New Moon in Aquarius, February 18, 2015

February 16, 2015 by  

New Moon at 29.59 Aquarius February 17, 2015

Vincent Van Gogh: Landscape with Couple Walking and Crescent Moon, 1890.

The New Moon of February 18 is the second new Moon in Aquarius this year. Two new moons in one sign are rare, as if two trees grow from one seed. February offers second chances in whatever area of one’s life is represented by Aquarius. Now is a time of return, underlined by the recent Mercury retrograde in Aquarius. Yet we cannot step in the same river twice, for other waters are ever flowing on to us, as said by Heraclitus. Even if it seems that we are doing something again, it really will be different this time. We are now poised at the edge of a metamorphosis disguised as a repetition.

The New Moon occurs in the term of Saturn, using the system of Egyptian terms. Given that the classical domicile ruler of Aquarius is also Saturn, this gives the New Moon a serious, Saturnian flavor, with a tinge of permanence. Aquarius and Saturn both embody long-lasting influences; Aquarius is a fixed sign, and Saturn is the most superior, and thus enduring, of all the planets. The fruits of our new phase will be with us for a long time. We are now putting down roots.

New Moon February 17, 2015, set for San Francisco, California

New Moon February 18, 2015, set for San Francisco, California

The need for change is felt keenly in the last ten degrees of Aquarius, and we desperately wish to just leave things behind. We are done. Austin Coppock’s book, 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans, summarizes the dissatisfaction of this decan as follows: “On a spiritual level, this face represents disenchantment with the fabric of everyday life and its petty terrors. It is divine discontent, the same that Siddhartha Gautama felt before he left his comfortable home.” (p 239) This New Moon is eager to leave the present and stride into the unknown future. At 29.59 degrees of Aquarius, we see the very last part of the transition. We may need to do some cleanup, but this New Moon definitively closes one door and opens another.

The New Moon will be especially potent if it is within 6 degrees of a planet, and to a lesser extent, an angle. Six degrees is the moiety (half-orb) of the Moon according to tradition. In this case, the lunation does not aspect other planets, so its character is essentially unimpacted by other planets.

Virgo Sun: August 23 – September 22

August 21, 2008 by  

The Sun enters cold and dry Virgo on August 23, cooling down substantially from fiery Leo. The Sun in Virgo is somewhat incongruous, a hot/dry planet in a cold/dry sign. Astrologer Ibn Ezra said that Virgo rules scholars, learned people, writers, and merchants. The Sun is the planet of rulers, the nobility, and “top command” of all types. The two characterizations don’t mesh that well; very few leaders are also scholars, or even learned, for that matter. There are exceptions, but they are rare, like the Romaemperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius, whose name is enshrined in history. The picture above depicts him distributing bread to the people, true to the Sun (emperor) in Virgo (bread) symbolism.

The Sun is the giver of life, but Virgo is a barren sign, because it is mentally fertile; Virgo is the most cerebral of the earth signs. Virgo thus channels the energy of the Sun, but not perfectly, which is why Virgo is not an optimal placement for the Sun. It is not a terrible placement, but the Sun does not have lots of dignity in Virgo.

What Astrologers Say about Sun in Virgo

Here are other perspectives on this placement, traditional and contemporary.

William Ramesey, in Astrologia Restaurata, writes: “The sixth sign is called Virgo (signifying a maid) because the Sun therein hath his heat diminished, and dryness ruleth, so that things cease to increase, and the earth becometh barren; being of the nature of a Virgin, who is naturally tending to cold rather than heat, and is of herself barren.” The symbolism here is memorable: intellect without the life-giving warmth of Spirit is cold and barren.

In The Consultation Chart, Wanda Sellar describes this placement as giving “a talent for administration and an impressive knowledge of past and present events. There is a tendency to work quietly behind the scenes, which ultimately can lead to great achievement…striving for perfection can cause difficulties.” This is a riff on Ibn Ezra’s characterization of Virgo nature, focusing on Virgo’s Mercurial nature combined with the practical earthy triplicity.

