Taurus: Live Life Well And Keep Your Feet On The Ground

Our Taurus month has come and gone. For me it was a month of great loss and sadness as I lost an old and very dear friend – a wonderful Taurus Sun whose battle against breast cancer ended shortly after her birthday. So, she was born and died in the Taurus month and as I thought about my dear friend, I realised how she epitomised so many great things about the sign of Taurus. It’s those things I want to share with you in this post.

My friend was described at her funeral service as ‘a force of nature’ and that is such a Taurus thing to be. Taurean strength is legendary and when they put their shoulder to the wheel they are absolutely unstoppable. My friend was no exception. Whatever she was determined to do, she did and she let nothing get in her way. My observations of many Taurus influenced people are exactly that. They have a stubbornness about them that they will persist in the face of considerable opposition, always keeping going until that opposition has bent to their will.

My friend used to do this a lot – particularly with animal welfare – spending time, energy and money ensuring our furry friends were saved from maltreatment (often in countries with lesser animal welfare standards) and finding them new homes with loving families closer to home.

A love of animals, nature and defending the weak are definite Taurean traits – but this determined and protective attitude can manifest in any field a Taurus deems worthy of their attention. It’s often seen in in their attitudes towards the home and family where they can take considerable pride in their homes, children, partners and pets and actively protect their interests wherever they can.

My friend was a typical Taurus in this way too and that’s unsurprising as Taurus is perhaps the most loyal of the Zodiac Signs. They always put the people (and pets) they love first – and they collect friends throughout their life’s journey. Why is that? Not unnaturally I have thought about this over the past few weeks since my friend passed away and have concluded that her unswerving loyalty is a huge reason for this – together with the influence Venus has over this sign.

Taureans are steadfast – they are ‘keepers’ who love nothing more than acquiring people as well as objects. Their Venus influences play out with a love of possessions – and that includes their friends. Once a Taurus has you, they have you for life and, importantly, you know they will always have your back – come what may.

It’s impossible to talk about those Venus influences without discussing the famous material side of Taurus – and yes, I can confirm my late friend was very much a material girl. Taurus women (and men) love trinkets. My friend loved jewellery – as do many Taurus people. Not just because jewellery is aesthetically pleasing but also because it never loses value. Taurus is sometimes regards as quite a ‘stingy’ sign however that’s selling them short. Taurus is more than happy to spend cash – but insists on quality. You won’t find Taurus wasting money on cheap tat any time soon.

This quality often makes Taureans successful business people. They are instinctively shrewd and can spot a good opportunity a mile away. My friend was no exception to this, successful running a real estate portfolio – as well a successful family life and being a pillar of her local community.

Taurus people are often ‘involved’ in their communities and neighbourhoods. Again, I think is comes down to their innate stability – they need to ensure the family/neighbourhood/community unit is kept safe and strong and has a future – and of course – like the other Earth signs – they like to feel useful in the things they do.

Of course, it could be that Taurus simply enjoys being a good citizen. To really get to grips with Taurus you really need to appreciate how this earthy Venus ruled sign works for them. Venus rules things we love – as well as love itself – and the things that give is pleasure. Taurus has historically been regarded as a bit of a parsimonious worthy plodder – but, if my friend was anything to go by, that’s so far from reality – for what people often don’t get about Taurus is their huge appetite for pleasure and fun.

One of the more surprising of Taurus traits is hedonism – sheer physical indulgence. My friend really knew how to let her hair down and was so often the life of the party – even if she was always also the person who you could rely on to get you home afterwards! That physicality is also seen in the way a Taurus will be the first to notice perfume, a colour, your clothing, your hair – there is simply a great appreciation of the body and not just in the opposite sex.

Taurean physicality gives them such presence in a room. At any gathering you are always aware of the Taurus – they will often be the seductive one, whether they have a bubbly or more introverted personality, the result is always the same – they draw people towards them so effortlessly. As I said earlier, there is something protective and dependable about a Taurus. Perhaps we are drawn to these Taurus qualities as we instinctively know they are needed in our lives.

As many of you who have read my posts will know, I also had cancer very recently. One thing that will stay with me is how concerned my friend was for my wellbeing and how supportive she was to me during my surgery and post operative care. At that time, she herself was suffering from incurable stage 4 cancer that was spreading fast thorough her own body. She was dying. Yet, it was a mark of her typical Taurus selflessness and generosity that she thought of others first and bore her own illness without complaint.

