The Astronomer and the Witch

Ulinka Rublack looks back at the life of Johannes Kepler and the year he spent defending his mother against charges of witchcraft in their hometown of Leonberg, Germany in the early 17th century in her engrossing book, The Astronomer and the Witch.

Kepler’s work fits neatly into a time when there was great excitement in studying the natural world, which was seen as part of God’s great plan. There was enthusiasm for mechanical developments such as clocks, as well as natural remedies. While women were generally not educated, they nevertheless had access to medicinal plants and herbs, and Katherina Kepler used these for herself, family and friends.

Kepler was around 50 in 1720, when his mother was arrested and imprisoned. He had previously been associated with Tycho Brahe and Emperor Rudolph II and had already published many of his most important works, but experienced career ups and downs in a time of great instability between Catholics and Lutherans. We learn something about his personal life and relationships with colleagues, family and friends.

Leonberg and its neighboring towns regularly prosecuted witches, who were often older women, hanging or burning those convicted. Katharina’s initial accuser gained support, and rumors turned to testimony against her. Her tough, confrontational manner hurt her case, with a biased and corrupt local official complicating things. Over 70 at the time of the arrest, she’d been a widow who’d raised a family on her own and successfully supported herself for over 30 years. She was jailed for over a year while chained to the floor.

At the same time Kepler published his Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, court records show how he was able to use his experience in the political world and as a critical thinker to craft his mother’s defense. He used rigorous logic and research to dissect the testimony against Katharina, and rhetorical persuasion to argue her case.

The author does an excellent job of portraying Kepler as a multi-faceted individual and admits that he had a large collection of horoscopes and did chart interpretations and forecasts for his various patrons. But she unfortunately does not appear to have researched astrology, which could only have strengthened her work. Rublack provides an excellent historical context for Kepler’s “negative sketches,” but to an astrologer, these are obviously cook-book-like delineations of planetary combinations. She similarly states that “What we call ‘gender’ played no role at all in the explanatory framework of astrology,” which is simply incorrect. Interestingly, she shares some of Kepler’s unanswered questions about his own birth chart, which might be answered by using the outer planets today.

Rublack stresses Kepler’s skepticism, stating, “his view that astrology was of little value.” She is probably more correct in her later discussion, where she concludes that Kepler’s mature belief was non-deterministic, allowing for the influence of the human soul, culture, education, choice and habits to modify the horoscope: “good astrology was very much like medicine in its character, an inductive art, which required observation, experience and analysis.” Kepler’s beliefs were based upon his experience as well as his optimistic Christian world view; he also stressed the need for accurate birth data. Astrologically, he was an innovator, as he was in astronomy.

Despite my quibbles, this is an excellent book for anyone interested in the history of ideas, and particularly for astrologers who wish to learn more about one of their most successful forebears.

Buy on Amazon.com: The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler’s Fight for his Mother

Kepler’s Astrology, Ken Negus’ translation of some of Kepler’s astrological writings is available in print.

Culture & Cosmos’ edition on Kepler is unfortunately no longer available. See the Table of Contents here.

Evangeline Adams Update

Half a Saturn cycle after my 2002 biography of Evangeline Adams, I’m updating it. And with many collections now online, I’m finding a lot of new information.

I’d never been able to find proprietor Warren F. Leland’s report of Evangeline’s accurate 1899 forecast of disaster for the Windsor Hotel. But now I’ve discovered an article in which he advises a reporter what Adams told him in advance.

I wasn’t sure about Evangeline’s maternal grandfather. But with several of her distant relations posting Family Trees online, I’ve now definitely identified him. He was a machinist with nine children and a suicide! This says something significant about Adams’ mother and grandmother, as they were obviously survivors. Evangeline was, too.

In her autobiography, Evangeline Adams talks about her engagement to her employer, a Mr. Lord. The relationship was facilitated by her aunt. I’d searched for Mr. Lord years ago but with no first name it was difficult to go further. I’ve now found him in newspaper databases through the company name that Adams provided. And it turns out that Luther S. Lord was thirty years older than Evangeline Adams. It was more common in the 19th century for women to marry much older men. But thank goodness she didn’t! She was only eighteen or nineteen at the time.

I’m excited to search for more about other people and events in Evangeline’s life in the coming months and expect to share these in the update of Foreseeing the Future: Evangeline Adams and Astrology in America.