Keep Your Powder Dry

Based on the Virgo Sun’s aspects to other planets, the coming month presents a few opportunities, but none of them will really pan out.

September 4 – Virgo Sun conjunct Saturn and trine Jupiter. Saturn is the planet of restriction, and Jupiter is in its fall in Capricorn (a Saturn sign). Jupiter can present a seemingly tempting opportunity, but it is likely to be hollow. Better to wait for Venus’s transit through Libra, or even better, Jupiter’s exit from Capricorn in January, if you can.

Astrology 101: Leonardo da Vinci & the Quality of Mind

July 31, 2008 by  

Can we find creativity in the horoscope? We will look at Leonardo da Vinci’s horoscope to determine whether his tremendous inventiveness and flow of ideas were shown in his chart. To do this, we will use a method called determining the “quality of the mind.” This is a much more nuanced examination than an astrological IQ test, because unlike such tests, this method shows the person’s facility in various thinking modes. The horoscope shows one’s level of interpersonal intelligence, creative intelligence, physical intelligence, and so on.

1. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mind.

We look at the conditions of Mercury and the Moon, the left brain and right brain, respectively.

Mercury is angular in the 4th house and thus is better positioned than the Moon. This means the native is more likely to rely on the left brain, analytical functions of the mind. However, Mercury is not very strong by sign – it is in Aries, where it moves very fast – perhaps too fast to do the kind of comparison, pro-and-con thinking Mercury loves and excels at. But Mercury was actually moving very slowly at the time of da Vinci’s birth, likely leading to a tense frustration between Mercury’s motion and its fast sign.

Opposition to an exalted Saturn can give good spatial reasoning, but there is the sense that cold, hard reality bumped up against da Vinci’s lightning-fast mind. Saturn rules the 3rd house of communication, and he may have had difficulty conveying his ideas to others in the same purity of vision he had in his mind. Mars in Aquarius on the third house cusp made his communication fast and perhaps a touch abrasive.

The Moon is in its joy, the third house. Being cadent, the Moon is much more “tucked away” than Mercury, but for all that, it is a veritable fountain of inspiration. First, the Moon is in the phlegmatic, or watery 4th quarter, and it is in Pisces, the most fertile of the signs. This in itself shows a pouring forth of creative ideas from the native’s right brain. As if that weren’t enough, the Moon is conjunct Jupiter in Pisces – the two most fertile planets in the most fertile sign. The third house rules communication and indeed, Leonardo’s writings and jottings are legion.

The Moon-Jupiter conjunction is sextile Leonardo’s Taurus Sun placed in the fifth house of creativity. The Taurus Sun, combined with the Saturn influence on Mercury, tell us that da Vinci’s creativity will be channeled toward the practical, tangible world. Still, Pisces is what it is, and the inventions may often seem outlandish and otherworldly. The Sun rules the 9th house of faith, so there is a sense of divine inspiration in da Vinci’s horoscope.

2.  Leonardo da Vinci’s Significator of the Mind.

The significator of mind (aka Significator of Manner in some texts) describes the native’s personality, and the way he or she thinks and interacts with the world.

The SoM should be a planet with influence over both Mercury and the Moon. For Mercury, this is most likely Mars, as Mercury is sextile Mars and in Mars’s sign. However, we must also include the opposition to a strongly placed Saturn. The Moon is most strongly influenced by Jupiter, due to the conjunction and the fact that the Moon is in Jupiter’s sign. Ptolemy writes that Saturn and Jupiter together give a “virtuous, respectful, well-intentioned mind…prudent, patient, and philosophical.” Mars adds a bit of recklessness, a big mouth, and fierceness. Leonardo probably shunned the limelight, but had a fierce streak when challenged.

Bonus question: Who can see Leonardo’s famous “mirror writing” in his horoscope?

Astrology Book Review: The Strengths of the Planets (Astrologia Gallica 18)

July 12, 2008 by  

Astrology Book Review: Astrologia Gallica Book 18, The Strengths of the Planets

Why Review Astrological Books?