Such stoicism is inherently Taurus – but that trait alone would fail to recognise the wonderful qualities of an amazing person who happened to have her Sun in Taurus. I am sure her Taurus qualities gave my friend strength during the latter part of her life. I suspect however, her greatest support came from those who she had nurtured over the years and who will be forever grateful for the time they, like me, had her in their lives. She lived her life well and kept her feet on the ground.

In memory of Gillian Frances Cooney, 10 May 1962-16 May 2019

© Sara Shipman 2019

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Uranus: Brexit? Trump? Chaos Has Come Again

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Transiting Uranus. You only have to look at the news to see transiting Uranus doing what Uranus does best. Right now, it seems, it doesn’t matter where you live in this world, you would have to be crazy not to have noticed that things are… well… a little out of kilter one way or another. All of life’s certainties, the things we seem to have taken for granted over the years, are being undermined, overturned – call it what you will – change is underway and chaos is all around.

In the UK, we’re currently going through Brexit, and wherever your opinion sits on this one, I think we can all agree that chaos about sums up where the country is now. How we laughed on this side of the pond, when our American cousins elected Donald Trump. We marvelled at at the craziness of their democratic…

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Astrology: Ten Steps to Self Awareness

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There are I guess, several reasons why people get into astrology. Most of you have read a horoscope and some of you will have taken the interest further and read astrology books and blog articles. However, almost all of you will have engaged with astrology with one fundamental objective – to discover more about what makes you, well, essentially YOU.

With this in mind, I started to think about how astrology works to reveal our inner self. Most of you will be familiar with your ‘Star Sign‘ – the sign occupied by your natal Sun – and some of you will also be familiar with your Moon Sign and Rising Sign too. However, for me, the best way of getting to know yourself is to become familiar with all of the planets. Why? Because each one represents part of your essential nature as a human being so…

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Aries: On Your Marks, Get Set and Go!

And don’t forget to take your running shoes.

First up. I’m going to cheat with this post. I need to get it done fast as we’re running out of Aries time – there are only a few days left to go. I know I should have been off the blocks with this one weeks ago but hey, better late than never. And in my defence, I don’t have a single planet in Aries, so forgive me if my speed isn’t entirely at record breaking levels!

Fortunately, I’ve got a little bit of Aries stashed away for moments just like this. A short while ago I decided to write a series of ebooks (one of my many Gemini Ascendent projects) each one focusing on a Zodiac Sign. I decided to start with Aries – why not? After all, Aries is first on the list, symbolises beginnings and Arians are known for blazing a trail faster than anyone else. So, in a trial run, I’m going to run the first part of my draft ebook past you. I hope it resonates with those of you who have a Cardinal, Masculine and Fiery disposition. Here we go…

Aries is traditionally considered the first sign of the Zodiac and that’s a very appropriate place for a sign that hollers, ‘Me first’, at every opportunity. Brash, fiery, brave, bold and reckless – we’ve all heard of the stereotypical Arian charging into battle, often without even stopping to ask what the fight is about – but is that all there is to Aries? Even for Aries I think there’s a little more than that in the mix. So, let’s have a closer look at the qualities associated with the sign of Aries and dig deeper into the Zodiac’s most exciting – and excitable – sign.

Those three words up there on this page? Masculine, Cardinal and Fire? They describe the Zodiac groupings (dualities, triplicities and quadruplicities) which give each of the Zodiac Signs their particular characteristics. Aries is a masculine sign and though we certainly associate this sign with a high level of testosterone, ‘masculine’ in this context is way more than just a synonym for butch. For Aries (as with all masculine Zodiac Signs), ‘masculine’ describes how Aries expresses energy and this is in a positive, outward manner.

Positive outward energy? This means Aries loves a bit of action and can act up like no other Zodiac sign. This should be no surprise if you look at the other two words up there on the page, cardinal and masculine. I’ll  add now add fire to the mix as this element is, of course, hugely important in forming the basic Aries personality. Aries is a fire sign and probably the most sparky and combustible of all the fire signs. So, this means Aries energy is hot and quick to ignite being fuelled with high-octane enthusiasm and a fundamental need to take action. Aries being Aries, this shoots out into the world in accordance with the ‘cardinal’ qualities that make Aries one of the most ‘in your face’ of all the Zodiac signs. 

As a cardinal sign, Aries is outgoing  – it’s how they interact with the world. Aries is not, as the saying goes, backwards at coming forwards and Aries mode of expression is almost literally forwards at all times. Impulsive, forceful, pioneering, energetic and assertive, Aries is noted for initiating activities and pushing them on – not necessarily with any plan in mind – just usually to see how far they can go. As Aries is both tempestuous and highly sexual that can mean seeing ‘how far they can go’  – Aries lives for the thrill of the chase.

