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May 2015

27 May 2015 – Retrograde Mercury and how to survive it

The Astrology Blog – 27 May 2015


Early in the month of June is a beautiful time to be in Greece – fabulous sunny weather, warm evenings, eating out at the seafront or beach tavernas – all at amazingly good value for money. Group meals are organized for the evenings and you can still enjoy a two course meal with wine for less than 15 Euros a head.

The Greek Island Summer School continues with the Discovering Astrology week starting on 8 June (Sunday flights in and out on 7th and 14th June) and there are some fabulous bargains up for grabs if you’d like to join our 14th season of sun, fun and horoscopes.

Cosmos Holidays 0843 227 1464
There are lots of lovely hotels to choose from but currently the top deal is the Avra Beach hotel – £235 per person, including flights, transfers to and from the hotel, accommodation and breakfast. These prices are based on two sharing a room but single person supplement is usually quite manageable – call them to get the best quote!
Olympic Holidays 0208 492 6868
Demetra Studios or Sands Hotel are both good deals at £411 for one or two people – no single person supplement – but transfers tend to be expensive. Contact me for much cheaper options.


Saturday 20 June
Level 1 Be Your Own Astrologer (13 of 20 places available)
Level 1 is suitable for all levels from beginner to intermediate.
This is a fun workshop, based on the material covered in my new book of the same name (Cico Books, March 2015). We pack a lot in, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to work on your own horoscope.
We will be covering the basics of Sun signs and planetary symbolism and houses – all very interactive and focused on working on your own charts. We’ll be studying transits and prediction in the afternoon session and I’ll be breaking everyone up into groups to learn more about their own horoscopes.

Read more +

18 May 2015 – Mercury in mischief mode, life’s big challenges…

The Astrology Blog – 18 May 2015

I am away in the UK for family reasons until 24 May – so I may be slow to respond to course or workshop bookings, but I will answer as soon as I can – thank you for your patience!

A huge thank you to Judy Hall and the wonderful group of students who attended The Crystal Zodiac course last week – the mixture of returning and new students was perfect and you really were a dream team. We were also blessed with fabulous weather.

The next Greek Island Summer School course is Discovering Astrology on 8 June – suitable for beginners and refreshers. We cover a lot of material – from Sun signs to taking your first steps in predictive work – but there’s lots of free time too for sun, fun and group meals in the evenings. Reply to this newsletter to reserve a place or if you have any questions. You’ll find a link to the website at the end of this blog.

What’s happening this week?

All times stated in BST

The big event is that Mercury is now stationary retrograde – literally on the point of turning from forwards to reverse –
Tuesday Mercury switches to retrograde (02.50) at 13 degrees of Sagittarius
This phenomenon, when Mercury appears to be moving backwards through the heavens, occurs three times a year for three weeks at a time. Traditional astrology gives primarily “problems with communication and transport” – which has been proved right to me over and over throughout the years. Mercury is the winged messenger of the gods but also the trickster, and everything that comes under the huge umbrella of communication is fair play to the mind planet in mischief mode!
If you have natal planets at or close to 13 degrees of Sagittarius – or the opposite sign of Gemini – then Mercury’s turnaround is likely to be especially significant for you. Here’s the usual link for checking the signs and degrees of your natal planets and angles –
I would never choose to travel under a retrograde Mercury but as this one happens opposite my natal Venus it turns out that I do have to travel and for a sad reason, my father’s funeral in the UK. I’m off first thing this morning (Sunday) so apologies for the fact that this is a “mini blog” just to cover the main events for the coming week.
Regular readers will be familiar with my retrograde Mercury survival check list, which are the main points to bear in mind –
• Try to operate by “re” words – review, revise, research, reappraise, rethink and so on
• Write things down – forgetfulness, being distracted, inattention etc can be a troublesome theme
• Getting back to ideas on the back burner
• Getting back in touch
• Rest and relaxation, give the brain some time off
• Keep options open
• Assume nothing, double check everything

Read more +

11 May 2015 – Navigating the Mars – Saturn speed bumps, the beauty of Venus – Neptune, and an extra fertile New Moon

The Astrology Blog – 4 May 2015

All times stated in BST

Apologies for the late post of the weekly blog. Judy Hall’s course here at the Greek Island Summer School started today and we’ve had a fascinating first day with a wonderful group of many different ages and nationalities. Judy is teaching us how the energies of all the different crystals correlate with the symbolism of the planets, and demonstrating how the world of astrology is not just a “head” thing but about connecting at many other levels, and how it is the feelings that lead us to true understanding.

