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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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!

Gemini Rising: The Write Stuff

Gemini Rising? You’ve probably written half a dozen blog posts today, had ideas for half a dozen more and are considering your options…

So, there I was yesterday with my creative juices in full flow, writing a chapter of my new book. Not, I hasten to add, the book I told about in an earlier blog post (‘When Saturn Comes Home to Roost‘), but an even newer book. It is the first in a series of books and the pleasure I felt while planning each one – the text layout, the cover artwork – was as good as writing the text itself. Not that I’ve abandoned the first book – far from it – it’s mapped out and is many thousands of words to the good. It’s just that, well, I had this idea and simply had to run with it…

That folks, is a Gemini Ascendant in action. Suffice to say right now I’m also project managing a new house build, spending large amounts of time in the car going to visit my elderly mother and then there’s the dog to walk… Gemini rising is never short of things to do – in fact the more things there are to do the better Gemini rising likes it – though he or she will also complain bitterly about being so busy while adding yet another item to their multitasking schedule. Boredom is anathema to Gemini rising.

Ruled by that flighty planet Mercury, those of you born with a Gemini Ascendant see the world through a mercurial lens. Mental agility, the ability to keep all of your numerous projects in the air at any one time is a cool characteristic to own and it extends not only to the things you do but the things you think and say. Gemini rising, whatever the individual’s Sun sign, bestows on the bearer a restless, inquisitive nature and a need to communicate about anything that catches their interest for even (and often) the briefest of moments. And it is a real need – Gemini Ascendants need to experience life through their mental peregrinations to feel it’s all been worthwhile.

Constant stimulation is a necessity for Gemini rising – and they are generally stimulating people to be around as their wealth of interests makes them interesting people. Masters and mistresses of doing two things at once, the duality of Gemini is unmistakeable. This, and all the qualities of your Gemini side are, as with all rising signs, consciously projected outward into the world. And Gemini rising has to be connected to the outside world – without a smartphone they would not survive. Rolling news, a need to know, passing on information, Gemini rising is a social creature – even if this manifests as simply a liking for gossip and hours spent on social media. Gemini rising is therefore perceived by others as a sociable, multifaceted and versatile. More often than not, they are also considered amusing and engaging if somewhat shallow – even if this particular Ascendant masks a more shy, retiring or deeper personality underneath.

It is said Gemini Ascendants are not only quick of mind but agile and dextrous. This doesn’t make them Olympic sprinters – they’re not generally regarded as one of the sporty signs – but in general there seems to be a ‘quickness’ about them. Personally, I’m always rather sceptical about descriptions of particular physical attributes by sign as, seriously folks, I think this belongs in the realm of biology. However, as a Gemini rising, I can tell you I walk quickly and have a good degree of manual dexterity. My own take on this is I think perhaps those of us blessed with a Gemini Ascendant process information quickly – and maybe that includes our physical responses too.

If there’s a downside to Gemini rising it is this; it’s very easy for people born with this Ascendant sign to become a dilettante, a ‘Jack (or Jill) of all trades’. Developing focus can be difficult for Gemini rising as it’s so difficult to commit to a single course of action/hobby/career/relationship when there are so many options available. If there’s a key however to resolving this issue (and not all Gemini rising people will want to as, quite frankly, life can be fun for a social butterfly) it lies in the rest of your birth chart, particularly in the condition of your natal Sun. Find your passion in life as directed by your Solar potentials, and integrate this with the qualities of your Gemini Ascendant. The result will be a great sense of inner joy. Not easy for a Gemini rising…

So, have I, as a Gemini rising, found a way to integrate my Solar and Ascendant qualities? Well, Astrology is a passion and has been for decades and here I am writing about it like a true Gemini rising. Yes, I’ve been distracted by many things along the way but I’m firmly of the opinion that such things add to life’s great tapestry (now there’s an idea for a new hobby…) and all experiences are ultimately a good thing. As for the new book I’m writing (as I mentioned earlier) it’s the first of a series of books the subject of which is Sun, Moon and Rising Signs. I’m beginning with Aries (of course) as my chart ruler Mercury falls in my sixth house so getting things in the right order is just how it has to be.

Oh, before I forget, having a Gemini Ascendant places your Seventh House cusp in Sagittarius. This is your relationship house and you may find yourself attracted to partners with Sagittarian characteristics, the complement to your own Gemini side. You may find your one to one relationships reflect Sagittarius in some way e.g. they are long distance, you met in a foreign place, you have multiple marriages etc. I’m going to be writing a different article on relationships in future so won’t dwell on this too long here but my own experience? For what it’s worth I’ve had two marriages, one to an actual Sagittarian and one to someone of a different nationality who was multilingual. Relationships to those who have the traits of the sign opposite your Rising Sign are not uncommon – now there’s an idea for another book!

© Sara Shipman

Astrology: Ten Steps to Self Awareness

If you want to get to know yourself, astrology can be your new best friend.