If this sounds familiar to you, you may have an Aries Sun, Moon or Rising Sign – you could even have a powerfully placed Mars in your Natal Chart. However, having an Aries Sun does not have the same effect on your character as having Aries as your Rising Sign and it doesn’t produce quite the same result if you have an Aries Moon. The reason for this is the Sun, Moon and Rising Sign represent different aspects of your character. Though all of you with Aries dominant in your birth chart (because you have one of the above placements) will share Arian traits, the ways in which your Aries traits manifest are going to be very different.

The Sun, Moon and Rising Sign signify the most deeply important parts of you – they represent who you are, how you feel and how you see the world. You can see from this that those three things tell you a great deal about what makes you tick. Now most of you who know something about astrology will know that to get the whole picture you need to look at your whole chart, with all the other planets in their signs and houses. That’s absolutely true, but all the information you need at a very fundamental level to really get to know yourself is contained in your Sun, Moon and Rising Sign. 

Your natal Sun defines your basic character and personality, your identity – all of the things that make you feel like the unique human being you are. The house position of your natal Sun is where you shine and your Sun sign is how you shine best as expressing your solar traits comes so easily to you. That  may seem quite straightforward but unless you get to know yourself well it can be difficult to use your solar energy to your best advantage. For Aries, as with all Zodiac signs, this means learning to express the positive characteristics of the sign and deal with the negative traits. You need self awareness to do this and the grace to accept that sometimes you need to do a bit of work on yourself – Aries can often have ‘might means right’ issues.

With Aries as your Rising sign, the emphasis is slightly different. You view the world through an Arian lens which means you approach life in an Arian manner – which is direct to say the least. In many ways, Aries is more visible when it’s your rising sign as its the side of you that’s on display to the world and it’s often how others see you as their impression of you is often based on your immediate responses. However, with Aries as your Rising sign, Aries is your surface overlay. Your true nature will be determined by your Sun sign – and if this is also Aries, what you see is what you get!

The Moon is all about your emotional responses, your needs and what makes you feel comfortable. With the Moon in Aries your deepest needs are Arian in nature. Even if your Sun or Rising signs are somewhat more placid, you may surprise both yourself and other people close to you with an underlying Arian emotional nature which can seem at odds with who you – and they – think you are. Of course, you need to be comfortable with yourself at an emotional level as you cannot be truly happy unless unless you can really accept yourself for who you are. Again, this means becoming aware of your emotional needs and satisfying them positively in accordance with the positive characteristics of your Moon sign.

When I was writing the above, I became aware of the complex interaction of the planets, points and signs that often dominate out chart, namely the Sun, Moon and Ascendent. We so often think of ourselves an simply our Sun sign and often reduce our understanding of that to just a few chosen characteristics – usually the ones we prefer and want to identify with. However, that’s selling ourselves short. So, in writing (or drafting my series of ebooks) I wanted to get up to speed on how we can become more self aware if we learn to recognise the qualities our important signs bestow on us and key to that is using – as many astrologers can testify to – ‘keywords‘ for each sign as a starting point for self discovery. So Aries, in that vein, I’ve written a check list for you to speed read and discard – in true Arian fashion…

Aries ‘keywords’. This is basically a list of Aries traits you need to be familiar with each time you work on your Aries Sun, Moon or Rising Sign. All Zodiac signs have key, identifying characteristics and we express them easily and without really noticing that we do so.  It’s important therefore that we are remind ourselves of what they are – and here I’m going to use an analogy – it’s like speaking your native language, you don’t have to think about it too much because it’s simply something you do. However, even native speakers need to improve their vocabulary and be aware of grammatical rules and this is what consciously learning your Aries keywords will do for you – they will give you the vocabulary to take ownership of your inner self and enable you to express yourself in the best possible way.

As I mentioned earlier, all Zodiac signs – and that includes you Aries – have what have been traditionally considered ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ characteristics. In days gone by, astrologers often seemed to put a binary meaning on this – you were able to express your sign’s energy well – or not – there was no middle way. However, life is more complex than that. You are all capable of expressing your Aries energy productively and unproductively and no doubt do so every day. However, if you find you’re expressing the negative (or less acceptable) face of Aries more often than not, please be aware that the potential for transforming this to a more positive expression is within you. To transform our habitual ways of being takes two things – self awareness and a desire to change, however, you have to employ both of these together – one will simply not do the job.