There are innumerable astrology books out there; many are not very useful, but a few are worth their weight in gold. The problem is, how to find them. The astrological book market being what it is, many of the best books are not heavily marketed or advertised, and these gems often do not register in the public awareness. To address this, Gryphon Astrology will feature a weekly or biweekly book review column to help you find some of the best available astrological publications. The frequency of the column will depend on our book acquisition funds!

If you have written or published an astrology book you would like reviewed on Gryphon Astrology, please contact me at nina [at] or write to me here (don’t forget to include your contact info).

Astrologia Gallica, Book 18: The Strengths of the Planets

Written by: Jean-Baptiste Morin

Translators: Pepita Sanchis Llacer and Anthony Louis LaBruzza

Recommended For: Intermediate or advanced astrologers comfortable (or who wish to get more comfortable) with concepts like planetary dignities, mutual reception, and qualities of the houses. Great for exploring the nuances of planetary rulerships and interrelationships at a theoretical level, supported by many real-life example horoscopes.

Jean-Baptiste Morin was a 17th century French physician and astrologer who wrote prolifically; his most famous and longest work being the huge Astrologia Gallica. This monumental work is being gradually translated, volume by volume, by dedicated astrologers who can read Morin’s Latin treatise.

Morin saw his work as an elucidation of much older astrological tradition from the medieval and Arabic times. In the process of cleaning up after the “confused and inadequate” ancient astrologers, as he calls them, he ends up making changes to the tradition. As a result, his works are commonly considered to comprise “the Morin system,” which is based on, but sometimes varies from earlier astrological tradition.

Many of the earlier volumes of Astrologia Gallica are astronomical/astrological and philosophical treatises, not of immediate interest to working astrologers or hobbyists. The present volume, Book 18, is extremely useful, however. Morin discusses in great detail the strengths and weaknesses of the seven visible planets, and the ways these qualities manifest in practice.

For example, Morin explains how a planet can rule two different signs, one of which may not be in apparent agreement with the planet’s elemental nature. His example is Jupiter, which rules Sagittarius and Pisces. Jupiter, in Morin’s view, has an outward fiery nature, which puts it in agreement with the fire sign Sagittarius; however, he also says that Jupiter has a watery hidden side, which is compatible with the water sign Pisces. As a result, whenever Jupiter resides in any fire sign, his fiery domicile, Sagittarius, is strengthened. The same is true for Pisces when Jupiter passes through a water sign.

While this is a logical approach to planetary rulership, it is rather different from the way ancient authorities may have approached the topic. Sign rulership theory is but one of the many examples of Morin’s subtly changing or re-emphasizing parts of the existing astrological tradition.  In that sense, the Morin reader gets one view of the astrological tradition, but it is by no means the only view or even the prevailing practice.

Later in the book, Morin tackles the way planets are affected by reception. He makes the point that mutual reception between planets is only beneficial when either of the planets can offer something constructive to the other. Morin likes to use contemporary astrological charts, and he gives the example of a contemporary named de Hayes who had been decapitated by order of the King. The native’s mutual reception between Mercury in Pisces, ruler of the eighth house of death, and Jupiter in Gemini, situated in the eighth house, could not save him, as both planets were in signs of their detriment and so had nothing positive to offer the native.

The book is full of gems such as this, with many examples clearly illustrating Morin’s approach and conclusions. Morin goes on to discuss planetary strength based on planets positions relative to luminaries; planetary strength based on their motion (speed and direction); and planetary strength based on diurnal or nocturnal condition.

The second part of The Strengths of the Planets discusses planetary strength based on position in the chart; aspects and house positions. Here, Morin revamps the relative strengths of the houses, based on a simplified point system. The results are interesting and somewhat odd, whereby the malefic eighth house is given 3.5 points, but the ninth house is only given 2. While Morin gives his reasons for assigning the point values he does, his assignments do not always coincide with older authors’ use of the houses. For example, the ninth house, associated with religion, higher learning, and travel, is considered more benefic and “stronger” than the eighth house of death, even though the ninth is cadent and the eighth is succedent.

