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Sunday, December 21, 2014


Tim Rubald
Maui Druid, et cetera

Winter Solstice, Turning of the Year
(and My Birthday on Winter's Eve)

For many, many years I've written an annual birthday poem. This year's version is in prose.

I was looking for a way to respond to the landslide of birthday wishes I got for the 20th. This is my attempt.

"The year is a wheel with eight spokes. Each circuit is comparable to the cycle of a human life. The Winter Solstice is the time before we were born, the great dark uterine void from which all is formed. The vast black ring around all possibility, its perimeter bulging with promise. Light is conceived in the cold dark at the time of the Winter Solstice. The smallest spark, the most tentative hint of a glow, is imagined in the dense ambience of its absence. The sun is a mere gleam in the eye of eternity. Light, no matter how tiny, equals life."

-- Donna Henes, Celestially Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles & Celebrations. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 1966, p. 5. via:

December 21-22
Winter Solstice
Birth of the Year

In 2014
December 21: GMT 23:03:02, EST 6:03:02 PM, CST 5:03:02 PM, MST 4:03:02 PM, PST 3:03:02 PM, HST 1:03:02 PM.

Sol reaches his shortest period in the day sky while the night is the longest of the year. From the point of the Solstice onward there is an increase of light.

" very ancient times the most important yearly turning points were considered to be the summer and winter solstices. Later, in the 4th century A.D., the Emperor Julian opted for the Winter Solstice in particular, "when King Helios returns to us again, and leaving the region furthest south and rounding Capricorn as though it were a goal-post, advances from the south to the north to give us our share of blessings of the year."

--- Quoted by Charles Harvey in Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion and Charles Harvey, Mundane Astrology, 2nd ed. London, Aquarian Press, 1992, p. 243.

In the 20th century, Charles Carter in England and Alfred Witte in Germany both echoed the Emperor Julian's sentiments and made a persuasive case for the Capricorn ingress [as the beginning or start of the year]. Quite reasonably, Witte saw the Capricorn ingress as the beginning of the solar cycle. In the Northern Hemisphere it's the time when the old Sun dies and a new one is born, and, as Chinese astrologers saw it, increasing yin switches over to increasing yang. Like the New Moon, which most astrologers acknowledge to be the beginning of the lunar cycle, the Winter Solstice marks the end of the waning half of the cycle and the beginning of a new waxing half.

Also, at least in Northern latitudes, Capricorn is probably the most emotionally laden of the four Cardinal ingresses -- the one that brings up primal fears of darkness, cold, hunger and the cessation of all life. Will the light return? Will the round of life continue? For peoples who routinely experienced cold, famine and nights lit only by firelight, seeing the waning of the Sun's strength finally reverse itself must have truly seemed like a rebirth and must have been an occasion for heart-felt rejoicing.

Today, around the time of the Winter Solstice we still compensate for the withdrawal of the Sun's light and heat by cozily nesting indoors, stoking the fire, festooning trees with lights, and warming ourselves with food, strong spirits and the company of others. To counter nature's threat of scarcity, we invoke a great-bellied saint clad in the color of fire, whose pack brims with human-made abundance. Our thoughts turn from fresh-picked food toward what is preserved and stored, from the vanished lushness of the natural world toward the human-created social order with its own ingenious methods for sustaining life and hope.


March 20-21 *
Spring Equinox
The Wheel Turns toward the Triumph of the Light
Daylight has increased and now occupies half of the day, equally matched to the length of night. Light is strengthening and establishing its place in the yearly cycle.

June 20-21
Summer Solstice
Triumph of the Light, of Sol. The daylight reaches the peak of its reach through time.  We celebrate the exuberance of the day.  At the same time we realize this is the beginning of the increase of darkness. From this point daytime will wane in comparison with night. The night gains but is remains secondary to the longer day.

September 22-23 *
Autumn Equinox
The Wheel Turns Toward Darkness. The energies of the Dark Gods and Goddesses begins to increase and gain attention. The balance described by the Taoist symbol of Yin and Yang reflects the Equinoxes but an imbalance begins at the point of Equinox as night begins to overtake daylight's duration. The processes of inward turning gain significance. Persephone returns to her throne with Hades in the Underworld.

December 21-22
Winter Solstice
While the realm of the night has reached its maximum, so the day begins ascending in duration. And so it goes.

* Days of Equinoxes and Solstices, Why do the equinoxes not always occur on the same days each year?

The Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to go around the Sun. This is the reason we have a leap year every 4 years, to add another day to our calendar so that there is not a gradual drift of date through the seasons. For the same reason the precise time of the equinoxes are not the same each year, and generally will occur about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years.

