Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Total Solar Eclipse – 21 August 2017

There are dozens of articles posted on the internet regarding the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse. I have therefore elected to illuminate the significance of this eclipse in a fairly straightforward fashion so that those who are not adept in advanced techniques will nevertheless leave with a better understanding of the subject. I will speak to the essence of the phenomena. There are legions of potential rules and considerations one might use to judge an eclipse. This one is extraordinary because it’s the first total Solar Eclipse to be seen in all of the US since 1918.  The eclipse will have resonance in parts of Canada, Mexico, and Central America, but the full totality is seen only in the continental USA.

It is also extraordinary because the eclipse point is conjunct Regulus and the Ascendant of the President. The eclipse of the Sun in his own domicile is extraordinarily potent. It will fall over Washington D.C. like a dark cloud and the following months will see chaos, violence, confusion, and terror. I have struggled with writing this because I dislike being the harbinger of such news, but on balance, I think it better to be prepared than not. Because the eclipse is a Fixed Sign, the effects will unfold over several months. I could have consulted many charts but saw no need to do so. I chose the chart for the Year – Vernal Equinox and the chart for totality over Washington 21 August 2017. I could have consulted many charts but saw no need to do so. I chose the chart for the Year – Vernal Equinox and the chart for totality over Washington 21 August 2017.

Vernal Equinox – Washington D.C.

In the Equinox chart, Mars is bedeviled by numerous afflictions.  At the same time nothings restrains him. The sixth house of the common people is in the Royal sign of Leo, the sole domicile of the Sun and the Lord is Exalted. It’s not even a slight stretch to see how this has played out. The new President has been under constant duress. Mars is disposited by Venus. She is Rx. in her Detriment and Under the Beams. As Ficino put it, Venus soothes Mars and Jupiter soothes Saturn. She can do nothing. She isn’t even visible. Mars is a wild beast with no idea where he’s going. So, we look to Jupiter to soothe the other Greater Malefic and find him weak by sign, Rx and in the House of Death.  As the lord of the Ascendant, he doesn’t make a good captain.  Saturn with the Moon, in this case, causes a kind of emotional paralysis.  Mercury is the chart Almuten but Under the Beams. Considering the highly afflicted Mars,  Mercury in Aries is one more harbinger of the coming storm. The Node is with Regulus.

The eclipse also augers literal and extreme meteorological and seismic events in the areas alluded to, including the Southen US, Mexico, Central and the Northern regions of South America. Spain and North Western Africa will also see extreme conditions.  The heat and volatility in the social sphere will be echoed in the natural world.

eclipse path – courtesy of NASA

Total Solar Eclipse – Washington D.C.

The American people have been having an extraordinarily difficult time, with groups claiming authority seeming to come out of nowhere – except of course they don’t. Terms such as Fascism, Nazism, and Anarchy have more currency than any of them have had in decades – in most cases since WWII In my series on the Aquarian Age I discussed this in a much broader context. Turmoil, threats open revolts are all in store. I used the term ‘velvet fascism’ and have been horrified as basic rights such as freedom of speech are under attack from Saturn’s miserable armies. An earlier name for Saturn was Falsifer. He is the enemy of freedom and the author of enmity.  He is cold, dry and humourless. His presence in the Tenth House of the Vernal Equinox chart and on the Ascendant in the Eclipse chart, speaks eloquently of the situation.  Jupiter and Saturn are in reception by way of Ruler/Exaltation which is relatively minor consideration.

The chart for the Eclipse over Washington might be seen as a progression of the Chart of the Year. Conflict becomes a greater conflict. The house of the common people is now ruled by Venus in the sign of the Moon. She is in the eighth house as Jupiter had been. Jupiter isn’t very strong by sign, but exceedingly well placed in the House of the Good Spirit. When good placements are rare, one must pay as much attention to them as the darker significations.

