Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Decans Articles - Sagittarius

What do Edith Piaf, Teri Hatcher and Jane Austen have in common?  They were all born under the sign of Sagittarius!  But do you know which Decan of the sign? Perhaps more vitally, do you know which Decan of your Sun sign (zodiac sign) you were born under? You can find out by looking at the Decans information at Totally4Women:


For Sagittarius, the current sign of the month, look here:


As some of you know, I have been writing the horoscope column at the T4W website for some time now and the Decans focus will soon be complete, with Capricorn the next sign covered.  T4W have kindly decided to keep the Decans personality readings available for the ongoing future, so do visit back to view the set whenever you want that kind of information. You can find the overview here:


Thanks also to those who post comments to this site.  All comments are moderated and we do only publish those that are truly relevant and genuine to what is being discussed here.

Celestially yours!

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Light of Venus - author: Adam Gainsburg; review by Diana McMahon Collis

Celestial Spot has had a little gap whilst I have been kept ultra busy with external writing, editing, author support and consultation services.  Apologies to fans of the blog, but I shall now be posting some book reviews by way of a little catching up... Here is the first one and I hope you enjoy it.  It may have special interest for fans of the Sun and Venus, but also for anyone interested in understanding more about their life purpose... Celestially yours, as ever!
Book Review of:  The Light of Venus
Author:  Adam Gainsburg
Published by:  Soulsign Publishing, Virginia USA 2012 (paperback edition)

Review Text Copyright Diana McMahon Collis 2013 + beyond
Review First Published in The Astrological Journal Vol. 55 No. 1 January/February 2013

Adam Gainsburg’s book will appeal to anyone interested in understanding about their unique purpose on this planet, particularly through their “dharma” – or spiritual responsibility – describing the unique gift that each person can bring into the world.
Whilst the book’s title focuses on one particular planet, it is not just a study of Venus, or yet another planetary ‘cookbook’.  The Light of Venus is primarily about the relationship of Venus to the Sun in the sky.  In that way it instantly reminded me of Dane Rudhyar’s work on Moon cycles (The Lunation Cycle), but Gainsburg explains, that systems such as Rudhyar’s rely on an equal-phase formula (phases of equal duration), whereas his own study and theory has been based upon direct sky experience – ie “astrophysical” rather than astrological.

This book is about the cycle of Venus in relation to the Sun and the particular stages (phases)  of that cycle.  The author observes the movement of Venus from Morning Star to Evening Star and back again, indicating that each person has a personal Venus phase (although, paradoxically, this links them to a higher, collective purpose).   Understanding this phase can demonstrate “how your inner feminine nature can contribute to our improved collective femininity”.  Gainsburg suggests that Venus-Sun ‘alchemy’ shows the heart’s intelligence, providing a route away from perceived separateness, towards a more connected, personal communion with life in general – quite a profound idea.  This work is rooted in solid experience, though; not only has the author spent much time literally observing the sky, but also many hours with clients, noting how the Venus-Sun phase has played out in their experiences.  I wish that he had been able to include some actual case studies, as this would have made his arguments more persuasive.
On with the theory, however: as any astrologer knows, it is not unusual for there to be a range of contradictions within an individual horoscope; Gainsburg goes on to describe how Venus’s natal phase can seem at odds with the horoscopic placement of Venus by sign, house, aspect and dignity.  The main thrust of the book may, however, detract somewhat from the established idea that, inner planets usually point to more personal aspects of a person’s character and life experience, whilst outer planets are often seen to better represent the collective – or a sense of shared, ‘generational’ consciousness.  Gainsburg’s take on the Sun-Venus cycle together suggests that they are “dynamic stages of a collective developmental process”, although he does emphasise a “personal communion” according to specific phase.  It may be that he is describing a difference between the ‘mundane’ self and ‘higher’ self, towards which – the theory appears to go - the feminine life force (or side of the brain) has a stronger access link.

 It is worth mentioning that Gainsburg observes a synodic cycle, not a sidereal cycle for plotting the phases, with this definition: “ (from Greek synodos for “with the path”) ... synodic cycles are measured from the conjunction of two or more bodies to their next conjunction.  Synodic cycles are formed by two planets which share a path together or travel with one another.  (Wikipedia defines a synodic day as sunrise to sunrise and a sidereal day as star-rise to star-rise; apparently, if we are talking about a synodic month, this represents the Moon’s phases, focussing on the Moon’s position in relation to the Sun as viewed from earth).  Details such as this and the emphasis on sky-watching, as opposed to astro-logging (presumably working only from ephemerides, logarithms and maths), emphasise a subtlety of astrological approach that is often missing in a lot of astrological literature. 
As teachers of astrology often find, if we pull the old literature apart too much we can start to see flaws in the astrological system.  To an extent, Adam Gainsburg’s approach shows up these flaws, which is oddly quite refreshing - perhaps because it reminds us just what a complex subject astrology can be, as well as how simple it could be!  I felt reminded of the split in astrology between an externally observational, physical practice (more akin to astronomy) and a logical, table-building, mathematical practice, both with relatively ancient routes of course.  Yet I am tempted to call Gainsburg’s approach “retro” – in the nicest possible way.  The Light of Venus reminded me a little of some of the 1970s astrological literature and of the Jeffrey Wolf Green school of astrology.

