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    Retrograde Natal Planets

    Retrograde Natal Planets

    Yikes! Mercury was retrograde when I was born! Am I doomed? Will the check be lost in the mail for the rest of my life? Will my luggage never arrive at the same city I do?

    Retrograde natal planets often scare people, as if something were wrong with being born with planets moving in that  “backwards” condition. Yet most of us have at least one of them, and often more. They are far from rare, in other words. And they aren’t some kind of high jinx in your chart either. They are just different from planets moving in direct motion. It’s sort of like being left-handed.

    The overriding principle is that, first and foremost, there is nothing “wrong with” anyone’s chart, ever. The basic laws of the universe preclude that possibility. Your chart is perfect. It fits the needs and conditions of your soul like the proverbial glove. Retrograde planets, squares, oppositions, Mars, Saturn, and Pluto – all the “bad guys” – we need every one of them, and they can be “good for you.” That’s a philosophical point obviously, but understanding it is mission-critical, at least in the context of evolutionary astrology. (If you would prefer an astrologer who would describe you as doomed by some configuration in your chart, I can make some referrals.)

    Hold your arm out in front of you and point your index finger straight up. Now look at your fingertip through your left eye, then through your right eye. Your finger naturally seems to jump back and forth against the background scenery. Look at Pluto against the starry background in March, then look at it again in September. It’s the same thing. Like your finger, it too has jumped backwards. That’s because in March, earth was on one side of its orbit, while in September it was halfway around, on the other side. That’s as if the distance between your left eye and your right eye were about 186 million miles – and that’s far enough to make Pluto seem to jump.

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    Planetary Exaltations; Planetary Falls

    Planetary Exaltations; Planetary Falls

    Everyone with an interest in astrology soon learns about how particular planets rule certain signs. To many astrologers, that makes them automatically “good.” To those same astrologers, for a planet to find itself in the opposite sign is unfortunate. The term they use there is ”detriment” – obviously, not such a good thing. This common notion is simply incorrect, in my experience. The error is easily proven too. The infamous Yorkshire Ripper had a really “good” Mercury – in Gemini, conjunct his Gemini Sun. I suspect he excelled at talking his victims into vulnerable positions. Meanwhile, Rev. Martin Luther King had a “bad” Neptune – in Virgo, the sign opposite Pisces, the sign it naturally rules. Did that mean he had no spiritual life or that he lacked a visionary imagination?

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    It Is The Dawn of a New Age...Or is it?

    It Is The Dawn of a New Age...Or is it?

    The fabled Age of Aquarius – does it mean anything at all? Ever since the musical Hair was first performed back in 1967, there has been a vague sense that the Aquarian Age had something to do with hippies or free love or world peace or . . . something.

        Anyway, from that long-haired point of view, the Age of Aquarius probably ended about fifty years ago . . . unless you bring up the subject among a group of astrologers. Then what you will typically see has very little to do with “harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding . . .” Then what you will typically see is closer to World War Three. Opinions on the subject of the astrological ages tend to be trenchant and the general thrust of them usually runs down the road of claiming that the Age of Aquarius is real enough, but that it is still way off in the far distant future.

        I disagree. I think we are in it now. I think we have been in it for over a century already.

        In this newsletter I want to make my case that the Age of Aquarius dates back to 1903-1905. 

        Let’s start with Science Class.

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    Jupiter, Saturn, and a Changing World

    Jupiter, Saturn, and a Changing World

    All eyes are on the sky this month. As most of us probably know by now, Jupiter and Saturn come together and form their every-two-decades conjunction on December 21. And this time they really come together – they stand only one-tenth of a degree apart. That’s close! They won’t “blend into one star” as some people have erroneously said – you will still see two points of light. But it will be a striking sight, something you may have never before seen in the sky.

    How close is one-tenth of a degree? Here’s a way to visualize it in advance before you can actually see the real thing. Hold your arm straight out and stand your pinky-finger straight up. The span across your fingernail is about one degree.


    One tenth of that. Close!

