Astrology and Anthroposophy

23 December 2008

Planetary Birthdays

Almost everyone is aware of their birthday and most people seem to enjoy the day. On our birthday the Sun returns to where it was in the heavens when we were born. Viewed from the earth (geocentric view) we can say the Sun has gone a full revolution through the twelve signs of the zodiac. Instead of just our birthday, we could call this our Sun birthday or Sun return.

We also have a Moon birthday, the day on which the Moon returns to the zodiac position it was in at our birth. This occurs once a month. Feelings of contentment, stable emotions, good mood and receptivity often accompany this return.

The planet Mercury never wanders far from the Sun when viewed from Earth. Our Mercury birthday occurs therefore not too far from our Sun birthday. It can be before or after but can not vary more than a month and a bit. It encourages effective communication.

The planet Venus also stays close to the Sun but not quite as close as Mercury. Our Venus birthday or the return of Venus to its position at birth can be before or after our birthday but not much more than three months. Harmonious interactions with others, a state of cooperation, agreement, friendship, participation and aesthetic judgments are its signatures.

The planet Mars takes about 2 years, a little bit less, to complete its cycle. So about every two years we have a Mars birthday. The effects of this are most noticeable on the first Mars Return. The young child begins at this time to exert its will by saying “no” and even taking a step backwards for the first time. The drive to assert oneself, to survive, the desire to make things happen can manifest on this return.

The planet Jupiter takes a little less than 12 years to complete its cycle. Jupiter has to do with thinking, especially in a philosophical or religious way. It was at age twelve that Jesus went through a huge transformation and was then able to teach in the temple. A Jupiter birthday or Jupiter return is generally experienced as a good and beneficial time and can feel quite expansive.

The planet Saturn takes about 29.5 years to complete its cycle. It could be considered the most important of the planetary birthdays and has a special connection to karma and destiny. A Saturn return is a time for us to realign ourselves with our pre-birth intentions. Life circumstances can change quite substantially at this time. See my previous blog post about Saturn return.

Moon Node
The Moon Node is the point where the Moon intersects the path of the Sun. Every month the Moon crosses the path of the Sun once on the way up-North Node and once on the way down-South Node. It takes about 18½ years for the Moon Node to return to its birth position. Rudolf Steiner stated that the days and especially the nights around the Moon Node return are the most important ones of our life and that at this time there is a thinning of the veil between the physical and spiritual world.

It is interesting and really worth while to look back over our lives, to pick out the significant events and see how they relate to the various planetary birthdays. To look up a previous or a future planetary birthday, you would need to have a computer program or you can purchase a booklet, called an ephemeris, that lists the position of the planets at various times. The computer program that I use is called Solar Fire.

25 October 2008

Birth Chart Archetypes part lll

A while ago I put up a couple of blog posts about four birth chart archetypes. To clarify and emphasis the types, I chose examples of unusual people that have several planets in one region of the Zodiac. (See previous post on Birth Chart Archetypes for more information.)

The four types are:
Harmonization-People that have a good social sense and people skills.
Equalization-People that can bring lofty ideas down into the manifest world.
Polarization-People who tend to be polarized and to cause polarization in their social interactions.
Duality-People that tend to see the world as black or white, good or bad or to have extreme religious views.

The different types should not be looked at as either good or bad. They merely show how a person is likely to behave and not what he will do.

The birthcharts below show the configuration of the planets at the time of birth and only the 7 classic planets are used. The outer ring shows the zodiac constellations and the inner ring the signs. For this exercise, the time of birth is ignored and charts all show the sign of Aries at the ascendant.

We have a wonderful example of one of the types, Polarization, in our current Taoiseach/Prime Minister. Brian Cowen took office on 7 May 2008, heading a coalition government led by his Fianna Fáil party. The coalition includes the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats, with the support of independent TDs.

The chart for Taoiseach Brian Cowan (10 January 1960) shows six of the planets in the polarization region and one in Duality. As a contrast, his predecessor Bertie Ahern (12 September 1951) has no planets in either Polarization or Duality. He has five planets in the Harmonization region and two in Equalization.

Taoiseach Brian Cowan-click on chart for clearer image

Since Mr. Cowan took office we have had a very contentious national referendum to approve or reject the proposed European constitution. It was rejected by the people and the result has strained relations with the European Community. The country is now in a financial crisis and the government has been forced to make a very severe budget. One of the features of the budget was to take away the medical card that gives full medical care to all people over the age of 70. There has been uproar in the streets and in the media. Mr. Cowan had to go before the press to modify the decision and to offer instead a proposal affecting only those that can afford to pay their own way.

Bertie Ahern Chart

As a contrast, the previous Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, who is one of my examples of Harmonization, enjoyed very good relations with the European Community. Ahern succeeded Albert Reynolds as leader of the Fíanna Fáil party, the first unopposed candidate since 1959. He served in a very good economic climate and is credited with being one of the principle negotiators that brought about the Northern Ireland peace process. There were allegations of corruption but he had the reputation of being the Teflon Taoiseach which is not surprising given his Harmonization Archetype.

