Astrological Magic with Nina Gryphon
Dinner and Drinks is back in February, welcoming Nina Gryphon as our guest of honor! Join us Thursday, Feb 20 to chat all things astrological magic.
From magical electional rules to the myriad of talisman types, Nina is bringing her years of experience and expertise to the table to answer all your questions.
To learn more about Nina and check out her Magical Elections podcast.
Join us Thursday, Feb 20 at 9:30 EST/6:30 PST for an online Q&A based discussion that’s free and open to everyone! Click here to join the zoom meeting HERE.
AYA GIVEAWAY: Free Solar Fire!
To mark the Winter Solstice, The Association for Young Astrologers is offering a free copy of Solar Fire software to one its members!
We will be holding a lottery among our members to pick the winner. To enter the lottery, please submit your Lot of Spirit – both Sign and Degree.
You are welcome to email your lot of spirit to us at email@example.com.
Solar Fire Software Requirements:
PC or compatible computer with Intel processor (or equivalent) (you can also run on MAC with a special program that enables you to run PC programs)
Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10: 1 GB RAM minimum, 2 GB of RAM or more recommended.
About 200 MB of free disk space for a full installation.SVGA Screen with 800×600 pixels minimum, XGA with 1024×768 pixels or better is recommended; 10-inch screen or larger recommended
Current members of AYA are eligible. If you’re not an AYA member yet, join for $20 annually. We welcome everyone! To join AYA or to check if your membership is still active, head over to this section of our website: JOIN NOW.
The deadline to enter the lottery is 11:59pm EST on December 31st 2019.
Dinner and Drinks with Sam Reynolds: The USA’s Pluto Return
Dinner and Drinks is back in July welcoming Sam Reynolds as our guest of honor! Join us on the evening of Thursday, July 25th.
Sam will be speaking about the upcoming Pluto Return of the United States. It will be exact in 2022. As Pluto slowly approaches this point at 27° Capricorn over the next few years, this return is coming into the orb of effect.
It’s hard to discuss – but the truth is that slavery, racism, economic disparities, and police brutality harken back to the founding of the United States of America. How we grapple with this difficult legacy keeps breaking through in today’s headlines as inequality festers. Local police routinely direct excessive force at black and brown bodies. The USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world. For instance, men who don’t happen to be white are disproportionately locked behind bars while white criminals remain free.
There are no easy answers here…. how plutonian.
Sam will also unpack a problematic insight from Liz Greene’s book on Pluto. The black man has often been cast as an archetypal symbol of Pluto in western culture. Many individuals internalize the black man into their psyche and dreams as a Plutonian symbol. Does this conflation do justice to either black men or to Pluto?
Join AYA for a perspective on the Pluto return that doesn’t shy away from openly acknowledging the wounds of race, slavery, economic disparities, and our relationship to safety & security with policing. Our vision is to create a safe space and container for a dialogue about the pressing issues of our time, and how to understand America’s Plutonian legacy.
Find out more about Sam Reynolds – http://unlockastrology.com/
Call for Board Members
The Association for Young Astrologers is seeking two new board members to join our board: a Social Media Manager as well as a Deputy Webmaster.