Aries|Keywords|Positive

Active, Adventurous, Affectionate, Ardent, Assertive, Bold, Brave, Candid, Child-likonfident, Courageous, Daring, Direct, Dynamic, Eager, Energetic, Enterprising, Enthusiastic, Explorer, Extroverted, Fast, Fiery, Forceful, Friendly, Incisive, Independent, Initiative, Intrepid, Leader, Passionate, Pioneering, Romantic, Risk-taker, Self-Starter, Selfless, Spontaneous, Tough, Urgent

Aries|Keywords|Negative

Aggressive, Antagonistic, Argumentative, Bad-tempered, Blunt, Brash, Bullying, Childish, Combative, Combustible, Crude, Daredevil, Demanding, Directionless, Dominant, Egotistical, Foolhardy, Headstrong, Impatient, Impulsive, Insensitive, Loud, Outspoken, Pugnacious, Pushy, Quick Tempered, Restless, Rude, Selfish

This is an indicative though by no means an exhaustive list – you may recognise some of these traits in yourself, not necessarily all of them – though that’s not to say they aren’t there! The important thing is you become familiar with them and learn to identify them in yourself. Remember, each ‘negative’ trait carries the potential to become positively used – they’re like two sides of a coin, all you have to do is learn to flip.

Yes Aries, all you have to do is learn to flip. Not at all easy for the most direct sign of the Zodiac but well worth doing. Why? It’s about being your best self and, Aries, if you’re going to enter the race you may as well ensure you’re in prime condition – otherwise how do expect to get anywhere near the finishing line? Use your knowledge to maximise your potential – in other words Aries, give yourself a head start. You know it makes sense.

Though I’m ‘Aries-lite’ in my chart, I have an angular Mars (Aries ruler) and regularly encounter Arians in my life. I’m always struck by their spontaneity and enthusiasm. Their speed and energy leaves me breathless and they almost never have to think to hard about anything – they simply get on and ‘do stuff’ – though it must be said only if the ‘stuff’ in question lights their fire.

And this I feel is the lesson we can take from Aries – whatever or sign – don’t get bogged down in the stuff that gets you down. Don’t let your fire burn out. Try and retain a child-like enthusiasm for life. In an Arian’s (and a child’s) eyes almost anything is possible. Why wouldn’t it be? There is nothing out there for you to be afraid of and life is just one big adventure. We can learn a lot from Aries – the child of the zodiac. Be a good parent to your fiery inner child and train him/her well. You will need your Aries courage your whole life long.

© Sara Shipman 2019

Transits and Solar Returns: An Astrologer’s Guide to Future-proofing Your Life

There are some things you need to know…

Well, It’s been a while, but first, I want to apologise for my lack of posts over the past few weeks. About a month ago I had major surgery having been diagnosed earlier this year with a pre-cancerous gynaecological condition. Following my surgery, the histology report showed my condition had progressed to very early stage cancer – and fortunately it was curable by a total hysterectomy.

So, it turned out I had cancer after all – without knowing it – and when the cancer was confirmed, I had already had the surgery to remove it. I no longer have cancer – what a great thing to be able to say. I feel as though I have had an amazing stroke of luck, however, the surgery has left me physically exhausted and I have had to take a time out to recuperate.

The obvious question to someone with a keen interest in predictive astrology and who shares that interest with the wider world is, ‘did I see it coming’? Well, I was on ‘red alert’ for something as the signs were out there that this was going to be an eventful year – though I didn’t know exactly what would happen as astrology always gives you options! So, what I’m going to do in this post is show you how predictive astrology can give you the heads up on the kinds of situations that may be coming your way.

When I want to know what issues I may have to contend with in the coming months I turn to two astrological tools in particular. Firstly I examine the transits to my natal chart and then I look at my solar return chart for the year in question. I know there are many astrologers out there who will have their own preferences regarding the techniques they use for predictive work, however, my own preference is to use transits and solar returns. Why? I believe they are much more straightforward to interpret than some other techniques and are often more obvious to the person who is experiencing them.

However, as an Astrologer, I use these techniques because they work well together. Predictive astrology is an art but it needs the practitioner to follow a rigorous process – for me, transits (particularly the outer planets) are largely indicative of trends in your life which occur over a fairly long period of time. They function as a kind of background noise almost like traffic noise outside your home. The noise becomes becomes louder when you open the window or, in astrological terms, when the transiting planets make contact, by aspect, with your natal planets or with important points in the natal chart such as angles or house cusps.