The next course will be Discovering Astrology on 8 June

Lift astrology out of the Sun sign columns and discover horoscopy – you’ll be working on your own chart throughout the week and learning about Sun signs, the symbolism of the planets, houses and aspects, and taking your first steps in prediction. Reply to this newsletter for more information or email

What’s happening this week?

Mars is on the move. Overall this is good news as he exits Taurus, one of his signs of detriment, and enters Gemini –

Tuesday Mars ingress Gemini (03.41)

In terms of the cycle that’s now closing Mars in the fixed earth sign of Taurus is an achiever but a plodder – things do get done eventually but not in a blaze of glory. Some things are held up purely by financial restraints – Taurus ruling money – or important issues can get stuck and bogged down through stodgy officialdom or a lack of imagination. Taurus rules the throat in the physical body and Mars is the signifier of pain as well as action – it’s notable how many people have been suffering from bad throats and colds. A virus has been doing the rounds here that is characterized by a sore throat and lethargy – a text book showing of this detrimented Mars!

Mars moving on into the spirited air sign of Gemini is therefore a breath of fresh air – or is it? Before we get too excited just note that as Mars travels through this sign he doesn’t pick up positive aspects from any other planets until the first week of June. For now, there’s a re-run of the pattern that happened when Mercury went into Gemini at the beginning of the month, starting with an opposition to Saturn who is currently reversing through the early degrees of Sagittarius. This aspect is exact towards the end of the week, but may well make its presence felt during the few days beforehand. As I wrote last week, symbolism gets “fatter” as the moment of an astrological event moves closer (applying), the actual unfolding events putting the flesh on the bones. They get “thinner” once they’re past their point of exactitude (separating). This applies to the minutiae of life as well as the big issues” –

Friday Mars opposite Saturn (07.04)

Traditional astrology would deem this aspect difficult and highly restrictive. Both Mars and Saturn are “malefics” – Mars being the god of war and Saturn, amongst other heavy things, is the Grim Reaper, and rules endings of all kinds. If there’s something you want to kill off and put a stop to now’s your chance, but otherwise beware arguments and ultimatums. Mars in Gemini is a war of words – and with the opposition to Saturn could all too easily signify a battle that can’t be won. Divided loyalties or opposing viewpoints, of the “ne’er the twain shall meet” variety, could all too easily create conflict, rifts or resentments that will be hard to heal. Look out for negative scripts too, your own or other people’s, and the damage that these can do. Entrenched beliefs or giving too much power to the past can block the road ahead, stopping us from going for what we want, keeping us stuck in negative patterns and holding us back in our career or personal relationships. The old saying of you can’t change the past or a current situation but you can change your attitude to it is especially poignant right now, and on this theme this was my favourite read of the week by Shirzad Chamine –

“In my Stanford lectures on Positive Intelligence and Saboteurs, I invite students to raise their hand any time they feel skeptical about something I’ve said.
A lot of hands usually go up when I make this statement:

“Stress and unhappiness are always a choice. Any negative feelings you experience are because you’ve chosen to listen to your Saboteurs.”

The reactions from my students are usually along these lines:

“But, Shirzad — Sometimes things happen to us that are truly awful — such as losing a job or botching a presentation. Isn’t it normal to feel upset about it?”

“If I don’t feel bad about mistakes that I make, I won’t learn from them and will probably just repeat them.”

“When it comes to a major project, stress energizes me and drives me to do my best. If I don’t feel stress, won’t I under prepare or under perform?”

I typically respond to them with an exchange that goes something like this:

Me: Are unpleasant physical sensations, such as pain, ever good for us?

“Yes, of course,” they say. Invariably someone will point out how pain is useful when it warns us of danger, such as when we accidentally touch a hot stove or tweak a muscle when working out.

Me: “Quite right. Now, for how long do you need to feel the pain to get the message?”

“A split second,” they usually respond.

Exactly. A split second is all it usually takes. Once you benefit from the informative warning of a negative sensation, you automatically want to take action and let the pain go.