Social Media Manager
AYA is seeking a Social Media Manager to work with the board to create an innovative and active social media presence for our organization. The duties of the social media manager will include:
- Tracking the astrology conversation on instagram, commenting on posts as appropriate from the official AYA Account, and coming up with proposals for how AYA can share innovative images with the community
- Post the monthly “Dinner and Drinks” online event on instagram
- Post Thursday Lecture highlights on instagram
- Keep AYA stories updated multiple times per week with
- Dinner and Drinks/other event reminders
- Interesting posts from young astrologers in the community
- Relevant updates on upcoming events that would benefit young astrologers
- Working with the President on a series of intersections between art history and astrology and posting lesser known art with astrological resonances
- Working with the Vice President on how to elevate astrological commentary on Twitter
- Post Dinner and Drinks event on twitter
- Post Thursday Lecture highlights on twitter
- Keep twitter updated with upcoming events at least once a week leading up to event
- Retweeting posts that would be relevant to AYA’s followers
- Engaging and responding to tweets as appropriate
- Attending AYA’s Monthly online Dinner and Drinks gathering
- Working with President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Webmaster to Co-Host the Online Event
- Working with the Vice President to Create the Facebook Event for Dinner and Drinks
- Competence with Photoshop, Canva, or other graphic design software to create dynamic graphics for Facebook event
- Invite friends and members of the community to online Dinner and Drinks events promptly utilizing Facebook’s Friend List and invite features
Voice and Brand
- Working with Vice President to create and maintain a consistent voice and brand across all SM platforms for announcements, captions, etc. The voice of AYA is informal and relaxed, but clear and informative.
In addition to these duties, the Social Media Manager will keep a finger on the pulse of our online astrological community, bringing insights and trends to the board’s attention as relevant. An ideal Social Media Manager is personally active on and familiar with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and well equipped to navigate these platforms easily and organically. This is a collaborative position; innovation and expansion are welcomed and encouraged.
AYA is seeking a Deputy Webmaster to assist its webmaster with maintaining and expanding its website – www.youngastrologers.org.
- Competence with the WordPress interface
- Capacity to devote 10 minutes to make quick adjustments to web content on any given business day
- Willingness to work with the Webmaster on larger projects on weekends, devoting perhaps one hour per weekend
- Uploading video files to the AYA website to expand its archive of video lectures as well as its archive of dinner and drinks sessions
How To Apply
To apply for either position, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org describing:
- Why you you’re excited to join the AYA team
- What makes you a great fit for the position
Please include links to your personal website and any social media handles.
All members of the AYA board work on a volunteer basis as a service to the astrological community.
The deadline for applications is March 20, 2019 at 6pm US Eastern Time: the Aries Ingress.
WEBINAR LOTTERY: Fire: The Heart of Knowing with Darby Costello
WEBINAR LOTTERY: We’re giving away a free webinar to an AYA member!
UPDATE: Congratulations to our winner, Oliver Adam!
We’re partnering with our friends at the Mercury Internet School of Psychological Astrology to give away a free pass to Darby Costello’s webinar, Fire: The Heart of Knowing.
“Fire is the element that represents our ability to know things directly – it shows us our intuitive function. It represents the imaginal realm and is at the heart of our creative lives. It is how we ‘know’ things, directly. In this webinar we shall explore the realm of fire, through its signs, planets and houses.”
The webinar is on Sunday, February 24th at 7:30am Pacific Time, 10:30am Eastern Time, or 3:30pm in England. You can attend live or watch the recording afterwards!
Check out all the details on the webinar here: https://www.mercuryinternetschool.com/24feb2019.html
RULES: Be a member of AYA. That’s it! If you’re not signed up yet, you can do that here(membership is only $20/year and everyone is welcome).
HOW TO ENTER: Cast your lot for the giveaway by sharing your hermetic Lot of Spirit in the comment section below, or by emailing it to email@example.com, by February 20 at 11:59pm EST.
On Thursday, February 21st, the winner will be selected using RNG magic. We will use a randomized number generator to pick a number between 1 and 12, which will be the winning sign. Then we will then use a randomized generator to pick a number between 0 and 29, which will be the winning degree. The lot closest to this degree will be the winner!
To find your Lot of Spirit: you can use astro.com’s Extended Chart Selection, and select the Chart Drawing Style “Astrodienst with Arabic points“. Or you can do it old school and calculate it yourself! Patrick Watson explains the calculation (and much more) here, and Chris Brennan has a classic tutorial here.
Remember, only current AYA members are eligible!
Audaces Fortuna Iuvat… cast your lot!
