Oh My Stars

Oh My Stars

Ask An Astrologer: Empty (But Not Abandoned) Houses

posted by Matthew Currie

beliefnet astrology matthew currie empty house(Every once in a while I’ll be using my space here to answer questions from readers about astrology. If you have any questions you’d like to ask, read on and I’ll have contact information for you.)


The birth chart has twelve houses, and there are nine planets astrologers normally use (yes, we know that The Sun and Moon aren’t “planets” in the scientific sense, and astronomers don’t call Pluto a “planet” any more, but that’s the term we use. We also know that the Earth is not the center of the solar system, even though the birth chart might make it look that way. Don’t be a wiseguy — astrologers know the Earth isn’t the center of the universe, unlike about 20% of the American public). This means that even if all the planets were perfectly spaced out, there would be three Houses that have no planets in them.


There is a common concern that, for example, if there are no planets in the Fifth House (which rules fun, romance, and children) that you will never have fun, romance, or children in your life. Likewise, the Tenth House rules “career,” there can be worries that having an “empty” Tenth House means you’ll never know which way your career is going… or you’ll never have a job.


One of my clients (we’ll call her “GK”) asks about this: “What does it mean when an astrologer is talking about current astrological transits and says (for example), ‘Find where Aries is in your chart.’ What if nothing is happening in Aries in your birth chart? Do you just assume that nothing much is going on for you with the particular Aries transit in question?”


Good questions! First of all: every chart has all twelves Signs in it somewhere. We start from the Ascendant (or “Rising Sign”) and count that point as the beginning of the First House (unless you use Whole Sign Houses as I sometimes do, in which case the Ascendant falls somewhere inside the First House). From that point we count around the Zodiac in order (which is counter-clockwise in the Birth Chart). So for example, if an astrologer is talking about something happening in Aries right now, and you have Gemini Rising, you’d count your way around to Aries. Counting Gemini as the First House in this case, you’d count your way up to Aries at number ten… The Tenth House… and you’d know that the activity in question was affecting your career.


This is the same principle used for basic Sun Sign forecasts. Sun Sign forecasts may not have the same accuracy as one based on your specific birth chart, but a good one can be quite useful. On the day of a Full Moon in Sagittarius, someone writing a Sun Sign forecast knows that it will affect a Sagittarius as far as how they present themselves to the world (First House) a Capricorn will have some suspicions and have to deal with psychological matters (Twelfth House), an Aquarius will deal with matters involving friends and their social circle (Eleventh House), a Pisces will face agitation at work (Tenth House) and so on.


Got all that? Yeah, I know, it gets complex.


Now, as far as “empty Houses” in the birth chart: that doesn’t mean a lack of activity at all. As an example, let’s take a look at two birth charts of people who both had a whole lot of money, yet one of them had an empty Second House (which rules your cash on hand): J.P. Morgan Senior, and investor Warren Buffett.


John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan (born April 17th 1837, about 3 AM, Hartford Connecticut) was a banker, financier, philanthropist, art collector, and generally his name was synonymous with “huge money.” If you’ve ever heard of “General Electric” or “U.S. Steel” or “AT & T,” you’re familiar with his power to make business financing happen. Although he was born into a reasonably wealthy family, the vast majority of his money was made on his own.


Photographic evidence of J.P. Morgan Sr’s warm and sunny personality.


J.P. had four planets… Sun, Mercury, Venus and Pluto… in Aries in his Second House. Obviously, finances and material security were bound to be big issues with him. Furthermore, all those Aries planets were ruled by Mars in Leo in the Sixth House. The Sixth House is work habits, so here we have someone who naturally put a lot of energy (Mars) into their daily work routine (Sixth House). Furthermore, a “mutual reception” between the Sun and Mars (where each planet is in a Sign ruled by the other) only amplified those traits.


Although he came from a wealthy family, he made his wealth grow immensely, and seems to have dedicated pretty much all of his time and energy into that pursuit. Let’s just say that he never won anyone over by merely by having a warm and sunny personality.


So it’s pretty obvious that with a jumped-up Second House like that, J.P.’s major life pursuit was making money. So how does one explain Warren Buffett, America’ second richest man, who has an empty Second House?