    Hey, but what if it’s cloudy on the night of the 21st? Have you missed the whole thing? Do you have to wait another twenty years? Well . . . it’s both worse than that and better than that. The next Jupiter-Saturn conjunction occurs in October of 2040, but it’s a just pale version of this one – the two planets are much further apart (because of declination) and somewhat lost in the Sun’s glare. Twenty years after that one, they are at it again – but once more, conditions are similar to 2040. 

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    A View of Today From Four Years ago

    A View of Today From Four Years ago

    A few weeks ago, a French gentleman named Olivier Clerc contacted me about the possibility of getting more of my work published in his country. Naturally, from my point of view, that is an attractive thought. He has connections to the French publishing industry and there are some encouraging early signs that it might happen. I hope so. Getting this kind of astrology out to the global community is a pretty good summary of my life’s purpose.

    In an email exchange I had with Olivier this morning, he wrote glowingly about a section of my book, The Night Speaks. He suggested that I publish it as an article on my website. I’d come to the time of the month when I needed to be thinking of a newsletter topic, and, well – voilà, as they say in France. I put two and two together.

    I originally published The Night Speaks in 1993, at the time of Uranus-Neptune conjunction in Capricorn. I wrote quite a lot about that epochal event in those early pages, but of course it was “pure astrology.” No one, myself included, really knew yet what the alignment would bring. I was writing about it in real time, as clueless as a newscaster “on the scene.”

    In 2016, we brought out a new edition of the book. I added a “23 years later” perspective on what I’d originally written about the conjunction. That is the section of the book that Olivier Clerc was praising and asking me to share with a wider, current audience. He pointed out that many of my long-time readers who bought the earlier 1993 edition would not even know of this more-current version.

    There was a second reason for me to offer these words again in this newsletter context. As a citizen of the United States here in late October 2020, I am of course nervously awaiting November 3rd and the results of our national elections. I do not know how they will turn out, so I can’t yet write a meaningful commentary on them.  The deadline for my newsletter comes earlier, yet I felt the need to say something relevant to this turning point in my country’s history. As I re-read this section of The Night Speaks, it struck me as deeply “current” in a kind of mythic, meta-political way.

    So, thank you Olivier – and here is the “Update, 2016" section of the book. There are a few references to the longer, original historical analysis which appears in both editions, but I think you’ll be able to follow along without difficulty.

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    WHAT TIME WAS BENNY BORN?

    WHAT TIME WAS BENNY BORN?

    Michelle and I lost our beloved Norwegian Forest cat, Wally, in January. By summer, we were emotionally ready to invite a kitten into our lives. With Covid-19 raging, the search was mostly on the Internet, which is a shaky place when it comes to falling in love with anyone, including a cat. One little guy did catch our hearts and our eyes though – a kitten named Benny. He was  living in a shelter in a city called Hemet a couple hours’ drive away. We headed up there on Michelle’s birthday, August 12, to have a look at him. We were immediately smitten, and Benny came home with us that same day..

    Naturally, as astrologers, we were curious about his chart, but his birth data was not available –  he and his four brothers had been dumped unceremoniously at a kill shelter at the tender age of two weeks. They had been picked up by the saints who run a no-kill shelter where it was “estimated” that they had been born “around May 8.”

    Astrologers are often confronted with situations such as this one, where there is no time of birth available. After all possibilities for finding a recorded time have been exhausted, the final option is to undertake a rectification. Basically, one works backwards through astrology’s predictive techniques to come up with a chart that would have predicted events that have already happened in the person’s life. Rectification is a tricky process, fraught with risks of error. Here’s a link to a more technical article about the process. It’s free.   If you are listening to this as a podcast rather than reading, you can just go to forrestastrology.com and do a search for “rectification.”

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    What Does A Planet Mean?

    What Does A Planet Mean?

    Here’s how I am tempted to answer that seemingly legitimate question: very, very little. Alone, a planet is really just an abstraction. 

    Mercury, for one quick example, is related to our curiosity – and some degree of curiosity exists in more or less everyone. But obviously there are people who are driven by curiosity, and people who barely feel it at all. 