Solar returns complement this often long term process by giving you a pretty good idea of the kinds of issues you may face in any particular part of your life during any one solar return year. For me, I find they work in tune with transits, adding a layer of detail to the big themes your transits are telling you about. With me so far? Good.

So, what did my transits tell me about 2019? The big story for me transit-wise is Uranus, currently transiting through my natal 12th house. Uranus has been there for some time and honestly, I’ve not really noticed until recently and the reason for this is that Uranus is now approaching the point at which it will activate the huge ‘T-square’ in my natal chart.

Now, my natal ‘T-square‘ is pretty heavy; Sun conjunct Neptune in the 6th House square Mars in the 4th House and a Moon /Saturn conjunction exactly on the Midheaven. Safe to say, I’ve been ‘expecting the unexpected’ in all of those areas and sure enough, health, work and daily routine (6th house), home, family and all things female (4th House) and my career and direction in life (10th House) have all shown increasing signs of stress in the past few months.

However, I also have Mercury in my natal 6th House. Mercury is my chart ruler and, though not close enough to my Sun/Neptune conjunction to be officially part of the ‘T-Square‘, it is connected to my Moon/Saturn/Midheaven conjunction with a square aspect. And Mercury was where transiting Uranus made it’s first landfall…

So, it’s fair to say in late 2018/early 2019 I became aware (Uranus) something was wrong at a subconscious level (12th House) because I noticed (Mercury) some unusual (Uranus) physical changes to my health (6th House). Uranus switched on the light and Mercury saw there was a problem. Mercury‘s aspect to my ‘T-Square‘ configuration is a square and squares demand action. I needed to take responsibility (Saturn) for my reproductive health (Moon) and this was a matter off some importance that could not be ignored (Midheaven). So, off I went to consult my doctor and be referred to a gynaecologist…

I feel I have to say that, of course, there were (and are) other transits happening, but this was (and is) a big one. It was also possible that the matters being lit up weren’t about my health at all. However, I had been feeling a sense of unease about my health, exercise (lack of) and daily routine, (6th house) my career and business – I work in construction and real estate (4th house) – particularly given the current economic and political uncertainty in the world (10th house) – and all of these matters were in Uranus’s line of fire. The health check? It was a good thing to do but this transit could just as easily have meant I needed to start taking my wellbeing seriously and change my habits and my job. It didn’t necessarily show there was a serious health problem to deal with.

So what did my Solar Return Chart have to say about this? Well, I feel it’s interesting. My Solar Return Chart’s ascending sign is Scorpio, the sign of power and regeneration. My Sun is found in the 12th House. The Sun’s only aspect is a trine to Neptune in the 4th house. Now, the 12th house is the sign we associate with, among other things, hospitals, healing, drugs, seclusion, escape etc. and the 4th house we know relates to home, food, family, women, parents and parenting, the womb etc. as well as land, homes, houses and all things domestic. The Sun is always the focus of the Solar Return Chart so the 12th house was going to be big for me this year and would always be connected to that 4th house Neptune

When I first looked at my Solar Return Chart for the year it made a great deal sense to me. I had recently lost my father (Sun 12th House) and was processing that emotionally. I felt the coming year would be a time of healing and acceptance (Neptune) for me and the family, especially my Mother (4th house). I also found I had to contend with some of the more traditional issues associated with Neptune‘s 4th house placement. ‘Water issues in the home’ came to the fore with leaks, hidden areas of damp and rot, broken cisterns, delayed repairs – you name it, it’s been happening. Maybe just maybe, that 4th House Neptune was reminding me that I hadn’t been paying attention…

And maybe that included paying attention to my own body. I found myself tracking the aspects to that 4th house Neptune to see if I could identify what else could be in store. Well, there was a sextile to Pluto in the 2nd House. Sure, the repairs were about to into my cash in a big way but I felt there could be more than that after all, the second house is the house of the body. It’s physical as well as material. So I followed the next aspect, a square from Pluto to Venus in the 12th house.

This stressful aspect between Pluto and Venus once more highlighted material circumstances. Venus signifies money and right now I felt the house repairs were something I both couldn’t afford to do and couldn’t afford not to do. It was cash (Venus) I didn’t have (12th house) as my income from my day job (6th house) was erratic (Uranus). I had to resign myself to stress and repairs and being broke or maybe initiate change by finding a new job (fast!). After all, I was clearly stressed with things the way they were (Uranus in 6th house)and perhaps needed to adjust to the fact that my business wasn’t going as planned (Uranus quincunx Moon in 10th house) and I’d been seriously over optimistic about it’s chances of success (Uranus quincunx 1st house Jupiter).