Warren Buffett was born August 30 1930, 3 PM, in Omaha Nebraska. He has an estimated net worth of just a little under 60 billion dollars, and is currently ranked as the world’s third wealthiest person — like baseball standings, these things go up and down. He is probably the world’s most influential investor, and even the slightest hint from him one way or another as to where and how he’s investing can sway the markets. His father was a Congressman, but not an insanely wealthy one. But Warren showed a fondness for making money at an early age, selling chewing gum door to door. He filed his first income tax form when he was 14 years old, claiming his bicycle and his watch as business expenses for his paper delivery route. By his early thirties he was a millionaire, and there was no looking back.


How do we explain this, in light of his empty Second House? His Second House is Cancer, ruled by the Moon, and his natal Moon is in Sagittarius, and is in a mutual reception with his Jupiter in Cancer. These are all good, solid indicators of potential wealth despite there being no planets in the Second House itself. Furthermore, that Moon is waxing, and it’s in the Eleventh House (which is “money made from the career” as opposed to “money in general”). So even with an empty Second, the indicates of Big Money are there.


So, if you have any concerns about an empty House in your life, don’t panic… ask an astrologer!


Questions about your birth chart, or astrology in general? Write me… I’ve got answers!

Mars, Mandela And Gandhi: Use Your Weapons Wisely

posted by Matthew Currie

beliefnet astrology matthew currie mandela gandhiMars is the place in your birth chart that gives you your drive and aggression — but as I noted last time in my article on Nelson Mandela, a highly-charged Mars doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in destructive ways. It is always easier to destroy than to create, and yet there are always those among us who, thankfully, choose the High Road. On a hunch, I decided to have a look at the birth chart of another famous 20th Century leader who helped lead his people against an unfair system to see if there were similarities… and there they were, plain as day.

Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi (born October 2, 1869, 7:11 AM, Porbandar, India) led his nation against an oppressive regime while facing considerable odds against him. Gandhi famously chose the path of non-violence, and Mandela came from a background of violence to eventually advocate a less violent path. Like Mandela, Gandhi had a highly-charged Mars.

Both Gandhi and Mandela had a Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in a challenging aspect to Mars. Mandela had that conjunction square his Mars in Libra, and Gandhi had it opposite his Mars in Scorpio.  A quick check of any reference will tell you that there is a world of difference between Mars in Libra and Mars in Scorpio: the former is a peacekeeper, and the other holds a grudge. And yet neither Mandela nor Gandhi are exactly known for either backing down for the sake of agreement or for harboring resentment. Part of this is undoubtedly due to their being “evolved souls,” whatever that may be… and if there’s a specific indicator of that in a birth chart, I’ve never been able to spot it.  It seems that no matter what hand we’re dealt, heroism or villainy or bravery or cowardice are all personal choices.

I admit that as an astrologer there is sometimes a tendency to seek out the difficult manifestations of a planetary aspect more often than might occur in the average population, for much the same reason that a doctor tends to see more illness than health in his or her patients. I’m sure there are many physicians out there who see people with inherent physical weaknesses who nonetheless manage to remain healthy and functional, and there are many astrologers who see clients who do not manifest the lower side of their birth chart’s potential — myself included. Although we all carry the potential for villainy, I’m thankful the great majority of my clients find ways to deal with the darkness in a constructive manner… and I’m thankful I have a job that helps them do so.

The more I look at the chart of Gandhi and Mandela, the more I become convinced that, although they were men of high ideals who were struggling against systems that were inherently wrong, they probably enjoyed that struggle — a lot. It’s classic career advice to tell someone to do something that they love. It may be good news for most of us, most of the time, that there is no upheaval and revolution going on for us to be swept up in. But for all of us, it may be a very good thing that at times when civil disobedience is called for, there are those who are equipped to lead the way… and those who enjoy doing so.

Mars has now entered Libra, which is considered a problematic placement, and will remain there for ten months. As I’ve written here before, that’s going to be an incredible challenge for many of us, and specifically in regard to relationships with our loved ones, friends, co-workers, and even with society as a whole. And as that Mars approaches the opposition to Uranus and the square to Pluto…  coming into effect now and reaching its first peak on Christmas Day… many of us will face major challenges to our peace of mind. If we keep in mind the example given to us by Gandhi and Mandela, who struggled against much greater obstacles than ours, we will be better people for it.

