychic readings on the Fixed Star Arcturus, and heard that astrologer Michael Munkasey had done independent research on this star. His work appears in Exploring Consciousness in the Horoscope (Llewellyn, 1993).

Munkasey tested Arcturus (now at approximately 24½ Libra) in stock market forecasting and studied its major aspects with planets in newspaper headlines and natal charts. His 2+ years of study included inspiration, dogged research, group feedback and surprising coincidences. Munkasey found meaningful correlations with the myths of the Greek goddess Psyche, so much so that he rechristened Arcturus as “the planet Psyche” (not to be confused with the asteroid). Psyche

Edgar Cayce’s readings related Arcturus to enlightenment, transcendence and spiritual development. Michael similarly found Psyche/Arcturus to align with the evolution of consciousness and self-realization. Its path may include issues of cooperation and fairness, addressing differing viewpoints, the need to ask for help, innocence, beauty, loss in love and female conflicts. On some level it appears to epitomize Libra and Venus themes. But Psyche also suggests discipline in relationships (perhaps somehow related to Saturn’s exaltation in Libra).

Munkasey describes cycles of Uranus with Psyche in world events and includes numerous capsule descriptions of Psyche in natal charts. His research is top-notch and he’s boiled the subject down to its essence, making it easily accessible. The 25-page chapter provides a fascinating and comprehensive overview and includes an ephemeris for Psyche.

Michael Munkasey’s excellent article is highly recommended, especially for those interested in the Fixed Stars, relationships, Evolutionary astrology, feminine archetypes, consciousness and divine inspiration. Exploring Consciousness in the Horoscope is out-of-print, but available second-hand online. Edited by Noel Tyl, the book also includes chapters by Ed Steinbrecher, Steven Forrest, Tad Mann and others.  Buy at Amazon.com:  Exploring Consciousness In the Horoscope

Understanding Arcturus

My article, Understanding Arcturus: the Gateway to Higher Realms, appears in the April-June issue of Venture Inward. My research into the psychic Edgar Cayce’s readings on this star was illuminating and surprising. Arcturus002

Cayce’s reports that Arcturus is a gateway to higher levels of consciousness and other dimensions are reiterated in many ways. The challenge in coming to an astrological interpretation based on Cayce’s material is that we are stuck here on three-dimensional Earth!

Below is an excerpt from my article. (Venture Inward magazine is available through membership in the A.R.E.)

Edgar Cayce mentioned the Star Arcturus in more than 30 of his psychic readings, beginning in 1928. New Age enthusiasts have championed Arcturus as a “gateway” to higher realms of consciousness that can have a profound effect on people’s lives. But what is Arcturus really all about? Why is it important? We have only to turn to the readings themselves to learn the answers to these questions.

In understanding Arcturus, it’s important to consider the readings’ repeated descriptions of the soul’s dwelling in other planetary spheres between earthly incarnations. Cayce in his trance state often spoke about astrology, and Cayce’s readings asserted that astrological aspects provide tendencies or inclinations only – the will or personal determination may surpass them. But the readings added a further dimension – the influence of the individual’s environment, including previous incarnations on the earth, as well as planetary sojourns. A planet’s theme may be accentuated in a person’s consciousness due to the fact that the soul had a past experience – an incarnation or sojourn – in that planetary sphere. (Reading 5733-3 gives a good overview of these concepts.)

Arcturus is a star and well outside of our planetary system, yet it somehow functions as a center for our sun and planets. As Cayce said in a reading,

Arcturus is that junction between the spheres of activity as related to cosmic force, and is that about which this particular environ or sphere of activity rotates… (263-15)

(To read about membership in Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. or download an earlier issue of Venture Inward maggazine, click here.)

Quantum Mechanics and Astrology

I read science books from time to time, astronomy, physics, history and research topics that may relate to astrology and provide another point of view.  The Cosmic Code (1982) by Dr. Heinz Pagels was one of these.  Physicist Pagels wrote an accessible book about quantum mechanics, which could help explain astrology.

Einstein and others had identified a paradox called “spooky action at a distance” involving entangled atomic particles.  This action is impossible according to relativity theory, but is a logical part of quantum mechanics.  TechnologyReview.com describes it nicely:  “Entanglement arises naturally when two particles are created at the same point and instant in space… Entangled particles can become widely separated in space. But even so, the mathematics implies that a measurement on one immediately influences the other, regardless of the distance between them.”

They are talking about particles, but the idea of being linked at the time of creation, despite distance between particles, is very resonant of distant planets continuing to have an influence on us after birth.Mtn Unsplash nicolas-cool-113895

What was most vivid to me in Heinz Pagels book was his strong argument against action at a distance.  It seemed to me that he was speaking from a bias.  Much of what he’d explained about quantum mechanics made action at a distance seem logically possible.  Either he couldn’t reconcile it with relativity theory or action at a distance smacked too much of metaphysics to make sense to him.  But physicists have, in fact, since proven that action at a distance is real.

The most ironic thing about The Cosmic Code, though, was the ending.  In it, Dr. Pagels, a mountain climber, shared a recurring dream he had about falling while climbing.  He did not become upset, but poetically concluded that, “I realized that what I embody, the principle of life, cannot be destroyed… It is written into the cosmic code, the order of the universe.  As I continued to fall in the dark void, embraced by the vault of the heavens, I sang to the beauty of the stars and made my peace with the darkness.”

