Experiments and Experience with Astrology by Stephen Arroyo

An ideal companion to Arroyo’s previous books

This new collection of Stephen Arroyo writings (Experiments and Experience with Astrology: Reflections on Method and Meaning) was released in paperback form at the end of 2019, a small-but-perfectly-formed volume and an ideal companion to his previous books. Those familiar with Arroyo’s work will recognize familiar themes but there are various snippets of new information and fresh perspectives too.

The first chapter is a detailed interview with Arroyo, previously published in a Serbian astrological magazine and The Mountain Astrologer. Arroyo answers a range of questions and describes how he initially came across astrology through studying psychologist Carl Jung, then going on to study and build on the work of astrologers such as Dane Rudhyar and Charles Carter. Elsewhere in this book, Arroyo explores familiar themes of clarity, simplicity and viewing the chart from a holistic perspective. “Polish that lens… because astrology is a way of seeing… that’s why it depends so much on the individual practitioner and his or her personality and level of consciousness.” (p. 46)

Going against current trends for cramming the birth chart full of “extras”, the author cautions against using too many factors in chart interpretation. He suggests that rather than running the risk of confusing clients by adding more and more detail, astrologers can help people understand their lives and themselves more clearly by fully exploring the fundamentals of the birth chart. Arroyo keeps a focus on the basics, including an interpretive technique using subtones.

Whilst fully embracing astrology’s healing power and the huge potential for contributing to and interacting with both psychology and science, Stephen Arroyo also stresses the need for humility on the part of astrologers and astrology as a whole. As usual, he is pointing the way forward.

The Signs by Carolyne Faulkner

Deservedly bestselling introduction to astrology

From the punchy introduction onwards, The Signs by Carolyne Faulkner (2017) is a deservedly bestselling introductory text on western natal astrology. As the author breezes through the signs, the planets and the houses, her style is accessible, upbeat and comprehensively thorough. The Signs is an energizing and empowering book that does full justice to the basics of the chart.

As with all the best writers of more serious astrology, it’s clear that the author has had a great deal of first-hand experience of working with clients. Throughout the book, there are brief examples and observations from people’s lives, keeping everything fresh and relevant. There are also good practical suggestions for anyone starting out e.g. “Write stuff down, I am a firm believer that when we write stuff down we remember it more readily.”

Carolyne Faulkner makes enthusiastic claims for her “Dynamic Astrology”. Although her style is inspiring, positive and transformational, the “pioneering new self-improvement method” seems to be much the same as the approach taken by the majority of modern practising astrologers. “Nobody’s future is written in the stars, it’s ours to create.” “Forget how you were in the past, the future is in your hands.”

There are many original, sometimes quirky touches in the interpretations. Unusually and disappointingly though, there are no references or recommended further reading at the end. The spirit of the author and The Signs is summed up in the final words: “Thank you to the universe! May all beings be happy and free from suffering!”

Paul McCartney – astrological birth chart

Thumbs aloft! Sun in Gemini, Moon in Leo

Paul McCartney returned in September 2018 in spectacular style, with his excellent album Egypt Station going straight to Number One in the Billboard chart. It was his first solo Number One album since 1982’s Tug of War. As he sings on the new album track People Want Peace, “I’m not quitting while people are crying for more.”

Born on 18th June 1942 in Liverpool, Astrodatabank‘s currently preferred 2.00pm choice of chart (below) shows a hard-working and modest Virgo Ascendant (rising sign). Whatever the exact time of birth was, most of the main features of the chart stay the same in this case. All the planets are grouped in a small area across five signs of the zodiac, showing a shape somewhere between a Bundle or a Bowl, with strong emphasis on planets in Gemini and Leo.

McCartney is in many ways a typical Gemini. Starting with The Beatles, he has continually explored new ideas and new styles with his music, from pop to rock to classical compositions. There is often an effort to be up to date with contemporary trends and, along with the Gemini twinkle in his eye, a cheeky sense of humour is never far away.

Macca’s chart from https://www.astro.com

Gemini Sun conjunct Jupiter in Cancer

The Sun is at the end of Gemini, forming a conjunction to Jupiter at the beginning of Cancer (both in 10th house if the time of birth is reasonably accurate). Macca is known worldwide for his clever and funny Gemini self and of course he is also well known for being optimistic, romantic, a family man and proud of his Liverpudlian roots – all of which link nicely to a prominent Jupiter in Cancer.

