Monday, January 14, 2013

Neptune, Uranus and Pluto Cross the IC

“Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born"  

Article © 2009-13 by Anne Whitaker, Guest Blogger
All Rights Reserved

The Underworld - Ancient Egypt

In my Horoscope the IC is conjunct the South Node at 28 degrees of Scorpio. Pluto, its ruler, is placed in the 12th House conjunct Mercury, Saturn, Venus, Moon and Sun in Leo. As a child I would lie in bed watching the roses on the wallpaper turn into malevolent faces as daylight faded; I had to make bargains with them before they would let me sleep.

I read voraciously, and particularly recall the works of Victorian novelist H. Rider Haggard whose myth-steeped descriptions of his characters’ adventures in Africa last century fascinated me. But da Silva, the Dutch explorer whose frozen body was found centuries after his death in a cave high up Mt. Kilimanjaro, transferred himself from “King Solomon’s Mines” to the wardrobe in my bedroom, on and off, for a couple of years. Getting to sleep was no mean feat with an imagination like mine!

My ‘real’ life in Scotland—eating, sleeping, going to school—was incidental to my inner life which was full of what I felt were the really interesting questions: Why are we alive, where do we go after death, do we live on several planes of existence at once, what is happening in other galaxies, if there are x million Catholics and even more Buddhists and Hindus, how come they are all Wrong and Damned and a few thousand members of the Free Church of Scotland are Right and Saved? 

And what would happen if you unwrapped an Egyptian mummy and I wonder if I could make a shrunken head like the Jivaro Indians and why did people paint pictures on cave walls thousands of years ago? 

These were the issues which preoccupied me for years. No-one knew about them except my maternal grandfather. He had spent time taming wild horses alone in the middle of Argentina before World War I, and in later life was the only Church of Scotland missionary to visit ill or injured foreign sailors of all religions in the local island hospital, despite the disapproval of the Free Church. “We are all God’s children,” he would say firmly to his critics—and to me. He died when I was eleven, after which I spoke to no-one until I grew up and left home about anything which really mattered to me.

As Pluto squared 12th House Venus, Moon and Sun, then crossed the IC conjunct South Node from ‘93-95, what was left of my family of origin fell apart in a particularly painful and tragic way. I had to make choices in order to protect myself from the destructive urges of other family members which involved separation from loved ones which is probably permanent.

The major decision I made during those years was that the blood tie does not give others the right to destroy your life.

I was indeed fortunate in having an astrological framework, which helped to provide a meaningful context for the pain.

As part of trying to process what was happening, I decided to compile a family history, and went back to my native island to collect some oral material from old people who knew my family back a couple of generations. The day I sat down to write it up, transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct the South Node, within half a degree of the IC.  During the same week, I looked back through some old writings of my own, and found two unpublished pieces.
The first was written in July 1970, six months after the start of Neptune transiting the IC. I had no knowledge of astrology then...

“... My sister and I decided to take the dog and walk from our house, just outside the town, to the Braighe, a beach very exposed to the sea well beyond the harbour. It would be a long walk but it was a beautiful briskly windy sunny day—snatched from the usual bleak incessant rains of a Hebridean July.
We took a curving route through the town, via the district of Sandwick overlooking the Beacon, which had winked reassuringly at the mouth of the harbour for as long as I could remember. We approached Sandwick cemetery; my sister walked on by, but I slowed down. The inevitability of Sandwick had been with me throughout my childhood, constant as the Beacon, but  I had never passed through its gates. Only men attend funerals on the Isle of Lewis.

"The sun is shining on the dead today!" I called to my sister. "Let's go and pay our respects." She wasn’t too keen. “Have you ever visited Granddad and Granny's grave?" I asked. "No," she said." I suppose we could do that."

We pushed open the heavy creaking gate. The graveyard, beautifully tended, sloped gently down to within a few hundred yards of the sea. I realised that I did not know where my father's parents lay.

"I remember Daddy saying that the grave was down at the bottom end to the left hand side,” my sister said. “With our English name, it shouldn't be difficult to find."