My interpretation made perfect sense to me – after all, the first rule of predictive astrology is that everything that happens to you happens in the context of your own life. Period. But there it was nagging at me. That Uranus in the Solar Return 6th house. Uranus was in the house of health and it made me uneasy – what surprises were in store?

Once again I followed the aspects. Potentially an unexpected health issue lay in store but related to what? Uranus opposed Venus in the 12th house. Venus is feminine. The 12th house is associated with loss as well as hospitalisation. An unexpected health issue connected with feminity and loss? Or something hidden? I moved on to Venus‘s square to Pluto in the 2nd house. Whatever the Venus placement meant it was connected to Pluto, and Pluto symbolises revelation and irrevocable change – Pluto removes the things you no longer need. Potentially, physically (2nd house) something was no longer needed and needed to be removed – a square aspect remember, needs to be acted on. What was the issue? Something hidden (Neptune)in the 4th house…

So, that brought me back to the beginning. I wondered if there was potentially an unknown health problem involving the 4th house. Not unreasonably I paid more attention to my mother who was due to have some minor surgery (and sure enough, that ended up with a sudden and unexpected complication…) Maybe that was it. But no. My own condition announced it’s presence and here I am recovering and with my outlook on life transformed. Many women who’ve had the same operation as me feel they have lost their femininity, and younger women lose their ability to have children.

How does my experience relate to yours? At a personal level maybe some of you will find yourselves nodding in agreement – after all cancer is common – and many of us will experience it in some form or know someone who has or is suffering with it now. However, what I want you to take from this is the following; astrology gives us a resource to increase our self awareness to know when we may need to look at our lives a little more carefully and move in the direction that’s right for us.

Many of us would love to know what’s in store for us – equally there are as many who do not. However, I think it’s fair to say most of us would like some help in making informed decisions that can help us plan our lives more effectively. As I mentioned earlier, predictive astrology can point out your options – and if you take some time to understand he direction your life is moving in and work with the direction of travel (rather than fighting against it), you will find your life becomes much easier.

That’s not so say a little advanced knowledge will make your life easy – far from it. we all have difficult moments in our lives or find ourselves at forks in the road and don’t know which way to go. Checking out your transits and solar returns can help you make an informed decision. The Universe is there to help you and when it speaks? Listen very carefully indeed.

© Sara Shipman 2019

PS I’m currently writing a book on predictive astrology – hoping extracts will be available on this website soon with full publication to follow!

Pisces, Where Are You?

Swimming with the fishes man…

Of course I meant to write this post ages ago, but somehow other things got in the way which is code for ‘Yes, I meant to do it but I was distracted, disorganised but really have no excuse’. Though, this time around I really do have an excuse…

You’ll note the word ‘excuse’. Pisces is great at excuses by the way, but my excuse for not publishing this post is quite legitimate – and very Pisces/Neptune/Twelfth House – I have been in hospital and have just returned home following some serious abdominal surgery (thank you Mars in my Solar Return Fourth House…).

And so here we are – now well through the Piscean month before I put finger to keyboard. Just as well Pisces is not noted for great timekeeping! Hospitalisation, however, has proved to be a great way to really get to know Pisces, that most elusive of zodiac signs, as there is possibly no other place where I could have been reminded, so overwhelmingly, of what Pisces really means.

As I came around from the anaesthesia (Pisces rules gases…) I found myself disoriented, helpless and utterly dependent on the medical staff. It came to me that this was Pisces in microcosm – dependency, healing, and universal compassion in an oddly comforting other world.

Totally removed from the concerns of my daily life, I became aware I had surrendered to something else completely. How? Because this is what Pisces demands of us. We strip ourselves of the things we think we are and place ourselves in the hands of well, who knows?

I had no choice in the matter of course – my surgery was medically necessary – and though I’d googled the condition (as you do), knowledge was no substitute for my faith in the medical profession. This faith was utterly complete and it had to be – I could no more control my illness than I could control the tides. I am not prone to blind faith but sometimes it’s the only thing you have left to you when you face something beyond your comprehension. And that is pure Pisces.

There is a reason, therefore, that we see Nurses as Angels and Doctors as possessing powers out of reach of mere mortals. Those doctors and nurses are fallible human beings just as we are – and are simply doing the jobs they are trained to do – however, Neptune ruled Pisces is the great mind bender of the universe and our perceptions are altered when we make contact – no matter how symbolically – with that sign.