Yet our Saboteurs keep us in a cycle of replaying our disappointments and anxieties over and over again…

…the Judge beats you up steadily and uses shame and guilt to teach you a lesson.
…the Controller, Stickler, and Hyper-Achiever consume you with anxiety about the terrible consequences that might ensue.
…the Avoider tricks you into procrastinating, which leads to more anxiety.

And so on.

Disappointment over a setback or mistake is only useful for about 10 seconds until you switch to curiosity about how to learn from it.

And feeling stress over an important presentation or deliverable is of limited benefit at best – only up until the time you start preparing. About 10 seconds worth! Beyond that, it can actually hinder your performance.

Whenever you find yourself in a negative feeling or reaction for more than the informative 10 seconds, I encourage you to try this easy practice:

1. Pause. Ask yourself if you’ve already heard the message, and if there is any value in staying in the reaction.

2. Chuckle to your Saboteur and say, “I’ve got it and I’m on it. Now get out of my way!”

Take your hand off the hot stove of life’s challenges. You’ll see how much easier life instantly becomes.”
Back to Gemini the sign of the Twins look out, as ever, for themes of duality. There is a sense of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing, problems with situations that involve too many people, an increased risk of problems with any kind of official paperwork or form filling that then has to be processed by different departments etc.

In love matters any kind of love triangle will be super sensitive and existing affairs may well reach crunch point. Mars is passion but two’s company, etc – Saturn’s presence under the difficult aspect of the opposition is more likely to spell frustration and thwarted passion than satisfaction! Single? It’s time to body swerve anyone who’s unavailable, no matter how attracted to them you may be.

What else? Mars is speed, Saturn is roadblocks and likes to do things slowly. Kill your speed and avoid any kind of risk taking. Mars is knives too and anything sharp, stinging or feverish. Take precautions and think ahead. I’ve given my students here this week strict instructions on mozzie and sun protection – we don’t want anyone laid out with sunstroke or dehydration!

The better news is that once this aspect is separating the weekend picture is much more satisfying. Venus is now in the water sign of Cancer and is travelling towards a harmonious aspect with Neptune, dignified in his own sign of Pisces –

Saturday Venus trine Neptune (19.50)

This is as different from the Mars – Saturn opposition as you could possibly get. Venus is of course the main love planet, and Neptune is the biggest romantic of them all. If you’ve been having a tough time in your relationship, or if you haven’t spent enough time together recently, then this is your top choice for a date night, either at home or out. If you’re unattached and ready to find love don’t even think about staying in! Girls night out, saying yes to a dinner party invite or any invite – be sociable and be receptive. Venus/Neptune is all about fusion and the urge to merge. This is also a wonderful aspect for healing as well as for falling in love, so time spent on any relationship that is important to you is time well spent.

The weekend feels like the chance to shake off the Mars – Saturn effect, no matter how it may have manifested for you – reaching the end of a period of hard work, personal difficulties, conflicts, challenges, feeling physically under par and so on. Venus – Neptune can be total bliss, relaxation, doing whatever makes you feel happy or meeting someone special. The chance to regroup is also reflected in the New Moon that is exact in the early hours of next Monday morning –

Monday New Moon at 27 degrees of Taurus (05.14)

New Moons, new beginnings – pay special attention to ideas, thoughts or events that surface throughout the week as the New Moon is the time to “birth” whatever will lead you onwards and upwards. This New Moon is especially rich as Taurus is the Moon’s sign of exaltation and is a symbol of fertility and prosperity. If you have planets or angles at or close to 27 degrees of Taurus – or the other fixed signs of Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius – then this New Moon will be especially significant for you. Here’s the usual link for checking the signs and degrees of your natal planets.
Next week I’ll be away for family reasons but I’ll do my best to post a mini blog before I go – although I’m extremely conscious of the fact that Mercury is getting ready to turn retrograde next Tuesday …

Until then,
With love from Greece

4 May 2015 – How astrology really works, predicting earthquakes and elections, Pluto’s power of reinvention

There are still a few places left on Judy Hall’s course The Crystal Zodiac next week at The Greek Island Summer School. Scroll down past the blog to find out more about the travel bargains to Greece next Sunday 10 May.

The Astrology Blog – 4 May 2015

How does astrology really work? Holding the “as above, so below” principle – the macrocosm of celestial activity reflecting the microcosm of life here on planet Earth – it soon becomes apparent to the astrological student that we are not in the realms of clairvoyance. Accurate prediction takes place when astrological symbolism is placed within the context of a life, a relationship, a situation, a country, and so on. Such is the nature of horoscope work (the particular) as opposed to any kind of column or blog (the universal) but for both there is always a limit on how much we can “know” in advance.