From year to year, there is always some variability in the equinoxes and solstices because of the way Earth's changing tilt matches up with its orbit around the sun. The equinoxes and solstices do not always occur on the same days each year. This is due to the Earth taking approximately 365.25 days to revolve around the Sun. Since the days of the tropical year is not a whole number, the time of the equinoxes are generally about 6 hours (0.25 day) later each year. However, to prevent a drift of dates over a long period of time, we add a day to our calendar, thus we have a leap year every 4 years. Take the time of equinoxes for example. The time of both equinoxes varies within 2 days. The days occur about 6 hours later each year for 3 years before taking a jump backwards on the leap years.



 As I grow older, and if not wiser, at least more knowledgeable, I understand more about the Wheel of the Year and the astrological implications of my birthday, and of all other birthdays the year long. The Sun is the core of being, the source of life on Earth and of the energetic (if not biological life) on the rest of the system that orbits Sol. The place of the Sun in the Tropical Zodiac is what determines your "Sign."

With this very, very basic astrology that verges perilously close to what I've called Signology, I grow ever more deeply into a ritual appreciation of life and living. I grow closer to the sacredness of life, my respect for the mystery deepens, my connection to the chimera of the ancient gods increases. These are not the gods and goddesses of traditional and ancient devotion, but symbols arisen from the rhythms of the heartbeat of the solar system, of what some traditions know as "the Word."

"There is that continual heartbeat of creation, the Sun. The Sun's communication with us has developed and will continue to develop over time. Our lives on earth are quite brief though and one earthly life will simply experience the Word as regularly as a heartbeat.

While the heartbeat may slowly alter over eons of time, Earth's relationship with the Center cycles rhythmically through the Centuries. That essential relationship of Earth to Sun establishes a core pattern that is the basis of Tropical Astrology. That is not to say that other orientations, other methods of astrology are inferior. In fact, I find Constellational Astrology (Sidereal and Jyotish for example) more intellectual, you might say more scientific (I wouldn't but some would).

The gift of increasing information by observation and experience seems to work in both directions for me. One direction is toward detail and technique and the other is toward a very Earth-oriented, you might say Pagan appreciation (I would say that, but only in the most basic ways beyond the approaches of specific groups or tribes like Wicca, Heathen, Thelema, or what have you).

My understanding of the Wheel of the Year or Season Cycle reaches to the roots of most beliefs and religions and even to modern physics. I find solid support for my understanding in several branches of physics, especially: quantum mechanics, special relativity, stellar, galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, cosmological, evolutionary, bio, cellular, particle, experimental, theoretical, atomic, molecular, mechanical, condensed matter, optical, mathematical, and gravitational wave astronomy (I may have left some out).

So what does this mean for me and for you? It provides a deeper understanding of astrology, which serves all of the work that I do for you. On the one hand, it is the simplest part of astrology as it provides the framework upon with Tropical Astrology hangs the circular measuring rule of the Zodiac. That begins and ends at the Spring Equinox, zero degrees of Aries.

Happy Birthday! Everyone! And a Merry Christmas to All. And Happy Hanukkah, Longest Night, Anastasia of Sirmium feast day, Las Posadas, Feast of Winter Veil, Festivus, Pancha Ganapati, Modraniht, Saturnalia, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (this fits my view perfectly, "Day of the birth of the Unconquered Sun" - Zoroastrianism), Yule (of course), Soyal (21 December - Zuni and Hopi), HumanLight, Newtonmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Dongzhi, and my apologies if I've missed your favorite Solstice Celebration.

I must include this one from Wikipedia.  Yalda: 21 December - The turning point, Winter Solstice. As the longest night of the year and the beginning of the lengthening of days, Shabe Yalda or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil. Shabe yalda means 'birthday eve.' According to Persian mythology, Mithra was born at dawn on the 22nd of December to a virgin mother. He symbolizes light, truth, goodness, strength, and friendship. Herodotus reports that this was the most important holiday of the year for contemporary Persians. In modern times Persians celebrate Yalda by staying up late or all night, a practice known as Shab Chera meaning 'night gazing'. Fruits and nuts are eaten, especially pomegranates and watermelons, whose red color invokes the crimson hues of dawn and symbolize Mithra.


I hope this gives a bit more understanding than you had of the Season Cycle. Now you can begin to fit in your own birthday to where you landed on the wheel. That message is extremely basic, yet goes to the very foundation of whom and why you are.

