All posts here are from sections of the books: "North Node Astrology; Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose" and "Lifting the Veil; Becoming Your Own Best Astrologer" and "Astrology for the Third Act of Life" and finally "Saturn Returns~The Private Papers of A Reluctant Astrologer" All available in paperback, Kindle and Audible on

To inquire about readings or for more articles on the North/South Nodes, go to:

Friday, May 30, 2008

South Node 3rd House, North Node 9th House

South Node Third House, North Node Ninth House

The South Node always represents what we are most comfortable with, as well as our default patterns in life, and our habits that we fall back into when we don’t bring consciousness into what we are doing. The North Node, by contrast, is the direction our Soul longs to go towards in this life, and its qualities are like a guiding North Star when we have our North Node here.

South Node in the Third House can suggest unresolved karmic issues with brothers and sisters and situations from our early childhood. It also suggests that communication in all its forms is especially significant for us, and when used well, it hints that we bring with us an understanding—a savvy-- of how to get along in the “market place” or in the immediate world around us. We’ve got street smarts, and we’re curious, and want to know “what’s happening.” When not used well, a South Node here can be flighty or fearful of going too far or too deep. As the third house relates to the sign of Gemini, we could say that any of the negative characteristics of Gemini would apply here---especially the puer or puella complex, which is also known as the Peter Pan Syndrome; hinting that a part of us is reluctant to take on the role of growing up and expanding our world beyond the familiar.

The call of the Ninth House, which is ruled by Sagittarius, is a North Node call to expand outside the comfort levels of our community, our town, and our old ways of seeing things. It’s a call to expand, and to find a true spiritual rudder for our Soul’s journey through this life. A North Node placement here is always colored by whatever sign the Node is in, but it still carries the message of adventure---asking us to read, travel, and to dare to try to understand in a deeper way than ever before. This house is the house of the higher mind, and it wants to be nourished by contact with anything that inspires and stimulates us to find “meaning.” As it is the house of meaning-making, it is also the realm of spirituality, religion, and philosophy.

The 3rd and 9th houses have a lot of resonance with teaching, speaking, writing, telling our story, and movement through time and space. We are called here to see life as a grand Quest, and then to tell the story of our journey—to communicate what we know and what we’ve learned. Not so bad!
~elizabeth spring (c) 2008
*Photo: exotic spices in Southern France--I took this photo, and the trip, with a person whose Nodes fall across the 3rd to 9th house axis. The effort to expand his world turned out to be a pleasurable experience for both of us.

Friday, May 23, 2008

South Node Second House, North Node Eighth House

South Node Second House,
North Node Eighth House

The South Node represents what we’ve come into this life with---the gifts, the wounds, the challenges. On the most basic level, the South Node is where we are comfortable because we are familiar with the territory, and in the Second House we can be very comfortable indeed. Having the South Node ruled by Taurus and Venus, it suggests that our comfort zone is in being independently resourceful, and that our creature comforts are very important to us. Taurus, Venus, and the Second House all love security, good food and drink, loyal friends, and the type of life philosophy that is rooted in a pragmatic and sensual understanding of life. Nothing wrong with that!

That is unless you take it too far. And this is the case if it’s your South Node in the Second House. The South Node always represents the area that we didn’t get quite right in a former life, or earlier in this one, so we are called to release these habits and traits. This Nodal combination speaks to the need to move away from the dependence, security, and comfort needs of this house and move towards the willingness to risk one’s present level of security for a deeper, truer level of security and integrity.

The Eighth House, whose astrological synonyms are Scorpio and Pluto, are about the willingness to die and be reborn like the phoenix if necessary in order to live a life of integrity. No false security or living in the world of denial for North Node Eighth House people!

The North Node in the eighth house, the house of Scorpio, calls us to find the emotional bottom line in all we do. It calls us to move beyond comfort, security, and even the simpler pleasures of life, and to look into the eyes of the bully to find the frightened unloved child there. It calls us to Truth and to new experience. It calls us to reach for the understanding of another’s point of view, other than our own, and the willingness to intimately and dynamically become related with that “Other.” It asks us to understand the highest level of inter-dependence, rather than dependence or independence.

And that is really a powerful place to be in! Here is where we can truly know the meaning of loyalty and trust. A North Node in this Eighth house is quite a gift if we can harmonize the qualities of our Second House into this, providing stability as well as ambition, integrity as well as intimacy. © Elizabeth Spring

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Gift of Pluto; Finding the Power in Your Pain