    More to the point, what exactly are you curious about? Show me an article about human migration patterns as reflected in ancestral genetics or 19th century sailing vessels, and I will devour it. Seeing those same articles, you might skip to a piece about how to improve your golf swing – while I would have to be paid handsomely even to read the first paragraph.

    Curiosity is clearly not a question of right or wrong. It’s more like different strokes for different folks. We all have Mercury in our charts, and we can make a few general statements about its archetypal nature. But what does Mercury actually mean for an individual? Who knows? . . . or rather, who knows – unless we give that Mercury a set of distinct motivations and interests by placing it in a specific sign. After that, we might give it an area of characteristic behavior by putting it in a house. Then we could further wire it into the larger framework of the birthchart by studying the aspects that it makes.

    A planet in a specific sign and a specific house: for actual human beings, that is the ultimate indivisible quantum unit of astrological meaning. A planet alone is only a broad idea, about as “human” as a lecture on taxation algorithms.

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    A GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE

    A GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE

    Despite my books and my teaching, the bulk of my income and lion’s share of the hours of my working life are all about private astrological consultations. People contact me for recorded  readings, which I send them via MP3 files. Lately when I get such a request, I put them on the waiting list and I tell them that I “hope” to be able do one for them one day. The problem is that those recordings are booked at least five or six years ahead. 

    In a few months, I will be 72 years old. At my age, making promises about anything that far in the future feels like tempting the Lord to offer me a little lesson in hubris, perhaps punctuated with a lightning bolt.

    I also do “live” sessions here in my office, in person. Those are my favorites. I like the human interaction. I like learning from people. Years ago, when the recorded readings (an international market) threatened to eclipse the face-to-face work, I started booking the two forms on separate tracks. The local work is more available. The wait for an in-person session currently runs something like three years, although right now, because of Covid-19, it is entirely stalled. I’m not seeing anyone in my office.

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    Retrograde Jamboree

    Retrograde Jamboree

    by Steven Forrest

    On July 1, Saturn retrogrades back into Capricorn, where it joins Pluto and Jupiter. Both of them are already retrograde too, and tightly conjunct. Meanwhile, Neptune is also retrograde, as is Mercury. Mercury stations and turns direct on the 12th – but the day before that happens, Chiron turns retrograde. On top of all that, Eris – so often under-estimated and ignored – makes its own station on the 19th, and goes retrograde too.

    If you like retrograde planets, July is the month for you, in other words. It’s as if the cosmic carousel has reversed its polarity.

    I wrote about the Pluto-Eris square in my March newsletter, which you can see here.

    I don’t want to repeat all of that material here, although it casts a penetrating light on what I want to explore in this piece. Suffice to say that the clash of Eris and Pluto is, to me at least, the heart of the matter when it comes to figuring out why the world feels so crazy now.

    What I want to do in this newsletter is to have a look at what it means to see all of this retrograde energy happening now. All of the planets from Jupiter on out, with the sole exception of Uranus, are going backwards all at once, with Chiron trading off a retrograde condition with Mercury toward the middle of the month. The situation is not unprecedented, but it does catch the eye – and as ever, at least from the philosophical perspective of evolutionary astrology, the planetary gods and goddesses are giving us a few tips about where to put our feet next.

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    Under One Sky

    Under One Sky

    We say “astrology” as if it were one unified entity, but of course it is not. How many house systems are there? Do we use asteroids or not? What about Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto? – many traditionalists prefer to ignore them. Meanwhile, Uranian astrologers use hypothetical planets that no one has ever seen – Poseidon, Zeus and so on –  and swear by them. I hear they get good results too. As an evolutionary astrologer, much of what I say revolves around the south node of the Moon – but most commercial astrology programs do not even show its position unless you ask them to.

    Even more fundamentally, is astrology about the stars or the seasons? To a Vedic astrologer, the sign Aries and the constellation Aries are the same thing – but not to a western “Tropical” astrologer, where Aries starts with the northern Vernal Equinox, which has actually drifted back into Pisces over the centuries.

    To put it charitably, astrology is a “big tent.” To put it more pointedly, the many different branches of astrology contradict each other in fundamental ways. Inevitably, this reality leads to the question of which form of astrology is “the right one” – and there begins a slippery slope.

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