Happy trails,


Copyright © Tim Rubald 2014

Tim Rubald, C.A. NCGR-PAA, C.A.P. ISAR
tweeting @startalker

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Uranus with Pluto, December 2014 musing

Gee the time is whizzing by quickly. Soon it will be 2015. The Moon will begin her last Quarter December 14 and will cycle to New only two hours and thirty-three minutes after the exact point of the Winter Solstice (one of the chief markers upon which the Zodiac is hung).

Also on the 14th we reach the sixth of the seven development squares of Uranus to Pluto. As I've been writing for years, this is the pivotal development of these times. You recall maybe that I pooh-poohed the hoopla over the presumed Mayan Calendar whatsis. While that had social, religious, and astrological relevance to a Mayan world view, that is far from the prevailing world view that I am more comfortable in addressing. I like the astronomical basis of some calendars, like the Jewish one for example, but I'm a Westerner, pure and simple, and with the exception of astrology-lovers of other cultures who know and like my work, I relate my work to Western sensibilities. In technical terms I am a Western Tropical astrologer and am comfortable there.

So I've been communicating about this period of time we share now for many years. I am relatively confident that my comments made years ago are spot on, 100% on. That's nice and reassuring about my understanding and work with astrology, but where do we go from here (although I don't believe that we're finished with "here" until 2020 at the earliest)?

Where we go is continuation. We might think of a failed Egyptian revolution in 2011, but I hold that it is not a failed revolution, but a stirring of the world's body that will continue to stir for some time. [See
Don’t be Fooled by Appearances, Liberal Values are Spreading in the Arab World, By Ahmed Benchems - Link at the bottom of this article.] The outcome, though unknown for certain, will see major socio-economical-structural changes planet-wide. Governments will change in terms of style of governance. How those change, how corporate and financial structures will change compares to the free will of an individual.

I know that free will is not some limitless human capacity. I know that astrology doesn't reveal the entire scope of a life. If you are born a man you will not bear children (at least at this juncture of time). There are limits to our freedom. We are born into certain bodies with the limitations of those, into particular families, cultures, locations, and nations. All of this may impinge on what you call "free will".

Likewise, Earth is subject to limitations, some, like the pollution caused by people, are not intrinsic to Earth, but they non-the-less define some of our earthly limitations. So while Uranus' current (precisely 2012-2015) dance with Pluto emphasizes the changes I've mentioned, the ultimate outcome depends on what we (humans) do with what we've got.

The revolutionary fervor (Uranus) of these times can indicate a planetary increase in democracy and the rights of individuals, or it can spark a constrictive backlash of enhanced control (Pluto) and the limitation of individual and social freedom. This is the palette we are given now, and how we have behaved and will behave will determine our outcome as a species. The next Uranus-Pluto period that will reprise the challenges we face now will have to wait until the 2246-2248 period. I'll leave it to brainy writers of science fiction to speculate on how the next stage of global challenges will affect us.

I've spent too much time with the wayback machine ( trying to find and republish the old article. I have no idea why I don't have a copy on my computer. (Actually I do have an idea having to do with restoring a complete image to the hard disk.) Anyway, no more time to work on this but rather than leave it as a partial, like I do way too often, I'll put it up (at least on Facebook) today, December 13, 2014.

The last two images are of Prometheus, whom we see more often tied to a rock with an eagle picking at his liver. He was chained there to suffer because he stole fire from the gods to share with humankind. The first is Stonehenge showing the alignment of the stones to the Sun at sunrise on the 21st of December.
I am not quite sure about the best way to do this. I happened to find an article that supports the assumptions I presented about the process of change keyed by Uranus-Pluto as a reflection and enhancement of what global processes were in effect in the Sixties. Interestingly, Ahmed Benchems also proposes the expanded timing in which "Sixties" changes assimilate and merge with prevailing styles and attitudes (social and political). 

Don’t be Fooled by Appearances, Liberal Values are Spreading in the Arab WorldBy Ahmed Benchems

Copyright © Tim Rubald 2014

Tim Rubald, C.A. NCGR-PAA, C.A.P. ISAR
tweeting @startalker

Sunday, May 25, 2014


The Sun entered the Sign, Gemini, on May 20, 2014 at 3:59 am GMT. That's 10:59 pm Eastern and 7:59 pm Pacific. Precision there may not be such a big deal; Sun into Gemini, May 20, is just fine.
I'm not much of a Signologist, in other words I steer away from seeing 12 types of people, preferring the unique individuality expressed in the horoscope. That said there will be people who fit Gemini to a T (and not only those with the Sun Sign Gemini).