Use your anger like a scalpel, and not a club… and let your wisdom wield that scalpel wisely. You may even find a way to enjoy it.


Nelson Mandela And The Lessons Of Mars

posted by Matthew Currie

beliefnet matthew currie astrology nelson mandelaNelson Mandela (born July 18, 1918, time unknown but probably in the afternoon, Umtata, South Africa) has died at the age of 95. He, like millions of others, lived with a system that treated the majority of its people with brutal unfairness. More than any other individual, he helped change that.

There will be a lot of places on the Internet and in the news that will do a better and more eloquent job of describing why Nelson Mandela was important, what tremendous odds he faced, and how he made life better for millions. My main goal here is to ask what we as followers of astrology can best learn from his birth chart, his life, and how the one translated into the other.

His story was one of struggle, and when we look at the will to fight against the prevailing forces in life, we look at Mars. Nelson Mandela had Mars in Libra, which is often considered to be a “debilitated” placement — too interested in compromise to be effective. Yet for all of the odds against him, and even with that Mars placement, Mandela did in fact make South Africa a more peaceful place… through resistance, through courage, and at one point in his life, as an advocate of violence.


There was once at time, not that long ago yet before many of you will remember, when one of the largest countries in Africa did not allow the majority of its citizens many of their most basic rights. In 1948 South Africa, a country already dealing with a lot of racial oppression took a turn for the worse with the implementation of apartheid: a legal system designed to permanently entrench the legal and political superiority of a minority group at the expense of the majority. In fiction, such circumstances call for a hero, a liberator, a rebel with a cause. In the case of South Africa many of those arose, but none so famously as Nelson Mandela.

He was a Freedom Fighter, but let’s not forget either that one man’s “freedom fighter” is another man’s “terrorist,” and there were plenty of people who called Mandela that too in his time.There were times in the past where The United States and Britain labelled him as such: he was on the US Terrorist Watch List until 2008, and  Margaret Thatcher once described his political party, the African National Congress as a “typical terrorist organization.”  And let’s be honest with ourselves with this: we all know how Mandela struggled for freedom, but sometimes it’s convenient to forget that “struggle” is a synonym for “fight,” and that fights usually end in blood.

Yes. There were times in his relative youth when Nelson was not always an advocate of the most peaceful path to freedom. But of course, many of the same people who will call him a terrorist now are the same people who yearly celebrate the violent overthrow of British rule over the American Colonies. And despite the oppression the American Colonists experienced at the time, it take a leap of the imagination greater than I can muster to compare it to what Blacks in South Africa faced — told where to lived and what jobs they could do based simply on having accidentally been born in the same land their ancestors came from, eventually resulting in the absurdity of all Black South Africans being legally considered citizens of “Bantustans” rather than the actual country they lived in: a mind-boggling legal sleight of hand guaranteed to keep political power out of their hands. And voting? Forget that. 

Confronted with such outrage, what do you do? Do you accommodate it? Co-operate? Ignore it? Carve out a personal corner or relative tranquility in a sea of lunacy? Or do you fight it any way you can?

Nelson Mandela fought. And when we fight, we are using our Mars. His was a strong one, despite being in a “bad” Sign for it — Libra. Furthermore, it was squared by Jupiter and Pluto, so if we didn’t know the man it would be easy to see a tendency to violence, or to see the revolutionary without considering the necessity of his revolt. Under different circumstances, we could easily imagine someone with a Jupiter-Pluto conjunction square their Mars — someone who spent 27 years (an entire Saturn cycle) in prison — as simply “a criminal.”

And of course, technically… he was a criminal. But if the laws being broken are unjust, then a criminal becomes a hero. Nelson Mandela found a way to make all his perfectly-justified rage not only work for him, but ultimately used that rage to make his country a better place, and to become a symbol of hope for oppressed people everywhere. The convicted saboteur went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

That, I believe, is the big astrological lesson Nelson Mandela teaches us: all potential for harm can ultimately be used for something good, if we choose to do so. We don’t need someone like Nelson Mandela to be our savior or our angel… we need him to be a reminder that we too can make even the worst of circumstances better if we choose to do so, if we stick to our principles, and are unafraid to do so.

What are you doing with your Mars?