I would go so far as to say that the better you are at interpreting symbols, the better astrologer you’ll be. Symbolism gets “fatter” as the moment of an astrological event moves closer (applying), the actual unfolding events putting the flesh on the bones. They get “thinner” once they’re past their point of exactitude (separating). This applies to the minutiae of life as well as the big issues. So, as an astrologer I would know for example that Sunday (yesterday) morning wouldn’t be the best of times for writing with a Mercury (words) opposition (challenge) to Saturn (delays). But I couldn’t “know” exactly what shape this suspected writer’s block would take.

As it happened it took shape in tiredness as we were woken early by a 7am church service, complete with the clanging of bells and wailing priest, which didn’t help with inspiration, then wasting time by trying to fix something on my website and giving up in frustration (definitely should’ve known better on that one), constant interruptions, including my poor little dog flying into the study and fixing my gaze appealingly. Mercury – Saturn is muteness – oh if only they could talk – but fortunately she’s white and I saw immediately that she had a wasp stuck in her coat. She’d obviously been stung but she was fine, just freaked. Something important that was posted to me ten days ago and supposed to take three days still hasn’t turned up but will hopefully turn up, along with one of my sister’s missing cats, now that the Mercury – Saturn opposition and the Full Moon have passed and are getting “thinner”! To the question, do you live your whole life by astrology, the above illustrates that knowing the astrology helps you to make sense of things or find the timing, but so often transits signal things that are out of our control anyway – such as wasps!

I ended last week’s blog with talking about the Full Moon that was exact in the early hours of this morning:
Monday 4 May
Full Moon at 13 degrees of Scorpio (04.43)
Sun square Jupiter (10.03)
To recap, I posted:

This is arguably the most difficult Full Moon of the year as Scorpio is the Moon’s sign of “fall” – the sign in which the softer and receptive lunar qualities struggle for expression. Scorpio belongs to Mars in traditional astrology, and any Moon/Mars combination is difficult (as indicated the other way around too, the Moon is “exalted” in Taurus, which in turn is Mars’ sign of detriment). This Full Moon falls in square to Jupiter (at 13 degrees of Leo) which is a classic “over the top” hallmark.

Two of Jupiter’s big concerns are religion and all things foreign. This tricky Full Moon/Jupiter symbolism is reflected in the rescue of thousands of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean and also in the shooting of the two gunmen in Dallas at a conference on cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed, organized by an anti Muslim group with the aim of making a stand for free speech. The stupidity and hypocrisy of this is hard to believe.

Another top story over the weekend that fits this rather “out of control” symbolism is Nepal. Scorpio is traditionally the sign of “death and rebirth”, and the news stories have moved from the shock and horror aspect of the massive quake and the death toll to the challenge of reconstruction and bringing aid into the country. The square to Jupiter – the Greater Benefic – fits the sadly all too common problem in disaster areas of receiving overwhelming amounts of aid but not having the means to distribute it fast enough. The rebuilding from the rubble (Scorpio/Pluto) is also an overwhelming task. Jupiter also rules all things large and all things related to long distance travel – the larger aircraft are unable to land because of damage to the airport runway.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could predict earthquakes? I looked at the horoscope for Nepal (all countries have their own charts, just as individuals do) and you can’t help but be immediately struck by the fact that Uranus is conjunct the Ascendant – the “front door” into all the houses and arguably the most sensitive part of any horoscope.
Nepal’s chart has an Ascendant of 26.08 Aries, Uranus is at 25.19 Aries. This is an apt symbolic showing of a country on a fault line – Uranus rules shocks and splits of all kinds (physical, mental and emotional) and is the obvious astrological significator for quakes. Nepal also has a long history of volatile political instability.

All planets have their own cycles, how long they take to travel through the 12 signs, and Uranus’ is 84 years. Looking at Nepal’s history the worst earthquake happened on 15 January 1934, right in the middle of a Uranus Return – ie when Uranus had completed an 84 year circuit and had returned to his original position and the Ascendant of the Nepal horoscope. Currently Uranus is approaching 18 degrees of Aries and so the next exact Return is yet to happen (May 2017 – March 2018) but at the time of the quake Uranus was at 17.30 Aries, exactly square the other main angle of the chart, the Midheaven, at 17.24 Aries.

