free universities

so many of us have been concerned about what the coming years will bring, focusing on the potential disruption/destruction/end-of-life-as-we-know-it-ness of it all. while undoubtedly there will be many profound and likely disturbing changes, there will also be wonderful new things coming up that we cannot now imagine. change and transformation can also be a positive experience.

one of these changes is already on the horizon and continues the amazing democratization of information that the internet provides. now, in addition to wikipedia, (which you know is my new drug) we have greatly expanded accessibility to university courses on-line. Yale, MIT, Johns Hopkins, and many many other private and public institutions are offering complete materials and a full experience of their courses with video, transcripts, notes, readings and reading lists, and study sheets for a wide variety of subjects. now, you can listen to a lecture or take a semester-long course from your laptop. check out some of these links; they may restore your sense of balance about the impending future:

Johns Hopkins


happy solstice!

early this morning (US west) marked the winter solstice - the annual standing still of the sun; the astronomical new year. this uttermost point of the annual cycle of the sun has been a time of celebration and awe for us humans, as the life-giving warmth and light begins its return journey in the sky.

astrologically, we can use the chart of exact entry of the sun into capricorn as an event chart - a harbinger of the year to come. it can suggest the areas where this new beginning will occur for you as an individual. (you can use either your birthplace to cast the chart, or where you live now. the rising sign and house placement depend on your latitude, but the planetary contacts and signs will be the same.)

the chart suggests this is a year of new beginnings and old conflicts; jupiter and mercury have just entered new signs, the lunar nodes have shifted to aquarius/leo, and pluto is in the last degree of sag. old conflicts are represented here by the retrograde mars in cancer opposing the sun/jupiter/mercury stellium in cap.

cap is the sign of wisdom, judgment, maturity and authority. it rules government, punishment, social forms and norms. it is how societies organize themselves, the laws and limits they impose on the individual. it is a "collective" sign and as such, can indicate how an individual will interact with and succeed in the larger world. the sun in cap is about creating those forms and norms in our own life -- where we feel most authoritative, what we have mastered, how we express ourselves and what we strive for. for some solar capricorns, this comes off as overly ambitious, social climbing, or cold and judgmental. evolved caps are hard workers, seek social justice and are experts in their field; puissant is one word to describe this enlightened soul.

jupiter expands, explores, seeks meaning from new ideas and experiences. the giant planet rules philosophy, travel, higher education, religion, business and social interactions beyond one's significant other. in cap, there is inherent conflict for jupiter as its expansive nature is confronted with cap's sense of limit and boundaries. a positive expression of this is "practical solutions that result from thinking out of the box". you must work within the given limits, but go far afield in your thinking.

mercury in cap gives logical organization to your thought processes and can help you work through problems systematically. it can give you the objectivity and dispassion you might need with a knotty issue. it can also be a rush to judgment however, so let jupiter into the discussion.

mars is opposing all three of these, retro in cancer. kind of like a kid throwing a temper tantrum when compared to all these mature cap placements. but the purpose of this mars contact is to remember that our deepest security needs are real and we have to take care of the individual if the collective is to function in a healthy manner. the cold, dispassionate forms that most appeal to saturn can be very harsh on living organisms. so mars is there to bring the warmth, the care and attention, and the outrage, if needed, to ensure that the new forms and norms that this ingress suggests are ones that actually meet our needs. the opposition represents the inherent conflict between these two, and can indicate a back-and-forth approach where we overdo one end of the opposition, then flip back and go too far in the opposite direction. the purpose, however, is to integrate the two ends, to balance our need for nurturance and security with the requirements of natural limits, authority and maturity.

next post: new nodal axis.


shout outs

astrotabletalk has just done two outstanding bits on the significance of pluto in cap for all the signs (and a great one on the "death ray black hole today);

a truly great astrologer, Bill Herbst, has been having some health issues and is offline for a bit. his articles are archived, however, and you might want to go visit;

lynn hayes has some great historical stuff on pluto's previous forays into cap here;

and here is a nice little bit on today's shift of the nodal axis into leo/aquarius from tom jacobs.


cri·sis (krī′sis)

    1. the turning point of a disease for better or worse, esp. a sudden recovery
    2. an intensely painful attack of a disease; paroxysm
  1. a turning point in the course of anything; decisive or crucial time, stage, or event
  2. a time of great danger or trouble, often one which threatens to result in unpleasant consequences an economic crisis

Etymology: L <krisis < krinein, to separate, discern <(s)krei-, to sift, separate <(s)ker-, to cut > shear, L cernere, to separate, Ger rein, pure

as we approach tomorrow’s conjunction of pluto and jupiter, it is worth considering the above word crisis. (the definitions are from two online dictionaries). most people are used to thinking of crises as definition #3 – times of great danger or trouble, often confusing a crisis with disasters and unexpected misfortunes. but for astrology, I prefer definition #2 – a crucial stage or event, a turning point, in a natural process. this can be a fulfillment of an organic process, when something becomes fully itself, or when something reaches some “point of no return”. we experience a process as going along a certain, expected path, and then suddenly, it seems, something “changes” and voila, we are confronted with a crisis. the current sub-prime mortgage situation is a perfect example. for most of us, we didn’t have an inkling. but those who were paying attention, who were familiar with the economics of the situation, knew that this situation could not last, that there was a “point of no return” coming soon.

what often makes a crisis so unfortunate is that the moment of the turning point can initiate a whole new set of problems, as the course of events is changed by the crisis. the culmination, conjunction or event, of the crisis then affects the subsequent energies and events (e.g. the credit crunch that has resulted from all those foreclosures).

on an individual level, crisis can be a time when one’s resistance to a natural process of change reaches a point that can no longer be sustained; one is finally, suddenly, forced to acknowledge, change or re-direct their energies. this is the purpose of crisis in evolutionary astrology terms, to make you move forward, be more conscious, to improve your interactions with the universe. a health crisis leads to improved self-care; a relationship crisis leads to counseling, better communication, redistribution of household chores; a financial crisis leads to better budgeting, more savings, etc.

unfortunately, crisis can bring uncontrollable turning points; the heart attack that kills you, the divorce, the bankruptcy. If you resist the necessary changes in your life, if you fail to act responsibly or make the improvements you know are needed in your life; if you blame “the other guy” for all your problems, crisis, when it comes, may have unpleasant consequences, indeed.

with pluto and jupiter conjunct in sag tomorrow, the crisis is about power and beliefs and all the combinations of the two: the power of your beliefs; the power struggles around your truth; your need to be freely who you are; how you need to be right, and whether you allow others to be right; tolerance. Or, it can be about opening yourself to the power of intuition, to own your psychic energy, to find the truth, even if it’s deeply buried. this aspect is the culmination, the peak of the pluto in sag transit - my hopes are for the end of religious wars and greater tolerance for all belief systems. (see astrotabletalk.blogspot.com for Dharmaruci's comments on this.)