We see things differently under the influence of Pisces. This may be healing and beneficial (as in hospital, where care, empathy and medication get you through the worst of times) or delusional and addictive, when substance abuse and self neglect take you on an endless downward spiral. Those who are heavily influenced by this sign, or have Neptune prominent in their charts can, it seems go either way. Or both. Pisces is a sign of duality which makes it possible for Pisces to be all things to all people.

This ‘mutability’ is a key Piscean trait. Pisceans go with the flow. Like the fish that symbolise them, they can sparkle in the shallows or sink to the bottom, their watery element taking them to places unknown to more earthbound souls. If there is a character trait shared by all the Pisceans I know (and I have met quite a few), it is this: a marked need to escape from the confines of mundane life and go where the flow takes them.

This is not surprising. Pisces is the twelfth sign of the zodiac, the polar opposite to reassuringly dutiful Virgo. It’s association with Neptune and the Twelfth House gives Pisceans the remarkable ability to ‘let go’, and pursue a life ‘less ordinary’ than the rest of us – even if that’s simply the way it appears to be in their own imagination.

Like fish, Pisces and those heavily influenced by Neptune can exist quite happily in their own goldfish bowl – and often prefer things that way. They are masters and mistresses of the art of creating their own world. At best, they are creative, caring and imaginative souls who give of themselves – often for the benefit others. I have known Piscean nurses, musicians, actors, alcoholics and addicts. The theme of self sacrifice is strong even if it sometimes plays out badly and becomes self destruction.

Pisces are not always so selfless however – I have met Neptune influenced business people too – they seem to have their finger on the pulse in more ways than one. There is no doubt, however that the motivation for most Pisceans is to live the dream – whatever their dream is – and that means escaping into their own dream world. For Pisces, dreams are reality and if they are fortunate their dreams will be realised.

I have seen Pisces people realise their dreams in many ways. I have friends who spend most of their lives on a boat – literally at sea. Others turn their efforts to creating a glamorous party lifestyle, mixing only with those who can support them in their dream world. Pisces have few, if any, boundaries and surprisingly – for a sign renowned for it’s selfless and compassionate qualities – they can be quite happy living vicariously on the resources and reputations of others.

What they all seem to share is a reluctance to be ‘down to earth’ and I have seen many of them have issues with their feet, as if contact with the ground causes them fear and physical pain. Flat shoes are not for Pisces girls – high heels ensure as little of you touches the earth as possible! And look at the little old Pisces lady – she has no problems walking around her apartment but cannot move out of doors without support – she simply does not trust her feet to connect to the ground.

So, towards the end of the Pisces month, here I am, grounded (ironically) and set apart because I need to heal. I like to think of myself as a grounded person – my chart is dominated by earthy houses and Saturn has a towering presence. Yet, here I am helpless with my head spinning on painkillers and my world seems disconcertingly unreal and confused.

It’s in this condition that I’ve realised that maybe I’ve been too earthbound in the past and maybe it’s time to go with the flow, accept and transcend my earthly limitations and go with my dreams. Pisces is about letting go – of the things that hold you back and stop you enriching your life at a profound level. Pisceans, no matter how universally compassionate, will always put themselves at the centre of their own universe – and there is the lesson to us all. It’s not at all selfish to put yourself in a position where you can reach out to everyone – including yourself.

© Sara Shipman 2019


Neptune and the Ocean of Dreams

Neptune, bringer of creative dreams and the nightmare of addiction. How can we learn to accept the things we cannot see?

This week I’ve been suffering from flu. Fever, cough, chills – all the things we associate with the flu virus. On the bright side however, illness is a great time to have some ‘me’ time – though not from choice – and as I lay there musing and having crazy feverish dreams, I wondered about the nature of viruses. We cannot see them yet they are all around us and have the ability to pass through our boundaries to make us incredibly weak. I decided they were the most Neptunian of organisms – completely invisible, they swarm our defences and make us feel completely unlike our normal selves.

That, in essence, is Neptune, ruler of Pisces and the Twelfth House, the planet that takes us away from normality and allows us to construct an alternative reality – without being aware of what is really happening. Neptune is a generational planet – none of us will live long enough to see a Neptune return – so, by sign, we share the ways in which Neptune‘s energies are expressed with our peers. However, at the individual level, Neptune affects us all too.