Astrological Pluto, ‘God of the Underworld’—
Finding the Power in your Pain

Pluto—ruthless planet of change or master teacher? Could the place of your deepest wounds also be the gateway to your power and sense of meaningfulness? Yes! Pluto, the astrological ‘god of the underworld’ seeks to find the meaning and purpose of our lives, but it does so with such an uncontrollable intensity that we want to bury or hide its experience.
Where you find Pluto in your birth chart is where you’ve had experiences of shame, sacrifice or loss—yet it’s there that Pluto dares us to look deeper into the opportunities disguised as loss, and to find our hard-earned wisdom there. It calls us to learn from our darkest experiences, and by understanding it, we transform that pain into power. No easy task! But this master teacher of the zodiac is also the greatest gift giver.
So how do you find where Pluto is in your birth chart? If you’ve ever had your astrology chart done, and can find a copy of it, this article will tell you how to find what area, or ‘house’ Pluto is in your life. This is the area where you have a distorting wound and also a high calling; a destiny. Like the abused child who grows up to become a loving parent, and maybe a ‘child-advocate’ instead of an abuser, you too can turn the pain in your past into compassion and power.
If you’re looking at your chart now, look to find the glyph that looks like the capital letter P with an extra little bottom line under it, or a tiny circle encased in a half circle on top of a cross. (Astrologers use one or the other to signify Pluto.) It will be in one of the 12 sections of the chart’s circle and will have a number next to it. Don’t worry about the numbers—you can ask your astrologer to explain the sign and aspects of Pluto, but for now we’re just going to locate it.
Your chart is a circle that is divided into 12 sections. Each section represents a different sphere of your life and Pluto is hiding in one of those sections. Now if you will imagine your chart to be a clock, put your pen at the section of the circle that would be the hour between 8:00 and 9:00. This is the section called the “first house.” The second house is in the next section, going counter-clockwise—between the hours of 7:00 and 8:00. Now write in the numbers of each section from 1 to 12 going counter-clock-wise in your circle and note where your Pluto is…it’s like a map, and you’ve just found the buried treasure!
Here’s a short translation of what Pluto in each area, or ‘house’ represents:

1st House: Pluto here shows you have charisma and the ability to be a leader, and a healer as well—that is, if you are willing to come out of hiding and dare to tell the whole Truth. Having once been shamed for your truth telling (‘Uncle Joe, why are you so fat?’) you now need to temper your honesty with compassion and tact, and to face your own cynicism and anger. Helping others find ways to deeply express the truth of their lives would be rewarding for you.

2nd House: You build self-confidence from using your many resources and talents. As you move away from scarcity consciousness and give money less power in your life, you understand what is your true wealth and value. Having once been shamed and blamed for your ways of handling your resources and money, you may wish to prove yourself capable, again and again.

3rd House: Misunderstandings and miscommunications may have you seeing thorns and missing the roses in your life. Your attitude or voice may conceal old angers…yet if you turn it around and let your keen perceptions and ability to communicate well (when you want to) you can tell a powerful story and reclaim your voice. Be a teacher and truth-sayer.

4th House: As you choose to build deep bondedness and connections with others you build a strong emotional foundation for your life. There may have been something unsettling in your early home life which is now buried deep in your subconscious. You heal that by learning ‘interdependence’ with others. Also, spend time nurturing children, animals, a garden…be lovingly in control of your home and let your roots grow deep and rich.

5th House: Your spontaneous fun-loving child-self was told to “keep a lid on it” and now its hard to find a balance between the urges of pleasure and creativity and the need to do your work. Take the time to uncover the creative playful side of yourself again and master the skills necessary to bring it out into the world. Let your work be your pleasure. Dare to be dramatic at times.

6th House: The delicate balance between responsibility for yourself vs responsibility towards others is off. Having been either over or under-protected when young, you weren’t taught some life skills (or given extra advantages) and later felt ashamed. Now you have the chance to build your skills and competency and can give your gift to the world through the work or service you do.

7th House: Too much self-protection prevents trust from developing in relationships. Avoid power struggles and create relationships based on equality. Sometime earlier in your life you may have had to deal with hidden agendas, manipulation and hurt with too much “truth.” Now it’s time for true intimacy, and less interpersonal drama.

8th House: Having had to experience some of the darker sides of life alone, you now have the ability to sit with strong emotions in yourself and with others, making you a gifted counselor, healer, or trusting friend. Don’t allow obsessions around sexuality, trust, and shared resources to limit your ability to be intimate. By not isolating yourself and using your healing gifts, you can be of great help to others in times of crisis.

9th House: Instead of adopting doubt and cynicism as your religion, make a point to travel, read, and educate yourself towards new ways of thinking. As you stretch the boundaries of your world you move beyond the religious hypocrisy you once experienced. Now its time to see your life as a spiritual quest and grand adventure.

10th House: Limitation and impossibility may have been conveyed to you growing up and your ambition may not have been properly supported. Fear of failure must be recognized as now you can dare to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’! Work on developing a strong career and getting paid/appreciated for your true value. Take a leadership role, and dare to be a force for good in the world.

11th house: Somewhere in your past you may have lost yourself in friendships and in dealing with odd groups of people—now it’s time to find what your really believe in and find others who feel the same. In these new groups and friendships you’ll have the ability to be the truth-sayer and heal the group experience. You can greatly inspire others, so don’t waste time with the wrong crowd.

12th House: When you’ve felt overwhelmed and burnt-out by the pain and suffering you’ve seen, you may have shut down or numbed out so as not to feel it. Yet by compassionately opening your heart to others now you heal yourself as well as them. You have the ability to touch people’s lives in an intimate inspiring way—don’t neglect your gifts for the sake of false comfort.

