Sense8 is a new Netflix original series directed by the Wachowskis, famous for The Matrix trilogy. Sense8 is a sci-fi drama featuring eight lead characters – strangers who suddenly find their lives inextricably connected. And not just in the interweaving storyline kind of way like Short Cuts or Traffic. These characters are literally connected. Called “sensates,” they sense each other – they can feel each other’s feelings, share each other’s thoughts, and even see and touch each other though they are miles apart. Marking an evolution in human development, sensates are born in the same moment into a “pod” of eight separate, but connected, beings.
All of that is cool, but a TV series isn’t complete without some drama to compel it. There is a dark force at work trying to kill and/or control all sensates. Meanwhile, the sensates discover they can support each other and pool their resources to face each conflict that unfolds.
Critics have complained about how slowly the series begins, and how confusing the first episode is. Hearing this, I began to suspect Neptune at work, and ran the release chart, which for a digitally-streaming Netflix show is very precise: June 5, 2015 at 12:00am Pacific Time, Los Gatos, CA. The chart features Neptune in Pisces in the first house (using either Placidus or Equal houses) squaring Mercury in Gemini – already a perfect aspect for the show’s title and subject matter. Neptune is about the dissolution of boundary, and Mercury is about how we perceive things. Pisces, a water sign, relates to feelings and emotions, and Gemini is often said to relate more to information, data, and thoughts.
The Neptune vibe permeates the first episode, which for a TV show, relates to the Ascendant and first house. With so many storylines to weave together, it does take a while to become oriented logically – there’s the square feeling with Mercury. It’s not easy to figure out at first. But once you adjust to the pacing and exercise some patience, the hypnotic vibe reveals its rewards. The characters get under your skin and are hard to shake even hours or days after viewing.
If you’re a fan of Hollywood’s recent slew of fairytale revisions, you won’t want to miss Maleficent. You might remember that I was pretty taken with Snow White and the Huntsman and wrote a lengthy article about it a while back. I loved Maleficent too, and couldn’t wait to look at the chart for the film’s premiere. I’ve recently been having fun adding asteroids to my charts, and the named asteroids are often pretty dramatic. I’ll share some standouts here from the Maleficent chart and look at a few other important configurations.
It took some digging to find the premiere’s actual start time, which I settled on as May 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm in Hollywood, CA. (1) The film’s opening got some extra media buzz because Brad Pitt was accosted on the red carpet by a notorious paparazzi guy (and we find rogue chaos-instigator Uranus in Aries quincunx the Ascendant in the premiere chart). But that media blip didn’t detract from the real star of the moment – Angelina Jolie – who seems to have been born to play the part of Maleficent, the famous villain from Walt Disney’s 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty.
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the film yet and don’t like knowing the plot details beforehand, quit reading and come back after you’ve seen it. Although you know the fairy tale it’s based on, there are enough twists in this new version to surprise you.
Maleficent tells the Sleeping Beauty tale anew from the point of view of Maleficent, a powerful fairy from a magical realm, who, after a deeply wounding betrayal, comes to have it out for princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and casts the famous spell that enchants Aurora into a deep sleep on her 16th birthday. In this wonderful revision of the classic fairy tale, we get to see characters whose motivations are more fully developed, complex, and less black-and-white than the Disney or Grimm originals. More importantly, details of the story are changed to give the female characters more power and centrality in their own self-actualization. I just love progress! And I’m surprised and grateful that Hollywood (and Disney!) now have the will to make films like this.
The visuals in the film take center stage, with Angeline Jolie’s angular features perfectly matched to Disney’s original cartoon villain’s striking looks. The reimagined Maleficent still has two huge horns, but now also has majestic wings that (temporarily) take the place of the classic black cape we all remember.
I started doing research on Venus out of bounds after editing Steven Forrest’s video workshop on the Out of Bounds Moon. I’ve been wanting to study the subject for a while and finally had the opportunity while writing his recent newsletter. I was thrilled to find that, in my sampling of 130 charts of famous people, many patterns started to emerge that gelled with the commonly held ideas about how out of bounds planets express.