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15 May 2008

Death Horoscope-New Star Wisdom

I have just read a very interesting book in German called Auf dem Wege zu einer neuen Sternen-Weisheit (On the Way to a New Star Wisdom) by Leo de la Houssaye published by Verlag am Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland. The first half of the book gives an overview of how star wisdom changed in relation to changing human consciousness, from Egyptian times up to the present day. The second part of the book on “New Star Wisdom” has to do with the study of the death chart. This is not intended to be a book review but I will share some thoughts since the book is not available in English.

The birth chart can be considered as an image of what the human being brings into this life from the spiritual worlds. The chart is an indication of the sum-total of past experiences that had been gathered up and then worked through in the spiritual world. The death chart or, as Leo de la Houssaye calls it, the spirit birth chart, is an image of the fruits of the life just past. It is what the individual brings to the spiritual world.

Spiritual science views the cosmos as a living spiritual organism that needs nourishment. What the human being brings to the spiritual world at death is the nourishment that the Spiritual World needs. Death can be viewed as a spiritual birth.

People have been studying the effect of the stars on worldly events for over 5,000 years that is, since the time of ancient Egypt and Chaldea. However, the first proper horoscope for an individual person, with place and time of birth, was recorded in 70 BC. in Greece. Houssaye finds it astonishing then how quickly the Greeks developed a system of interpretation for the horoscope. Already by 150 AD the basic elements that are still used today were worked out:

  1. The calculation of the birth constellation worked out for place and time.
  2. The separation of the 12 houses based on the horizon with each house referring to a different area of life
  3. The aspect study, the angle relationships between the planet positions in the horoscope (conjunction, square, triune and opposition)
  4. Working with the 12 zodiac signs of 300 calculated from the Spring equinox instead of constellations

Chart #1: Pascal Death Horoscope

Although the basic approach did not change much, many astrologers have made refinements to the chart interpretation throughout 2 millenia since then. Today voluminous materials are available so that we are very well informed on the subject of the horoscope-birth chart. We now have to learn how to read the heavens at the time of death-the spirit birth chart.

Chart #2:Michelangelo Death Horoscope

Houssaye gives some indications of how to do this. He shows the spirit birth chart of Pascal, who spent his life on an inner path; the chart shows all of the planets to be below the horizon (see chart#1.) This is contrasted with the spirit birth chart of Michelangelo, who led a very public life and his chart shows all of the planets to be above the horizon (see chart #2.)

Another very interesting idea is to view the past life in relation to the spirit birth chart by tracing the path of Saturn backwards through the constellations from the moment of death. Significant times of the person’s life are shown to coincide with the conjunction of Saturn and planets of the spirit birth chart. Steiner has described Saturn as a planet that has no interest in the present or in the future; it is however passionately interested in the past.

Chart#3: Saturn transit to Pascal Death Chart

Numerous examples are given of the transits of Saturn in relation to the spirit birth chart for various individuals. I will show here Saturn transits for Pascal and for Michelangelo (see Chart#3 and #4)

At age 34 Pascal worked on his theory for the roulette wheel which caused fights among the mathematicians of Europe. Also he published his Provincial Letters, a series of eighteen letters that attacked Jesuit doctrines. At this time the planet Saturn was in the position of Mars at the time of death.

Chart #4: Saturn transit to Michelangelo Death Horoscope

Michelangelo at the time he was called to Rome in 1505 to begin his huge project of the Julius II tomb. Chart shows transiting Saturn to be conjunct both Jupiter and Saturn.

Please note! For the purpose of the spirit birth chart, only the classical planets are shown. Also, the zodiac constellations are used and not the signs that are generally used in Western astrology.

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21 April 2008

Quintile Aspects

This morning I rose early to make the two-hour drive to Cork and returned in the late afternoon. I found that I could hardly stay awake on the way home and felt accident prone. This is very unusual for me so I decided to check what Maria Thun had to say in her Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar about the day. Sure enough, she has yesterday and today listed as “TR” days.

She uses this designation for days when there is a quintile aspect (720) between a new planet (Uranus, Neptune or Pluto) and an old planet (Moon through Saturn). In this case the aspect was between Mercury and Neptune and the quintile was exact at 5 pm yesterday. (see chart above)

According to Maria Thun in her Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar, such an aspect brings a tendency towards dimming of consciousness and a tendency towards accidents. After working with this calendar for a while, you begin to notice when there is such a quintile.

Amazon UK describes the Calendar as follows: The original biodynamic sowing and planting calendar, now in its 46th year. This useful guide shows the optimum days for sowing, pruning, and harvesting various plant-crops, as well as working with bees. It is presented in colour with clear symbols and explanations. This year, for the first time, the calendar includes a pullout wallchart which can be pinned up in a barn, shed or greenhouse as a handy quick reference.