Dinner and Drinks with Adam Sommer: The Lunar Nodes & Eclipses
Dinner and Drinks with Kenneth Miller: Pluto’s Weird History
As always, this event is free and open to everyone.
Link to join: https://zoom.us/j/436093014
AYA Reads Agrippa: Three Books of Occult Philosophy
Join AYA in an online reading group to discuss planetary magic as taught by Cornelius Agrippa, famed western occultist and author of Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Across three Saturdays we’ll look at several chapters in Three Books of Occult Philosophy that teach the fundamentals of planetary magic. These chapters will cover the basic requirements for completing a planetary ritual and beginning a personal relationship with each planetary spirit.
The reading group conversations will be free and open to the entire astrological community. Below you will find the dates for each reading group, the recommended translation, and the chapters we’re planning to discuss.
Reading Group Meeting Dates
Saturday, October 6th 1pm – 3pm EST
Saturday October 27th 1pm – 3pm EST
Saturday, November 10th 1pm – 3pm EST
First Reading Session – Saturday, October 6th 1pm – 3pm
The first reading will cover:
- Timing for planetary rituals
- Images associated with the planets
- On timing:
- On images:
Second Reading Session – Saturday October 27th 1pm – 3pm
The second reading will cover:
- Materials associated with each planet (example: copper for Venus)
- What each planet can be petitioned for (example: Sun for eminence, Mars for bravery)
- On materials and what a planet can be petitioned for:
- Book I – Chapter xxiii. How we shall know what Stars naturall things are under, and what things are under the Sun, which are called Solary.
- Book I – Chapter xxiv. What things are Lunary, or under the power of the Moon.
- Book I – Chapter xxv. What things are Saturnine, or under the power of Saturne.
- Book I – Chapter xxvi. What things are under the power of Jupiter, and are called Jovial.
- Book I – Chapter xxvii. What things are under the power of Mars, and are called Martial.
- Book I – Chapter xxviii. What things are under the power of Venus, and are called Venereall.
- Book I – Chapter xxix. What things are under the power of Mercury, and are called Mercuriall.
Third Reading Session – Saturday, November 10th 1pm – 3pm
The third reading will cover:
- Names of planetary spirits
- Numbers associated with planets
- Fumigations used for each planet
- Colors of the planets
- The power of mind over matter
- On numbers:
- On names of planetary spirits:
- Book II, Chap. XXII. Of the tables of the Planets, their vertues, forms, and what Divine names, Intelligencies, and Spirits are set over them.
- Book III – Chapter xxiv. Of the names of Spirits, and their various imposition; and of the Spirits that are set over the Stars, Signs, Corners of the Heaven, and the Elements.
- On incense, or fumes
- On colors of the planets
- On mind and intention in magical work
Call for Submissions!
We are now accepting submissions for the third issue of The Ascendant, the official journal of AYA.
We are looking for submissions on topics such as:
- astrological practices in various global geographies
- astrology and intersectionality
- the reconstruction of previously unknown traditional material
- innovations in the application of astrology
- novel perspectives on the philosophical implications of the art
- visual art exploring astrological themes
If you’ve never written before, never fear, our editorial board is a hands-on team to help get your idea polished and ready for ink. Some of our authors have gone on to be published in The Mountain Astrologer. This is a great way to kick-start your astro-publishing career.
Our readers are interested in citations for further reading, so please make sure to footnote your sources according to Chicago Manual of Style 17.
You will be notified as soon as possible of the acceptability of your submission. AYA does not discriminate against authors and artists based on age, race, creed, gender or nationality. AYA is for young astrologers, not of them, and the journal is open to submissions from people of all ages.
Please submit your paper or artwork by January 23rd, 2019. Written submissions should be between 2500–8000 words and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . Art submissions can be black and white or full color. If larger files are being transferred please use a service such as www.wetransfer.com
If you have any questions, contact us at email@example.com
We look forward to seeing you in the pages of The Ascendant!