Superior Conjunction of 30 Dec 2020 12:00:00 PM EST +05:00:00 Washington DC

I’m left with the sense that the ‘king” or whatever nomenclature one uses to describe this type of office is brought down, but the people are in disarray, confused and as Yeats put it “full of passionate intensity.” An established order is falling apart and a new order “slouches toward Bethlehem.” In a corporate global plutocracy, the king is expendable. His puppet masters create confusion and discontent and the people played as fools. I see this as a prelude to the upcoming Superior Conjunction. The epoch of Aquarius – Fixed Air progressing from Fixed Earth will no doubt accelerate technological advances that are to a large extent dehumanizing and set a fine stage for fanaticism.

America is a tinder box.and deception is the demon. True anti-fascists wouldn’t need to cover themselves in black and create acts of extreme violence while proclaiming their peaceful intentions.  Most of the major demonstrations have been sponsored and in many cases have actually hired crowds to create or exaggerate the illusion of dissent. This stokes the fires of a revolution that isn’t really a revolution at all. The torches and pitchforks cannot help but remind me of the wretched slaves of illusion in Plato’s Allegory of the cave.

On The Melancholy of Marsilio Ficino Part I

Ficino De Vita Bk 3 eObtaining life from the hEavens

A Copy of Ficino’s Liber Da Vita Triplici

It is always a daunting task to interpret the subtleties of Marsilo Ficino’s thought. Not only was he brilliant in an age of brilliance, his interests were as deep as they were impressive in their broad compass. He was ever attempting to reconcile different religions and philosophies in search of the Prisca  Theologia.  His massive translation projects put him at the vanguard of Italian Renaissance endeavours. His syncretic Ne0-Platanism was at the root of his intellectual pursuits, which gives us one key to systems. However, no matter how prepared, I shall no doubt raise more questions than provide solutions. If nothing else, it is my hope that this short study might lead to fruitful discussions.

His father was a well-respected physician in Florence. When Cosimo de Medici met Marsilio he said “Cosimo, perceiving the genius of the young man and recognizing in him the extraordinary desire for study which set him afire, re-joiced greatly as if he had now fully understood that, beyond any doubt, this would be the man whom he had long since chosen to shed light on the

Marsilio Ficino

Marsilio Ficino

philosophy of Plato. And presently summoning Ficino, he exhorted him to take especial care over Marsilio’s studies so that he should not go against his natural disposition. He said that there was no reason to take account of domestic hardship, for he would never neglect him in any matter but would supply everything most generously. ‘You, Ficino,’ he said, ‘have been sent to us to heal bodies, but your Marsilio here has been sent down from heaven to heal souls.’ The Life of Marsilio Ficino by Giovanni Corsi p.6

However, Marsilio was also a skilled physician. With the combined knowledge of medicine and astrology, he was also a magus, philosopher and musician. He certainly knew his way around the complexity of a human being from the points of view of body, mind and soul.

To know anything much about Ficino at all is to know of his life-long project of finding ways to minimise the deleterious effects of Saturn.  He was passionate about it. He refers to its influence on himself as the great burden of a Melancholy Humour, otherwise known as an excess of black bile. Ficino was certainly among the brilliant minds of his age and has a reputation of having been a competent astrologer. He certainly knew the humoral system, probably as well as any physician of the time. However, we have Ficino’s birth chart and his comments upon it and they may well give us pause,

He certainly knew the humoral system, probably as well as any physician of the time. However, we have Ficino’s birth chart as well as his comments upon it. Ficino makes numerous comments on his severe Melancholy, but the most succinct passage, dealing with both his chart and humours is as follows in a letter to Giovanni Cavalcanti he writes “Saturn seems to have impressed the seal of melancholy on me from the beginning; set, as he is, almost in the midst of my ascendant in Aquarius, he is influenced by Mars, also in Aquarius, and the ficinonatalchartMoon in Capricorn. He is in square aspect to the Sun and Mercury in Scorpio, which occupy the ninth house. But Venus in Libra and Jupiter in Cancer have, perhaps, offered some resistance to this melancholy nature.”Marsilio Ficino, Three  Books on Life, [Florence 1489] 1989, p. 20