Characteristic of the Sign are its element, Air, and its modality, Mutable (changeable). Air is the element associated with communication. While there are many means of communicating, the most basic is speech in which sound waves travel on and through the air. The idea of mutability is, in the case of Gemini, a sort of dry fluidity (oh, oxymoron), a kind of randomness that allows for adaptability. Think of dust motes, downy feathers floating, cottonwoods spilling seed, the parachuting of dandelion fluff, and you have a notion of the Geminian linkage with the Air element.

Air is "collective," because it is that which brings every separate individual and body into the subtle communion of the breath.  Air links the lungs and blood of every breathing entity.  It is that which rises out of the Water toward the all-encompassing Space.  It is the emanation of all bodies, the perfume of all lives.  In and through it, all lives reach unity in the all-embracing seed that is the God-of-the-Mystery:  SPACE.                                                        
                                                       -- Dane Rudhyar, The Astrology of Personality 
A long time ago, in grammar school, we kids sometimes played with liquid mercury (bad, dangerous, poisonous, don't do it). It's a fascinating liquid. If you tap your finger on a blob of it, it "shatters" in a liquid way, and does something like that if you pour a bit onto the floor. We would take copper pennies and rub mercury on them and it would adhere to the surface of the penny. The trick was to then pass off the silver penny as a dime. I did make pennies into "dimes" but not to defraud.
Mercury (Hermes) was the son of Jupiter and Maia. He presided over commerce, wrestling, and other gymnastic exercises, even over thieving, and everything in short, which required skill and dexterity. He was the messenger of Jupiter, and wore a winged cap and winged shoes. He bore in his hand a rod entwined with two serpents, called the caduceus.
After rocking out all night with Mercury's invention, Apollo was dead tired.
Mercury is said to have invented the lyre. He found, one day, a tortoise, of which he took the shell, made holes in the opposite edges of it, and drew cords of linen through them, and the instrument was complete. The cords were nine, in honor of the nine Muses. Mercury gave the lyre to Apollo, and received from him in exchange the caduceus.                                                                                                                 --- Bullfinch's Mythology

What's with Mercury? Mercury is the planetary analogue or "ruler" of the Sign, Gemini. If you consider the behavior of the element Mercury, you can see how even the element is "mercurial". Mercury is the speediest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun in about three months. It makes a backward track against the measure of the Zodiac as it zips around the Earth side of the Sun, around every hundred days, so it can seem both speedy and a bit erratic. Mercury is the Roman version of the Greek name for the god of speed and communication, Hermes, messenger of the gods.

These are just a few things that come to mind about this Sign. It represents a scattered expression. When it is available in excess we see "all over the place" actions and thought (thought is also a Gemini/Mercury principle). Everyone is subject to it in some exaggerated way every time Mercury is retrograde. Then, Mercury is on its path around the Sun that brings it, and its intense "Air energy", into high focus and nearest Earth on its orbit.

The key to success with Gemini is discernment and focus. There's nothing wrong with gathering data every which-a-way, but then that data needs a quick sorting and choosing of where to concentrate attention.

Gemini, the twins.
"From the standpoint of the universal laws Gemini is the most important of the twelve signs for our earth.  Everyone on earth comes under the influence of Gemini.  It represents the dual forces; the opposition of the human and the divine in all of us."
                                                                                                           -- Isabel Hickey

From my tips for the Valentine article, The Sun is the Heart.

The Gemini heart is curious.  It wants to explore, not so much with some specific goal in mind but just to find out.  It's a mental kind of heart that fancies variety and experiment.  It is sensitive to nuance and subtlety.  Appeal to its love of variety with unpredictable gestures:  cards, books, comics, letters, MP3 player loaded with podcasts, books, clippings, magazines, books, e-mail, books, graphic novels, and URLs for the Gemini heart to explore, and books. Then again, make sure your Gemini likes to read. Even if not, information and entertainment of some sort that involves the mind can delight the restless curiosity of the Gemini heart.

While Gemini is definitely a "people" Sign, as are the other Air Signs, Libra and Aquarius, astrology is for everything under the Sun, not just people and personalities. The branches of astrology, Mundane, Political, Horary, Financial, Astro-meteorology, and so on, most all use the entire Zodiac, and Gemini.

Here's an example of Gemini in Political Astrology, from astrologer, publisher, and author, Mark Lerner of Welcome to Planet Earth.