(More about the wise use of problematic Mars placements — and how it relates to our current astrological conditions — HERE: “Mars, Mandela, And Gandhi: Use Your Weapons Wisely”)


The Astrology Of Neptune In Pisces, Elan Gale, And The Diane Who Wasn’t There

posted by Matthew Currie
beliefnet astrology matthew currie elan gale neptune pisces

Diane (left) relaxes with her cousins in the back yard.

Although the long and ongoing Uranus-Pluto square gets the most press among astrologers — nothing gets your attention like a good revolution or two — it’s easy to overlook Neptune’s long trip through the Sign it rules: Pisces.  Any planet is considered to be particularly strong when in the Sign it rules, and Neptune is the ruler of illusions.

Illusions come in many forms. There are the illusions one finds at the bottom of a bottle of wine, or in a hypodermic needle, or rolled in a joint. There are also the illusions contained in a film or TV show or a well-told story. Then there are the little lies we tell ourselves every day, whether it’s “my work as an accountant is making a real difference in the world” or “I’m really a starship captain, and not an accountant at all” or “I think so-and-so from Human Resources finds me attractive.” There are also the delusions one can enjoy that involve hearing a frenzied sermon, swapping YouTube links with our fellow Conspiracy Theorists, or watching a morality play where the bad guy gets what he deserves and the good guy wins. We all participate in fictions to one degree or another: it’s what’s called “willing suspension of disbelief.” Everyone knows that Harrison Ford isn’t really an archaeologist and isn’t really being chased by Nazis… but for the duration of an Indiana Jones movie, we suspend that knowledge in order to enjoy the story. We love fiction, but at least technically speaking, we are participating in a lie.

Let me tell you a true story about lies in the Age Of Neptune In Pisces.

The Internet has been abuzz lately with a story about a feud between a guy named Elan Gale and a woman named Diane, who found themselves on a delayed flight just before Thanksgiving. Unlike most situations where two strangers rub each other the wrong way, a note-passing feud broke out, Twitter was involved, and the matter became an international sensation. Some considered it a hilarious tale where someone suffering from chronic rudeness got served justice for being annoying to someone who was just doing his job. Others saw sexism and rudeness of a different sort in the whole matter.

It turns out though that ultimately both interpretations were wrong. The entire story was a fabrication.

Until last week, Elan Gale (born October 27, 1983, time unknown, Los Angeles CA) was best known as a television producer. His best-known product was “The Bachelor”:  a heavily produced and edited “reality show” based on the stage-managed (yet still “real”) quest for the cure to that most horrifying of disorders… being single. Thanks to the Internet, Elan’s name is now most closely associated in the public’s mind not with a show about curing America’s rampant plague of singledom, but for a Thanksgiving feud on an airplane with a rude passenger.

To summarize: Elan was stuck waiting on a plane trying to get home for Thanksgiving, as many people are every year. A woman in the plane named Diane became loud and unruly and began making life difficult for the staff. Elan intervened in the form of passing notes and causing further provocation to Diane, eventually resulting in an uproarious tale of justice delivered, or a disturbing display of public rudeness vs. public rudeness, depending on one’s perspective.

The punchline? It turns out that none of this really happened. We all just heard a compelling story and played along.

Now: was Elan just lying, or was he telling a morality story based on the sort of thing that happens all the time in real life? Was he making up a story for attention, was he revealing some inherent sexism, was he striking a blow for the common man, or was he just doing it for attention? And what about the person who claimed that Diane was a real relative of theirs, suffering from a real case of terminal cancer, and that this was the source of her frustration, and that Elan should be incredibly ashamed of himself? What was that person’s motivation in all this?

You tell me.  Great Art often calls for multiple interpretations, and so can A Great Lie.

For the record, Elan Gale has his Sun, Mercury and Saturn in Scorpio, and his Moon in Cancer… all Water Signs, and all well equipped to handle Neptune in Pisces. He seems wired to deal with our current era’s illusions, and to create a few of his own.

The last time Neptune was in Pisces, it saw the rise of Impressionism and the first Gold Medal for portrait photography — both of which are arts that make things seem more real by making images that are, in fact, less realistic. This time around, the means to produce popular art are more widespread than any time in human history. Neptune remains in Pisces until 2026. What miracles and wonders will entertain and annoy us all, as artists of all kinds (including the kinds the world has never seen before) create their works? It remains to be seen… and it remains to be seen how we react to it.

“We are all better artists than we realize.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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