Neptune and the Ocean of Dreams

Neptune, bringer of creative dreams and the nightmare of addiction. How can we accept that which 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

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

Uranus – Chaos Has Come Again…

Uranus is the planet of freedom, liberation and overturning the established order. As Uranus enters Taurus don’t expect a revolution – it’s here already…

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 decision (the wall, federal government shut down, the hirings and firings and above all, those tweets…) and thought, ‘Well, that will never happen here’. Fast forward about two and a half years and here we are. UK in what seems like a revolutionary crisis, USA the same and a whole host of other nations too. It’s like the world has literally gone mad.

So, What’s that got to do with Uranus? Can the planets really affect world events? Am I really crazy just even thinking that? The answers my friends are 1. Everything. 2. Yes. 3. No. My apologies as that’s a tad superficial – however in my defence, Uranus is always one for a rapid response – so, lets try and put all Uranian impulses aside for a moment and drill deeper to try and work out why things are as they are.

To try and make some sense of this, I consulted an ephemeris to find out where Uranus is currently having an effect. Uranus orbits the Sun once every 84 years. If we are fortunate, that’s once in a lifetime (though increasingly, many of us are still around to witness a Uranus return). So, over that period, Uranus spends around seven years transiting through each sign of the Zodiac, disrupting world events, often in the manner appropriate to the meanings carried within each Astrological sign – or not. Uranus is like that – nothing if not unpredictable.

So, right now, Uranus is finishing up in Aries and about to enter Taurus. However, where Taurus is concerned, Uranus has been there before. For the past couple of years, Uranus has been hovering over the cusp of Aries/Taurus, mostly in the late degrees of Aries, but also passing into Taurus for the first time in 84 years during the summer and autumn of 2018. I’m going to take a moment now to remind you of some of the essential characteristics of Aries and Taurus. Aries is urgent, direct, warlike, assertive, brave yet often reckless. Taurus is materially inclined, stable, concerned with resources and values. It’s not too hard to see how this is working out in the Brexit arguments – ‘Remainers’ accuse ‘Leavers’ of being reckless (Aries) with the UK’s economic future while ‘Leavers’ (paradoxically sore winners!) demand ‘liberation’ (Uranus) from what they perceive as a restrictive EU – a body which is arguably Taurus personified.

When Uranus acts as the connector between the qualities of the two signs, Aries and Taurus, strange things happen. Uranus is essentially about change, and Uranus really doesn’t care about how that change occurs (or what happens as a consequence) the only sure thing is that whatever the change is that it’s revolutionary in some way – it’s rapid, unexpected, chaotic and often social in nature. Uranus encapsulates ‘group-think’ through it’s rulership of Aquarius, so one way or another Uranian change – which can seem so impersonal as it so often operates at a societal level – affects us all and reminds us we are part of the collective too.

So, getting back to today’s chaotic events, (particularly Brexit and Trump) where can we see the hand of Uranus in our current affairs? In 2016, a momentous year that saw the Brexit Vote and Trump elected, Uranus spent much of the year making stations in the last ten degrees of Aries. Still some way from the cusp with Taurus but moving ever closer and close enough for one of the most characteristic things about a Uranus transit to become noticeable – Uranus is noted for jumping the gun. When Uranus is approaching a planet or point by transit, there is often an event that is shocking in some way. It bucks the trend, seems to come out of the blue – but really it doesn’t. What Uranus is really doing is bringing something to light that challenges our expectations in some way – and this event is often the signifier of change to come rather than the change itself.

The shocking event becomes identified as the starting point for the changes to come – and right now, we can see how the fall out from those two fairly unexpected events in recent history is getting more chaotic as each day passes and Uranus comes closer to changing signs. Neither of those votes was supposed to go the way that they did, and in true Uranian style, the winning side in each case has become identified as a social, collective, populist movement protesting against that most Taurus of things, ‘the elite’. Yet, we can see clearly the Uranian paradox that both campaigns appear to have been orchestrated by the rich and powerful – so symbolically Taurus with their vested interests to the fore. Uranus has harnessed Arian energy – and sometimes violence – and pointed it at all things Taurus, yet in a typically Uranian fashionis happy to heap all the paradoxes and hypocrisies before us in a morally ambiguous pile for someone else to sort out.

So, right now we have ‘people’s movements’ headed by the ‘uber-rich’; governments that cannot or will not govern, isolationism masquerading as globalism, greed presenting itself as opportunity and opinion presenting itself as fact. There seems, no longer, to be any such thing as truth – blind faith has primacy over facts. It’s a mess, that we can all agree, but where’s it headed? The only thing I can say with certainty is it’s most likely headed to a new way of looking at the world. What that will be or how it will manifest I cannot tell you, however we can cast our eyes at history for clues as to what has happened in the past – and hopefully how we can try and avoid making the same mistakes again.