The Strengths of the Planets is slim, weighing in at 131 pages, but it bears slow, careful reading, to extract maximum value. The book was first translated from Latin into Spanish by Pepita Sanchis Llacer, and then translated into English by Anthony Louis LaBruzza. The translation is extremely readable and accessible by modern-day audiences, no doubt largely thanks to the skill of the translators.  The book is heavily footnoted and annotated by both translators, as well as by the renowned astrological writer and translator of other Morin books, James Holden. Robert M. Corre, a disciple of Morin, also contributed many footnotes to the translation.

The Strengths of the Planets costs $17.95 at

Astrology and the Planets: Mars and Saturn Conjunct on July 10, 2008

July 5, 2008 by  

What will happen when Saturn and Mars conjoin in Virgo on July 10, 2008?

Every couple of years, the two malefics, Mars and Saturn, conjoin in the sky. This is considered a malefic cycle, because of the problematic nature of Mars and Saturn. The most ominous of these conjunctions is when Mars conjoins Saturn in Cancer, because the planets are each in their fall and detriment, respectively. On July 10, Mars and Saturn will conjoin at 5° Virgo; this is not considered as bad as the conjunction in Cancer, because neither Mars nor Saturn are particularly afflicted in the sign of Virgo.

However, the conjunction of the malefics is still bad, and we can expect it to manifest in the summer or autumn of 2008, specifically in places where important points in the Cancer and Libra Ingress horoscopes fall on this conjunction. I will keep an eye out for this and point out any such connections to the Mars Saturn conjunction.

Effects of Mars and Saturn in Virgo

Whenever we have the malefics in Virgo, we can expect some of the following effects:

Saturn in Virgo brings:

Wholesome and beneficial gusts of wind, especially during the harvest

Droughts of fountains and a scarcity of water

Women miscarrying

Acute fevers

Rulers will be ultimately helped by their enemies

Mars in Virgo brings:

War and bloodshed in the North

Vision and eye problems

A good harvest (or injury to the harvest, depending on Mars’s position in a given location)

Death to many women

The death of old men and illnesses of men

Strong winds

The good and prosperity of the rich and famous

In the next few posts, we will discuss the connection of the Mars-Saturn conjunction to upcoming important charts for the United States, and possible effects of the conjunction in this country. I would be interested to hear from non-US-based astrologers who are investigating this conjunction relative to their own countries.

Mars in Cancer: Astrology & Planet Positions of Mars Retrograde

September 11, 2007 by  

Astrology & Planet Positions of Mars Retrograde

Mars will enter Cancer on September 29, 2007, which is not a positive planetary event. In Cancer, Mars is in the sign of its fall, and therefore is particularly malefic. The ancient astrologers specifically looked for times when Mars in Cancer conjoined Saturn, as both planets were then at their most malefic, and their conjunction could only bode ill.

Mars is going to be in Cancer for a long time this year, as it turns retrograde at 12° Cancer on November 15. This means that Mars will be moving very slowly through the rest of 2007, and will have to be dealt with cautiously during this entire time (and into 2008).

Electional Astrology with Mars in Cancer

If Mars rules anything important in your natal horoscope, it may be best to avoid making major moves while it is passing through Cancer, and ideally throughout the time of its retrogradation. For example, if Mars rules your second house of money, making major financial decisions during this time is rather more risky than we would like.

If you absolutely must act, try to find dates when Mars is aspecting benefic planets, or just throw your hands up and call a professional astrologer.

The same goes for Mars-related activities, such as sporting events, warfare, surgery in general, and anything physically invasive.

Mars in Cancer in the Natal Horoscope

Generally, Mars in Cancer will not be a force for good in the natal horoscope, due to its weak placement in that sign. If Mars happens to be conjunct an eminent fixed star, such as in the horoscope of Roger Federer, then its malefic nature is much diminished (though the tendency to shed tears upon winning tennis tournaments is not). However, in general, Mars in Cancer is going to be tough to deal with.