A quick search on “Venus out of bounds” returns several brief blog entries that describe the general hypothesis that out of bounds planets are wacky, forward-thinking, or outside the box. Some describe this as a difficult placement and use terms that are limiting or judgmental, which is common in generalized descriptive astrology for better or worse. I wouldn’t say that at all. Difficult placements can bear beautiful fruit. And “easy” placements can fall short of awesome.
There hasn’t been a ton of published work about planets at extreme declinations. Kt Boehrer’s is credited as coining the term “out of bounds,” and though I’m hoping to track down a copy of it at this year’s NORWAC, I haven’t read it yet. Also on my declination reading list is Paul Newman’s Declination in Astrology, which looks promising. The AFA has a book by Joseph Silveira deMello called Declinations, and outside that, there isn’t much out there (get it: “out there”…chuckle chuckle).
Analyzing astrological archetypes can get so complex that it’s always fun to see them expressed literally. In Star Trek Into Darkness, the newest installment of the sci-fi franchise, we get hit over the head with the Uranus-Pluto square symbolism in the first few scenes. In astro-speak, right now we're in the middle of a long cycle in which Uranus is in the sign of Aries, and Pluto is in Capricorn, and they are in a tense relationship with each other called a square. At the opening of the film, we get to see Spock standing in the middle of a sea of red, in the heart of an active volcano that’s minutes away from erupting. His task is to plunge some technological wizardry into the core of the volcano that will turn the lava solid thus preventing its eruption. His goal is to protect a race of indigenous people who are at a fragile beginning stage of their evolution.
With his sharply angular haircut and high-tech finery, Spock is one of our classic Uranian cultural icons – the genius outsider, whose ability to detach from his emotions is his most prominent asset. The image of him standing in the middle of the volcano vividly embodies the archetypal field of Uranus in Aries – with Spock evoking Uranus and the hot lava and danger of the situation evoking Aries. In its high expression, the Aries endgame is to develop courage. So we can find strong Aries signatures in the presence of heroic deeds.
Pluto also stands out in this image, as the elemental power of the volcano. And the entire situation evokes the transit of Uranus square Pluto, with the vulnerable life forms threatened by environmental chaos, and the struggle to save them.
From the end of February through most of March, we're graced by a ton of planets in Pisces. This is a relatively rare occurence, and some folks born during this time will have what we call a Pisces stellium. Not everyone agrees on the definition of a stellium, but the most liberal definition is having 3 or more planets close to each other in the same sign.
I've been noticing several signs of the deluge of Piscean influence, which is especially heightened now while the Sun is conjunct Neptune in Pisces. Neptune in Pisces with the sun just magnifies the Pisces field immensely. What does that mean? Here is a mini sample of things I just noticed this morning that will help shed some light on what Pisces is all about.
Full Moon in Cancer 12/28/12 at 2:21 AM PST at 7º Cancer
On Friday December 28th, the full moon, at home in Cancer, the sign of the Great Mother, is matched in expression by its opposition from the Sun in Capricorn conjunct Pluto. Here we have the archetypal mother-nurturer, opposite the solar-expressive father. On this day, our need to find sustenance, warmth, and emotional comfort stands in sharp contrast to our solar principle – the ego’s desire to express, to do, and to accomplish; the powerful drive to be, to exist; the capital-letter expression of I AM. In Cancer the moon wants to support, to heal, to nurture. In Capricorn, the Sun wants to build something concrete, and importantly, to leave behind a legacy. The opposition suggests some tension between these forces. Maybe this nurturing element comes at an unwanted time. Or our drive to accomplish perhaps steamrolls our need for rest, comfort and support.
While browsing the web for some Great Mother imagery, I was reminded of this painting of mother and child set in the Great Depression. This imagery sheds light on another angle of the archetypal polarity between Cancer and Capricorn - here, the nurturing mother seen in her stark strength and vulnerability, at odds with the unrelenting demands of culture, of ego. The mother here is seen struggling to nurture in the absence of adequate resources, thwarted at every turn, by society, and the world of "men." In this month's full moon, the conjunction from Pluto to the Sun adds to our picture that perhaps the Great Mother is facing an adversary who is too strong to "kill with kindness."