Your editorial team,
Danny, Nick, and Jenn
Astrology and the Imagination in 1910
“The most wondrous world system ever conceived by the imagination is that of astrology.”
—Count Hermann Keyserling1
In 1910, four years before World War I would rend Europe asunder, prominent philosopher Count Hermann Keyserling gave a public lecture on astrology called “Sterndeutung” that framed astrology in terms of human imagination. I recently translated this lecture for the second volume of The Ascendant, AYA’s annual journal, and I would like to share it here in full, with some brief introductory thoughts about its significance.2
Keyserling’s lecture took place in the earliest years of the revival of astrological practice in Germany. For Keyserling and many others in central Europe, recent developments in scientific inquiry were threatening to rip apart an integrated experience of the world, as Keyserling states, “the more research advances, the more insistently it analyzes the facts, the more inconsistent the universe appears, the more questionable its real coherence.”3
The Natal Chart: A Beginner’s Guide
So, you’re new to astrology and not quite sure where to start? Never fear! We’ve got you covered. Here are some first steps you can take to get started on your journey.
Get Your Natal Chart
Most astrologers start out by learning how to interpret their own natal chart. Most people know what day they were born, but many don’t know the exact time of birth. You’ll need an accurate birth time and location to find out what your rising sign is. You can typically find this information on your birth certificate. If you don’t have your birth certificate handy, learn how to order a copy.
Here are some easy, fast and free ways to get your natal chart:
- Go to Astro.com. Click on Free Horoscopes > Natal Chart/Ascendent. You can create a free registered user profile or create a horoscope as a guest. After registering or continuing as a guest you will see a Birth Data Entry form. Fill out this form and submit it to see your generated natal chart.
- Go to Astrolabe: Free Birthchart and Astrology Report. Enter your birth data into the form and submit it to see your results. Scroll down to view a brief interpretation of your chart. Print the page to save your chart as a PDF file.
Interpreting Your Natal Chart
You’ve got your natal chart… great! But what does it mean? The primary actors in a natal chart can be broken down into Planets, Signs, and Houses. After you understand how these three components work together you’ll quickly move on to learning about other facets of chart interpretation.
These are some great beginner resources for learning about the basic components of an astrological chart:
Op-Ed: A Reflection on Disability in Astrology
by Michael MacLafferty
DISABILITY IS A THEME that appears in astrology usually in reference to a hardship or mishap. For example, tuning in to one of my favorite podcasts, I was a bit taken aback by a guest saying that having a disabled child was one of “these very tragic experiences” that can happen within families.1 It’s not uncommon to portray disability as tragic, and to focus the narrative on the negative impacts on surrounding, non-disabled people. This is not a problem specific to astrology, but a reflection of views pervading the dominant culture. As a disabled person, I would like to see disability treated as an identity, intersecting with other types and levels of privilege. As a psychotherapist, I want to see disability destigmatized, to be recognized as a unique and valuable perspective in society, and for awareness to grow around the language that is used to describe it. As an astrologer, I want to see disability humanized and conceptualized as a multivalent archetype, not merely existing on a list of potential sour transits.
Disability is not a uniform or monolithic experience. Disability consists of an extremely diverse set of cultures. It includes differences of physicality, cognition, sensory processing, and psychological function; some are more readily apparent than others, and there are wide continuums within each. The connecting thread is that disability occurs when appropriate access is not provided by society (according to the social model of disability, in opposition to the historically predominant medical model, which views disability as an inherent problem within an individual body). I am physically disabled (diagnosed with cerebral palsy), and a wheelchair user, so my public access needs primarily revolve around wheelchair access and mobility. Here, I will be speaking very broadly about disability, only scratching the surface of this topic, and do not claim to speak for all disabled people. I am also white, cisgender, and heterosexual, which have also shaped my experience of disability, and conferred a certain amount of privilege, contributing to the opportunity to philosophize and critique the subject I am about to address.