As a different, more difficult example of Mars in Cancer, we can look at the natal horoscope of British poet laureate Robert Southey, who, after a distinguished poetic career, lost his mind and thereafter died. While there is much more to be said about his horoscope, note the Mars in Cancer on the midheaven (ruling his 3rd house of writing, and indicating his prolific career, which led to about 55 books), sextile Mercury in Virgo. Mercury represents the rational mind, so we see his sanity afflicted by his urge for fast and furious (Cancer is a cardinal sign, and therefore moves very quickly) creative output.

Astrology & Planet Positions of Mars Retrograde

—To find out the meaning of Mars in your horoscope, or to find the best time to act while Mars moves through Cancer, why not get an astrology reading?

Astrology – Map of the Planets: Mercury in Libra, September 5, 2007

August 29, 2007 by  

Mercury - illustrating Mercury in Libra

Mercury will enter Libra on September 5th, where it is not nearly as strong as in Virgo. Libra is a decent sign for Mercury, as Mercury is in its own triplicity in Libra by night. However, Mercury’s strength in Libra cannot compare with Virgo, as Virgo is the best possible sign for Mercury, since Virgo is the sign where Mercury is in its own house and exaltation.

Mercury does especially well in two of the mutable signs; Gemini and Virgo. The changeability of Mercury is very much in keeping with the changeable nature of the double signs. Overall, Mercury tends to do better in the air signs, as they represent the intellect, which Mercury is strongly associated with, and are dynamic enough to satisfy Mercury’s need for change.

Electional Astrology and Mercury in Libra

If you are planning to do anything Mercury related, such as traveling, sending important letters or messages, buying or selling, Mercury’s travel through Libra is a fine time to do so, though starting your activities at night would be more auspicious. As I mentioned, this is because Mercury rules the night triplicity of Libra. In particular, you may want to look at times when Mercury is conjunct the fixed star Spica, and extremely benefic and protective fixed star. This happens on September 21 and 22nd this year.

In particular, Mercury will sextile Jupiter in Sagittarius on September 13, after which it will sextile Venus in Leo on the 17th, and then it will trine Mars in Gemini on September 26. All other things being equal, the sextile to Venus is probably the most auspicious of these aspects. Jupiter is the Great Benefic, and therefore is normally very positive, but its location in Sagittarius means that it is in the detriment of Mercury, and so Jupiter is not inclined to help Mercury much.

Famous People with Mercury in Libra

Cesar Borgia, Emily Post, Genghis Khan, Henry III, Warren Buffett, Will Smith, Guy Richie, Jack La Lanne, Dwight Eisenhower, Mickey Mantle, Art Garfunkel, Rita Hayworth.

Astrology – Map of the Planets: Venus Direct on September 9, 2007

August 27, 2007 by  

Venus direct - Paris and Helen

Venus will turn direct in Leo on September 9th, 2007. Venus has been retrograde through early Virgo and much of Leo since July 28, 2007. Venus does not go retrograde as often as Mercury, so people are often nervous about the period of Venus’s retrogradation, as it is something slightly more special than Mercury.

Of course, the world’s relationships did not all come to an end during this time, though if you were electing a time to do something Venus-related, such as romance or sex, having Venus retrograde would be suboptimal. Again, lots of people throughout the world get married with Venus retrograde, and I doubt all those marriages are unhappy or come to an end. But if we are trying to find the best moment for marriage, for example, we want to make sure that you have as many of the planets on your side as possible.

This brings up an important point about electional astrology (the art of finding the right moment, astrologically, to do something). If we are trying to find an auspicious astrological moment for the marriage of two fundamentally incompatible people, there is no astrological moment that will make them be happy together. It would not matter if Venus was a direct, in its exaltation, and right at the top of the chart. The natal horoscopes would likely indicate that the people were about to make a mistake in marriage. This is why it is so important to look at the natal horoscope for electing an auspicious moment; unless something is promised in the natal chart, electional astrology cannot make it so. However, it can give you the best possible start, which will make the difference between success and failure.