Further in a letter to Rinaldo Orsini, archbishop on Florence, he wrote “Venus subdues Mars and Jupiter Saturn. Letters Vol II. p.15

It was an odd comment to make to Cavalacanti because Ficino didn’t have the salubrious Venus in Libra or Jupiter in Cancer in his horoscope. Venus is instead in Virgo and Jupiter in Leo. This isn’t a minor error. His horoscope would have to have been in the previous year to have the Jupiter he cites. Of course,  if Ficino had said or meant that his chart would be better with the impossible planets, we can write this off as an error in communication. No other plausible option occurs to me.

Plato's natal chart as described by Maternus

Plato’s natal chart as described by Maternus (Mathesis VI. XXX. 24)

I have no way of guaranteeing the provenance of the chart above but it does closely match his own comments on it. The green planets have been added by an astrologer, noting the disparities between the original, using modern software and Regiomontanus houses, If however we use Porphyry houses the resulting chart is almost identical to the one he describes, with the exception of the impossible positions of the greater and lesser Benefics.

We have seen that Ficino notes that Jupiter in Cancer would have helped the situation, but if Jupiter were at that degree in Cancer, it would set the chart back one year while leaving everything more or less as is..

Instead, Jupiter is very much in Leo It isn’t easy to understand why Ficino would wish that Jupiter were in another sign, because Plato’s horoscope has the same first / seventh house axis in Aquarius and Leo. It is evident that Ficino admired Plato in the highest degree. I think at times the identity of Plato and Ficino got blurred. Further, we can argue that Ficino knew what he was doing, He certainly had extraordinarily wealthy and generous patrons and friends to remind him of the Royal throne of Jupiter.

Marsilio Ficino - 19 Oct 1433 - 1:42 pm - Figline Valdarno. Italy - Porphyry houses

Marsilio Ficino – 19 Oct 1433 – 1:42 pm – Figline Valdarno. Italy – Porphyry houses

In Book Six of his Mathesis, the fourth century CE Roman astrologer, Julius Firmicus Maternus, gives the following account of the natal chart of Plato, the fifth century BCE Athenian philosopher:

If the ascendant is in Aquarius, and Mars, Mercury, and Venus are in conjunction in that degree; Jupiter is on the descendant in Leo; the Sun is on the anafora of the ascendant in Pisces; the Moon is in the fifth house in Gemini, in trine to the ascendant; and Saturn is in the ninth house in Libra-this chart produces an interpreter of divine and celestial matters. He possesses a combination of learned speech and divine intelligence and is trained by some kind of heavenly power to give true expression to all secrets of divinity. This chart is said to have been that of Plato. (Mathesis VI.XXX.24)

Standard - Oriental - Occidental considered.

Standard – Oriental – Occidental considered.

2. Oriental and Occidental ignored

2. Oriental and Occidental ignored

Whether or not Plato shared what Ficino considered salient similarities with respect to his own horoscope, Ficino found his own to be problematic because as he stated “Saturn seems to have impressed the seal of melancholy on [him] from the beginning;” His references to this excess of black bile, which he sometimes refers to as scholarly melancholy are ubiquitous. It’s virtually impossible to think of Ficino without recalling his Melancholy humour.

In spite of the challenges in the horoscope, the philosopher has Sun and Mercury in the 9th House disposited by Mars in his sign of Exaltation.

However using traditional methods of determining  humor from the horoscope, we see immediately that he actually has more of the Sanguine and Choleric Humour. Sanguine is warm and wet, Melancholic is cold and dry.

So what happened? Did he perhaps feel the leaden weight of Saturn and conclude, considering also the exact Saturnine ascendant, the with the Moon and Mars disposited by Saturn.