If we look back 84 years, we find ourselves in the 1930’s. Europe was in the grip of right wing populist movements and the US was pursuing a policy of isolationism. As today, ordinary people were suffering from economic hardship together with employment and financial insecurity. Many people lived hand to mouth while at the top end of the social scale the rich enjoyed wealth unimaginable to the working man and woman. As Uranus transited through Aries towards the cusp of Taurus, Hitler and Mussolini swept to power in Europe, with all the military trappings and power they could muster – and the rest is history. It is, I hope, an extreme example of the kind of ‘zeitgeist’ Uranus can inflame.

So, as Uranus finally moves into Taurus in March 2019, that period of change will be upon us. Unlike Aries, Taurus is slow and stubborn and it seems likely for a while we will remain entrenched in our respective positions unwilling to see the concerns of others from any perspective other than our own point of view. We are already divided and a compromise position seems very far away. Uranus affects the collective unconscious like no other planet and right now it seems we are in a war of social, political and moral values with no clear end in sight. We may even have to wait until Uranus approaches Gemini (another 7 years) before we can face each other again and get talking and listening.

In the meantime, I think we need to focus on what Uranus is really trying to tell us and it is simply this. We cannot go on as we have been doing in the years (if not decades) leading up to this point – and that includes wasting our natural resources and threatening life on earth – including our own. Good stewardship of the natural world is also a Taurean concern. If Uranus does one thing, it is this: it is to remind you that you, the individual are part of something more important than you so get over yourself – it’s not about you. Idealistic Uranus wants you/us to wake up to the issues that are really important for society to deal with and, to use a current and very future oriented phrase, ‘stay woke’. How we do this and how it pans out, none of us can tell. However, one way or another, Uranus will surprise us all, in ways we may find shocking or liberating and maybe not altogether pleasant in the short term – the choice is ours.

© Sara Shipman

This is the Age of Aquarius?

Aquarius sees the world as a place of endless possibility. During the month of astrological Aquarius, the days grow longer and the promise of a new beginning is in the air…

In answer to the question, technically no, but for the next few weeks, Aquarius is where it’s at as our Capricorn month is over.. Personally, I feel a great boost around this time of year. With an Aquarian Moon (on the Midheaven and conjunct Saturn, but that particular combination is for another post…), when the Sun passes over that point in late January it’s a very noticeable moment. Like a personal awakening, for me it’s when the year really begins.

When the Sun transits over the Natal position of the Moon in anyones chart, it’s enough to make many of us appreciate, astrologically speaking, that it’s a really sensitive and receptive place in our lives. For me, one of the most notable things about having an Aquarian Moon in my own chart is how many Sun Aquarians, whose birthdays mean their Natal Suns fall close to or on my Moon/Midheaven/Saturn conjunction, appear in my life on a regular basis. The Sun/Moon dynamic does, as many of you will have read elsewhere, often lead to relationships of all kinds, however, I have a confession. Though they are all lovely people, I have found relationships (whether it’s friendships, romances, business – or anything else) with these wonderful Aquarians to be more difficult than you would imagine. They seem to get under my skin – and not always in a good way.

The issue? Quite unwittingly, they activate my Moon/Saturn/Midheaven conjunction in a way that’s well, Aquarian. I’ll be honest – I find them captivating. Yet, however much I want to be with them I find them uncomfortable in some way. They have my devotion – yet give me little in return. It’s one way traffic, leaving them free to do as they wish without having to give of themselves in any way. They also seem to have a knack of making me question myself – sometimes painfully – yet can also be some of the most interesting people I know. All of them however, in some way, seem to be able to push me out of my comfort zone which, with my Natal Moon and her companion, has not always been the most comfortable of zones! (At this point while writing I was interrupted as an order of LED lightbulbs arrived at my door. Hello Uranus/Aquarius…)

To continue, I appreciate my Natal Moon operates very powerfully in my chart – more than usual for many people, so don’t imagine for a second that it’s usual for Aquarians to rub people up the wrong way! What my sensitivity to Aquarius gives me in fact, is a great awareness to the qualities of that particular sign. My Aquarian acquaintances are simply being Aquarian – and it’s the nature of Aquarius, ruled by Uranus, to be provocative. And challenging, magnetic, electrifying, stubborn, singular and so, so very idiosyncratic. But also kind, to the whole of humankind – just not necessarily me. Or you – at an individual level.

This brings me back to where I originally planned to be. For me personally and for the world, Aquarius is where we (literally) have our light bulb moments and over the next few weeks we will see one of the wonderful paradoxes of the natural world. In the depths of winter it starts to get lighter. Things start moving underground and poking through the frozen earth, seeking light and air. Aquarius brings things forth, not necessarily in a big, showy, ‘look at me’ way but the germs of ideas, the beginnings of things that will grow and change. The things that often change our lives at at collective level, are found in the Uranian qualities of Aquarius.