The author’s claim is that “What’s Your Phase” is the new “What’s Your sign” and suggests that “it may be that your greatest contribution comes not from your planets and thus your personal identity, but the spaces in between them”.  I like this approach as it reminds me of certain modern artists (playwrights, film-makers, authors, actors) who emphasise that it is not always what characters say that matters: it is the gaps in between what they say that often conveys something of profound importance!
Adam Gainsburg’s work is considered to be pioneering in the astrological field and as such it might be fair to compare him with other innovators, such as John Addey.  It is certainly refreshing to see someone talking about something that seems new, even if the relationship between the Sun and Venus has been there all the time!  With any new approach, though, I am eager to test it against reality.  Only then can I decide if I am going to add its methodology to the (already fairly packed) repertoire of tools for understanding “what’s in a chart” – and whether I should be pointing clients and students to the new information.  I want to feel satisfied that it adds something vital or at least very relevant, when students are already struggling to understand the basics of astrology or clients are busy wanting answers to slightly more mundane queries.  Even if the book is only going to be of passing interest to me plus nearest and dearest, perhaps the acid test for relevancy of astrological material  is that the information (or interpretation) has to ring true.   I am glad to report that I could certainly relate to the description of my own Venus phase; a part of me wished I had some other Venus phase, as what I read was effectively a repeat of a message I have received in other areas.  But there is value in having confirmation of what you already know –  this is sometimes what clients seek from a consultation session or reading.  For more objectivity and a fairer test, I compared the interpretations given of the various Venus phases against the charts and personal knowledge of a handful of people I am well acquainted with – and equally thought that the phase meanings reflected something quite profound about those people.

Whilst I prefer not to gripe about small technicalities in any painstakingly constructed art work, there are a couple of features that niggled a little, although they don’t detract from the core value of the book.   The first is that, whilst this may not strictly be an astrology ‘cookbook’, it does have a somewhat formulaic component.  This is particularly clear in the definitions of the “Collective Theme” of each phase, under the “Phase Meanings” headings.  These revolve around ‘feminine intention’ and ‘feminine identity’ and come across as variations on a theme, with verbs as their distinguishing factor.  Maybe this is just the way it has to be.  A book needs a structure after all; the material has to be clearly organised in some way.  But, when I noticed the similarity of the wording in these sections, I suffered that temporary experience of doubt and slight cynicism that I hear in the voices of those members of the public who say: “but when I read the sections in horoscope columns, I could relate to any one of them”.
The second factor is that the author mentions that he has taken pains to keep the book’s language simple and accessible; whilst I am sure that his intentions were true, I also think the book contains psycho-spiritually-based language that will be more accessible to some readers than others.  For example, a phrase  such as “Crystallizing our re-made feminine intention; radiating, manifesting our feminine destiny” might not bring immediate clarity to all.  This might not matter, however, if the book contained case studies and/or even a few metaphors that could help to elucidate and pin down meanings.  As it is, the language in the book seems to leave some of the’ meanings’ given open to further interpretation.

Moving on, to structure, as well as the key chapters on the 13 phases of the Venus-Sun cycle, there are explanatory chapters on Adam Gainsburg’s reasons for writing the book, the meaning of Dharma, the Feminine Principle and Feminine Self, astrology (the sky approach vs the other approach) and how the Venus phases work.  A further, tabled section clearly lists the Venus phase dates, helping to instantly identify your Venus phase (no clunky maths or chart scrabbling to do!). 
One way and another, the book has some hidden depths and extra little nuggets tucked away.  There is a glossary of astrological terms and some fascinating appendices, which include things like ‘Notes for Consulting Astrologers’, ‘Meditation Images of the Venus Phases’ (which reminded me of I-Ching hexagram phrases), ‘Venus Retrograde & Venus Invisible’, ‘Venus and the Moon’, ‘The Solar Feminine’ – and more, across 13 separate subject headings ( nice symbiosis!).   Last, but not least, there is an extensive bibliography and reading list, together with a resources section. 