"The nuclear axis in the zodiac [is] between 7-12 degrees (approximately) of Gemini-Sag. That's because at the first nuclear chain reaction -- starting the nuke age on Dec. 2, 1942 -- many planets and the Sun and Saturn polarized, were in this area of the zodiac. And the Neptune-Pluto unions of 1891-92, starting a 492-year cycle of history occurred at 8 Gemini. And Antares (9 57 46 sag) and Aldebaran (9 59 25), massive red giant stars in polarity in the heavens, are in our zodiac at 10 Sagittarius and 10 Gemini. Plus the USA natal Uranus (radiation; fallout; radioactivity) is located at 9 Gemini."

Here's a classic bit of Gemini in Astro-meteorology from C.C. Zain (Elbert Benjamine) that was originally copyrighted in the year of my birth, 1949.

"Gemini is a cold and drafty sign. Its influences in the Temperature Chart may be considered as favoring cold weather. However, it may also be considered to favor rapid changes and variable temperatures. ... But in addition to the cold, when it has influence, look for fluctuations in temperature.

"No other sign is as windy as Gemini . . . you may expect lively winds without surcease. And in weather charts that indicate storm, it shows that wind will be an accompaniment.

"Gemini is bone dry, even though cold. It does not favor rain, and even tends to blow fog and mist away. ..."

                                                                                                    -- Elbert Benjamine

In Medical Astrology there is this bit of mine:

Gemini is the Mercury-ruled Sign of communication, transportation, and of all kinds of effects affiliated with things controlled by the nervous system from digital dexterity to diseases arising from stress, worry, and overwork.  Gemini wants a piece of everything, not in the sense of acquiring but in the sense of inquiring.  The cat curiosity killed was a Gemini.
                                                                                                    -- TR, 5-15-04

With a good deal of mutability in my chart, I can be a Gemini (even though I have nothing in that Sign) and continue on with analects until Apollo's cows come home. Alas, I have other things to do today. By the way, astrology is not just something that I live with; it is something that I share. Send an email to for information about consulting with me and to schedule a session for you.

Ah, Gemini, light and breezy, curious and talkative, full of ideas and a compulsion to share the thoughts and ideas that bubble up like a spring.
                                                                                                    -- TR 5-18 2003

By Aysem Aksoy of
Birth Chart Painting
If you are reading this from about May 20 to June 20, Happy Birthday.
alo, sharing; in the present
oha, joyous affection, joy
ha, life energy, life, breath

Copyright © Tim Rubald 2014

Tim Rubald, C.A. NCGR-PAA, C.A.P. ISAR
tweeting @startalker

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Retrogrades ~ March 2014

On Retrogrades
March 2014
by Tim Rubald, C.A. NCGR-PAA, C.A.P. ISAR

Oh, no! Now MARS!
          A lot of astrologers, astrology writers, and speakers that I know of seem to love retrogrades because those provide a reason to pull out a box of clichés that help inject something different into their words about a particular planet. The idea is that a retrograde serves to take the wind out of the sails of the retrograde body, or to weaken, twist, or impede its message. We are in a period now when we can evaluate four planets’ retrogradation to see just how much the clichéd approach holds up.

          Mercury retrograde is famous for communications problems. My phone went on the fritz, and that’s interfered with my communications in very obvious ways. Demonstrably, some Mercury retrograde clichés are supported. But there’s a yang to that yin. In the same period, of my phone trouble, I’ve had some of the best and most inspired spurts of all sorts of communications that I’ve ever had; writing, consulting, speaking, and communicating with others in general. On the other hand, some of those “brilliant” bits have been completely misconstrued to the extent of me singing the classic, “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”* to more than one person during the retrograde.
* Writers: Sol Marcus, Ray Charles, Gloria Caldwell, and Bennie Benjamin by whom it is copyright.

          Much of what writers and speakers say about retrogrades holds up; but often for the wrong reasons. Fifty years of observation have taught me that a retrograde planet is not weakened, and it is certainly not going the “wrong” direction.

          An astrologers’ group of which I am a life member, the Organization for Professional Astrology (, poses a question to the membership each month. This time, fittingly, the question was about retrogradation.

          The retrogrades referred to are (USA dates):

Mercury Rx         February    6                 03° 20’        Pisces

Mercury D           February    28               18° 10’        Aquarius

Mars Rx               March         1                 27° 32’        Libra

Mars D                May            19               09° 02’        Libra

Jupiter Rx            November 6/7, 2013    20° 31’        Cancer

Jupiter D              March         6                 10° 26’        Cancer

Saturn Rx            March         2                 23° 19’        Scorpio

Saturn D              July            20               16° 39’        Scorpio

“Since we have an incredibly packed retrograde period, with 4 stations [the body or point appears to stand still as it moves from direct to retrograde motion or vice versa] this week (Mercury and Jupiter go direct, Saturn and Mars go retro), and ... [we] are in the midst of a back to back retro season, (Venus retro in January, Mercury retro in February, and Mars going retro in March), well the question BEGS to be about Retrogrades!” --- Maurice Fernandez, OPA Community Outreach Director

Question: What in your view is the most important thing to consider or apply with retrograde cycles?