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 when you look at them all together you get a very good blueprint of the person you were born to be.

It’s often very easy for us to focus on the parts of ourselves we like and ignore the bits we don’t like quite so much. However, unless we are prepared to acknowledge all of the qualities that make us who we are and accept the parts of ourselves we find the most troublesome, we will never fulfil our true potential. By looking closely at what each planet signifies, what sign it occupies and where it’s located in your natal chart, we can come to better understand how complex we are as human beings and how each part of us represented by the planetary energies contributes to the whole person.

So, without further delay, lets remind ourselves of what each of the ten astrological planets represents in astrology. Learning how each one works in your life – and using your knowledge to ensure their energies are expressed as well as possible – is your own 10 step program to better self awareness and understanding.

Sun

Regardless of sign, the Sun represents the basic essence of your character – your personality. It’s the energy you radiate out into the world, your own personal star at the core of your unique solar system. The Sun is your ego – it lights up your self esteem and if you’re that way inclined, your self importance. It governs your pride – and we all know the difference between being proud of our achievements and well, just being proud.

Understanding how your Sun‘s energy works according to it’s Sign and house position is the key to you becoming aware of how you express your Sun. Solar traits can be acted out in both positive and negative ways. The more conscious you are of your own character, the easier it is to combat the expression of negative traits by bringing them to light and accepting yourself as you are. After all, the Sun is your consciousness – it is the energy that makes you aware if yourself as a unique person. It gives you the strength to carry on in life and it prompts you to follow your instincts to move your life forward. It is your source of confidence, courage and creative expression. Use it well.

Moon

As the Sun gives out, the Moon takes in. According to it’s sign, the Moon governs your emotional responses, your sense of security, the things that make your comfortable – and otherwise. It’s pretty clear from this that getting to know your Moon is a great way of upping your levels of emotional intelligence. However, the Moon is unconscious and instinctive and it’s not always easy to bring your deepest emotions and needs to light – especially as the Moon has a dark side – those emotions and feelings we are happy to repress as they’re sometimes to hard to deal with.

So, a great way to learn to use your Moon wisely is to understand that it’s sign and house position gives you the clue how to best process your responses to the world around you. Being comfortable with life and emotionally balanced is always preferable to hiding your more difficult feelings away on the ‘dark side’.

Mercury

Mercury, ruler of Gemini and Virgo, is where and how you make contact with the world. How you communicate in all ways – speech, movement, transportation – even your choice of car and phone will owe a great deal to the sign that rules your natal Mercury and it’s house position in your natal chart. Mercury by sign governs how you use and enjoy language, the books you read – or not.

Mercury is the planet of curiosity and by sign and house position it tells you a great deal about how you take in and process information, organise your thoughts – and organise yourself. You need Mercury to make decisions, to evaluate between one course of action or another, to understand those handy instruction booklets that come with every appliance – and to process and understand everyday life itself. Without Mercury your life would be a lonely place – hey, we all need someone to talk to.

Venus

And we all need someone to love. There is a tendency in astrology to think of Venus purely in terms of relationships as Venus is the goddess of love. It is true, Venus according to sign does indeed tell you a great deal about your approach to relationships – and love relationships in particular. Venus shows who and what you find attractive but to focus on this to the exclusion of all else is selling Venus short.

Your Venus house placement is a pointer to your basic values in life – the things that are truly important to you at a fundamental level, as well as the things that give you pleasure. By sign, Venus governs your personal tastes, is an indicator of your artistic and aesthetic inclinations as Venus loves to create beauty and order – some of which may simply be in the eye of the beholder. And Venus is, of course, happy to splash cash to do so – your Venus by sign is a good indicator of your attitudes to material things – especially money – and her house position shows where you may be spending it.

Mars

Every Venus needs a Mars we are told – and yes, it’s true. Venus may rule romance but Mars represents your most basic go getting drive – the force that propels you after the things you want, whether it’s a person, an object, a personal goal – whatever is, Mars wants to ‘win’ – and I use that word in the broadest sense as in ‘to go after and get’. Mars is your most basic survival instinct and your Mars sign shows how your Martian side behaves. Your sex drive, your competitiveness, how well you control your temper (or not), the ways and force with which you assert yourself will be determined by the nature of your natal Mars sign. Natal Mars by house will show the part of your life where those Mars energies are most likely to act out.

At this point, I’m going to add a brief note about Mars and Venus. Traditionally they are associated with male and female archetypes, and it was thought men found it hard to express their Venus and vice versa. I don’t hold with that view – regardless of gender or sexual orientation for that matter, we are all capable of expressing Venus and Mars energies is a positive manner and should strive to do so. Remember, as I said earlier, those energies are part of you and should be honoured.