Dr. Heinz Pagels fell to his death while mountain climbing in Aspen on July 24, 1988.  Though he probably wouldn’t have accepted it, I believe he foresaw his own demise.  No surprise, as he had a stellium of the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Jupiter all in the often psychic, transcendental water sign of Pisces.  This also explains his emotional bias in his thoughts in the action at a distance paradox.

Heinz Pagels was born on February 19, 1939 in New York City.

The Cosmic Code at Amazon.com:  The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature (Dover Books on Physics)

Justin Timberlake and Neptune

Justin Timberlake’s new song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” hit the top of the charts over Memorial Day weekend, and is being touted as the song of the summer. This infectious pop tune reflects Timberlake’s exact Moon conjunct Neptune in Sagittarius.

“Can’t Stop the Feeling” captures a sense of love, joy and happiness, and the video shows people in everyday life expressing it. Since Justin not only performs the song, but was also a writer and co-producer, it strongly reflects his personality. His Moon and Neptune closely trine his Leo Ascendant from the cusp of the 5th house, giving him the ability to creatively dramatize a special moment in time. The singer-songwriter seems able to effortlessly capture an evanescent feeling.

Sagittarius showcases optimism and expansiveness, but it’s also the combination with Neptune that transcends the material plane and blends it into a sense of higher consciousness. Neptune is certainly at home with music and dance. And look how many joyful Sagittarius-Neptune phrases we can find in the song’s lyrics:

“I fly so high, no ceiling, when I’m in my zone”
“Got that good soul in my feet”
“moving so phenomenally”
“Just imagine”
“Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance”
“It’s something magical”

Director Mark Romanek (born September 18, 1959) perfectly captures the essence of the song in the music video. His Uranus at 19 Leo conjoins Justin’s Ascendant while trining his Moon-Neptune conjunction in Sagittarius. Transiting Uranus will station in the third fire sign, Aries, in Timberlake’s 9th house this summer, creating a once-in-a-lifetime grand trine. So the hype about “Can’t Stop the Feeling” being the summer’s song is probably correct! Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake was born on January 31, 1981 at 6:30 PM in Memphis, Tennessee, according to his birth certificate on Astrodatabank.

Kumare and Neptune

Vikram Gandhi, a disillusioned Indian-American philosopher who’s followed gurus across India, returns to the U.S. to impersonate one himself. As Kumare, he collects followers in Arizona, trains them in his own form of yoga, listens to their problems and advises that the answers lie within. Along the way he transforms the lives of many of his devotees and is profoundly changed himself. Gandhi is the creator, director, writer and star of the wise and funny film titled Kumare.

How many references to Neptune can you find in the first paragraph? Film of course. And disillusionment is typical of Neptune, since its idealism can lead to illusions. While both philosophy and inter-cultural relations are often characterized by Jupiter, Neptune in this case is more appropriate. Vikram’s studies and research in the U.S. and India have given him information, but not faith. He seeks inspiration from gurus, who are supposedly on a spiritual path, and visits India only to be disappointed.

By impersonating a guru, Vikram takes on a Neptunian disguise and renames himself. He grows his hair and beard, walks barefoot, adopts his grandmother’s accent and wears flowing robes. Traveling to Arizona where he won’t be recognized, he attracts over a dozen followers who want to devote more time to learning yoga, meditation and a spiritual approach to life. Vikram as Kumare, after months in the role, becomes something of a mystic himself, always insisting that “I am not who I appear to be.”

The devotees pour out their hearts to their guru, as they each grapple with life’s challenges and find in him a willing listener and leader. Kumare takes them seriously, meets with them regularly and schedules individual sessions, apparently for no fee. As the devotees find inspiration, Vikram/Kumare becomes more earnest in addressing his followers’ needs, yet avoids interfering in their decision-making process. He has influenced them and they have influenced him in some ineffable Neptunian way. It’s almost as if, in coming together, the group has evoked what it needed; the faith of the guru himself somehow didn’t matter.

Over a month after the end of the seminar, having shaved his beard, cut his hair and returned to western garb, Vikram goes back to Arizona to reveal himself. His students are shocked and only a few are angry but most don’t care. One has lost 70 pounds, one has left an unfulfilling relationship to become a yoga instructor herself, and a stressed-out lawyer has grounded her emotions with her new practices. This is surely a Neptunian story all around, abounding in both deception and transcendence, and the film reminds us of the blurred lines between illusion and reality.

Kumare premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival on March 13, 2011 with the Sun and Mars in Pisces. It was released on June 20, 2012 with Jupiter in Gemini and the North Node in Sagittarius both squaring Neptune in Pisces. See more about Kumare.

Hardwiring Happiness

We are biologically evolved to react to danger and thus remember the bad times – those with the best fight-or-flight response survived. Yet neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, building on the work of many recent authors, claims that we can actively train our mental happiness pathways to compensate for this bias in order to lead happier lives.

The practice he recommends is very different from simple affirmations. The exercises to promote the happiness pathways in our brains reminded me of acting exercises that I had in school to conjure up a mood. Readers are encouraged to “take in the good,” becoming more aware of and responsive to positive situations all around us every day, with many examples of how to do so.

I found this premise very intriguing and also reminiscent of simply counting our blessings. The author goes on to suggest developing the technique to overcome habits, free yourself from old emotional wounds and learn new skills. I’m not sure that someone who’s not astrologically predisposed for focus and discipline can really get this technique to work on their own for more significant issues, and perhaps it makes more sense for shorter-term and general outlook.

This book is easy to read and may have been more effective at a shorter length. But it seems like a great idea and I’m already trying it with success!