Elizabeth Spring MA has a degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis in Jungian psychology. She has been a professional astrologer since 1992 and has studied astrology and the work of Carl Jung in England, Switzerland and California. She has written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines which can be read on-line, and does astrology readings in person and by phone. To read other articles or inquire go to her web site at: or email:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

South Node First House, North Node Seventh House

First House South Node, Seventh House North Node

The first house is all about YOU—your personality, your way of seeing the world, the way the world sees you, and the nuts and bolts and nuances of how you would describe yourself, and how others would describe you. The first house always correlates with Aries and it ruled by the planet Mars. With the South Node here it describes a pattern you probably followed early in life, and what you didn’t get right in your last life. By the time of the first Saturn Return at approximately 29 years old you are ready to truly move beyond this and come into your own as an adult reaching towards the heights of your North Node in Libra. The Nodes are always opposite each other, so if you know one you house placement you know the other is 180 degrees away.

South Node in the first house is about the independent Aries-like hero/heroine who is on a quest to know itself and to move assertively into the world. Some people liken the Aries archetype to the warrior—the spiritual warrior or the hero in the story that begins: “Once upon a time there was a …….” Now fill in your story! Besides suggesting this hero/warrior myth, it also can be played out as the martyr, the one who sacrifices Self, or the Wanderer, the one who flees from Self, or the Magician, the one who transforms the Self.

When we look at any of the South Nodes we read them negatively, as to the nature of the unfinished business in a previous life, and what were the habits and mind-set that was needed to be finished or improved upon. Otherwise we would not be taking an incarnation at all. So, we look to the lack of Selfhood here with this placement, or an exaggerated sense of independence or excessive fear or worry. Perhaps all. This doesn’t mean that some courage and wonderful assertive action and thought wasn’t accomplished, it just implies that this is the “gold in the shadow” and to get this gold you need to be aware of the underside or shadow first, and work through the leaden unfinished business before grabbing the golden fleece of Aries.

The North Node in the Seventh House, ruled by Libra and the planet Venus, speaks to the desire for harmonious and right relationship with others. It softens the Mars, and it asks that one consider the other person’s opinions and life in a full dialogue of “I and Thou.” North Node placements here encourage one on one relationships in marriage, business, counseling or advising. It also asks that we learn to accept the paradoxical nature of human relationships in which we all have the opposite qualities of light and shadow, good and bad. Accepting the humanness on oneself and others with compassion is an integral part of this placement. (c) elizabeth spring
Since this post is about Me and You; here's a picture of me last year in NYC in front of the fountains by Lincoln Plaza.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Venus Square Neptune

Venus Square Neptune

Tell me, my friend, are we not all beggars

Hungry for love, hungry for more?
Savoring our illusions, do we not
Delight in the delicious longing
of our desires…
Mistaking each other For the Source?

Though I may be a beggar
I ‘m a lover and a listener too—
Though my rhythms may be awkward
My yearning to connect
Brings me to the edge—
Where I wait—
I wait for you.

For hope is the point between us
An aphrodisiac of the Soul
When there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do
We look to where the passion lies—
And call this passion: God.

So increase this fire in my heart!
And go away—you must.
Carve out of my denseness
A hole where through
That Light can shine.

For hope is this space between us
Though some might call her faith
When ego’s pride is burned away
I’ll find your face in every face
The birth will then be mine—

So turn up the flame, my Soul’s turned in—
I’ll take no substitutes.
No false gods stand before me now
I’ve had enough of mere beliefs
To know this fire’s
In my bones.
(c) elizabeth spring Thanks to Pamela at PRRussell for her Fantasies and Earthings photo, so appopriate to this delicious spring....and appropriate too for the longing between Venus and Nepune for beauty and love. This post will end the poetry metaphor for astrological aspects for awhile...I will be moving into the Nodes in the house placements next, for those of you who have been patiently waiting! And how do you find Venus playing out with Neptune in your chart?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Venus Conjunct Pluto

Venus Conjunct Pluto

Tonight—at sunset—I went down
To the bottom of the boat.
Steel doors locking behind me
Descending into his darkness
I boarded this boat, death place of fish—
What did I hope for here?

Enclosed, trapped, dark
Nothing alive survives here—
Why must I play out these feral illusions?
This siren call—
Storm tossed and wild—
I’d set the bait myself.
He found my note, frozen in bottom of a barrel.
Come visit, he said, and I did.

He sat me down next to the helm
Overlooking the bay,
Looming large here,
He looked hard, wounded—
A bloodied hand from too much work.
“It’s all I know” he said.

He told me how in a storm he goes slow, drifts—
Rolls with the waves, and likes it.
This I like.
Whereas I go too fast—
Too passionate, I knock myself off course
Making me homesick, seasick—
Losing myself.

Eyeing me now, he wonders why I’ve come
Some flight of fancy he thinks—
Or worse—
Some flight of desperation
I know.

“Our work is similar I say—
We set the bait and hope to catch the fish—“
I pause and smile.
“There’s a difference,” he says
“I go out and net them—
You lure them in.”
“Not true,” I lied.
He smiled through stained teeth.

The light was dimming—
A narrow pink strip of hope
Appeared along the horizon.
“Where’s Venus?” I said
Knowing she was nowhere near here.
Where were the words to hide?
How far off course I’d come….