Jupiter

Jupiter is a social animal – and your Jupiter sign shows how you seek to take more of the world into your life. At an everyday level, your Jupiter sign tells you how you may go about acquiring knowledge or any activity that expands your boundaries. So, your attitudes to long distance travel, higher education, anything foreign or alien to you – by which I mean anything that takes you out of your habitual or fallback position – are governed by your Jupiter sign. Jupiter is the force that moves you onward and upward in life. If you feel stuck in a rut? Check out your natal Jupiter and discover how, by sign, you express your Jupiter energies and by house, where they may be best deployed.

If you’ve been frustrated with your life to date, or lacked optimism, you may have been overlooking your Jupiter potentials. You may need to trust not only your own abilities, but also how other people will respond to your efforts. You may need to approach life in a more optimistic frame of mind and make an effort to improve your life. Getting to know Jupiter can be great way of opening your mind to the possibilities that are out there and developing the wisdom you need to be truly happy in life – and have a sense of humour too.

Saturn

Saturn is the complement to Jupiter. Often viewed as the depressing polar opposite to the bringer of joy, Saturn is actually like green vegetables – essential for your wellbeing though you’d rather be eating something else. By sign, Saturn shows you how you approach responsibility, dedication and hard work and tells you a great deal about your attitudes to authority. Saturn in some signs may find it more difficult to deal with rules and regulations than others and if that applies to you look closely at how Saturn can help you develop self control and self discipline. Regardless of sign, that potential is always there with Saturn.

Saturn by sign governs your attitude to commitment, the ways in which you are reminded of your limits and how you approach being part of society. Saturn by house is also however, an indicator of the things you like to avoid doing, where you procrastinate in life, what you fear and try to ignore. Facing up to those things and simply getting on with them is perhaps the greatest lesson you learn – often our limitations are self imposed and using Saturn’s energies well helps you to simply get over yourself. It hurts to hear that but sometimes it needs to be said.

Uranus

Uranus is the first of the ‘generational’ planets – so called as the outer planets move slowly in the heavens. That, however, doesn’t prevent Uranus from having some personal input in your chart as it’s influence will be felt, according to it’s sign but more specifically in the house it occupies in your natal chart – and often it will be felt in a very disconcerting way. Uranian energy is disruptive and where Uranus falls in your birth chart indicates the area of your life where you experience change – often unexpectedly – and potentially significant stress. However for some people they welcome the excitement that Uranus can bring – and in this approach perhaps lies the solution to dealing with the disruption Uranus brings to our lives.

Learning to embrace Uranian energy is perhaps the best way to deal with it however, that’s not always easy as it involves having to accept changes that are often uncomfortable. Uranus can eject you out of your comfort zone with astonishing speed but the purpose of this – as it is with all of our difficulties – is to get us to discard the outworn in our lives, accept new situations and discover they’re not so bad after all.

Neptune

It’s difficult to describe Neptune‘s energy as well, energy. In fact it’s difficult to describe Neptune at all. Another generational planet, Neptune will, of course, express it’s energies according to it’s sign but by it’s house placement it shows the area of your life where you find it hard to stay in the present. The planet of escapism and dreams, Neptune can be inspirational, creative or plain addictive and delusional and it can be the most difficult planetary energy to deal with as it feels so elusive. The house where Neptune is situated can feel like a soap opera – but even that tells you one glaringly obvious thing: unless you let go of the people and emotions that keep turning your drama into a crisis you will never find the inner peace you need and that’s really the place Neptunian energy wants you to flow towards. And sometimes you really do need to get real and enforce a few boundaries. It’s not always as dull as you imagine.

Pluto

Finally, the darkest energy of all. The outermost planet (in astrological terms), is associated with raw primeval energy – the dark side of our existence – and as such, Plutonian energy is very difficult for many people to own up to. Again, Pluto‘s energy is influenced by it’s sign but at an individual level it’s most noticeable in the house it occupied at the time of your birth. Depending on it’s house placement, Pluto‘s energy can erupt as almost any form of obsession. Pluto in your natal chart shows where you need to be in control – largely because underneath it all you feel powerless or out of control. From this you can see it can be incredibly self destructive – both to yourself and others – erupting as jealousy, manipulation, bullying, coercion and a host of things, all of which you would not want to experience being on the receiving end.

A great way – in fact the only way – of dealing with your Pluto energy is to meet it head on. Pluto wants you to look deep inside yourself and root out the fears, phobias and obsessions that have taken over your life – and which you so often project onto others – and transform your life by accepting yourself as you are – warts and all. This is the legacy of Pluto – the ability to heal using unrelenting honesty as your medicine.

So, in this article , I hope I’ve given you some insight into how astrology works at a very personal level to enlighten you to your own character. Of course the subject of astrology as a whole is rich complex and diverse – in a blog post I can only scratch the surface. However, If you feel like exploring further, keep following this blog – I’ll be adding further posts and pages for you to read and, hopefully, enjoy.

© Sara Shipman