The Sun-Jupiter conjunction forms a close square with Neptune. This combination of planets occurs in the charts of many musicians and artists, as well as spiritual leaders. The Neptunian universal visionary potential was there from birth. Paul’s long-term campaigning for vegetarianism is one expression of his high ideals and compassion. One could even say that McCartney is channeling a higher power – whatever that means! At the same time, his well-publicized use of cannabis is a classic example of Neptunian escapism.

He’s made a few quid…

Venus in its own solid sign of Taurus and Jupiter exalted in Cancer are two of the best basic planetary placements for potential financial success. McCartney has of course done rather well for himself and according to the Sunday Times, he is the richest musician in the UK as of May 2018. His net worth has been estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebratory Net Worth.

Moon, Mars and Pluto in Leo

The Moon in Leo gives a warm, enthusiastic and dramatic personality. There is more Leo in the chart from an explosively creative close Mars-Pluto conjunction. A Leo Mars carrying the creative power (and egomania!) of the Pluto in Leo generation, combines smoothly with the inspired intelligence, adaptability and potential mastery of language and communication shown by the Gemini Saturn-Uranus conjunction. McCartney is still fond of describing himself as working class – “I work bloody hard” – and that strongly positioned Mars in Leo is a sure sign that he does.

Egypt Station arrived with a Uranus transit to his Mars in Leo

Looking at recent transits and progressions, and after having allowed for the question mark around his time of birth, one relevant transit stands out. In the couple of months before Egypt Station was released in September 2018, transiting Uranus made (or came very close to) an exact stationary square to Paul McCartney’s natal Mars in Leo.

At that time, McCartney was very busy making unexpected (Uranus) playful promotional appearances (Mars in Leo). He popped up in New York, on the internet, television, in fact just about everywhere! Using the 2pm chart (above), Uranus is transiting from his 8th house, to Mars which is the ruler of his 8th house. Not only has Egypt Station suddenly regenerated (Uranus in 8th house) his career, there are also many more 8th house themes (emotional crises, sex, even some kind of spiritual salvation) in the lyrics than is usual for Paul. The final pass of this Uranus transit is in mid to late April of 2019, so worth keeping an eye out for some more unpredictable and playful Mars in Leo action from him then.

Long live Macca!

This is an edited version of an article originally published in the Nov/Dec 2018 edition of IAM astrology magazine https://infinityastrologicalmagazine.com/

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Drake – astrological birth chart

At the end of June 2018, Canadian hip-hop rapper Drake (Aubrey Drake Graham) released his massively successful fifth album Scorpion, which would appear to have been named after his astrological sign of the zodiac.

Strong Scorpio emphasis and Mars square Pluto

Looking at his natal horoscope chart (born 2.31 am, 24th October 1986, Toronto in Canada), Drake has his Sun, Mercury and Venus in the sign of Scorpio. Perhaps more importantly, there is a also a Sun-Pluto conjunction in Scorpio, with the Scorpio Pluto forming a close square (always very important in a birth chart) to Mars in Aquarius. This is an explosive and mighty powerful combination which needs to be very carefully channelled. An independent, progressive and humanitarian (Aquarius) power is being unleashed on the world!

The dark, often hidden side of Scorpio can get very murky, with the rights and wrongs of the use of power needing attention. Anyone born with such a Scorpio emphasis is very likely to have to work their way through more darkness than most. As far back as being bullied at school, Drake has had many confrontational exchanges and clashes with others – ongoing feuds, legal disputes and relationship issues (Venus in Scorpio) which form the basis of many of his lyrics. At the same time, there is a determined and strong Scorpionic sense of purpose, with the potential for healing both himself and others.

Drake’s chart from http://www.astro.com

Early years

Drake was born to a mixed-race couple in Canada in 1986, and raised Jewish in a middle-class family. He initially became famous in Canada by playing wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks in seven seasons of the popular teen soap Degrassi: The Next Generation. It wasn’t until a personal crisis in 2008 that his musical career truly began to take off. At the time, Pluto formed a transit to his Scorpio Sun (he was written out of the soap opera, to be re-born as a hip hop artist), Saturn had just crossed into his 1st house (marking the beginning of a new 29 year cycle of personal responsibility) and Uranus squared natal Uranus (that age 21 transit, time to break free from childhood). In 2009, Drake signed a record deal with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment and began his rise to the top.