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

A Presidential Signature?

When George W. Bush spoke out against nationalism, hate speech and isolationism in October, I wondered how his horoscope compared with Donald Trump’s.  I looked at Bush’s chart and realized that the two men were born only three weeks apart! 

In Alan Mayeda’s excellent article in the August ISAR Journal, he discussed solar eclipses and U.S. Presidents, and pointed out that Trump, Bush and Bill Clinton were all born in 1946 with Uranus conjunct the North Node high in the sky and trining Jupiter in Libra.  Mayeda’s analysis of presidents in history and these shared placements seem to be what led him to forecast Trump winning the presidency.

The three men were born in three consecutive months, an extraordinary coincidence when one considers that together they’ll likely serve over a period of at least 36 years.  What is it about this astrological combination that’s so compelling to the U.S.?  The Jupiter-Uranus trine in itself is a very dynamic aspect.  Evangeline Adams described it as “one of the most powerful and favorable aspects known,” and added that, “If you have political leanings, this vibration is an excellent one for activity.” 

But the combination of these two planets in Gemini and Libra also falls right on the U.S. horoscope, with its trine of Mars in Gemini and Saturn in Libra in middle degrees.  With the Gemini rising U.S. chart that I like, natal Mars falls conjunct the Ascendant as part of a grand trine with Saturn in the 5th house and the Moon in Aquarius in the 9th.  So the three presidents’ Uranus and North Node closely conjoin this U.S. Gemini Ascendant and Mars.  And the U.S. Moon at about 19 Aquarius also creates a close grand trine with Jupiter, Uranus and the North Node in all the three presidents’ charts as well.

Startling repeated connections!  Theodore Roosevelt is the only other president with Uranus in Gemini, but his was in an early degree.  Interestingly enough, his Jupiter was at 21 Gemini, conjoining the U.S. Ascendant and Mars and trining its Moon.  Attorney General and former 20-year Senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions was born on December 24, 1946, but his North Node is shy of conjoining the U.S. Mars or Ascendant.

Will it surprise us if the Democrats nominate someone with these astrological credentials for the 2020 election?  Richard Blumenthal, Senator from Connecticut, was born on February 13, 1946, though like Sessions, his North Node is too wide to be conjunct.  But Ed Markey, longtime Congressman and Senator from Massachusetts, was born within the “presidential window” on July 11, 1946.

Alan Mayeda’s article, “Great American Eclipses and Presidents of the United States:  an Astrological Perspective” has more, and appeared in the ISAR International Astrologer of August, 2017, p. 40-44 (unfortunately not available online).

NYC’s Bike Path Attack

Inspired by ISIS, on October 31, 2017, Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented truck into a bike path in lower Manhattan, killing eight. Transiting Uranus conjoining the New York City’s Moon in Aries speaks of unpredictability and potential violence. But Uranus already conjoined the City’s Moon in Aries in May. Why were there no attacks then?

In February, I reviewed the previous Uranus cycle in 1933 and 1934, which reflected political reforms and innovations in housing and transportation. While I searched for any notable violent events, I found none. Earlier this year, NYC did have Uranian developments in technology, transportation and housing.

Setting the stage for the tragic Halloween attack was the Solar Eclipse at 29 Leo, which fell in NY’s 11th house, creating a grand trine with natal Moon, Venus and Mars while also squaring Uranus. And the progressed Moon in Virgo conjoined the eclipse point, then also squared NYC Uranus, exact on October 14. Progressed Mars in Aries would trine the City’s Uranus exactly on November 4, and is an obvious indicator for the possibility of violence. 

Transiting Uranus exactly conjoined the City’s Moon on October 15 and Jupiter sextiled NY’s Venus and Mars in Sagittarius in early October, more of a protective influence than anything else, but perhaps also allowing a foreign-born person (Jupiter) to plan a street attack (3rd house Venus and Mars). Saturn in Sagittarius was near the midpoint of the City’s Venus-Mars-Neptune opposition.