Silence descended. He shifted in his seat
And looked full-square at me;
He spoke of how a man went down to hell
To save his woman—
“Persephone” I said, “was abducted
Into hell—“

What heroic expectations
Were getting washed out here?
And would I who had come to see—
Too curious—find myself hooked and writhing
On these dank wooden floors?

“Would you like a cookie?” he asked.
I must get home before dark, I thought,
I must get home before dark—

(c)Elizabeth Spring

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Family Karmic Inheritance

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man’s life a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As an astrologer I am continually struck by the potential for sorrow and suffering when first reviewing a client’s chart. However upon meeting them, I am usually astounded at how uniquely they have coped, survived and even flourished in spite of the potential for anguish. How do they thrive in spite of their history? How do they forgive and let go of their past? Longfellow must have had a sense of it when he wrote that sentence, and if we change the word “enemies” in that quote to “families” then the most important point of this chapter would be made. If we could know each other’s pain, this would indeed “disarm all hostility.” I believe that the oracle that speaks through the language of astrology teaches compassion.

It has been said that the soul is ruthless in seeking its own path home, and that the needs of the soul, not the desires of the personality, orchestrate our lives. I have been finding that there is a mystery and history to each of us that reaches back beyond our present lives directly to our family lineage. We’ve inherited a karmic legacy that reflects the victories, defeats, and hard won battles of our ancestors, for they are indeed very much with us.

Within families there is a karmic inheritance that is handed down the family line along with the genetic blueprint. We inherit deeply entrenched emotional and mental perspectives, as well as unearned propensities such as musical and mathematical talents. Yet unfortunately, we know that alcoholism, depression, abuse and certain illnesses are also inherited. We gladly accept the unearned talents—such as Mozart-like propensities, but a negative family inheritance such as the Kennedy family “curse” is not pleasant thinking.

Even if we believe that our soul “picks” our family and our karmic inheritance so that we can inherit both the gifts and the challenges needed for our highest soul growth, it’s still hard to understand. Essentially the soul’s choice of when and where to incarnate is a mystery. Yet astrologers believe that the synchronistic moment of birth is the key element in the life story, because it gives us a genetic, or karmic blueprint of the soul; a map of the psyche. By looking at our family members charts, we can decipher emotional patterns that have been playing out for generations. All that we’ve learned so far about the Nodes and the planet Pluto, figures strongly in this tale.

These karmic patterns are not in themselves innate curses or blessings, for our will, intention, and grace are always operative. But anything can behave erratically if willfully suppressed for generations. Carl Jung wrote about the personal as well as the collective unconscious, saying that both talents and troubles are to be found in the subconscious. He didn’t say how the unconscious works its way through the family lineage, but he did claim that there was gold in the “shadow” of the personal and collective unconscious. I believe that we can use the astrological technique of overlapping charts, called synastry, to help us see that gold in the family inheritance, as well as the imprint of family shame and secrets. We can become conscious of what has been hidden, and become freer by stepping out of the secret matrix of familial denial. We can then make choices to express and heal rather than to conceal. We can change the pattern for the next generation.

Everyone, not just astrologers and Jungians, are aware of the unconscious nature of family dynamics and what I call “the family karmic inheritance.” Just as we might see that we’ve inherited our parents’ tall bodies and long noses, we might also see a predisposition for sudden anger or alcoholism. We might notice too that the males in the family pride themselves, and judge others by physical prowess and athletic ability. But what happens when mental illness, greed, sexual confusion, or insatiable power and control dynamics are passed along? Isn’t it then that we question ideas of fate and destiny, wondering if we were born trailing not only “clouds of glory” but “clouds of dust” as well?
Most astrologers accept the theory of reincarnation as the basis for this inheritance, whereas other people see it more as some mix of genetic and emotional DNA. Evolutionary astrologers find the theory of re-incarnation makes sense as it resonates with a sense of justice that moves beyond the karma of one life, as it echoes back to the idea that the “sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children for seven generations.” It’s a thought or theory that I never liked, but everything I knew about the Nodes seemed to fit in---at least in theory.

Actually I didn’t choose to delve into this karmic stew as much as it chose me. One Sunday morning many years ago, I awoke with a confusing depression that had been building for months. I knew my Uranus Opposition was almost exact, and that the time for something to “come to light” was upon me. I had moved across country, to California, and had made significant changes in my life. Yet I couldn’t feel the joy or freedom that is the “gift of Uranus” despite my efforts. As was usual on Sunday morning, I called my mother, and had another depressing conversation with her. She was threatening suicide again if I didn’t return East. Nothing had changed in that area of my life, even though I fought the co-dependency by moving thousands of miles away. It was a constant litany of shame and blame between us, with tears and heart wrenching reconciliations followed by more accusations of abandonment and blame. I was on the defense, and as usual, nothing I said assuaged my guilt, anger and grief.

But this morning, the grief overflowed into tears that didn’t stop. I was paralyzed; I had no psychic energy left to move me out of this mood. I glanced at my chart and saw the same line-up of planetary archetypes, the same old story. But next to my chart was a “mythic” Tarot deck I had just bought, written by one of my favorite astrologers, Liz Greene. Because astrology pulls its symbolism from myths, similar to Tarot, I had bought this as a tool to go deeper, and to amplify what I knew astrologically. Now here it was for me at my time of need. I needed an oracle, an insight, something that could bring new light to this unending situation. (It’s always hard to be objective about one’s own chart! Asking advice from other astrologers or using other similar symbolic systems can be of tremendous help when you are blocked.)