Leo rising and a Grand Trine in Water 

With creative and dramatic Leo rising, Drake’s Scorpio planets are in the 3rd house of communication. This fits very nicely with his intense, emotionally-driven rapping style. Drake has the confidence and arrogance of other hip hop artists (such as Jay Z and Kanye West, whose influence he has acknowledged) but as one might expect from a typical Scorpio with so much Water in the chart, Drake’s words and language are also a genuine expression of deeper soul-searching.

Drake’s nurturing Moon in Cancer (the handle of a Bucket shaped chart, similar to Taylor Swift’s as it happens) has easy flowing aspects to super-imaginative Jupiter in Pisces and intense Venus in Scorpio – a Grand Trine in Water signs. This says much about the sensitivity that sets him apart from the majority of hip hop artists, also helping Drake achieve mass popularity with the public. Not many hip hop artists would call an album Take Care, the title of his second album.

2017-2019 transits for Drake – the magic of Neptune, Uranus and others

Drake’s universal appeal has recently been helped by transiting Neptune forming a conjunction to natal Jupiter in Pisces and 7th house, together with easy aspects to his Moon (2017 to early 2018) and soon to come Venus (2019). This comment from him sums up the Neptune experience well: “The whole thing is unusual at this point, so we’re just rolling with the fairytale vibe”. Expansive Jupiter has also been moving through Scorpio, a positive boost that occurs for each sign of the zodiac every twelve years. Uranus, the great awakener, had just passed its first opposition transit to Drake’s Sun when Scorpion was released on 29th June. Worth keeping an eye on Drake for the final stage of his Uranus opposite Sun transit in March 2019 (as Uranus fully enters Taurus) – more powerful Scorpionic excitement indicated!

Scorpion broke several streaming records and Drake became the first artist to top one billion global streams in the first week of a studio album release. With Saturn still moving up through the bottom half of his chart, Drake has many years to go until he reaches the peak of his career. Despite what some critics say, it looks like he is only just beginning. Never underestimate the power of a Scorpio to be continually re-born, rising from the ashes, again and again.

This is an edited and extended version of an article originally published in the July 2018 edition of I AM astrology magazine https://infinityastrologicalmagazine.com/

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Getting To The Heart Of Your Chart by Frank C. Clifford

Quality and quantity for anyone interested in modern astrology, beginners or advanced

Over the last twenty years or so, Frank Clifford has breathed new life into modern Western astrology in a number of ways, and this book demonstrates why. His direct, enthusiastic and straightforward Aries approach runs throughout this carefully presented, professional and well written volume. It has been recently re-published after an original 2012 release. There is an astonishing amount of information and there are countless examples of astrology in action, which both beginners and experienced astrologers can benefit from.

This is very much a 21st century book – now that astrology charts can be quickly generated by computer, the whole process of presenting and interpreting them has speeded up since many of the classic 20th century astrology texts (Derek and Julia Parker, Liz Greene, Hand, Arroyo, Cunningham, Elwell and so on) were written. According to the cover, there are over 150 charts here. Drawing on his many years of experience, the author expertly zips through sometimes brief and sometimes in-depth analysis of a huge range of the horoscopes of characters from all walks of life. Frank Clifford is often meticulous in his attention to detail, including the accuracy of birth data, which he is well known for in the astrological community.

Overall, an excellent book, packed full of insights and information for anyone interested in contemporary astrology.

Astrology, Karma & Transformation by Stephen Arroyo

40 years later, still a modern classic, great for beginners or advanced

More than any other astrological text over the last thirty years, this book has continued to provide me with astrological wisdom and insights that no other book can match. The depth of Stephen Arroyo’s writing here is extraordinary, with perhaps the only criticism being that so much is packed into one single book, sometimes in the form of very long sentences. But this is hardly a complaint!

The outer planets are covered extensively with many examples of aspects and transits to the birth charts of people with relatively “ordinary” lives. This makes a refreshing change from much astrological literature that deals only with famous people, or people with severe problems of one kind or another. The chapter on Saturn is excellent, particularly the journey of Saturn through the twelve houses. Show any 29-year old (with a bit of self-awareness) the section featuring the Saturn return, and watch their reaction as they read!