I think it’s also fair to point out that during the next few weeks of Aquarius we are likely to see, at the collective level, some light bulb moments and periods of great change and unrest, particularly here in the UK and, indeed, across the western world. Aquarius is a political sign aligned with revolutionary Uranus and as that planet is now transiting close to the cusp of Taurus, the sign of established order, I think many of us can perhaps see with increasing clarity, where 2019 could be heading. That particular Transit is, of course, worthy of it’s own post – and one will be arriving soon.

However, let me close with a final thought. Sometimes we need to take a risk and do something a little left of field in order to push ourselves forward. The beginning of the year is a great time to do this – when we’re fresh with ideas, energy and the will to get things moving. Those of you with major planets in Aquarius or a strong Uranus may, like me, feel little cosmic burst of energy that gets you thinking about the future and if it involves a sudden or unexpected change of direction so much the better. Use your Aquarian time well; moments when we can seize the initiative can be rare.

© Sara Shipman

We Look to the Stars…

Capricorn in astrology marks the depths of Midwinter. During those short days and long nights we crave the light and turn our faces to the coming year…

We’re now a couple of weeks into the New Year, the weather is turning cold and in a few days the Sun will leave Capricorn and enter the sign of Aquarius. Like most of you, I guess I’ve spent the past month either preparing for or recovering from Xmas, so it’s only now I’m getting around to some of my New Year’s resolutions, the first of which is to welcome you to Starcrazy Pie!

This may seem strange, deriving the name of an Astrology Blog from a Cornish Fish Pie but let me run with this and tell you the tale of a Christmas delicacy that looks to the stars…

Many years ago, the story goes, during a wild and stormy winter, the villagers in the Cornish village of Mousehole were starving. Their fishing boats were unable to go to sea and, as the villagers relied on fish for their livelihood and staple diet, their Christmastide looked bleak. However, a hardy soul, one Tom Bawcock, decided to brave the elements and returned safely to port with a huge catch, enough for all the village to enjoy. To celebrate their good fortune (and to honour Tom Bawcock), the villagers cooked up a great feast, the centrepiece of which was a ‘Stargazey Pie’, with the fish poking their heads through the great crust to look at the stars. Every 23rd December, the locals still celebrate ‘Tom Bawcocks Eve’ with this feast.

It’s a great story, whether true or not, and given the date on which the tale is set, it’s not hard to find a link between the Cornish celebration and the myriad of winter feasts and celebrations which take place during the time of Capricorn, Christmas included. At this, the darkest time of the year, we – very appropriately – indulge ourselves in Saturnalia. I say ‘appropriately’ as our entire Capricorn month is dominated by the traditional festivals of Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn. Saturnalia, in all it’s forms, is a reminder of the essential nature of Saturn.

After a long year of hard work, Saturn rewards us with time off. Relaxation. R&R. However you want to describe it the point is, quite simply, the daily grind is suspended – however temporarily. As a reward for hard work, Saturn allows you to let your hair down, to enjoy yourself in whatever way your local custom dictates. And that’s also the point – ‘Saturnalia’ is a always a public festival, ordered by well worn traditions. For example, if Christmas is your thing you know how it goes – whether you are religious or otherwise, your festivities follow a well worn path. This is no spontaneous party, it’s a well planned event, usually demanding a great deal of hard work to produce the appropriate amount of pleasure. And every year, I suspect your family party will follow a familiar and comforting routine. No surprises. During the month of Capricorn we know what to expect and what is expected of us.

That’s not to say, however, that we feel no need to rebel. During our midwinter ‘festivals of light’, we often drink too much, eat too much, have family arguments and of course we often spend too much, to the extent we often spend January counting the cost of our Christmas excess. And this is so Saturn. We spend the year working hard, we get time off to enjoy ourselves (within limits) but do not imagine Saturn gives you anything free of charge. Pleasure is always tempered by some form of sacrifice. When the decorations have been put away suddenly everything looks drab and you can be very aware, with alarming immediacy, of how much hard work lies ahead of you in the coming year. The New Year may not always feel happy during the period of Capricorn.

However, Saturn‘s challenge to us is to make us face up to our responsibilities – and that’s not always a bad thing. As the time of Capricorn progresses, Saturn prompts you to realise what’s important in your life – and that can always be a good thing. After the party, when the hangover has subsided and you feel ready to face the world, Saturn gives you focus. Suddenly you know what is important to you. Your New Year’s resolutions owe a great deal to Saturn – after all, resolve is nothing if not Capricornian in nature.

So, this year, I resolved to start this blog, continue writing the book I began last year and have planned new writing projects for this year. I’ve planned to restructure my day job and, of course, give up chocolate, wine and, of course, exercise more, etc… And here we are in mid January. And how are my resolutions going? Some better than others, but, it has to be said, for me, Capricorn time seems to be a time of decision making not implementation. For that, I need the urgency of Aquarius. With Saturn, you need to tie up your loose ends before moving on and as we approach our Aquarian month, I feel excited at the prospect of making some changes. Well planned changes of course. Saturn is still in charge – for a couple of days yet.

© Sara Shipman