Appendices can sometimes look like passing add-ons.  However, one of these focuses on the Venus-Moon ‘alchemy’ in the chart, an understanding of which can help “those interested in increasing their feminine authenticity” – a section which might be helpful for anyone working with their shadow side/dark side, wanting to get clear on actions that could move them more towards the light.  Once again, I ‘tested’ the readings of each sign against that which I know to be true about self and others and was quite impressed by how the interpretations seemed to really fit.  Not only is this useful for self-knowledge, but it helped me to somehow understand and even forgive some previously inexplicable behaviour through the years.   I suspect The Light of Venus could therefore be a helpful ‘manual’, over time or, at the very least, become one of those texts that I can reach for if I feel I have lost my way a little, to remind myself of why I am here and how to get back on track.  Clearly, a lot of time and love has gone into the creation of The Light of Venus and for that reason alone, it deserves careful, meditative reading.  It is a book that focuses on astrology as a tool for growth – on a global scale - but starting simply and very personally, with you - and me.  All in all it is a very thoroughly researched book, with a fresh approach and the kind of deeply insightful information that might make a difference to how you feel about yourself and your life.  For professional, natal astrologers, it might make a difference to your clients’ view, particularly if they are interested in concepts such as spiritual/personal/planetary growth and evolution.  Many of mine just want to know about quite everyday, down to earth things!  But I can see the concepts in this book appealing to those keen to pursue a spiritual path.  Adam Gainsburg has produced an interesting, refreshing book, worthy of praise and attention.
If you are interested to know more about your own birth chart, you may like to consider booking a Mindbliss Astrology reading: http://www.mindbliss.co.uk/astrologychartreadings.htm

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Decans Horoscope Column

One of my current ventures involves writing a monthly horoscope column for the www.totally4women.com website; however, it is a horoscope column with a difference.  Instead of focussing on the typical forecasts for the 12 signs of the zodiac (which I have been doing in various places for the past 23 years), this time I am writing about the zodiacal decans ("You what?"  - I hear you say!  Bear with me...).  I am referring to the divisions of each of the zodiac signs, into three, separate sections, which cover a specific time span in the calendar months and which are each ruled by a different planet.  So if you were born - or know someone else who was born - in the first week of May, for example, chances are you or they are a 'Second Decan' Taurean.  And that means something different, astrologically, than whatever you already know about Taurus.  As it happens, the sign of Taurus is the focal point of the latest piece, which has just been published at this fun and fascinating women's website: http://www.totally4women.com/2013/04/21/what-the-stars-say-taurus-horoscope/.

You can also find information at T4W about the Decans in general, as they relate to every zodiac sign and the information for previous signs already published, including Aquarius, Pisces and Aries: http://www.totally4women.com/life/what-the-stars-say-zodiac/.

Celestially Yours


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Venus Pluto Aspects - Pluto Stationary Retrograde

With Pluto shortly about to reach a station and then turn to retrograde motion, at around 11 degrees of the zodiac sign of Capricorn, it is no surprise  to have lately heard from quite a few people with strong Plutonic connections in the birth chart.  In particular, I am hearing about relationship problems and, in several cases, the people concerned have a powerful Venus-Pluto aspect in the chart. 

The word  ‘aspect’, is our technical term in astrology for a specific kind of angular connection, from the visual mathematics of geometry.  It is also a term used by estate agents to describe the views from windows in the rooms in properties that they show.  The term has a common ground here, because when we talk about planetary aspects we are describing the way in which planets seem to look out at one another.

Astrologers sometimes talk about “hard” and “easy” aspects.  In the first case we usually mean squares (planets 90 degrees apart) and oppositions (180 degrees apart) – and sometimes conjunctions, which describe when planets are right next to one another, or in the exact same place.  Easy aspects are trines (planets 120 degrees apart) and sextiles (60 degrees apart).

The difficult Venus-Pluto aspects are the ones I think of as particularly powerful in a chart, in that they seem to be hard to live with at times.  Therefore the person concerned experiences any current planetary connections to their Venus-Pluto aspect very intensely – and perhaps not least of all because Pluto itself seems linked to rather intense energy!

I sometimes find it a good analogy to personalise the planets as characters.  So, if you can imagine Pluto interacting with Venus, here we have a bit of a bully, prepared to do almost anything, even if it is underhand or illegal, in order to have his own way (Pluto).  This manipulative, forceful and sometimes deceitful energy is strongly drawn to attractive, lush, sensual Venus.  In Tarot Venus is linked with the Empress and so contains the qualities of nurturing, support and kindness.  In astrology Venus takes a variety of forms, depending upon which sign she resides in, at the time.  She can be anything from soft and gentle to alluring and seductive.  For Pluto it is fairly simple: he just wants all that Venus can give and will try any trick in the book to get it.