So that morning I took out the deck, pulled the Ten of Swords, and read the story about it. On a divinatory level it said that this card marks the ending of a difficult situation, and it went on to tell the story of Orestes and the curse of the House of Atreus. It is a dark tale full of conflict and bloodshed involving Athene, the three Furies, and Orestes. I remembered that Athene, as a goddess of justice, is often related to Libra, my Sun sign, and the Furies have to do with feminine fury and unrest.

I could feel a shift beginning to happen within me as I wrote down what I read: “A family curse such as Orestes has to bear is an image of inner conflicts passed down from one generation to another, where the grandparents and parents have been unable to face life’s conflicts honestly and the children must inevitably suffer until insight is gained.” It went on to say: “A deep seated and ancient problem is now forced to the surface and something must ultimately leave our lives…we can now move on not merely disillusioned, but freed of some deep canker which has its roots in a past older than ourselves, and which our own suffering has released and redeemed.”

I then went to my computer and pulled up the charts of my grandmother, my mother, my daughter, and myself—four women linked by genes and an obscure family history. I had often felt as if there was some secrecy in the family history, yet when I questioned my parents and grandparents they would speak only of their successes, or of the failings of others. The same old stories repeated; and I found that probing questions yielded little. But now I questioned the nature of this family karmic inheritance by looking at the interconnecting positions of the Nodes, the Sun, the Moon, Chiron and Pluto. What I saw in this synastry of charts was a pattern of connections that was enough to lift the morning’s depressing fog. At least now I could see—and once seeing, I could make an attitude adjustment. I could feel a mood of compassion rising.

So I pulled up my chart and had another long look at it. I knew that Pluto in the horoscope is the “Lord of the Underworld” and reflects the Law of Nature for which the Greeks had so much fear and respect. And there it was, strong and highly visible in my chart. While thinking about the mythological curse that the Tarot hinted at, I rummaged through my astrology reference books and found that a family ‘curse’ involves some violation of natural law by earlier generations. I read that one can expect Pluto to be strong in the horoscope for anyone who has the need to make peace with an inheritance from the past.
What makes Pluto strong? If you look to the chapter on Pluto you’ll see that it tends to act up when in hard aspects to the Sun or Moon or other planets, and in the watery 4th, 8th, or 12th houses. It is then that it makes a tight bond to the unconscious and the family line. Yet I didn’t have Pluto in those areas of the chart. I looked again. Pluto was the “ruling planet” of my Scorpio South Node, and Pluto squared the South Node—there it was! A powerful sign to bring to consciousness whatever was brought down the family line.

So here was the challenge. How was I to make peace with it? I pondered the charts: my grandmother, Elizabeth English, had a chart with a predominance of planets in the earth sign of Taurus and—Ah! There was the Pluto aspecting the Sun with a tight conjunction. I couldn’t tell which house it was in because I only knew her birth day, and didn’t know her time of birth. But I could see that the South Node was in Cancer, and North Node in Capricorn. I knew that she was born in 1880, and that she had been a talented artist as a young woman, and after she married she had five children and never painted again. Her husband died in his late fifties of alcoholism. With five planets in Taurus, there were issues around money, security, and values, and with Sun conjunct Pluto she would have experienced many symbolic—if not real—deaths and rebirths in her life. In fact, her mother and sister both died young from “heart problems” and when her favorite son succumbed to alcoholism as well, she retired to her room for the rest of her days. I remember that she had an inner authority and independence when she spoke, but I don’t remember anything more. She died when I was seven.

It seemed as if my grandmother, Elizabeth, never felt the serenity and security that is the touchstone for Taurus---without which Taurus folks cannot release all their gifts. The mystery of her abandoning her painting was never told to me, and her only remaining oil painting is a dark Rembrandt-like rendition of a fortune teller reading the tea leaves in a china cup to a well dressed lady at the turn of the century. The painting was done in 1903 when she was twenty-three years old, and now hangs in my astrology office. Some people see only its darkness and the sad look on the woman’s face; I however find it delightfully fascinating that my grandmother’s last painting was called “The Fortune Teller”---foreshadowing the work that her grand-daughter would do. I also saw that when I overlaid my chart on hers that my North Node was conjunct her Taurus Sun, implying that there was something about who she was (her Sun) that could be an inspiration or a suggestion for me.

When I looked at my mother’s chart and mine, I saw that her South Node, hinting of the past life story, was at the exact degree of my Libra Sun. I knew that any planet aspecting another person’s South Node is an indication that the two souls have been in relationship before in another life. Ah—yes, our enmeshment and struggles in this life felt “larger than this life” and to see that we had “danced together” in some way before was not really a surprise. In fact, it felt like a relief to see that our connections were part of a karmic dance that had it’s roots long ago in other lifetimes. I suspected then that all my work in therapy around us was more significant than I originally knew.
Then I noticed that her Capricorn Sun was within 2 degrees of her mother’s North Node. So if the North Node was a “good suggestion” for my grandmother, then something about her daughter’s life would be an inspiration for her. And indeed, my mother was able to combine motherhood with her art, and she painted up until her death at the age of 88.