          There is a long, even traditional, misunderstanding of retrograde motion in the astrology kingdom. I say kingdom for metaphorical emphasis, not by accident. I’d say that some of what still holds with many astrologers, and even in recent books, may be correct, but for the wrong reasons, and some of what’s offered is just wrong. After more than fifty years of observing (observation is the best astrology teacher), I’ve learned to try and not fit astrology into the molds given historically. It’s a dance, without the historical track we’d have nothing, and since much offers a framework for understanding, I don’t for a moment suggest that we toss everything out and start over. I respect and am deeply grateful to my predecessors.

          You can get an idea of my approach by reading some of the articles I’ve put on my blog, There’s a search box under the name of the blog. For relevant articles, put “Mercury retrograde” in the box, and search. I’ve focused primarily on Mercury in my writing there, but retrograde misunderstanding applies to all of the planets’ retrogrades. While we generally assume that the Sun and Moon don’t retrograde; due to the Sun’s wobble about the barycenter (the center mass of the solar system), it does; not that often though (seven times in the last 3400 years).  There is much to say about retrogrades. When someone comes up with a challenge to long-held beliefs as I do, resistance is human. There’s a sort of fear factor, like “Oh, am I wrong? Is my teacher or the highly respected astrologer who wrote this book wrong?”

Just kidding, Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center.

          The change I am proposing is subtle. What happens when perspective is shifted just a little? Why a body sometimes appears to retrograde has been known as long as a heliocentric solar system has been accepted. There are no retrogrades around the Sun at the center. It is the geocentric view that creates the phenomenon. Somehow a shading of “bad, backwards,” remains in astrologers’ retrograde delineations, even though most of them know that the Sun is the center (almost) and that the planets always move in one direction around it. A slight shift of viewpoint and I hope that we lose the problematic emphasis on retrogrades and increase our understanding. Then astrologers can impart a better refinement of life processes in work with clients (for those who do the interpersonal thing).

Nothing really goes backwards. Thanks, Nicky!

The basics: 

1) The planet is nearest Earth when retrograde (or the Earth is nearer the planet, Tweedledum/Tweedledee). 

2) There are 3-5 “hits” of a particular longitude (the Signs are measures of longitude) that retrograde motion allows. That means that a point in your chart may be aspected or “hit” by a retrograde planet three to five times due to retrogradation.

          Let's see what happens when we bring those two factors to greater attention, and give a little less attention to a planet’s “negative qualities” due to its apparent backward motion

2003 but you get the idea. The ECLIPTIC is a great circle the plane of which passes through the center of the Sun as well as through the center of the Earth.  The Ecliptic also corresponds closely to the plane of the orbits of the other major planets around the Sun. The Sun is always smack in the middle of the Ecliptic. The Sun is behind us as we look toward Mars from this starship observation deck. Another way to say that is the Sun is opposite Mars, or, the Earth is between the Sun and Mars, or, the Earth and Mars are on the same side of the Sun. All of those are equivalent. This example works for all of the planets outside of Earth's orbit. For how it works for the planets inside Earth's orbit, Mercury and Venus, see the illustration in this article

Question: Do you have anything to share about the coming Mars Retrograde cycle in Libra?

          As suggested, a retrograde planet may be (to me it is will be) in greater focus. While my mentor (one of several I’ve been blessed with), Zip Dobyns, would say, “There’s no such thing as a bad planet.” When you are talking about Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, I think you may notice, at least, experience out of our comfort zones.

          From the “handed down realm” here’s this from Devore’s Encyclopedia: “This proximity of Mars to the Earth . . . considerably augments the strength of its reception ... signal strength ... Wilson ... attributes it to a wave of robberies, vicious murders and calamities.” I don’t throw these notions out, but look to appreciate them in the entire range of Martian expression, that of the traditional malefic, as well as from Zip’s notion of no bad planets. [I hope to write more about Mars Rx soon.]

 Question: Do you pay attention to planets beyond Mars’ (from Jupiter and on) retrograde cycle?

          All planetary motion interests me.

Question: The Nodes natural motion is retrograde; do you find any different significance to the Nodes going DIRECT?