Some say that  Pluto – whose character equivalent in Greek mythology is Hades – is not all bad, but there is little doubt that he is tricky.  And for any Venusian person caught up in a relationship with a Plutonic kind of personality, it is frequently not an easy ride.  Therefore, Venusian people may need their wits about them as Pluto changes direction, to spot when they may be falling for some trick, drawn in almost magnetically by an energy field that feels somehow “wrong” or uncomfortable, or unwittingly under some kind of attack.
As for the Pluto personality, the key to freedom from any destructive or miserable cycle is to realise – or remember – that you can have what you want, or close to it, but you don’t have to go to extremes to get it.  Sometimes the cause of Pluto’s ongoing discontent is a growing sense of jealousy, which registers painfully in the body – but the pain is caused by the mind.  The jealousy comes, perhaps, from an internal dialogue of comparison, which pits others as “up there” and “better” in some way.  They seem to have what the Pluto person wants and which feels out of reach.  But is it really out of reach?  Probably not.  This child comes into life with blessings and gifts, also, but maybe not the right conditions and opportunities for them to blossom in the usual way or time span.  The key to true happiness for the Pluto personality is to work from the roots up, creating the right conditions – not trying to artificially pinch them from the outside and paste them into place.  They will become dislodged too easily that way and it will take a lot of energy to keep them there!  But what grows from the roots up can be lasting and beautiful – it just needs time and the right care and attention.

Ironically, both characters need the  same thing when Venus and Pluto are challenged astrologically – to turn towards greater self-care and let the love and healing take place on the inside.
©Diana McMahon Collis 11 April 2013
Image of Woman in Venus Mask © Boguslavovna | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Tarot Numbers - Sixes

Today, the seasons are transitioning - and in the UK this is more marked right now than at the Spring Equinox itself, as our clocks have "gone back" and the evenings are visibly lighter for longer.  So I want to talk about a transition number in the tarot.  It is number Six.  Firstly, the previous number, Five, reminds me of being on a see-saw.  It represents a midway point in the Minor Arcana of the tarot; a point from which we can roll back, stay static or move forward, possibly in a new direction.

Six is the actual step forward.  Six is when we have the impetus, or sense of safety, or feeling of a 'green light', which is telling us and showing us that we can go ahead.  So if Sixes come up in your reading for yourself or another, it means some forward movement is on the way and that, generally, it will be good.  This is perhaps most obvious with the Six of Wands, one of the keywords for which is 'victory'.  Or with the Six of Swords, which indicates a journey to a safer place, usually after a period of stress, strife or difficulty.

Bearing in mind that the Six of Cups is often linked with the past - past places, past contacts, etc - does this hold true for that card?  Yes it does.  At least it does if you're seeing several Sixes in the reading and/or if other cards are pointing to forward motion and change - say The Chariot, The Fool or The Wheel, from the Major Arcana are showing up.  Or one or more Sixes appear in the spread of cards.  Then you can be fairly sure that this is the case.  The Six of Cups, in particular, may be saying that a connection with the past will help to pivot you forward to a new future.

The Six of Pentacles is an interesting card, because it suggests doing more financially and work-wise. I think it's a card that warns to consider the choice carefully because, whilst success may be promised, there can be the risk of overburdening. I use the Cosmic Tarot for some of my professional tarot readings and this is especially obvious in the imagery on that card - a man holds out his arms with the six Pentacles between them, rather like a juggler. If those arms go any wider he might find he drops one of the Pentacles! So it's a card about limits as well.

We can also sometimes think about the Six as an actual measure of time, of course. We may need to think about the unit of time - Six years, months, weeks, etc.  And as to whether the figure six runs from the current time or a past time.  In a recent client reading two Sixes appeared in the Celtic Cross tarot spread and, after discussing the client's life context a little, it became clear that the time period would be measured from when she had lost someone important in her life.  The Sixes here were showing a transition forward after a period of bereavement.

If you have experience of, thoughts on or questions about working with the Sixes in the tarot, I'd love to hear your comments, here on the blog!

For those who have been following this blog, it's been a while, I know. Celestial spot has been publicly quiet but only because Celestia has been hard at work 'in the ring', as it were! The desire to write is very powerful, though and I think the blog will soon have new life because of this. Posts may be a little shorter sometimes, but better a little than not at all, we figure - and hope you agree. We hope you enjoy the latest!  Happy Easter (or your favoured festival, at this time of the year) to all.

Celestially Yours