I could see our wounds. There were painful issues around creativity, freedom, and ambivalent feelings about motherhood here, as well as enmeshment and co-dependence. I could see the connections though the wounded secret trail of Pluto’s pride, shame, and insecurity. I couldn’t know the secrets of my grandmother or her family or the specifics of possible abuse. But what I could see was my grandmother’s Sun touching Pluto and her afflicted Moon. Her artistic freedom was severely curtailed by raising children, like most of the women of her generation. My mother’s confusing demands for both independence and connection reflected her own Aries/Libra Nodes as she worked out the last of that struggle with me, her only child. By virtue of simply living a long life, beyond my father’s time, she struggled painfully to reach the independence of her North Node Aries. I have found this easier in my life, as I struggle to combine my art, my writing, and being a mother as well.

I then pulled up my daughter’s chart, and saw more correspondences and overlapping. It’s not hard for anyone to bring up family charts and to look at the connections between them, yet delving into this kind of astrological analysis, this “synastry,” is best done with an astrologer who is familiar with the technique. But even a glance at these intertwining aspects tends to open understanding and empathy. In all the charts, the aspects between Pluto, the Nodes, and Venus hinted of an inherited struggle with creativity and relationship. It all echoed back to Elizabeth English who fought with the competing demands of art and children, and seemed to lose. I would never know the secrets of her heart, or what pain she may have passed on to my mother, but my heart was beginning to open.

In a much more radical fashion, we can look at other charts, such as our country’s royal family the “presidential Kennedy’s” and see their history of assassinations and signs not only of great gifts but also of a family “curse.” In 1969 when Senator Edward Kennedy saw the collapse of his Presidential hopes after Chappaquiddick, it was said that he actually asked whether there was a curse on his family. And indeed, if one examines this family there are elements in the family story that suggest this possibility, though a good astrologer would never call it that.

Call it what you may, what happens with the challenges that are unconsciously inherited down the family line? Sometimes a bad seed develops, as rage and alcoholism can insidiously move down through the family genetics. Some children, such as serial killer Charles Bundy, showed signs of this when he encircled his sister with knives as she slept, showing the peculiar signs of rage at the age of three. What’s happening here?

At heart I believe we are up against a mystery, because in each life the soul has free will and can play out genetic or karmic tendencies so many ways. We may be able to see the footprints of something in a chart, but astrologer’s move into shadowy hubris when they dare prescribe “how it will be.” Free will and consciousness gives us a great chance to change patterns. We don’t have to pass these secrets and silences down to our children. Instead the “buck can stop with us” as we heal the pain of our own legacy. We don’t have to perpetrate silent crimes.

Instead we can look at the heart of astrology—the myths that the planets are named after, and we can find clues. There are certain features which appear in every myth about a family curse, and it usually begins with an individual’s abuse of a God-given talent or advantage. Something positive gets misused or distorted through arrogance and pride, what the Greeks call hubris. The abuse of creative potential, which is sometimes linked with a subtle or not so subtle abuse of children, is made worse by the denial and hubris carried on within members of the family. In generations past, we hid our shame within our families. Today we think all is out in the open because it is the stuff of soap operas and reality shows and the evening news. But shame and lack of courage runs deep.

In mythology, we see that although each generation and each person could expiate the negative family inheritance, or “curse” by accepting a certain degree of limitation in their life they don’t--- and this refusal to make what is unconscious conscious, and to make the necessary sacrifices needed, can be seen as an act of putting personal desires before the needs of the soul. The soul’s needs are ruthless, and require a transformation of consciousness to change the family legacy.

Anything consistent in our lives and which shows up in the chart, can behave like a curse. Because we have free will, our behavior can change it, although old attitudes with very entrenched roots are harder to change. In the case of the Kennedy’s, one could speculate that the arrogance, ambition, and possible abuses of “Papa” Joe Kennedy (including his choice to have a lobotomy done on his first daughter) exacerbated a karmic situation that had its roots in the history and sufferings of the Irish people. Perhaps it’s a long shot to think that way; perhaps not. But if one looks at he collective struggle of Irish against English, Catholic against Protestant, and the tragedy of the famine which drove so many of our grandparents out of Ireland we can see how this could have fueled his ambition. He may have groomed his children for political power in order to redeem, in his mind, the shame and tragedies the Irish have had to endure in the last few centuries. The flaw of his daughter would have caused him great shame, and he took powerful action to correct it.

Could this powerful man have set in motion a set of inherited attitudes that produced both great goodness and unforeseen tragedy? Was his ambition and the shocking deaths of his sons a necessary sacrifice for the greater good of our country and the Irish? Perhaps. Were John Kennedy’s (and Bill Clinton’s) sexual transgressions an act of hubris? When John Kennedy Jr died in his night flight through the fog, was he acting like the mythical Icarus when he dared to fly on a foggy night? There was a judgment he made that night that failed. Could he have avoided this by observing the limitations of flight or the cautionary limitations of the exact transiting Pluto square which he was in? An astrologer might have cautioned him from any daring acts, and called his attention to his North Node in Virgo, which demands attention to details, yet…. perhaps all this is just speculation and hypothesis, but this is what astrologers do.
The opportunity to heal the pride, shame, and painful family legacy is a challenge, and the opportunity to act on the unlived gifts of our family legacy is a gift. We do it by bringing the issues to consciousness. Not to blame, but to bring to light the repressed painful attitudes, and to bring compassion to our past. What a unique chance it is to redeem what was once lost through ignorance, lack of courage, arrogance, or willful unconsciousness. Especially at each major life passage, such as the Uranus Oppositon and the Saturn Returns we get a chance again to ponder our karmic inheritance and to bring forth all that is longing to be expressed through us.