I think it is important to pay attention to the words we use as significations and interpretations, especially how they may belie histories of oppression, and/or reinforce ableist notions. Words like crazy, invalid, mad, infirm, insane, crippled, idiot, maniac, lunatic, and moron have been used by various state agencies in an attempt to exclude, isolate, institutionalize, and eradicate people with physical, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities in the us.2 Many of these words are used casually today as pejoratives and expletives. Astrologers need to be aware of the bias that they are speaking or writing from, and acknowledge the privilege that comes with referencing groups of people they do not identify with.
Throughout his work, twentieth-century astrologer Reinhold Ebertin uses many significations that are problematic in contemporary terms.3 Even though he wrote nearly eighty years ago, it is worth a modern critique because not only are many of the social ideas of his day still alive and well, but they have informed the way we understand planetary archetypes today.
The negative descriptors Ebertin very commonly used in relation to combinations of Neptune are sensitivity, weakness, and illness. I think this betrays a deeply ingrained belief about how the idea of strength is constructed and why it is so valued in society. The implication is that if one is overly sensitive then they are weak by nature, not capable of withstanding the demands of the world, eventually succumbing to some physical or psychic illness, thus impeding them from being a productive member of society. Here we see a sexist bias that values physical power and endurance (conflated with mental/emotional capacity), overlaying the capitalist ideal of deriving a person’s value from their ability to produce.
What is needed is a new appreciation for sensitivity. Many modern astrologers do cast the sensitivity of the Moon and Neptune in a positive light,4 highlighting enhanced access to intuition, creativity/inspiration, or psychic phenomena (and here there is a danger of objectifying or exotifying psychiatric disability). But what about people we deem “too sensitive”? This is a label often hurled at women (and people of color, and any other marginalized group that tries to speak to oppressive language) to excuse behavior that had a negative impact. If there is a strong dissonance, they might get labeled “crazy.” What about the young boy who often cries at disappointment? What about the person who gets migraines from certain types scents or lights, or who needs certain conditions to have a calm nervous system? These are the people who would get slapped with Ebertin’s label of “pathological sensitivity.”5 But what is pathology except a comparison to what we deem normal?
It also strikes me that Ebertin’s negative significations are commonly moralistic. Here are some related to combinations of Neptune: insane, mad ideas, unstable character, pathological tendencies, mental disturbance, weak constitution, mental or emotional illness, epilepsy;6 Venus/Mars/Saturn: abnormal sex, polygamy/adultery;7 Venus/Neptune: wrong ways of love, wrong or misdirected love sensations, sexual aberration, perversions.8 It has ever been the Western way to dominate and marginalize difference from an idealized “normal” by moralizing against it, and it is no coincidence to find supposed physical and mental defects juxtaposed with supposed character deficiency. It should be easy to see that the same reasons for applying a queer critical lens hold up for a disability-focused critique as well. The term “abnormal sex” could easily be applied to the pleasure of either group; disabled sex, inasmuch as it challenges heteronormative ideals, is perverse by definition!
When I first became interested in exploring disability and astrology, I thought that a planetary signature might be found. After hearing Christopher Renstrom speak about the history of searching for “the gay signature,”9 I was sure disability communities shared the mark of Uranus with queer culture.10 What other bodies might be involved? Chiron? Saturn? When I looked to my own birthchart, I saw an exceptionally close Sun-Chiron conjunction, Uranus opposite Mercury/Venus/Chiron/Sun, Moon square Pluto, and a nearly unaspected Mars in Taurus. Undoubtedly the manifestation of disability in my life was an expression of these and other natal complexes. But there did not seem to be an obvious connection between my chart and those of other disabled folks that I could see. I was also inadvertently following a conventional line of thought about disability significations, which I will discuss below.