On the weekend of June 1, just before the transit of Venus (which occurred on Tuesday June 2), the new film Snow White and the Huntsman made its debut in the number one spot at the box office. Composed of a rich tapestry of symbolic imagery, the film was released in concert with some of the strongest planetary alignments of June 2012. This visually striking film presents us with a wonderful opportunity to take a look at the darker sides of the Venus archetype. We can also learn something about the Venus retrograde cycle in the process.
We get Venus Retrograde cycles only once every two years or so. Already a special event because of its rare occurrence, the 2012 Venus retrograde cycle is an exceptional one in that it occurs simultaneously with several other important astrological events, including the rare transit of Venus, Neptune stationing in Pisces, several eclipses (or occultations), and later in the month, the station of Saturn in Libra, plus the first exact square of Uranus and Pluto, just to name a few! You can read more about these events in my blog post, A Perfect Storm.
In a recent article I wrote published exclusively in the Digital Edition of The Mountain Astrologer, I explore these transits and some of the symbolism in the film in detail. You can purchase TMA Digital and read it there, or follow the link below to read it now on my site!
As I started the research for this article on May 2012’s Venus Retrograde in Gemini (and the rare Transit of Venus that occurs on June 5), I quickly opened up a rather large can of worms. For it seems that in June of 2012, we have the makings of a perfect astrological storm. You see, when we look at key moments in history, we almost always find dynamic planetary transits bunched up in clusters around those same dates. It’s in those times when many key transits occur simultaneously that we tend to find more outward events – landmarks for memorable moments in history where we find sea changes, shifts, beginnings and endings of cycles. In June of 2012, we find one of those clusters that suggest June could be a month in which important formative outer events transpire. The conditions for the storm start to form in May when Venus goes retrograde.
Historically memorable events serve as bookends that we can use to compartmentalize segments of time. They help us organize the chaos that is daily existence into quantifiable, understandable bits. This way of organizing events into cycles is one of many processes that give us an experience we like to call sanity. In truth, the sheer enormity of paradoxical and contradictory data in the world is mind-blowing. It’s just too much for any one person to objectively synthesize. We need a way to organize the data, and to then create meaning out of it.
This information-sifting is a crucial step in our individual evolutionary processes, helping us to find meaning and make decisions. The planet Venus represents a crucial organizational process that occurs within the psyche. We'll have a chance to learn more about this process during the current Venus retrograde cycle.
Information can be organized in many ways. A Virgo style of organization might express itself as compartmentalizing the facts of life into neat folders (one for all of the frightening facts, one for the pleasant thoughts, etc.). A Sagittarius style might express as organizing the data into systems of thought, big picture philosophies, and broad sweeps of holistic understanding. Venus relates to an organizational process that results in art. More than just compartmentalization of facts, the organization that Venus refers to is endowed with her signature principles of proportion, balance, and grace.
Welcome to 2012. It sure feels like "full steam ahead" in my neck of the woods. If you're feeling a forward whoosh of energy, you're right on track, as we head towards an earth trine of Mars in Virgo to the Sun in Capricorn on January 12. We're just coming out of a Jupiter retrograde cycle, in which you likely did some re-visioning of your big picture plans. You might be itching to put some of those plans into action. If there are projects that have been waiting in the wings, now is a great time to get them moving. These are good days to spend a little more time working, and less time playing. Take care of the details, get the structure in order, establish the foundation. Because just a couple of weeks later, it's going to be time to put the brakes on.
The planet Mars relates to our personal will, our ability to take action and assert ourselves, and our sense of "I want." Every two years, Mars has a retrograde cycle which lasts for about 2 1/2 months. But like Mercury retrograde, our experience of the cycle is actually a bit longer, encompassing the entire span of degrees which Mars will traipse back and forth over, emphasizing that sign and house in our chart.