The Carter memorial lecture: the Astrological Lodge in London. This is a place where you are considered a youngster at 40.
Nick Campion started with a joke "What I like about the lodge it that it's never been fussy who it admits..." going onto more serious points about 'high' and 'low' astrology. 'Low' astrology refers to sun sign columns and prior to that, almanacs. Even in Roman times people complained about gullible women going to fortune tellers.
Bernard Eccles talked about astrology in terms of the recent past; the 1980's were dominated by the Sun sign astrologer Patrick Walker; the 1990's there was the dispute between the Astrological Lodge and the Company of Astrologers. He described how things have changed: astrology has become narrower, sharper but has also lost some of its warmth. Thirty years ago when Eccles first started going to the Lodge, there were still strong links to Theosophy and the belief that a higher force was at work. Old guys sat at the back, who had a lifetime of experience. There has been a shift in the flavour of the Lodge; people who attend are neophytes, people on voyages of self-discovery, and, at the top, authors, teachers, workshop leaders. Astrology has become, along with society, consumerist. Now astrology is serviced by professionals. Naturally astrology will change with each generation. It's very commercial now. You buy your expertise, through say, workshops. It favours the psychological over the spiritual. The personal over the universal. The sex life over the soul.
It's not celestial. It's the age of the experts. The system favours certain skills: knowledge that can be quantified rather than wisdom.
Charts that used to take days to draw up can be done in seconds, on computers. We are literally dazzled by software programmes or are we blinded? Astrology happens best in the shadows. Before the drawing of the chart was still manual. Everything is now computer driven. Astrology is now packets of information, parcels of data, the cook-book technique. However ultimately interpretation still has to be done by hand.
A Gandalf type character, complete with long white beard and ponytail, Roy Gillett got up to speak. Self-taught, he didn't learn astrology through books but through experience. He had several jobs, the RAF, teaching, prior to becoming an astrologer. For him transits and progressions are opportunities for karmic change. Astrology is really the study of karma. He harks back to the 1999 Astrological conference in Plymouth. It just happened to coincide with the much touted 'end of the world' eclipse. (I was there actually, had just got the boat from Santander. We sat on a hillside with hundreds of people and watched the eclipse. Unfortunately it was rather cloudy and therefore the eclipse was not clear.) There were 20-30 years building up to 1999, a mood of millenarianism. There were prophecies of peace between Russia and the U.S.A and war with Islam. The conference 2 days either side of the eclipse attracted 650 people, a huge success. The end of the world didn't happen...or did it? Not long afterwards we had the controversial Bush presidency and September 11th. Now we are coming up to the Saturn/Uranus opposition (more on this here).
As the Ftse drops 5%, we are wondering how to salvage the economic system and that's even before Pluto properly enters Capricorn. We are on the edge of something very different. The last 12 years have been a false Aquarian dawn. And let's not forget the LHC...Large Hadron collider.
Mike Edwards is next to talk. "We should stick with the stars" he announces and puts up a chart on the overhead projector. The question is 'The current state of astrology' and is set for 7pm 29/9/08, the official start of the lecture. (1)
The Lodge is having an election for a new president. Mike Edwards put up a chart for the ideal candidate. He asked for guesses as to who this person might be. One guy ventured something and was quickly shamed into silence by Mike Edwards. Few other people dared after that. We all gazed at this natal chart with a Leo sun and Leo ascendant. Neil Spencer (Observer astrology columnist and ex-editor of the N.M.E) ventured finally "Is this person an Alan Leo (the father of modern astrology) type character?"
"No" replied Mike firmly "Anybody know?". Silence all round.
"It's Harry Potters' chart. He should be the next president of the Astrological Lodge." Titters. "Well actually it is J.K. Rowlings chart. Except we've spun it around and derived Harry Potter's chart from her chart. And in the books, she gave Harry her birthday. The moon in Virgo, of course, is Hermione. J.K. Rowling talks about how she was like Hermione in her childhood."
One woman remarks that the astronomy in the Potter books is inaccurate rubbish. Another says that J.K.Rowling isn't very complimentary about astrology (perhaps because she is a Christian) particularly in her portrayal of the divination teacher who says dippy things like "You have two Neptunes in your chart."
We led onto a general discussion.
Neil Spencer, commenting on Bernard Eccles' talk said that "Results are a good thing. There are lots of books on spirituality nowadays. Whole sections of bookshops. "
"I agree. 'Cosmic ordering' for instance, it's the Argos catalogue of the higher plane" quips Bernard.
Other observations about Pluto transits: when Pluto was in Cancer (1913-1939), the first fast food restaurant opened (transformation of attitudes to food represented by Cancer). The Pluto in Virgo generation (60's) led to the burgeoning of alternative medicine. Pluto in Libra (70's) transformation in attitude towards marriage.
Capitalism (1722, Industrialism) itself is having a Pluto return.
When Pluto was last in Aquarius, we had the causes (Stamp Act) of the United States War of Independence. (Of course, this was prior to Pluto's discovery in 1930. Some astrologers were muttering that it's demotion to dwarf planet, in 2006, was a plot to diminish its important influence on generational astrology).
There was also talk of the future of astrology in Higher Education which at the moment consists of the Sophia centre, and the University of Chichester programme. One woman says that there is interest in astrology at the Medieval Hispanic Seminar at Queens university, London. The students need to know about astrology in order to adequately analyse the texts.
(1) Part of Fortune and Uranus in the 12th house. Part of Spirit at 25 ° Aries. Hermes (Mercury) the ruler of astrology is retrograde. Jupiter/Mars imprisoned. Venus/Mars in mutual reception. Saturn in the 6th, exalted by mutual reception. Mike Edwards uses no outer planets except for Uranus which he explains, is Lord of the whole sky.