At first glance, it appears that his humour is far more balanced than he suggests, with Melancholy taking no more than 16.67%  Sanguine shares dominance with Choleric and Phlegmatic takes the same as Melancholy. if we use the classical systems available to us, which take the sign. phase and many other elements into account.  If he ignored the Oriental or Occidental significators, he would deduce a Humour that is about 50%. of the Melancholy Humour. This still means the dominant Humour is Melancholy. However,  it matters how the black bile is produced. His biographer tells us:

His bodily constitution contained excessive blood which was mixed with a thin subtle red bile. His health was not at all settled, for he suffered very much from a weakness of the stomach, and although he always appeared cheerful and festive in company, yet it was thought that he sat long in solitude and became as if numb with melancholy. This came about either from black bile produced by the excessive burning of bile through continual night study, or, as he himself said, from Saturn, which at his birth was in the ascendant in Aquarius and nearly square to Mars in Scorpio. The Life of Marsilio Ficino by Giovanni Corsi p.46

If we take the considerations or Oriental and Occidental we would have the possibility of “excess blood with thin subtle red bile.” The other calculation renders no Choleric. This is a degree of sophistication that goes far beyond the usual calculations. What Ficino is saying is that how we live affects the expression of our humours. Humours can be altered in the process or their interaction with each other. His penchant for describing his own condition as scholarly melancholy takes on another level of meaning.

There will be a Part II, mostly to tie up one or two loose ends and to discuss his various remedies, including his use of sympathetic magic.

Element of Air

Ancient Symbol for the Element of Air

Alchemical Symbol for the Element of Air

The element of Air governs intellect and all forms of verbal or written communication.  It works with Fire, Water and Earth. Physically it consists of several gases : nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, methane, helium, neon, krypton, hydrogen and many more. It’s invisible. We see it through what it does.

It bends the trees as wind, can carry massive volumes of water in hurricanes. It appears to self propel in tornadoes.

Fire needs air: but a strong wind on a minor fire can soon become a catastrophe. We see it most often when it works with water. The jet stream requires both elements plus heat from the Sun. Clouds are moved. Oceans stirred up into great storms.



The original meaning of Aquarius isn’t entirely clear. It is said that he got the name Water Carrier because he brought seasonal rains. But Aquarius is in the middle of winter and less *wet* than either Libra or Gemini because of it. He’s under the governance of Dry Saturn after all.Even if we take precession into account, it’s still a stretch; and the greatest rains of all are the monsoons that occur n the late Summer.

In my estimation the Water Carrier operates on a far grander scale and is not dependent on the seasons. Air quite literally carries water.Because Air is Intellect, this power can translate to the ability to move people’s thought in concert with the emotional element of Water.Air can stir things up with Earth or feed Fire. We use terms like a breath of fresh air to describe a welcome change, physical or mental.  We might say someone has a breezy or sanguine character Without air, macrocosmically or microcosmically we suffocate.

Air is represented by the sword because of its ability to cut through illusion or confusion. Manjushri is the Buddhist Archetype of Wisdom.  In his right hand he holds a flaming sword, a symbol of cutting through the roots of ignorance, including spiritual materialism. See also the Japanese Sword Dance video

03_TheArchetypeofWisdom_Manjushri_The element is associated with the origins of things and particularly ideas. In ritual, Air is in the East, the inspiration, the Rising Sun. All creative action begins with inspiration.

The Air Triplicity consists of Libra, Aquarius and Gemini, ruled by Venus, Saturn and Mercury respectively. We have discussed Aquarius and there is a fairly comprehensive article published here quite recently

Gemini is the Air Element in Mutable – once might even say Protean mode. Gemini spreads ideas with the speed of Quicksilver.  Ideas can consist of anything, but Mercury the Element and Gemini the Sign like to roll over the surface of things, rather than penetrating the depths. Libra is Cardinal Air.

Cardinal initiates. Libra is both Masculine and Venusian. Sun in Libra is in his Fall here, opposing the Sun’s exaltation in Aries. Libra seek balance before all things and all of the visual and musical arts are a primary form of persuasion through artistic seduction. We’re drawn to beauty and changed in its presence..