Our paternal grandfather had been posted to Lewis before the First World War and met our grandmother on his first trip ashore. English gentlemen were a great rarity in these parts, and very desirable "catches" to aspiring island girls like Granny, who had by all accounts been a strong and willful young woman. He was well and truly caught; apart from his period of war service he remained in Lewis for the rest of his long life.

My grandmother was devastated when he died; they had been married for 52 years. I remember sitting with her in her bedroom, she who had always turned herself out so elegantly propped up in bed, an old singlet of my grandfather's failing to conceal her droopy, withered breasts from my young eyes. Up to then I had never known the desolation of not being able to console another human being—or that old people ever cried. She wept and wailed and moaned, repeating:

"I don't want to live any more. What's the use, what's the use now he's away?"

Live on she did, doggedly, for nine years, lightened only by a late addition to the family. I was 15 when my brother was born. Granny was 82 and half way senile. The child was called Frederick, after Granddad; as the novelty wore off Granny slipped into senility, a querulous fractious husk, and finally just a husk, and a medical miracle, carried off at 86 with her fourth bout of pneumonia.

I was at university when she died, having become so distant from her by then that I felt nothing but a vague sense of relief ....

"I've found it!"

I had fallen behind my sister in my reverie. She was standing about twenty yards away; I hurried to the spot.

It was a plain, simple grave. A low railing ran round it. The headstone was in grey granite, with only the facts of their births and deaths etched on it in gold lettering. Noting with satisfaction, which my grandmother would have shared, the absence of 'fancy versification', I stood and looked at the grave.
Without any warning, for I had felt quiet and composed, there was a rush and a roar in a deep silent centre of my being; a torrent of desolation and grief swept through me. I wept and wept and wept, quite uncontrolled.

There they were, half my being. Where had it all gone: the passion of their early love; the conception of their children; her sweat and blood and pain as she thrust my father into the world; their quarrels, silences, love, laughter, loneliness and grief; their shared and separate lives? And this was it. On a hot beautiful day with the sea lapping on the shore and the seabirds wheeling and diving, a few bits of cloth and bone under the earth, an iron railing and a stone above. 

I was not weeping just for them. I was overwhelmed by a total awareness of my own mortality and that of all human beings before and after me. I had never felt so stricken, so vunerable, so alone.
The second piece, however, written in the autumn of 1971, at the end of the Neptune transit to the IC, whilst Neptune was 0 Sagittarius, shows that something else was now emerging from the underworld which would offer me inspiration and support:

(The ‘pibroch’ referred to is the music of lament played on the Scottish bagpipes.)

“It was a lovely autumn evening. D. came round for me after seven; he was going out to practice some pibroch. Would I like to come along? It was a time of perfect balance—in the weather, in the satisfaction of work which was still new enough to be stimulating, in the fact that D. and I were beginning to fall in love.

We went out into the clear air; it would soon grow dark. D. drove several miles out of town along deserted country roads to a hill above a small village. Taking out the pipes he began to blow them up, and after much tinkering, began to play. It was the first night I had accompanied D. on a practice; to avoid distracting him I strolled off down the road. D. was standing on a bank of grass at the top of the hill; beside him on one side was a little wood. On the other side of the road there was a ditch with whin bushes growing in it.

Beyond the ditch was a rusty, sagging fence; beyond the fence smooth, mossy moorland dotted with whins, their vivid yellow colour fading into shadows in the gathering dusk. Opposite the moorland, below the wood, there was a field of long reedy grass; beyond the field, the darkening Perthshire hills.

Venus Rising

I looked from the skyline right up above me; a myriad of stars, taking their lead from Venus, were growing bright with increasing intensity as the dusk deepened. A mellow harvest moon was rising, casting a glow on the hills. The air held a hint of cold. The clear notes of the pibroch in such a setting, blending with the rare state of harmony which I felt in my own life, created in me an emotional intensity which was impossible to contain; I could feel the melancholy music of the pipes flowing through me like a magical current.

