Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Brooklyn Tragedy

On March 21, 2015, Gayle and Gabriel Sassoon’s home in Brooklyn was destroyed by fire, killing seven of their eight children. Can we anticipate such an extreme event astrologically? And how would it look? Heavy transiting planets often activate the natal chart at momentous times like these.

This was an electrical fire that changed the fate of a large family literally overnight. Must be Uranus, right? But the overwhelming extent of the devastation also suggests Pluto. Of course, the long-term transit of Uranus square Pluto was exact less than two weeks before the fire, strengthening these energies and creating a major upheaval. We are all affected by the Uranus square Pluto trend, but those whose birth charts they contact most closely will feel their effects more strongly. And of course, most of us will not experience such an unusual tragedy, which will be seen in birth chart patterns as well.

Gabriel Sassoon was born on April 28, 1972 according to public records. His full Moon chart with the Sun in Taurus and Moon in Scorpio suggests a life of drama, at least from time to time, as well as complex issues surrounding his home life. The Moon in Scorpio, while in its fall, is nevertheless fruitful when considering children astrologically. With Jupiter trining and sextiling his Sun-Moon opposition, he was also lucky. One certainly can’t consider him lucky in losing most of a large family, but he did survive, being away at a religious retreat at the time of the fire. This combination of luck and tragedy is indicated by his Jupiter in Capricorn, the sign of its fall. There is loss, but something remains. Transiting Neptune also sextiled the Sun trine Jupiter birth chart pattern, providing solace in religion.

Sassoon’s Saturn closely opposes Neptune, showing a need to balance practical reality and ideals. The Sassoons were orthodox Jews, and this resonates with Saturn’s focus on tradition and Neptune’s on ideology. Transiting Saturn at its stationary point strengthened its effects. It closely conjoined Gabriel’s Neptune and opposed his Saturn at the time of the accident, presenting a major change and removing his established security. He was pushed into a new phase as we so often are with Saturn.  Perhaps this combination also shows the negligence in not installing smoke alarms on the family’s main floors.

Gabriel Sassoon also has Uranus opposite Mercury in his birth chart. The transiting Uranus square Pluto pattern exactly squared Uranus. Here is the overwhelming sudden and unexpected event which changed everything forever.

We can see in this example how each of the heavier transiting planets added to the overall event. While no one but a psychic could have foreseen exactly how things would fall out, Uranus and Pluto did forecast a sudden, irrevocable change, and Saturn inevitably moved Sassoon into a new phase of his life. Neptune brought about a confusing event where he lacked the ability to rescue his family. Jupiter allowed him to survive. With a properly timed birth chart, we would know even more. And certainly looking at eclipses, declinations and other astrological tools would fill out this sad story and help us better understand how it happened.

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!