What else is happening this week?

All times are stated in BST

Here’s the usual link for checking the signs and degrees of your natal planets. If you have planets or angles at 13 degrees of Scorpio – or the other fixed signs of Taurus, Leo or Aquarius – then this Full Moon in square to Jupiter will be especially significant for you. If you don’t already know the context, you soon will! Look for the hidden subtext and keep a sense of proportion.

The next aspect this week also features the Sun –

Wednesday Sun trine Pluto (08.09)

This harmonious aspect happens at 15 degrees of the earth signs of Taurus and Capricorn respectively. The latter is important as 15 degrees of Capricorn is the position of a fixed star called Vega, considered fortunate in nature and associated with artistic talent – and luck in politics! If I could muster enough interest to check out the charts of all the candidates for the UK general election I might make a stab at prediction – but at a rather cursory level I’ll just point out that Ed Miliband is a Capricorn with a Taurus Asc and his Midheaven (career and status) at 16 degrees of Capricorn … in other words this Sun – Pluto trine is playing into his horoscope. On the other hand David Cameron’s Sun is at 15.27 Libra and on the day of the election transiting Pluto is at 15.26 Capricorn, which rather spells goodbye to power.

Politics aside, what else might the Sun – Pluto trine signify? It’s an especially potent aspect as it follows hard on the heels of the Scorpio (Pluto’s sign) Full Moon. Any lingering issues from the weekend may well be resolved at this time. Pluto rules endings of the total kind – from slamming the door shut behind him to change of the transformational kind. If you’ve got loose ends of any kind to tie up, or if you have emotional issues to deal with, this aspect signals closure and acceptance. Personal power and potential is important too so, if you need to reinvent your life, yourself, your lifestyle, your relationship and so on, now’s your chance.

My favourite article in the news this week captures the Sun – Pluto message to perfection. This resonates deeply with me as I’ve recently taken the decision to let go of the guaranteed income of media work and to follow a very strong pull towards more travelling and teaching –
“Let go of the need to know how you will achieve your vision. You likely do not know how you will create your dream, your business or your next promotion, especially not in the beginning…instead of focusing on the how, focus on the who. Get a clear mental picture and a sense of who you need to be to achieve the goal.”
“Start with why you want to achieve the goal… Let yourself get excited… This reminder of why your vision is important to you can help you set that doubt aside.”
“Make a decision and a commitment. Once you define your dream or goal, decide that you want to live this way. This may seem basic but many people never decide and commit fully… Make a commitment to yourself.”
“Be a witness to the voice of self-doubt. As you notice the voice of doubt coming up, watch the thoughts that come up like an observer rather than participating in them… Recognise that it is the voice of the part of you that wants to keep you the same and to keep you in familiar territory… simply allow the doubt to be expressed and move on. Recognise that you are not your fear.”

The second half of the week brings a change of sign –

Thursday Venus ingress Cancer (23.53)

This isn’t recognized as one of Venus’s stronger placings but I do like this combination. Venus exiting Mercury’s rather flighty sign of Gemini and entering the Moon’s sign bodes well for putting all love and emotional issues onto a more committed and authentic footing. It’s out with just talking about things, or squabbling about them, and in with showing that you care.

Finally, Mercury moves back into the picture for the coming weekend –

Saturday Mercury square Neptune (17.10)

Mercury is now in Gemini, his sign of dignity, but as already noted has had to get past Saturn’s roadblocks last weekend, and now has to struggle through Neptune’s mists. Make a point of being crystal clear in your communications and arrangements. Mercury – Neptune squares are notorious for crossed wires, the wrong information or even deliberate deception. Note that Neptune rules alcohol – listen to what comes out over a few drinks – in vino veritas! Forgetfulness is in there too – if you’re travelling (my first group of students!) don’t forget your travel paperwork and your phone chargers!

Until next week,
With love from Greece


Fancy a week of sun, fun and astrology?

11 May 2015 – The Crystal Zodiac

The Greek Island Summer School welcomes visiting and internationally acclaimed mind-body-spirit tutor and author Judy Hall. In this course Judy will be teaching how crystals and astrology can help you to understand and heal the past and move forward into the life your soul has planned. All course material is planned around your own horoscopes.

Suitable for all levels. 6 of 20 places available


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September 2015 issue

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