By this time I had reached the foot of the hill. I was overcome with a desire to surrender myself completely to the moment. Lying down in the middle of the road, I spread out my arms, and gazed up at the stars.

I could just feel a gentle breeze blowing over my body; could hear it soughing through the reedy grass. Drifting with the music through the night sky, slipping away from awareness of myself or the present, I was a timeless spirit of the air, travelling the vastness of space on the notes of the pibroch. An unobtrusive rhythm, a pulse, began to beat: growing more and more steady, it became a whispering message in my mind:

”There is nothing to fear,” it said.  “There is nothing to fear.”

An image of my lying dead, under the earth, came to me. Such images, occurring at other times, had filled me with panic and disgust. Now, there was none of that. I could gladly have died at that moment; my flesh would return to the earth and nourish it, my spirit would soar to infinity. The pulse continued, flooding me with its light:

”There is nothing to fear,” it said.  “There is nothing to fear.”

At that point of spiritual ecstasy I felt the absolute reality of my soul. Such a moment might have lasted a second, an hour, or a hundred thousand years; but the music ceased, and the chill which was gradually taking over my body drew me back gently into the present....

The knowledge that connection was possible, glimpsed during the above experience, kept me going through the struggle to believe that life had an overall meaning, and to find my own way of making a creative contribution.

This difficult, slow process was at the core of the rest of my twenties and much of my thirties.

When Uranus crossed the South Node/IC in 1980/81, I began to study astrology, thereby fulfilling a prediction made by an astrologer I had casually encountered in a laundrette in Bath in England in the early 1970s. I also met, moved in with and later married my partner—his Scorpio Moon is conjunct my IC and South Node, and he has an Aquarian Sun and Venus. All very appropriate symbolism for the timing of the Uranus IC transit!

His steadfast support, combined with the deep awareness of teleology which many years’ practice of astrology brings, have been vital for my personal and professional growth and development from the time Uranus crossed the IC until now, as Pluto moves off that point. 

When Pluto was still transiting the IC, but from Sagittarius, I applied and was accepted for a major astrological study course. The very day that Pluto was exactly on the South Node and about to cross the IC for the last time saw me beginning the first year of study. I felt a powerful sense of standing on firm inner ground after the turbulence and trauma of the last few years—of being in the right place at the right time, of having done what I could, for now, with my family inheritance —of being ready to move on to the next growth cycle. 

Now that the outer planets have crossed the IC and moved into the Western hemisphere of my Horoscope, I feel liberated from much of the pathology of the past, and more able to use directly in the world the undoubted creativity inherited with it. Nor do I need any longer to make bargains with the shadowy figures who emerge when the light of day is dimming....



This article is reprinted in its entirety from Writing from the 12th House with the author's permission.    

Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” is a quote from L’Allegro by the English poet John Milton.

Anne Whitaker lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. With a long background in adult education, generic and psychiatric social work, and private practice as a trainer, counsellor, counselling supervisor and mentor,  Anne has also been a practising astrologer, teacher and writer since 1983. She has kept a blog “Writing from the Twelfth House” since 2008, where there is now an extensive archive of in-depth astrology articles in the Not the Astrology Column section. Anne returned to her astrology practice in 2012 following a very long sabbatical. Find her blog at Contact her at


Anne Whitaker said...

Hi Joyce

many thanks for featuring this piece on The Radical Virgo. Your layout is just great - better than my original!!


Anne x

Joyce Mason said...

You're so welcome, Anne. I have always loved this piece, so powerful in how it evokes the taproot of our connection to family and the family of the human race. Add that to my love for working with the outer planets, not to mention your outstanding prose. You are one of my favorite writers, and I'm delighted to share more of your work on The Radical Virgo.

May Jupiter bless and all the other planets sing in harmony,

Anonymous said...

This piece affected me so much I started to cry...Pluto coming up to my IC.I actually have read it before a while ago,but was not emotionally affected then.Don't kow whether to say Thank you...or not..!errizat