We are looking for a trigger that sets off the heavier influences. Transiting Mars is our usual suspect, and Mars also rules the 7th house of “open enemies” traditionally (and we already have progressed Mars exact to natal Uranus). Transiting Mars had begun to conjoin 1st house Jupiter in Libra, while approaching a sextile to Saturn in Sagittarius in the NYC 3rd house of local transportation. A sextile is generally not as violent as a square, but Mars with Saturn nevertheless retains its potential for crushing when combined. And the violence could very easily have been a lot worse, as the terrorist crashed the car into a school bus, injuring two children.

New York City has helpful influences for the rest of the year and into January of 2018. In November, transiting Saturn trines the NY Moon while Jupiter sextiles its Sun and trines its Midheaven from the 2nd house. Transiting Saturn conjunct the NYC Venus and Mars in December could potentially be a destructive combination, but now that the City is on greater alert, hopefully it represents greater vigilance and an increased police presence (the City has already installed concrete barriers on the bike path). New York’s progressed Midheaven in Scorpio trining the natal Midheaven in December and progressed Sun in the 8th trining natal Sun in January have similar overtones.

Uranus will conjoin New York City’s Moon for the final time in March of 2018.

See Michelle Young’s website for her in-depth analysis of the chart of the attack, along with Sayfullo Saipov’s noon chart, which has several extraordinary conjunctions with the NYC horoscope.

Book Blog Tour

Check out the Blog Tour for my astrological mystery novel, The Precious Pachyderm. Set in 1920s New York City, astrologer Evangeline Adams and her two assistants discover who stole a priceless elephant figurine and killed one of their high-class clients.

Join me for some excerpts from the book and a review or two. I’ll also reply to comments and answer your questions. Plus: sign up to win a $15 Amazon gift card!

October 23: T’s Stuff
October 24: Books, Dreams,Life
October 25: This and That Book Blog
October 26: Fabulous and Brunette
October 27: Book Lover Promo
October 30: BooksChatter
October 31: Straight From the Library
November 1: fuonlyknew
November 2: Jane Reads – review
November 3: The Avid Reader

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.

Jupiter in Scorpio

Jupiter enters Scorpio on October 11, 2017 where it stays until November 8, 2018.  With Jupiter’s expansiveness and Scorpio’s focus, these two aren’t the greatest match.  Might they balance each other’s extremes?  As a fixed sign, Scorpio could dampen the potential flightiness of Jupiter, giving it more tenacity.  And Jupiter can bring the hidden, complex side of Scorpio into the open.

Jupiter shows fame, the best ways to succeed, our philosophy and beliefs. People with this placement can make bold choices or become known for their magnetism, passion or wealth. Sometimes they go too far.  Others with Jupiter in Scorpio can turn inward to explore consciousness.  There may often be an interest in the occult, metaphysical or obscure, or an attraction to the mysteries of life and death.  And while some transcend the physical plane through their philosophy or a sense of mastery, others are deeply attached to it.

The celebrity examples below demonstrate the many expressions of Jupiter in Scorpio.  Notice how many of these people fit into more than one category.

Purposeful, determined, focused (may not be obvious!): Misty Copeland, Meghan Trainor, Mitt Romney, Steven Spielberg, Tim Kaine, Sally Field

Celebrity through marriage or inheritance:  Prince William, Kate Middleton, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Melania Trump, Jackie Onassis, Laura Bush

Investigate or transform nature:  Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Padma Lakshmi, Eddie Huang, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers (12 years apart)

Metaphysical philosophy:  Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Bob Zoller, Stephen Arroyo, Leo Tolstoy, Sivananda Saraswati

Share the dark side:  Rachel Weisz, Steven King, Ice-T, Alfred/Alma Hitchcock, Vincent Price, Charlotte Bronte, Kurt Vonnegut

Notorious:  Vladimir Nabokov, Al Capone, Aleister Crowley, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Joel Rifkin

Addicted to humor:  Melissa McCarthy, Seth Rogan, Shawn Wayans, Garry Marshall, Lucille Ball

Larger than life, notable death:  Elvis Presley, Ernest Hemingway, David Bowie, Dorothy Dandridge, Farrah Fawcett, Hart Crane

Dynamic personalities:  Ellen Degeneres, Queen Latifah, Ronald Reagan, Joan Jett, Hugh Laurie

Charismatic appeal: Elton John, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Uma Thurman; Susan Sarandon

Communicate deep emotions:  Sade, Sharon Stone, Jessica Biel, Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli,

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.