By house position in every persons chart, Neptune shows where you may be blind to the things you really should be paying more attention to. To give you some examples, in the Fourth House, you may neglect your home or family, in the Sixth House it’s possible to ignore signs of ill health or maybe have a disordered lifestyle or with Neptune in the Tenth House you may feel you need to drop out of society in some way. Neptune makes you want to escape from all that is mundane, ordered, responsible and routine by taking your mind to a different place entirely. You simply don’t notice the things you need to do.

It’s not for nothing that Neptune is associated with altering the mind. From being easily distracted from rather dull daily tasks, to drug and alcohol abuse induced abdication of responsibilities to yourself and others, Neptune has all bases covered and provides you with a wealth of excuses as to why you behave a you do. ‘I couldn’t help it’, says the Neptune in you, if indeed, you say anything at all. Neptune ghosts, evading the tough call every time.

It’s this aspect of Neptune that lies at the root of it’s more negative manifestations. Your mind wants to take you to a different world, a world of dreams and you feel helpless and ensnared, after all who doesn’t want to live the dream? The problem is this – Neptune‘s dreams can come at a price and when the only way you can feed those dreams is through addiction, whether it’s some form of substance abuse, gambling or even sexual addiction, that’s a high price to pay for that brief moment of touching the stars.

So there you have it. Neptune can be an infection in your soul, making you drift aimlessly across it’s ocean of dreams until one day you wake up to find you’re lost. No bearings, no horizon and no comprehension of how you got there. How could this have happened to you? Neptune habitually takes us to it’s own realm – the place where we find it most difficult to understand what is happening in our lives so instead we often surrender ourselves to the Neptunian mist and remain in limbo.

One thing you have to realise about Neptune is the very thing I alluded to in my opening paragraph. It’s invisibility. This quality of Neptune‘s is the thing that makes it so hard for us to own our Neptune side. Now for those who don’t have a particularly strong Neptune in their chart that’s maybe less of a problem, however for those of you who have, for example, Neptune in an Angular House, Neptune in the Twelfth House, Neptune conjunct Sun or Moon, even many of you with the Sun or Moon in Pisces – I have a favourite phrase for this and it’s this – ‘a bad case of Neptune‘. A life filled with Neptunian issues can be problematic, largely because there is such a reluctance to face reality and admit there is a problem in the first place.

Facing up to Neptunian issues can be a struggle – yet paradoxically – Neptune is a planet of healing. The key to overcoming Neptune‘s negative manifestations lies in acceptance – the ultimate expression of Neptunian energy. Acceptance means, at heart, accepting yourself for who you are. it’s only then you can learn to accept the world as it is and other people as they are too.

That’s not to say that acceptance equates with putting up with your current state of oblivion. Neptune asks you to look into your soul – all the outer planets require soul work and Neptune is no exception – and ask yourself to accept who you are at the deepest level. We use our addictions to hide away from ourselves, it’s only by confronting them we make peace with our soul.

If that sounds trite I apologise, however, Neptune offers solutions to help us heal, regardless of the scale of the problems we may face. Once you have made the effort to make unconscious Neptune a positive and conscious force for good in your life, you can start to overcome your own issues – after all they’re your issues not Neptune‘s. Owning your Neptunian side actually means coming clean with yourself.

So is the solution to a Neptune influenced crisis in your life even more Neptune? Well, we all carry the potential to express our planetary energies in both positive and negative ways – and they’re not mutually exclusive. Neptune grants you spiritual qualities. Some may find religious faith helps them overcome adversity, others may practice yoga, meditation or mindfulness techniques. Again, the key is taking your mind to another plane – only this time the goal is self awareness not self destruction. Neptune can be your spiritual guide, making you receptive to the world rather than blotting it out and in that way, the things you found so difficult – your daily life and it’s responsibilities – become a form of spiritual practice.

Neptune is therefore asking you to love and worship the life you have on this earth but certainly not to abandon your dreams. In a positive way, this can mean you find joy in artistic expression. Music, poetry, drama, art – whether you simply enjoy looking, listening or watching or whether you take things further and find an outlet for your own creative expression, Neptune guides the way and Neptune‘s ‘infection’ becomes inspiration.

Equally, many people with strong Neptune influences find their lives have meaning working in the healing professions – not just conventional medicine but often as practitioners of alternative medicine and therapies. This drive to help and heal comes from Neptune‘s quality of universal love in all it’s forms and it is one which carries the promise of redemption.

As I conclude this article, I’m glad that the flu virus gave me the ‘time out’ to share my thoughts on Neptune with you. Being ill at home and thus detached from my usual daily routine was, perhaps, what I needed to get this done – then again, maybe it was the meds…

© Sara Shipman