As I learned more about identity in the birthchart, I became more convinced that disability could not be divined from a chart any more than gender, race, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, or any other personal identifier, sometimes referred to as co-determining factors. Co-determining factors provide contextual elements for archetypal manifestation, and therefore are invaluable for making interpretations. Indeed, it is the extent to which we try to understand the factors outside our own experience that make us effective multicultural astrologers. The foundation of such an orientation is to not make assumptions or rush to conclusions about what a person’s life circumstances mean to them, and to keep from assigning our own.
Chiron—More Wounded than Healer?
Chiron has become one of the most important celestial bodies in astrology outside of the standard planets and luminaries, and the one most closely relating to disability. Mythologically he is a centaur, mentor of Achilles, and extremely skilled in hunting and medicine. He becomes poisoned accidentally, and cannot heal himself, despite his great skill as a healer. He sacrifices his immortality (and physical form) in exchange for Prometheus’ freedom, and is honored as a constellation in the sky. From a disability justice perspective, this myth is problematic, raising questions about the value of life with disability/illness, euthanasia, and life purpose being derived from serving/inspiring those not disabled.
Archetypally, Chiron is known as the Wounded Healer, which has associations with shamanic functions. Chiron symbolizes our deepest egoic wounds, where we often experience difficulty and shame. As we work through and attempt to heal our core issues, we gain wisdom and compassion that can then be of benefit to others.
Finding the cure in the cause is a psychospiritual principle I believe in. However, I find it interesting that we often cannot talk about the wound without immediately going to the “healing.” There is a compulsion to get past pain, challenges, and vulnerability, and assign a positive meaning—which can be a constructive and profound spiritual process. But I think we need to be very careful as counselors when we make meaning of other people’s suffering. Again, our preconceptions determine our interpretations, and if our bias causes us to speak about our client’s life in a way that they do not identify with, we run the risk not only of being offensive, but of aggravating and reinforcing a wound that likely has a societal element to it.
Health and Wholeness
Since astrologers are often in the position of facilitating personal healing and transformation, what is also called for is a revision of our concepts of health and wholeness. These are ideas that are commonly the goal of any kind of healing or transformative process; integrating what has been fragmented, uniting what has been separated. It would be a mistake to think of disability as antithetical to this process. As I have already mentioned, it is common to conflate physical, mental, and spiritual states of being. Using myself as an example, some might consider a cure for cerebral palsy necessary for me to be healthy and whole. As far as I am concerned, I am already whole; I think of myself as physically healthy as the next person. What I seek to heal from emotionally and spiritually are the side effects of living in an ableist world. In fact I could be considered healthier in some ways, since I am not zealously attempting to attain medical or mainstream physical ideals.
It is also important that we do not confuse healing with cure. As queer, disabled writer Eli Clare states, “Cure rides on the back of normal and natural. Insidious and pervasive, it impacts most of us. In response, we need neither a wholehearted acceptance nor an outright rejection of cure, but rather a broad-based grappling.”11 Anyone who has gone through any kind of recovery, healing, or transformation knows that you do not come out the other side the same as when you went in—a return to a previous or ideal state is not the goal. However, this idea is subversive coming from disabled people. Yet this is the very reason disability should not be eradicated: it holds a very important perspective for a world that is so concerned with materialism, productivity, and perfection.
Another issue I wish to highlight is one that Chris Brennan has raised multiple times on The Astrology Podcast, which is, the danger of modern astrology to lean too far in the direction of free will and personal agency to determine the outcome of people’s lives. The idea that every difficult transit or natal aspect can be handled or manifested gracefully, implies that when it isn’t, the fault lies with the native. I point this out because on the one hand, able-bodied people love “inspirational” narratives of disability,12 in which one bootstraps themselves into overcoming their circumstances—thereby negating any unpleasantness that might haunt the audience, and treat it as a passing phase. I have had people helpfully suggest that if I just tried hard enough, I could walk better—or in other words, be more normal. The other side of this coin is the idea that misfortune is deserved, perhaps even due to “karma.” Nondisabled people always want to know, “what happened to you?” as if to ascertain the tragedy of it, and evaluate how well you are coping. Perhaps I will be seen as exceptional, making the most of my life despite disability, erasing the ways that disability has guided me where I am, as well as the great majority of my life that is quite normal and cliché.
To complicate things even further, there is a prevalent spiritual idea that those who are incarnated into more adverse circumstances are farther along in their soul’s development or taking an accelerated path. The harder the life, the greater the spiritual lesson. I admit this is a notion that eases the discomfort that comes from witnessing the struggles of life, bolstering a sense of structure and fairness in the cosmos. However, I have to say that I think it can also be a way to place disabled people in the exceptional category, seeing them as extraordinary—anything but ordinary, over which the able-bodied have dominion.
All this is to say that disability is not something to be overcome on an individual level (as if that were possible), and to think so ignores the countless ways in which those complex circumstances shape one’s character and outlook on life. It is also not the result of a divine punishment, nor is it necessarily a mundane foible. In Robert Hand’s seminal Planets in Transit, he described several transits of Uranus with the potential for physical accident and injury, if handled incorrectly.13
In cases where disability has an onset, it can be located in time. Incurring an acute injury or trauma, receiving a medical diagnosis, or self-identifying as neurodivergent are all examples of major events that would have to be reflected in one’s transits. But what you would look for as signifiers of those events (as well as natal elements) are completely determined by your beliefs about disability. If you believe disability commonly results from accidents or mismanaged energies, Hand’s Uranus signifier may first come to mind. If you see becoming disabled primarily as the end of a life of freedom, then Saturn may be what you see. If you are afraid or uncomfortable with the idea of disability, then perhaps Pluto would be the signifier for you.
Seeing the Whole in the Fragment
As a society we need to change our concept of disability, and part of that process is changing how it fits into our cosmology. The tendency to associate disability with the malefic side of planets like Saturn and Pluto comes from the perspective of seeing disability as limitation and suffering. Except being disabled is not a perpetual state of suffering. Suffering can be involved though, especially as one confronts the expectations of society without the support to meet (or critique) them.
Each human experience contains all of the archetypes within it—this is the beauty of the holographic nature of existence. Like the Buddhist metaphor of Indra’s Net, any piece of reality has every other aspect reflected within it. This is why it is difficult to reduce any experience to one archetype. For example anyone could agree that war is under the purview of Mars. But isn’t Saturn present in the discipline of armies, Mercury in battle strategy, Jupiter waged in the name of a just or holy cause, Venus in acts of mercy and importance of appearance, etc.? Whatever broad archetype you begin with, the others come to light as you dig deeper and flesh out the actual phenomenon. Staying with a single archetype leads to pigeonholing and stereotypes.
Disability is no different. Yes, Saturn is embodied when I want to enter a building that only has stairs, but I invoke Jupiter when I speak to injustice and hope for a more equitable future. I encounter Pluto when I receive the projections of the shadow of society, as abnormal, pitiable, undesirable, or incapable. I channel Mars when I pursue my passions and face my challenges. I am Venusian when I exercise patience when I don’t get my way, extend compassion for others who have their own life struggles, or find peace in a lover’s touch that I do not take for granted. I mind-meld with Uranus when I encourage myself and others to redefine ideas of health and normalcy. All of these characteristics can be traced back to my birthchart, yet all of them have been shaped by living with a disability.
As I stated previously, I have an exact Sun-Chiron conjunction. Since Chiron is a disabled archetype, you could infer that combination has a lot to do with my identity as a disabled person. Also, since I see my “wounds” as more psychospiritual than physical, it has a lot to do with my identity as a therapist—which, in turn, is informed by my experience of being disabled. Uranus opposing my Mercury, Venus, and Sun/Chiron could be seen as a disruption of “normal” ways of relating and communicating. It is true that some people relate to disability in ways that can be jarring to me. Beyond that, Uranus in my chart is my feeling of not belonging to the mainstream, and my stolid rebelliousness. Pluto squaring my Moon relates to a deep and complicated relationship with my mother as my primary caregiver until adulthood, a deep sensitivity and tendency towards feeling shame (about being disabled and many other things), as well as the resulting opportunities for transformation which allow me to provide a strong container for my clients’ emotions and not shy away from their shadowy parts.
My Mars in Taurus is also an interesting placement to explore; it seems a particularly apt analog for physical disability, Taurus being so carnal and Mars being the way we move through life. In my experience, patience is required for physical tasks. I often have to find my own way of doing things that works for me, and they get easier the more I practice. Slow determination is often most effective. Mars is in its detriment in Taurus, a debility—in other words, disabled. It is in a place of reduced access, and thus less able to express itself with ease. In order to do the same amount of work as a planet with the privilege of better access (in its domicile, exaltation, or a neutral sign) it must put in more effort, and sometimes be creative at finding ways of being effective. Because of that, a planet in detriment can end up being very skillful and self-aware with some work put into it. If it receives aspects from other planets, there is an interaction, perhaps an interdependence at play, so that it can benefit from the privilege of others, making a more cohesive and unique whole. So if one stops at the surface interpretation of a planet in debility being ill-placed and disadvantaged, they miss out on the potential benefits. In this way, disability has actually been inscribed into traditional astrological principles, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it can be seen with nuance, or simply as ill fate.
I hope that with what I have related here—through the example of my own chart and lived experience, as well as my reflections on our community and how it handles disability in our social spheres and in our personal cosmologies—we can understand with more nuance how disability weaves in and out of the archetypes and aspects, and start to apply more awareness when addressing these topics, both with our clients and in our daily lives.
[Editor’s note: This article appears in the second volume of our journal, The Ascendant.]
1 The Astrology Podcast, episode 104, (April 17, 2017), produced by Chris Brennan.
2 “Disability History: Timeline,” The National Consortium on Leadership and Disability for Youth, accessed March 22, 2018. For example: “1907: Eugenic Sterilization Law Spreads Like Wildfire: Indiana becomes the first state to enact a eugenic sterilization law—for ‘confirmed idiots, imbeciles and rapists’—in state institutions. The law spreads like wildfire and is enacted in 24 other states.”
3 Reinhold Ebertin, The Combination of Stellar Influences, trans. Dr. Alfred G. Roosedale and Linda Kratzsch (1940; Repr., Tempe, AZ: AFA, 2004).
4 Though “lunacy” is a word I still hear used by contemporary astrologers to describe the “crazy energy” of a full Moon, as if Luna would approve of the way we treat those assigned her epithet.
5 Ebertin, Combination of Stellar Influences, 64.
6 Ibid., 64–98.
7 Ibid., 176.
8 Ibid., 188.
9 Christopher Renstrom, “The Problem of the Gay Signature: Unearthing the Queer Archetype in Astrological History and Culture” (presentation, Queer Astrology Conference, San Francisco, CA, March 21–22, 2015).
10 Michael MacLafferty, “Similar in Our Difference: A Call for Inter-Community Solidarity,” Michael MacLafferty (blog), April 7, 2015.
11 Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2017), quoted in Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, “Disability is Not a Deficit and Other Truths in an Ableist World: A Review of Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure,” Bitch Media, March 28, 2017.
12 Stella Young, “I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much,” TEDxSydney, April 2014.
13 Robert Hand, Planets in Transit: Life Cycles for Living, 2nd ed. (1976; Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2001), 376–95.
Michael MacLafferty is an astrologer and a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist* based in Oakland, CA. He has written about the intersections of psychology, disability, and esoterica on his blog and has contributed to Psyched Magazine. He has an increasing interest in working on Plutonic themes with clients, including childhood trauma and feelings of shame. You can find out more about his work and writing at www.archetypal-wellness.com
*(IMF# 83155, supervised by Rawna Romero, MFC# 41466, at Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy Center.)