Astrology – Map of the Planets: Sun in Virgo

August 23, 2007 by  

Astrology - Map of Planets - Woman and the Rising Sun

On August 23, 2007, at 12:08 G.M.T., the Sun will enter Virgo. The Sun is moderately happy in Virgo, having minor dignity in the first 10° of the sign. Certainly, the Sun in Virgo is nowhere near as strong as it is in Leo, where the Sun is in its own sign, and by day, in its own triplicity. And, as if that were not enough, the Royal star Regulus is at 29° Leo, supercharging the Sun even more! However, this year would not have been a good year to take advantage of the day that the Sun is on Regulus. This is because malefic Saturn in its detriment was dangerously close to the Sun, negating most of the Sun’s positive vibes.

Sun in Virgo in Electional Astrology

If you’re trying to find the right time to do something Sun-related, such as having a heart to heart discussion with your boss (the Sun rules people in authority), or another important man in your life (the Sun rules all men), the Sun’s passage through Virgo is a reasonable time to attempt this. The Sun will square Jupiter on September 4, which, due to the receptions among the planets, is moderately helpful to the Sun, but not very helpful to Jupiter. So talking to people in authority today, especially if you’re represented by Jupiter (you have Pisces or Sagittarius rising, for example) might actually end up being more beneficial for them than for you.

Sun in Virgo in Natal Astrology

Because the Sun is not particularly strong in Virgo (though it is by no means terrible), it is probably not going to be the strongest planet in your horoscope. Of course, any planet can be strengthened by favorable aspects and receptions, as well as conjunctions to the favorable fixed stars. So for example, if you have the Sun in Virgo closely conjunct Mercury in Virgo, the Sun is going to be strengthened due to Mercury’s powerful position in Virgo, where it is in its sign and exaltation. It is as though the Sun had a powerful friend that it can call on to strengthen the matter is associated with the house that the Sun rules. For example, if the Sun in Virgo rules the second house of money, that itself is a middling testimony for wealth; but a close conjunction to such a strong Mercury in Virgo would rather increase the chances of gaining wealth in this life.

Famous People with the Sun in Virgo

Queen Elizabeth I, Michael Jackson, Sean Connery, Claudia Schiffer (and David Copperfield!), Beyonce Knowles, Stephen King, Van Morrison.

Astrology – Map of the Planets: Mars in Gemini on August 7, 2007

July 31, 2007 by  

Demosthenes Practicing Oratory - Astrology - Map of the Planets: Mars in Gemini on August 7, 2007

Mars’s ingress into Gemini will be a bit of a relief, since Mars in Taurus is in the sign of its detriment. Combined with Venus in Virgo (its fall) and Saturn in Leo (its detriment), having yet another weak planet has made electing just the right astrological moment somewhat difficult.

Let’s talk about the meaning of Mars in Gemini. Mars is not particularly strong in this air sign, since Mars is a fiery, hot planet. While this is not a terrible combination, it’s like putting a soldier in an office job; it can be done, and one can achieve some measure of success, but it’s really not a perfect fit. All that Martial energy will be put into airy pursuits, such as communication, which will become turbocharged. Maybe even aggressive and argumentative. William Lilly describes Gemini as a lover of arts/learning, and Gemini is also one of the human signs. None of these characteristics mesh very well with Mars’s aggressive, animalistic energy.

Electional Astrology Advice

If you are going to do anything Mars-related, I highly recommend that you do it before September 29th, when Mars enters its fall in Cancer. Mars will spend the rest of the year in Cancer, as it turns retrograde, and ever-so-slowly makes its way back to Gemini. What kinds of activities are ruled by Mars? Sports, surgery (though the rules for finding a good moment for surgery are far more complex than Mars’s placement), anything requiring courage, warfare, debates (along with Mercury, so especially appropriate for Mars in Gemini), tyranny (good time to lay down to law to your kids and inspire the proper measure of terror, for example).

Some Famous People with Mars in Gemini

Donatella Versace, Aaron Spelling, Neil Armstrong, Tom Foley, Steve Forbes, Julio Gallo, Uma Thurman, Courtney Love, Louis Vuitton, Antonio Banderas, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Tony Blair, Al Pacino.

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