This book is not only full of essential contemporary astrology; Arroyo also draws on his considerable experience of other tools for spiritual and psychological growth. He has a background in marriage and family counselling (chapter on “Karma and relationships”), and his many references to various spiritual teachers, Eastern religions, Western psychology and the Edgar Cayce psychic readings add to the spiritual power of Arroyo’s writing. Like nearly all of his books, still a modern classic.

Taylor Swift – astrological birth chart

An unstoppable force to be reckoned with! Taylor Swift was born on 13th December 1989 in Pennsylvania, where she grew up on a Christmas tree farm. The ambitious and conservative Capricorn rising chart (below) is the one most commonly used. There is some doubt about the 8.36am time of birth but it makes astrological sense. Her Sun sign is fiery, optimistic and enthusiastic Sagittarius but Earth and Water are the strongest elements. The large number of Cancer-Capricorn oppositions indicates strong motivating conflicts – between home and career, romance and cynicism, and other challenges.

Unaspected Sun in Sagittarius

At its best, an unaspected Sagittarian Sun (possibly 12th house, serving the collective) is free to shine out in a truly unique and visionary way. The unconventional, humanitarian love nature of Venus in Aquarius is also largely unaspected (there is a wide-ish sextile aspect to sexy Mars in Scorpio) – again showing potential free self-expression but possible difficulties with inconsistency. A close novile minor aspect (40 degrees, 9th harmonic) between the Sun and Venus indicates joy, peace and a sense of completion. Neptune is at the Sun-Venus midpoint, a combination of self (Sun), love (Venus) and universal “Swiftie” ideals (Neptune), or a glamorous deception (Neptune), or maybe both?!

Taylor Swift’s chart from http://www.astrotheme.com

Everyone born in 1989 has the Capricorn Saturn-Uranus-Neptune conjunction in their chart, with varying degrees of strength and importance. Many astrologers have written about this and the so-called Millenial generation, with a focus on those born around the late eighties and early nineties. Although she can no doubt comfortably afford to do so, perhaps Taylor Swift is playing a small part in the birth of a new dimension (Uranus-Neptune) of material and economic responsibility (Saturn in Capricorn), having consistently donated many millions to a very wide range of charities and causes.

Moon and Jupiter in Cancer

Taylor has a Moon-Jupiter conjunction in the sign of Cancer, signifying her warm, kind and emotionally generous side. She is well known for her supportive and nurturing attitude towards many of her fans. Interestingly, a quick look at the Cancerian USA chart for 4th July 1776 shows a strong compatibility with America as a whole. A candidate for the President of the United States one day? Stranger things – much stranger – have happened.

Between 2003 and 2006, she laid the foundations of her career in Nashville, as Saturn moved over her Cancerian planets. The musical and lyrical style of country music fits the sign of Cancer perfectly – sentimental, traditional, romantic, with an emphasis on home and family values. In 2004 and 2005, transiting Pluto to her Sun unleashed a powerful and ambitious drive as she signed to Big Machine Records and became the youngest ever artist signed by Sony/ATV publishing. Her career took off, as swift as a Sagittarian arrow (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

In August 2017 – at the time of a karmic Saturn transit to her natal Sun – Swift successfully countersued a former radio deejay she had accused of her groping her in 2013. Taylor Swift showed herself as unusually enlightened for someone in her position: “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this. My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

2018 and her January 2019 Saturn return

The latest album Reputation has put her closer to the sales figures of Pink Floyd and Madonna, right up there in the big league. Saturn entering Capricorn for 2018 shows some serious challenges, a heavy time with hard work ahead. The schoolteacher of the zodiac will pass over Taylor’s four Capricorn planets (lessons in responsibility and career) and oppose her planets in Cancer (emotional struggles). This is a crucial time in her life. A single pass Saturn return over her close Saturn-Neptune (the reality of her ideals) conjunction in late December 2018 to January 2019 will be a major personal and career re-assessment. Good luck to her!

The above is an edited and revised version of a more detailed 2000-word article, originally published in the January-February 2018 issue of the Astrological Journal magazine https://www.facebook.com/AstrologicalJournal This is the bimonthly publication of the Astrological Association http://www.astrologicalassociation.com dedicated to educating the public on astrology since 1958.

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk