i am shokti, lovestar of the eurofaeries, aka marco queer magician of london town. i explore the links between our sexual-physical nature and our spirits, running gatherings, rituals and Queer Spirit Festival. i woke up to my part in the accelerating awakening of light love and awareness on planet earth 20 years ago in January 1995, and offer here my insights and observations on that ongoing transformation, how to navigate the waves of change, and especially focussing on the role of queer people at this time.
The Spring Equinox arrives, days start to be longer than nights, the temperatures rise, the relief of Winter ending washes over us – then about a week or so later we might find ourselves wondering what the fuck is going on? Why isn’t Spring bringing joy and happiness? Why does life feel so challenging – so awkward?
Nature is growing fast now, and so are we. Life will offer new experiences. Our roots are deepening, our blossom is appearing, we are starting to put on our leaves, ie our summer energy. But growth hurts, it means disturbing the soil, the ground we are occupying, and it means stretching and pulling ourselves in some new ways, which, if we haven’t got the right mental framework in place, is going to hurt.
The appropriate mind-set for the first
month of the zodiac year is ‘I AM’.
Aries is an individualistic fire sign. It is a sign of leadership, but the first place we need to be in charge is within our own being. This is the moment of the year when the cosmos tells us to think for ourselves, to focus on ourselves, to follow our own nose, our own weird, our own path. Relationships can come under strain because most couples want to believe in the ‘WE’ more than they do in the ‘I’, and they perhaps fear giving their lover space to do ‘I’ for a while. But for individual and relationship health we need a bit of space this time of year, time to work out our own personal goals and work on our own personal issues.
Beltane is just round the corner – in
Taurus month the Sun moves into earth element and we become
fascinated with the body again. Aries month is about the individual
spirit – who am I is the focus. In Taurus we start to focus on
what we have and what we want, tune in more to physical reality of
our existence, and on the pleasures of connecting physically with
others, in celebration, in dance, in sex.
English poet T.S. Eliot said “April is the cruellest month” – and so it can seem, for at this time others may not meet our expectations and we may find ourselves needing to find plenty of self-reliance and self-determination. Changeable weather – rain, shine, warm, cold – mirrors the internal energy movements we inevitably go through. Aries is the awkward month of being who we are, pushed back into knowing ourselves as an independent entity after the cosmically attuned, collective consciousness, months of Aquarius and Pisces.
When Full Moon comes along, opposite Aries in the sign of balance and relationship, Libra – the bright moonlight illuminates how well we are doing on that axis of self and others. The Libra Full Moon reminds us we do not exist on our own, we exist in relationship with others, which demands things of us – such as compromise and surrender, things the Aries sun isn’t generally hot on. The key to navigating the full moon is to put service to others at the top of the agenda, realising that is how we also serve our own best interests.
So during Aries month the best thing to do is to embrace a new year of energy growth, to focus on one’s self, on health and well-being, on changing our thinking patterns to support that health and well-being, on our plans for the year ahead. Also to work on the balance between our self-focus and our relationships. And crucially, to see the Ram’s fire as the small flame within that it actually is at this time of the year. This is not the moment for gung-ho, uber-dynamic, action… this is the time for small steps and self-care, leading to improved self-awareness and a chance to move away from the awkwardness of Aries.
For two decades I have walked the pagan path – learning about existence through the language and practice of the elements, seasons, sun, moon and stars. What I have learnt is this path brings those who walk it improved health, awareness, compassion, understanding and wisdom. Why isn’t everyone on it?
My generation, born in the 1960s, was brainwashed from a young age to believe that the purpose of life was to get good grades, good job, a heterosexual relationship and debt. Religion was sometimes in the picture, but losing the battle in our minds rapidly in the fight with scepticism. Spirituality – pagan magic – metaphysics and mysticism were mainly ignored and certainly ridiculed when they did pop up. I came out at 21, failed to fit into the work and debt model either, and aged 30, while apparently approaching death, I woke up to the idea that life is a mystery to be explored, understood and then enjoyed to the max, not something simply to take for granted, led by the proclamations of religion or science.
Every day I hear of people’s struggles with their mental health. Depression, anxiety, BPD, DID, ADD, ADHD… As someone who was given an acronym 30 years ago – HIV – I strongly urge people to disassociate from the label, it’s absolutely NOT who you are. And, having turned my life around from the deathbed of AIDS aged thirty-three to being now a fairly-fit-fifty-four, strong in mind and heart and spirit if not always in body, having walked the path that the planet, the solar system and nature herself gives us to study, I gotta say – folks: there is a different, less toxic and disempowering, way of understanding life than the story most of the world is running – another paradigm is possible, a more revealing and evolutionary way of knowing ourselves and our existence here is possible. The scientific heights reached in the 20th century are not the end of the story. AIDS made me turn my attention inwards – I could not be out and about, active in the world. On the inside I found the gateways to other worlds, and my survival is dedicated to bringing human existence into alignment with the other dimensions. The only thing holding us back is the bullshit most people have in their minds, ie the life-crippling paradigm we have been sold.
The New Age has had a huge impact of human relations, communications and individual personal growth over the past few decades. The Internet reveals just how many awakened and purposeful people there are out there, how many groups sincerely seeking to serve the well being of the planet. Ayahuasca ceremonies have become popular in recent years, when just a few years before the practitioners had to be very secretive. Astrology is now more widely understood and practised than at any time before in human history – youtube enables astrologers to have a voice that mainstream media still denies them. Brian Cox is still the darling of the thinking classes, and he never misses a chance to ridicule the study of the stars. I would love him to wake up to the mysteries of consciousness – please somebody slip him some lsd or persuade him to go talk to Grandmother spirit Ayahuasca.
The New Age, a label knocking around since the 1980s, is a medley of teachings and practices from all the world’s cultures, spread and srengthened by the Internet. Cultural appropriation means little to me as we are all citizens of a new global civilisation, able for the first time ever to learn from all that has gone before – this is an incredible new horizon.
Part of this cultural development is the reclamation of the pagan practices of Europe, which were largely wiped out by the all-consuming ‘christian’ political-military machine from the Roman Empire onwards. It took a thousand years for the christian culture to tighten its grip, with much bloodshed on the way, and it never really succeeded in fully wiping out the pagan heart of european culture, as laws attempting to stop ‘pagan’ practices, passed from the 16th century onwards, demonstrate. In 1542 it was made illegal to practice witchcraft in England, further acts followed and the 17th century saw the peak of witch trials and executions. In 1736 in a new ‘rational’ age Parliament passed an Act repealing the laws against witchcraft, but imposing fines or imprisonment on people who claimed to be able to use magical powers. The Vagrancy Act of 1824 made fortune-telling, spiritualism and astrology punishable offences. In 1951 the laws against magical practice were repealed and replaced by the Fraudulent Mediums Act, and it is only since then that the pagan roots of our British culture have been truly accessible to the British people.
So is it any surprise then that the core healing paradigm that celtic paganism offers us is hardly yet noticed by the British people in general. Wicca, a reclamation of pagan ways dreamt up in 1940s-50s England, is actually now a world religion, much more widely established and visible in the USA than in our own anglo-culture.
Currently the British nation is hell-bent on driving itself to a collective nervous breakdown. Centuries of perceived stability, strength and tradition are crumbling fast. The Brits are on a fast course towards a mass healing crisis par excellence. The Brits, as so often in history, on this tiny but intensely magically powerful island, may well be setting the pace for the world once more. For we who study the stars know that the Gods Saturn and Pluto are shaking up the ‘system’ good and proper – for the global political-military-industrial machine does not serve the well being of the planet, of people, of the animals. The political-military-industrial system serves death, it does not serve life, so it must die and be replaced by something new.
something new is also something old. It is waiting in the wings.
IS THE PERENNIAL WISDOM.
told us we are sinners, they lied
tells us we are simply biology, they lie
Above So Below
are multi-dimensional beings
on earth can find health and well-being
finding balance in our selves between
BODY – EARTH
MIND – AIR
EMOTIONS – WATER
SPIRIT – FIRE
can know ourselves through our individual elemental mix
shown in our astrological birth chart
our connectedness with all beings through ceremony and meditation and
into internal harmony and balance through attuning to moon cycles and
who we are, what life is, how it all works
a central, crucial part of being alive, at least for some of us
for those struggling in darkness, it is the healing path, it is the
is the missing part of our culture, the blindspot in the modern world
pagan path is the path of the
seasons, the moons and nature
and also of the goddess, of Pan, of
ancestor spirits and the faerie underworld
it is a path of genderbending,
shapeshifting and nature loving magic
of dropping the pretence of being
normal, of being human
for inside everyone of us
is raw, animal, primal instinctual
energy, pure soul
which we get to raise through our holy
bodies, our open hearts
our free and enlightened minds
into ecstatic communion with the
spirits of creation
of which there are so, so many
we simply forgot how to see them, to
hear them, to speak to them
but they haven’t forgotten us
and when we get over our obsessions and
delusions about gods and holy books and scriptures
and about economics and consumerism and the latest scandal and fashion
and return to the simplicity of pleasure, connection, presence, love
they will be right there
ready to help us bring peace and
healing to our ailing planet home
It was round a queer pagan fire in a field in Dorset in the year 1999 that I first experienced the expansive joy of group energy united by the drumbeat – a circle of people all revelling in the feeling of being in union, connected by rhythm and emotion and something bigger, knowing that each is having their own experience of this, would describe it in their own unique way, and this fact is perfectly wonderful.
Each human is ultimately a mystic
having a relationship with their own inner divinity – and when
mystics merge their energy fields, in harmony with nature’s elements,
magic is the word for what happens.
Other words might include healing,
revealing, seeing, knowing
Uniting the human individuality with the spirit of the drum, the rhythm, the group can loosen blocked emotional energy, clear the mental frequencies, and liberate the spirit. It can rebalance the inner world, it’s good for our mental health.
Allowing the energy to rise and fall
Listening is the key to tuning in
The mind naturally takes a back seat
as the heart and spirit move into the
dance with the drum
The body revealed as ecstatic vehicle
of the lightbeing you are and always
Step into eternity
Allow the elements to restore and renew
All life is One Dance, One Power, One
Flowing through you, me, space, time
In the rhythm we find our way home
Humans have always communed this way.
join the mailing list of the radical faeries of albion for news of drum circles in London and much more…. sign up at www.albionfaeries.org.uk
At the Stonewall Riot in New York 1969 the Queers fought back. Enough of the persecution, enough of the shame and fear, enough of the denial of our Queer Spirit. We stepped into Pride and began a journey of self-acceptance that kicked off a global process, which, 50 years later, is in full swing. As our Pride gatherings around the world we declare loud and clear – we are a rainbow people who celebrate freedom, love and self-expression. A people rising from the ashes of a conflagration against our kind that has lasted for far too long and now has to end…
For gay men, 1969-1981 were the Gay Garden of Eden years, not that many on the planet actually got to enjoy them. Homophobia was deep-rooted in just about all the cultures of the planet by this time, having been spread by Christian European explorers seeking to break the spirit of the cultures they came into contact with – for as the world opened up, the shocked Europeans found cross-dressing, gender-bending, sodomising shamans, witches and priests everywhere. They did not know that in ancient times the religious life of Europe and the Middle East had been just as queer.
The 1970s tide of gay liberation was riding on the tailwind of hippy culture and the sexual revolution – so, while for many queers the new sexually free atmosphere was enough, for some this whirlwind of counter-cultural energies opened up a very radical vision of the role of gay, lesbian and trans/non-binary/genderqueer people in society. While many sought to fit in and be accepted by society at large, the radical edge of the queer community was seeking something more. Those on that edge found that the way into this exploration of our true, and long denied, nature was through our hidden spiritual history, and certain gay men were to push this search forwards.
San Franscisco was of course a hotbed of this essentialist wave – in 1975 the ‘Faery Circle’ was called into being there by Arthur Evans to explore the magical roots of queer consciousness. His 1978 book ‘Witchcraft and the Gay Counter-Culture’ (‘A Radical View of Western Civilization and Some of the People it Has Tried to Destroy’) opened up understanding of the connections between patriarchal religious control and the suppression of the feminine/mystical/magical pagan past. He argued that the role of gay men today is to re-establish our communication with nature and the Great Mother, to feeling the essential link between sex and the forces that hold the universe together.
Larry Michell‘s inspired piece of queer literature, also from ’78, ‘The Faggots and their Friends between Revolutions‘ spotted that the motives behind this suppression of the spirit were political,-
“The first revolutions destroyed the great cultures of the women. Once the men triumphed, all that was other from them was considered inferior and therefore worthy only of abuse and contempt and extinction. Stories told of these times are of heroic action and terrifying defeat and silent waiting. Stories told of these times make the faggots and their friends weep. The second revolutions made many of the people less poor and a small group of men without color very rich. With craftiness and wit the faggots and their friends are able to live in this time, some in comfort and some in defiance. The men remain enchanted by plunder and destruction. The men are deceived easily and so the faggots and their friends have nearly enough to eat and more than enough time to think about what it means to be alive as the third revolutions are beginning.”
Life-long activist Harry Hay founded the first gay rights group the Mattachine Society in the 1950s, but was edged out quickly as gay men who sought conventionality and assimilation into polite society took it over. In the ’60s he set up the ‘Circle of Loving Companions‘ and by the 1970s he was totally focussed on the unique gifts that queerkind bring to humanity. He had become convinced that our sexuality was intrinsically related to the spirit realms, –
“Our beautiful lovely sexuality is the gateway to spirit. Under all organised religions of the past, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, there has been a separation of carnality, or shall we say of flesh or earth or sex, and spirituality. As far as I am concerned they are all the same thing, and what we need to do as faeries is to tie it all back together again.”
These 1970s visionaries were getting bold. In Witchcraft and the Gay Counter-Culture, Evans declared, –
“We look forward to regaining our ancient historical roles as medicine people, healers, prophets, shamans and sorcerers. We look forward to an endless and fathomless process of coming out – as gay people, as animals, as humans, as mysterious and powerful spirits that move through the life cycle of the cosmos….. Like butterflies we are emerging from the shells of our past restricted existence. We are re-discovering the ancient magic that was once the birth right of all human beings. We are re-learning how to talk to the worms and the stars. We are taking flight on the wings of self-determination. Come, blessed Lady of the Flowers, Queen of Heaven, creator and destroyer, Kali – we are dancing the dance of your coming.”
Out of this swirling pool of potential was born the first Radical Faerie gathering, which took place in a desert sanctuary in Arizona in September 1979. It was billed as a ‘Spiritual Conference‘ aiming to explore “the spiritual dimensions of gayness” – 220 men got to this gathering, sat and listened to each other’s stories, found a common love of nature and the, now global, Radical Faerie Community was born. Arthur Evans described faeries as demonstrating a “gay sensibility, neo-paganism, and a sheer Whitmanesque celebration of the body and of sex.”
The reference to Whitman refers to the person considered to be America’s greatest poet, Walt, who in the 19th century had dared to write down his vision of a future democracy living in peace due to the strong loving bonds between men. He wrote, –
“Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.”
Whitman opened the doors to the celebration of the body as holy through works like ‘I sing the Body Electric’. As a gay man he saw that the denial of the pleasures of the flesh that religion imposed on society cut humanity off from its divine potential, –
“Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from, The scent of these armpits is aroma finer than prayer, This head more than churches, bibles and all the creeds… if I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body”
Mitch Walker carried this theme in the ’70s, publishing ‘Men Loving Men: Gay Sex Guide and Consciousness Book‘ in 1977, concluding it with a section on the mystical potential in gay love and sex to reveal to us the divine play of consciousness in the universe.
“When we fall in love with another man we’re getting in touch with an unconscious spirit-source, by evoking it in our beloved. We can follow this magic inside us back to its source, and use it to uncover our real nature.”
19th century European pioneers of queer consciousness also had grand visions of our role in society, and from the first stirrings of self-conscious gay sensibility proclaimed a link to the spiritual. Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in Germany and Edward Carpenter in England used the term ‘Uranian‘ to refer to gay men, lesbians and all, what they termed ‘intermediate types‘, seeking to connect us to the perceived nobility of ancient Greek culture – Urania being a form of the Goddess Aphrodite particularly concerned with spiritual love. Carpenter published the results of his research as ‘Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk’ in 1914, exploring examples from America, feudal Japan, the cross-dressing, sodomising Qedesha goddess priests of the Middle East so hated by the ancient Hebrews, and also same sex Christian unions in the Balkans. Carpenter dared to write about the link between same-sex love and the shamanic practitioners in tribal cultures – although this link had not been lost on the European explorers arriving in the New World from the 15th century onwards: discovering that the spiritual power in the tribes was held by gender-bending, same sex loving individuals they set about destroying that power by spreading their Christian judgement of effeminacy and sodomy – they called the holy shamans ‘berdache’, a French word for the passive partner in that act. This term stuck until the 1990s when the shamans chose the word ‘Two-Spirit‘ to replace it, this term having resonance with the some 500 words Native American cultures had once used.
By 1990 of course the gay male community was deep in the middle of a crisis that threatened every gain we had made. AIDS ravaged our world, making the magical promises of the 1970s seem far away. “Come, blessed Lady of the Flowers, Queen of Heaven, creator and destroyer, Kali – we are dancing the dance of your coming” said the emerging queer witches of the Eden decade – and She came: dark, ferocious, deadly. The Goddess came as darkness because she had been banished into darkness by patriarchal religion for a very long time. We, her queer priests, servants, lovers and fools no longer knew who we were, we no longer knew what we could do with our sexuality, what it could bring to the world. In a secular, religiously conflicted age, nobody seems to remember who the queer ones are. Which is why we need time and space, in our own sacred groves and healing sanctuaries, to explore within ourselves, to find out.
Harry Hay said, –
“Out of the mists of our long oppression,
We bring love for ourselves and each other,
And love for the gifts we bear,
So heavy and so painful the fashioning of them,
So long the road given us to travel them. A separate people,
We bring a gift to celebrate each other,
‘Tis a gift to be gay!
Feel the pride of it!”
In the 1980s and 90s our energies had to be channelled away from potential and into pure survival, and this period also revealed just how deep-rooted was societal homophobia and how much work there was to be done on political, legal and social levels before we, or the rest of the world, could really start to take on board the journey to spiritual liberation that is the logical and ultimately inevitable end place of the journey of sexual liberation that began in the 1960s. This political work has continued since the advent of effective medicine to treat HIV, with equal marriage rights spreading through the western world – and producing a backlash in Africa and other countries, which has served to put the question of our rights and our identity into a global focus.
The quest for queer spirited conscious community has been going on on the sidelines of gay life throughout this time. Two years after the first Radical Faerie gathering the first permanent Faerie sanctuary was founded, at Short Mountain in Tennessee, and in the four decades since there have been other sanctuaries established in the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe, plus gatherings in Israel, Thailand and China. As a group of mainly gay men, the Faeries have been one of the few outfits celebrating the feminine, cissy side of our nature, in contrast to the enduring machismo obsessed mainstream gay culture, and over the decades the Faeries have become more diverse, and how could they not, since themes of gender play and transcendence of limiting human beliefs are a big part of faerie magic.
In fact as we approach the 2020s there are way more gay men involved in the spiritual search than there were back in the 1970s, a fact that is reflected in the number of books on gay spirit that have been published since, by authors including Toby Johnson, Mark Thompson, Andrew Harvey, Christian de la Huerta. Men’s spirituality is growing up and there is perhaps now a chance for gay male spirituality to join with the other tributaries of queer spirituality to find their common ground.
In this essay I have had a lot to say about the gay male journey through these decades. The parallel stories to be told are those of the lesbians in the Goddess movement, of their radical history of protest and community building at Greenham Common and through Spiral Camp and Women’s Land etc, and of the emergence of the Trans/Non-binary identities, with the subsequent reclaiming of the spiritual power going on there also, via the work of Raven Kaldera, Bright Daffodil and other. The vision behind the brand new Queer Spirit Festival, which launched in 2016, is to bring together all the queer tribes under the rainbow of our united quest for spiritual knowledge and liberty. The joined prayers and healing that we experience when we come together are for ourselves and for all our kind across the planet.
Meanwhile the mainstream gay universe has not woken up to any sense of spiritual growth yet, it generally continues its flirtation with the commercially driven, marriage-approving, patriarchal military-industrial complex and doesn’t give attention to the magical paths of self-discovery that many queers choose to explore. Gay media over the years has looked at the efforts of gays in established religions to find acceptance, but little to the radical, nature-based pagan faerie celebrations or to gays who seek self-awareness through magical practices, yoga or meditation, or even psychedelics for that matter – the sacraments that our gay culture subtly promotes encourage us to self indulgence not self discovery. In London the Connections conferences of the late 1990s and LoveSpirit in the early 2010s brought hundreds of queers together to share their spiritual interests, but against the huge tide of intoxication and indulgence that continues to sit at the centre of gay culture they had little impact.
The trend was clear from the 1970s – an obsession with the physical aspect of who we are puts sex firmly in the centre of the picture for gay men, and things are not so different at the end of the second decade of the 21st century. For trans people also, the focus on the physical aspect of the process can mean the ancient, spiritual roots of trans nature are completely overlooked. But now the gay mainstream is increasingly aware that the superficial is not after all supreme and is looking for answers to the ongoing sense of crisis in gay life – some go so far as to say that the spread of drug use among men who have sex with men, with resultant addictions, crises and deaths is a second plague amongst us.
So many reasons underlie this drug using trend, and are much discussed elsewhere – but one underlying factor that isn’t yet properly grasped is that humanity has always used substances to open the inner being and commune with the spirit realms of existence. Gay men, liberated sexually in age that doesn’t recognise the spiritual reality within us, using Tina etc are turning their own gifts on themselves, cutting off their natural ability to commune and empathise with others soul to soul, using drugs that feed the ego (as opposed to those which open the heart or consciousness). The drugs enable some men to forget their minds, their issues, their fears and enjoy the moment of ecstatic connection, but they gradually lose the ability to find that natural bliss through empathic loving connection to others. Only nature can restore this gift to us once lost, and I believe that in our faerie sanctuaries, and our queer spirit enclaves wherever they may pop up, we offer the healing, the insight and understanding that is needed to bring the LGBTIQ+ community to a level of self-awareness that will change things, and that will reverberate strongly around the world, bringing a revolution in understanding and a new mythology about Who We Are on a global level.
It is in Chechnya, and Uganda, Nigeria and Egypt, in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and too many other places that our queer sisters and brothers are most in need of this change of consciousness, in places where the homophobia imposed and justified by religions is still having its evil effects. We in the west have our issues to sort out, but we also have a freedom to explore our queer spirit that was never there before – and this time round, unlike the 1970s, when the queer spirit was first attempting to burst forth, we are five decades into a journey of liberation. We survived the AIDS holocaust, and grew through the experiences of that time, we have had a chance to mature somewhat and accept this journey is a longer one than some at first thought.
Queer Spirituality is the next step for the global upsurge of difference that has for five decades been daring to proudly declare its name… but it is slow to make an impact on mainstream gay male life because MANY OF THE PIONEERING, RADICAL QUEER MEN WHO WOULD HAVE BEEN PART OF THIS REVOLUTION IN CONSCIOUSNESS DIED OF AIDS.
This was history repeating itself. The shamans were culled and as a result the people, ie the wider gay community, has become lost in an ocean of substance abuse, just as happened to the tribal peoples when the Europeans took over. But shamans are born in every generation, and some of us – just a crucial few – survived the plague, and we are here to tell some tales.
I am an one such AIDS survivor who used my sick years to question reality, to become aware of Kali, the Great Mother, shrouded in darkness for so many centuries, and to receive her visions of gay love, seeking to find fellow explorers of the Goddess mysteries and be ready for the next resurgence of the queer phoenix, of queer spirit, calling us to know, love and BE our true, liberated, horny, magical, queer Selves. As an organiser of Queer Spirit Festival I am excited to sounding this call, on behalf of queerkind of all genders, sexualities, races and nations.
Astrology is a 5000 year old wisdom tradition that teaches us about the nature, purpose and direction of life on Earth. It gives us a set of tools which can be used to know ourselves, to heal, develop and find fulfilment during our earth-bound incarnations. It works because we live in a fractal universe of repeating patterns that can be understood – these patterns operate on mental, emotional, spiritual and physical dimensions.
It is usually stated that astrology developed in the Babylonian and Egyptian empires around 2-3000 years BCE (and independently at same time, or even earlier in India and China). Alexander the Great’s conquests brought the Greeks into contact with these older eastern cultures, and from the 4th century BCE astrology grew to be a respected science in Greece. From there it was imported into Roman culture, and as Rome collapsed the Islamic faith enthusiastically embraced the science of the stars. In Europe astrology entered a dark age until the 12/13th century, when Islamic texts were enthusiastically translated and astrology adopted as a medical tool. In the Renaissance astrology was riding high. By 1500 physicians across Europe were expected to calculate the position of the moon before undertaking medical procedures. Christianity disapproved of course, but only in regard to personal horoscopes and destiny – it was considered ok to use it for medical and other practical purposes, eg weather forecasts!
The development of astronomical observations of the heavens from the 16th century onwards and the rise of rationalism diminished the belief in astrology, but at the start of the 21st century the science of the stars is probably more widespread and popular than ever before. The vogue for sun-sign horoscopes that developed in the mid 20th century has given way to a much broader exploration, with vast numbers of astrologers broadcasting on YouTube. The internet has made astrology accessible to all, with birth charts easy to cast online, and an appreciation growing that daily horoscopes are just skimming the surface – one of the great tools astrology gives us is to know what energies are affecting the subtle emotional, mental, energetic frequencies underlying our experience every day.
Why this surge of astrological interest? Simply put – because it works. Monotheistic religion has been exposed as a control system put in place by the patriarchy, forcing people to obey a Father God. Astrology is one of the tools of the Mother Goddess, and was originally practised in her temples. The Goddess offers personal liberation through knowledge and experience, not salvation gained through faith in an external being. In the 21st century the lies of religion, and inadequacies of materialism, are prompting vast numbers of people to turn to the path of self-discovery, to seek wisdom and deep connection to the planet, spirit and other people. There is no better tool than astrology for anyone called to this path. There are no absolutes in astrology – it is a science but also an art, it requires knowledge but also intuition and interpretation. There is a lot to learn, but even knowledge of the basics can improve our quality of life.
The SUN takes 12 months to traverse the zodiac, beginning its journey at the Spring Equinox. Each month of the astrological year has a distinct energy, which we can tune into within ourselves, in order to explore and develop that aspect of our personality.
The MOON completes this 12 stage journey every month, spending 2.5 days in each sign, from which we can interpret underlying emotional energies affecting us all. A the moon journeys from new to full to dark phases, so do our energy bodies – the Moon influences our emotional and spiritual nature, its position in the birth chart tells us a lot about ‘who we are’ and therefore any horoscope reading simply based on the Sun sign is extremely limited.
MERCURY, VENUS AND MARS in the birth chart give us insight into key personality traits – Mercury is the archetype of communication, Venus of love and beauty, Mars of action. Awareness of their movements through the signs helps us to navigate the subtle energies affecting these areas of our lives.
JUPITER AND SATURN were once regarded as supremely important because of the powerful background energies that affect the whole world at once. Jupiter is seen as the expansive, beneficent energy of the zodiac, while Saturn imposes structure, order and limitation. Jupiter changes sign about every 13 months and Saturn about 3 years. Where they appear in our charts tells us about the presence of these energies in our lives.
URANUS, NEPTUNE, PLUTO were added into the astrological pantheon as they became known, with Uranus (discovered 1763) associated with freedom and revolution, Neptune (1846) with transcendence and mysticism, Pluto with primordial energy, death, rebirth and all that is hidden.
CHIRON, CERES, JUNO, VESTA, PALLAS ATHENA, ERIS are among the newer members of the astrological pantheon. Chiron (1977) is considered the archetype of the wounded healer, its position in our charts shows the shared wound of each generation. Feminine divine presence gets more recognition through these energies: Ceres (1801) was the Roman equivalent of the Greek earth goddess Demeter, like Vesta a sister to Jupiter; Juno (1804), Pallas Athena (1802) are named after Jupiter’s wife and daughter, Eris (2003) the sister of Mars and goddess of discord. Ceres teaches us about our mothering instincts and how to run in harmony with the universal flow; Juno is about soul mates and emotional commitment, marriage and beauty; Vesta a goddess of the hearth, brings focus and dedication; Pallas Athena is a weaver of patterns and gives warrior strength; Eris is an underworld goddess and rules over chaos and discord.
Another female divinity, LILITH is associated with the cosmic void, and is calculated as a position in space between the earth and moon. She is said to relate to the dark side and power of sexuality.
The Sun, Moon and planets journey through the sky from the fire sign Aries through a repeating four step pattern through to water sign Pisces. The pattern is FIRE-EARTH-AIR-WATER. In the first four signs (aries-taurus-gemini-cancer) we explore our individuality, in the next four (leo-virgo-libra-scorpio) we are taken on the journey of relationship, and in the last four (sagittarius-capricorn-aquarius-pisces) the focus shifts to the collective, and our individual place within it.
Emotionally, it is so very useful to know which energy the moon is traversing. Simply put, Fire Moons encourage our enthusiasm, impulsiveness and passions; Earth Moons bring grounding, calm, realism; Air moons are outgoing, social, intellectual and encourage our curiosity; Water Moons are emotional, moody, spiritual and inward pulling.
New Moon is a great time for launching new plans and ideas, because it heralds two weeks of expanding emotional and spiritual energy. At full moon there is an emotional peak, often requiring release in some form, and during waning moon an inward pull calls us to take more rest, more inner time. At dark moon we can purge and renew our energetic fields ready for a new month.
These energies affect us all the time. Becoming conscious of them enables us to navigate the subtle waves – eg to know when it’s good to act, and when good to step back. Consciousness itself is just like the breath, just like the cycle of day and night – there are times of expansion and then of contraction, of light then darkness. Knowing that our experience of life will flow on the same lines helps us to find acceptance. Having an idea through which elemental energies our inner archetypes are channelling into the world can assist to find peace with who we are, with our individuality and the moods we go through. The zodiac opens up awareness of the energies at play in the world, helping to come to peace with our part in the whole, and to make the most of it.
Your Sun is about yourself. Your Moon is your heart. Your
Rising is how you look. Your Mercury is the way you think. Your
Venus is how you love. Your Mars is how you deal with life. Your
Jupiter is your luck. Your Saturn is how you discipline yourself
and your responsibilities. Your Uranus is how unique you are. Your
Neptune is your imagination. Your Pluto is your
transformation. Your Chiron is how you heal. Your Ceres
is how you take care of yourself. Your Pallas is your
relationships. Your Juno is beauty and Influences. Your Vesta
is your potential and your organization. Your North Node is how
you develop in your current life. Your South Node is how you
developed in your past life. Your Midheaven is your career, how
others view you. Your Lilith is your hidden emotions.