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8 February 2008

Firdaria--Planetary Stages of Life

Recently, I updated Solar Fire, the astrology program that I use, and I was delighted to find a new report called Firdaria. This report comes from the wisdom of a Persian sage called Al Biruni. I had read about this extraordinary personality before. He made contributions to a very wide range of human endeavors, from chemistry to math to astronomy. He knew that the earth rotated on its own axis and knew about both heliocentric and geocentric perspectives. He developed special instruments for astronomical measurements and he is said to have written over 200 books. There is even a crater of the Moon called after him. For more information on Al Biruni, go to Wikipedia.


Firdaria is a system of planetary periods derived by the Persians and associated especially with Al Biruni. The new Firdaria report in Solar Fire gives a description of what to expect in each of the planetary segments of life.

The periods of rulership are:

Sun: First 10 years

Venus: 8 years,

Mercury: 13 years

Moon: 9 years

Saturn: 11 years

Jupiter: 12 years

Mars: 7 years

North Node: 3 years

South Node: 2 years.

Abu-Rayhan Biruni 1973 Afghanistan

post stamp
The periods are applied differently to diurnal and nocturnal births. The above sequence is for a person born during the day. For a person born at night, the system begins with the Moon and then follows the same sequence. The planets are said to have an increased influence during their respective periods.


In the second century AD Claudius Ptolemy also wrote about seven stages of life and related them to the seven classical planets. The sequence is different than that of Al Biruni and the length of each segment is also different.

Moon: Infancy to four years

Mercury: Childhood (4 to 14)

Venus: The Teens and Early Adulthood (14 to 22)

The Sun: Young Adulthood (22 to 40)

Mars: Mature Adulthood (40 to 55)

Jupiter: Retirement and Wisdom (55 to 67)

Saturn: Old Age (67+)

Rudolf Steiner

Steiner too related the course of a person’s life to the planets in the same sequence as Ptolemy but with seven year segments. He talked about this topic in his lectures on karma Karmic Relationships Vol. Vll, Lecture two.

Birth-7 Moon—after inheriting the physical body from the parents, it is now time to work on transforming it and to make it your own. The change of teeth is an indication that this period has been completed.

7-14 Mercury—birth of one’s own etheric body which should be completed after seven years, life develops outside the home, schooling begins.

14-21 Venus—birth and unfolding of the astral body, puberty, first love, developing esthetic life.

21-42 Sun—birth of the ego in three segments of seven years, sentient soul, intellectual soul and consciousness soul. It is interesting to note that the first Saturn return, the time to align oneself with pre-birth intentions occurs during this period at age 29+.

42-49 Mars—This is the time to exert the full force of the personality on career and on the world. There is the possibility now for the ego to work on the astral body to begin unfolding a yet higher member called Spirit Self.

49-56 Jupiter—a certain amount of wisdom should have been acquired by this time. The ego needs to work at the transformation of the etheric body to unfold Life Spirit.

56-63 Saturn—the second Saturn return occurs in this period at age 59+. There is an opportunity once more to align with one’s karma. Now is the time to unfold a yet higher member called Spirit Man.

More detailed information on this topic can be found in the book The Human Life (ISBN:092997901X) by George and Gisela O’Neil. This book is out of print but can be purchased second-hand. Also the book Phases:The Spiritual Rhythms of Adult Life by Bernard Lievegoed describes life stages in relation to the biological, psychological and spiritual development of the human being.

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27 January 2008

UFO over Dingle

Double click on picture for a clearer image

This evening, I took a walk along Dingle Bay just as the Sun was setting. My attention was naturally directed towards the west. However when I turned east, I was astonished to see a pink form that looked like a flying saucer. The object was quite large, looked to be circular and had three levels or stories with the largest one on top.

It was just a cloud formation but it was so well formed that it took my breath away.

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18 January 2008

Saturn Return

Recently a friend dropped in and said she needed to talk. She said that she felt that she has not been expressing who she really is and wants now to make some changes to her life. She described how she had led a gypsy-like existence when she was young and lived mostly in a caravan or other transitory domicile. When she got married and had children, she conformed more to usual conventions, living in a regular house etc. With these considerations in mind, we took a look at what the stars had to say.

Her birth chart shows the sign of Aquarius on the cusp of the fourth house and this would certainly fit with the unconventional home life that she preferred and had when she was younger.

Click on picture for a clearer image.

Current transit shows a Saturn return, which is when the planet Saturn returns to the place it occupied at her birth. Rudolf Steiner pointed out that during the life between birth and re-birth, a person goes through the various planetary spheres. It is when one is in the Saturn sphere, that one makes the decision to return to Earth. Then one condenses down through the spheres of Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury and finally Moon before being born. Saturn has to do with our karma and with our intentions for this life and this is indicated by its position at birth. The sign or constellation is important as well as the house position.

Click on picture for a clearer image.

A Saturn return is a time for a person to realign themselves with their pre-birth intentions. It is not surprising that our friend would, at this time, experience that she was not really being herself and want to make changes.

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