          Our Moon nodes’ mean motion is retrograde; their “true” motion includes a kind of stuttering that includes stations and bits of direct motion. While I’ve opted for True placement in chart work, as far as transits go, I find the changes or “effects” if you will, of the True Lunar Nodes, unremarkable. I may be missing something, but I’ve found no reason to delve more deeply there. All of the planets have a nodal axis but I’m assuming the question is about the lunar nodes. Planetary and lunar nodes have much to contribute, but one can’t focus on everything.

* See Tables of Planetary Phenomena, Neil F. Michelsen, page 6.

Copyright © Tim Rubald 2014

Tim Rubald, C.A. NCGR-PAA, C.A.P. ISAR
tweeting @startalker

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What about Mercury retrograde in a birth chart?

What about Mercury retrograde in a birth chart?

Also as an abbreviated post in Facebook Soul Centered Psychological Astrology
February 25, 2014

My friend, it may be that Mercury on the near Earth side of its orbit is good for inner work; case in point, my article, written a few days ago. One of the reasons I thought there is rich value for counselors is my suggestions as to how to make positive use of the times Mercury is retrograde. Like you, experience has been my teacher and has disabused me of the doom and gloom of the things that are supposed to go wrong while Mercury slides between the Earth and Sun. “Retrograde planets in a birth map were anciently said to be weak or debilitated. . . That it continues to retrograde for a period after birth might detract from its capacity to incite progress . . . “, writes Nicholas Devore. With attention, we see that the business that causes chaos is often in our heads. 

          While it looks as though the tree falling on the car was just an unfortunate accident, we really don't know. Maybe the driver was in a rush and parked in an unfamiliar place. Maybe it was just coincidence. Maybe Mercury was direct in motion when it happened. If such Cosmic Authorities as Astrologers go off on the problems of Mercury Rx, aren't those who pay attention to such authorities on the lookout for "Mercury Rx distress"? I have a friend who regularly writes about news items during those Rx periods, but I find an equal amount of similar stories when Mercury is swinging around the far side of the Sun, in the same direction as the Sun. People aren't blaming the hard drive crash on little Mercury when Mercury is direct.

          In your case, "in the old days" (hopefully), Mercury Rx in a nativity had the astrologer looking for mental challenges like deafness, or what used to be called retardation, or at least a speech impediment, or being held back in school. While any of those things might occur for a Mercury Rx native, wider examination will often show brilliance. The actress Hedy Lamarr, while she's fading in the dust of time now, was once viewed as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her Sun in smoldering Scorpio, had been crossed by Rx Mercury (5° 11’ past the Sun, about to go direct a week later, to chase after the Sun once again). To enhance her mystery and beauty, she had the Moon just over Neptune in Leo, but that's off-topic. She had plenty in her life that fit with the depths of Mercury Rx, but to point out that that factor has little effect on mental brilliance, her career might have taken a different direction.
          She spent much of her time in a workroom with drafting table and equipment. "It was Hedy's idea for a secret communications system - specifically one that could guide a torpedo using a technology called "frequency hopping" - so that signal couldn't be intercepted." [It was 1940, and German U-boats were wreaking havoc in the Atlantic torpedoing ships, very often with women and children aboard trying to flee the Nazis - something Hedy knew a little about, being born to Jewish parents and having fled Austria on a ship she knew was carrying Louis B. Mayer.] Her idea got a patent. "Today, frequency hopping is used with the wireless phones that we have in our homes, GPS, most military communication systems - it's very widely used,” said Richard Rhodes in his biography, "Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World." So much for Rx Mercury twisting the mind into something not so useful. Of course, those delineations were from olden times when astrologers were looking for mental aberrances in Mercury Rx natives.

Note: Mercury is retrograde as I write this, so any errors are his fault. There are several articles here on Mercury's retrogrades. Under the title of the blog, Astrology STARTALK from Tim Rubald, is a search box. Just type in Mercury to pull them up.

 Copyright © Tim Rubald 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

How to cope when Mercury’s retrograde

How to cope when Mercury’s retrograde

Question for the astrologer:

Just droppin by to talk 'bout freakin Mercury w/ my favorite astrologer! Mercury is usually my favorite planet but not when it's retro. Man, Mercury retro has one heckuva timin, Tim! I take (re-take!) the Bar next week and it would be while Mercury is retro, huh? Arrrrgghh! In practicin some multiple choice questions & essays I'm noticin the words are jumbled up and I'm misreadin some of the questions... I find myself havin to PUMP THE BRAKES on my Speedy Mars mentality and T-A-K-E M-Y S-W-E-E-T T-I-M-E. very frustratin to say the least... but as they used to say in GI Joe cartoons, I am forewarned and bein forewarned is bein forewarmed (I'm gonna leave that typo as an example of my point! That shoulda read forearmed! LOL!!!) Anyway, just wanted to gripe 'bout Mercury retro. Grrrr. Lookin forward to its goin direct! LOL!