On that particular Sunday morning, during my Uranus Opposition at the age of forty, I began to look at my maternal inheritance differently. The painful legacy of expectations and attitudes that my mother inherited from her mother was not quite a “curse” although her desperate expectations sometimes felt that way. I could see again my inherited gifts: the artistic ability and a feisty blend of persistence and tenacity. But now I had a choice. I could see what I would accept in this inheritance and what I would attempt to heal or to reject.
The simple act of seeing the reflection of pain and grace moving through the charts lifted the depressive fog. I could see that I was not alone in my struggle to free myself, but that these women had struggled too, in their time and in their unique way. The mythology behind the planetary configurations enlarged my sense of self, and it was comforting to see how the orbs of my personal mythology touched the collective mythology. My unconscious wound was really no different than Orestes’ wound or the Kennedy family’s wound. Until that morning, I had been bound in my family’s karmic web until I began to lovingly separate and untangle the knots. I could now choose what I wanted to inherit.
Perhaps I should have known that moving across the country was not going to improve my difficult family inheritance. External solutions to internal problems are the line of least resistance. It took a lot of effort to move, but Uranus, unlike Saturn, is not about “efforting.” Instead, grace comes like a sudden storm— in its own time. When I consulted with “the gods” that morning, I felt a sense of awe and a lightening of my spirit. I didn’t know any more of the family secrets, but I knew there was not only a “blood line” but a karmic bond made of similar patterns along this family line. I felt we were of “one skin.” It was a compassionate epiphany, and it was then that I changed my first name from Janet to Elizabeth.

By looking at such family patterns one can almost hear the ancestor’s whispering: “This was my hope and fear for myself and my children; I tried to do my best.” And one gets a sense that the soul’s choices (the Nodes) are not always that of the conscious ego (the Sun.) The connection between soul and ego always has this mystery, this uncharted territory, leaving room for free will. Misfortune and sorrow is often the soul’s last resort in moving a person closer to the right path for them. And who is to say what is truly misfortune? The soul’s path is not easy to describe, and rarely simple to resolve. But we try.

Elizabeth Spring

“You Can Make Astrology Prove Anything…”

“You can make astrology prove anything,” she said to me with a malicious little grin. “It’s like the Bible—just pick the right verse and chapter, and you can make a case for God’s approval or disapproval on almost anything—astrology included.” My friend had been studying astrology just long enough to get both confused and excited, and I could feel the tense undertones of emotion mixed in with the pleasantries of our after dinner conversation. “Look at the choices,” she went on, “mid-points, solar arcs, transits, fixed Stars, secondary and tertiary progressions—just pick a time and you can back up anything you want to say with some aspect.” She had a point there, but she was missing the larger picture of how astrologers work with the increasingly growing tool-box of choices we have at our disposal. And beyond that, she was missing something even harder to explain. But I wanted to try.

I understood her complaint: Vedic, Sidereal, Placidus, Koch….evolutionary, medieval, psychological … it really all ‘under one sky’? And if so, how are we to know what works best? A skeptic, or a student like my friend, can look at all that and say that astrologers can pick and choose a system, a star, a progression, a transit, or whatever---to prove any point. It’s uncomfortable to hear that, because at certain times I think it has been done and it certainly reflects the ‘shadow quality’ of our work. However, most of us pick a system, and then prioritize our methods within a system into something that’s perhaps not quite a science, but at least has an integrity to it. I explained to my friend that just because one person primarily uses asteroids and relies on lunation cycles and another relies heavily on progressions and the outer planet transits, does not make either one of them wrong or better. I suggested that the ideal is to be able to see a theme repeated several times in different ways before making a case to substantiate a point. What I felt was important was to hold to the integrity and prioritizing within a given system, and then, according to our familiarity with these other “language systems” to check it out with them too. That way one could see what was congruent and what was paradoxical. But I reminded her that not only are systems, orbs, and aspects not perfect “black and white” paradigms, but that people are often profoundly paradoxical, and constantly in the process of changing as well! She could understand this. What I couldn’t find words to explain then, was how a blind analysis of a chart or a period of time is much more problematic than a good astrology consultation. And that what underlies a good consultation often has much less to do with the mechanics of choosing a technique than something most astrologers use almost unconsciously, and is perhaps the one commonality that all good astrologers have in common….but first let’s delve a bit more into the problem.