Tim Rubald:::  Hi Mariama, it looks like you really get it. Mercury's retrograde path brings it nearest our planet. Mercury functions don't have to be chaotic if you "pump the brakes," and take your sweet time. The reason words are jumbled and things seem confused is that the brain stuff is spinning too fast. [Please! Metaphorically.]
          That is completely controllable. Pause, breathe, space out for a minute, and stop thinking, or just notice thoughts as they come, and don't hold on to them. Let them go. There is nothing to worry about, nothing to fear. Mercury is giving a lesson that multitasking is not your friend. Take one step at a time (good for walking on icy sidewalks too). Now, what is in front of you, is what you are about. Take care of that. If it is studying, just study. If it is eating, just eat. If it is lovemaking, just give all attention to that. In your head already is what you need to know to pass the Bar. Take it one step at a time. You might pause to envision the steps you take (the bigger picture) that include the question. Pause if the answer doesn't jump out, and connect the question to the larger process. Make your best guess and move on to the next question. Come back to it if you have time to review. Mercury's help is wasted if dissipated. You don't want to dilute it. For best results take it full strength. Take your sweet time. It is sweet. It is precious. This moment will never be again.
          A lot of misinformation about retrogrades is passed down from astrology teachers and by books. The goofs become clearer the more you work with watching and "listening," letting the planets speak. Mercury retrograde seems to be an area where some of what's passed down is correct, but a lot of it is misleading. Don't think of Mercury going the "wrong" way. Think of an amplified Mercury function as the planet moves Earth-side of our Sun.

PS Since Mercury's been after me to get back to sharing; since your question is applicable to plenty of other folks. I'm going to put this question and my answer on my blog.

          This is especially good advice as Mercury makes the closest to Earth part of its orbit. That's the time when the mind is so active that one forgets what one's doing right in the middle of doing. Pause. Be patient and things fall back into order. Do not multitask. That's a recipe for disaster.

Mercury orbits (as does Earth) counter-clockwise around the Sun. The retrograde happens in the part of the orbit that brings the planet nearer to Earth. As it goes around the far side of the Sun from Earth, it appears in "forward" or direct motion.

          The reason astrologers connect Mercury retrograde with computer, equipment, and transportation problems, is pretty much always due to the human factor. Those problems may spike a bit while Mercury is retrograde, but I doubt it. Notice all the similar problems that occur when Mercury is direct in motion, as it swings around the far side of the Sun. I expect that greater attention is at work, which is exactly what Mercury retrograde is really about, a stimulation of mental activity. We are more aware of SNAFUs when Mercury is retrograde, because we are more aware. We experience Murphy’s Law at work, because we are expecting it to work. That doesn’t mean that some astrologers are completely wrong, they are just right, for the wrong reasons.

          For more on Murphy’s Law’s many applications see:  Among Murphy’s Laws listed there are:  Murphy's Laws - If anything can go wrong, it will; Love Laws  - All the good ones are taken; Real Estate Laws - At least one check will be "lost in the mail" every month; War Laws - Friendly fire - isn't; Sewing Laws - The scissors cut easiest past the buttonhole; Murphy Volunteer Fire Department Laws - If it's stupid but it works, it ain't stupid; Nurses Laws - Doctors only ask your name when the patient isn't doing well; Cars Laws - An oil leak will develop; EMT Laws - All bleeding stops... eventually; Mothers Laws - Mother's way is best. If you don't believe it, ask her; Political Laws - No matter who gets elected, Government always gets in; Music Laws - At least one mobile phone will ring during a rehearsal or concert; and a favorite, Martial Arts Laws - You are not Bruce Lee.

          So remember, the best way to neutralize the Murphy’s Law effect of retrograde Mercury, is to take it easy. If the glass shatters on the floor just as you’re headed out the door, don’t blame Mercury retrograde. Pause, take a breath and admit to yourself it wasn’t because of an earthquake, but because of where you put the glass (or something beside it), or the cat making a point (I didn’t say you may leave). Most mistakes, most accidents, are human in origin, not cosmically perpetrated by the zippiest little planet in our solar system.

Note: Mercury is retrograde as I write this, so any errors are his fault. There are several articles here on Mercury's retrogrades. Under the title of the blog, Astrology STARTALK from Tim Rubald, is a search box. Just type in Mercury to pull them up.

 Copyright © Tim Rubald 2014