As astrologers, we quickly learn that there is an almost overwhelming smorgasbord of choices to make. Many of us fall back on the choices of our favorite teachers, and look to what the newest software programs or books are suggesting, or go to a conference and hear someone—who’s quite convincing and charismatic-- suggesting a particular way to view the newest or oldest menu of astrological techniques. This is not to say that we shouldn’t sample widely from the array of wonderful choices to find what works best for us and to find what we feel will nourish our clients---but underlying all this is the shadow of the unspoken fear--- is there a better way or a more accurate choice? How do I know if I’m giving my client the best—the highest truth? These thoughts are very uncomfortable, and most of us confront that nagging uncertainty by being certified within a certain tradition, or we proclaim to offer an eclectic approach depending on the circumstance and client. We find a position and hold to it. All this is fine; and it is what we must do.

As a counseling astrologer, I have a Master’s degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis in the work of Carl Jung. I’ve had teachers who used the tropical Placidus house system, and who viewed the planets as mythological archetypes within a spiritual mandala, and who saw the transits and progressions as challenging turning points along the process of individuation. I liked seeing how the astrological elements related to the Jungian modes of sensing, thinking, intuiting, and feeling. And so today I take comfort in the correspondences that align just close enough for my purposes, and that this particular brand of astrology fits ‘just enough’ into a larger context of a well respected system. So, when I’m asked: Is astrology based on science, or synchronicity? I launch into Jung’s theory of synchronicity, and I’m off and running. Yet I’m still uncomfortable with variations of the “shadow question” such as—if the precession of the equinox’s is true, then isn’t Vedic more accurate in the predictive sense? And if the asteroids are archetypes why not use them? And how can I justify my use of orbs and aspects?

What about this huge tool-kit of resources we astrologers are privileged to use today? I like to think that just as a carpenter will have his or her own reasons for using a particular tool for a given situation, we too need to have many tools for different people, different cultures, and different questions. We might want to say, unlike using an authoritative text such as the Bible, that astrologers have to intuitively choose which technique to use to draw forth a response---and that what is more important is that we should be trying less to prove a point than to inquire into the client’s truth.

My bias is that my best “readings” are not the ones in which I rely heavily on prediction, but when the metaphors I use allow the client to see deeply into their life. I know this is happening when they start talking more than me, and when they start looking at the question behind the question that they presented initially. And isn’t the point to put the technique secondary to the quality of the moment?

So what I’d like to offer is this---when we are presenting a symbolic system and the client is presenting their particular life issues---then, isn’t the answer to be found in that “sacred temenos” where we engage with the client in a way that reflects back to them what they are presenting to us? Does it matter what astrological language we use? Perhaps it’s not only the tropical Placidus evolutionary ‘way’ or the Vedic ‘way’ as much as it is the quality of the dialogue between two people in which the symbols and metaphors remind the client of what he or she already knows to be true. And if we ultimately want to empower our client to make the wisest choices possible given the situation---what’s the one thing we need to give this client in our brief time together? Is it the proficiency and uniqueness of our calculations or how we arrive at our speculations? I don’t think so.

I’d like to purpose that the most valuable thing we can give our client is silence. It may only be a few moments here or there during the reading, but if we have given them, by whatever techniques used, a clear mirroring of their situation and an overview of the astrological ‘weather-forecast’---then we need to give them a moment in which to let their inner oracle speak. One could make a case that most of the people who come for readings already know ‘the answer’ but primarily want reassurance, and even for those who think they don’t know, we still owe it to them to stop talking and listen to hear what they are understanding. Ask them what they have seen or heard. Give them a chance to answer their questions. In the few cases when the client cannot think symbolically or follow the line of thought, I’ve sometimes said: “If this was my chart, I might think…”and then paraphrase, pause, and say—“”what do you think of that? And then listen to hear if they understood the gist of symbolism and the challenge of their freedom of choice.

Silence! A new technique…subtle and profound. In every consulting hour, I suspect that no matter what techniques are used, the hope is that through clear translating and mirroring of the astrological symbolism with the human situation, there will be a synchronistic moment of “ah-hah” when there’s been an accurate mirroring of that which is above, to that which is below. Isn’t that what we long for---when some piece of the client’s truth and the astrologer’s technique rise up to a little epiphany together! Ahh…. then there is that felt moment of meaningfulness that makes all considerations of proof of technique secondary. And so I offer you the idea that the technique that brings this about is already embedded in most systems---the idea of moments of silence. Perhaps that is our only safeguard in truth-seeking; not forcing our predictions or symbolism or bias on our client, but honoring instead the idea that we are acting as psychopomps; instruments of the Divine. We can play whatever instrument(s) we want to seduce their Soul-wisdom forth, and present to them whatever delectable "astro-dish" we think will be most nourishing, but then, let’s give them a moment of silence--- to swallow, to digest, and to truly look at their chart. I believe they will take what they need when we make it simple, clear, and in a language they understand. And in that moment of silence we give a chance for the Spirit to enter; for what the Jungians call the numinous moment--- when our client looks at their own chart and sees their own answers projected there---upon the clear sky of the heavens above and their gods within.

(c)Elizabeth Spring

Elizabeth Spring, MA has a degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis in the work of Carl Jung. She has been a student of astrology since 1969 and has been doing astrological counseling and readings since 1992. Elizabeth gives workshops at the Boston Jung Institute, as well as writing many articles that can be read on her website: Her full bio, teaching/speaking engagements, and previous publications are there as well.