Please take note: this is actually the fourth article in the series on the Peeling of Life’s Onion. The other articles, in order, are On Astrology, Astrologers, Learning–and the Peeling of Life’s Onion, Saturn Goes to Church — the Peeling of Life’s Onion — in Layers and Textures, Part 1, and Saturn Goes to Church — the Peeling of Life’s Onion — in Layers and Textures, Part 2.

At this time of year in the Northern hemisphere, many greet autumn’s arrival–now a month old–with a sense of gloom: Summer warmth and sunshine are gone or leaving and, sometimes even before autumn’s leaves have lost their jeweled hues, that white winter lion will slip in quietly or with a roar. Where hard winters are common, people know a shimmering hoar will soon coat everything in sight.

I can look out the window and capture some of Nature’s broad riotous swath in the eye of my little camera; but while it’s a mere snapshot of that enormous expanse of color everywhere one looks, it remains embedded in the mind’s eye as well. As the leaves float from the branches to the earth, autumn’s appreciable beauty transitions into naked trees remaining to face the onslaught of winter.

I’m not Ansel Adams who said, “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”

Black, White and Shades…

There’s method to the madness in my mentioning these things now. In the left-brained world, we may tend to see things more as black and white. Those who offer a black and white view lend balance to the views of others among us who see a vast variety of greys, from the palest grey to the deepest charcoal without quite reaching the fully blackest of black stage. Presumably, any analysis ultimately attempts to do the same thing–create a balance enabling us to determine a general idea of what we’re seeing. There’s beauty in this process too.

I love the clarity with which Bil Tierney presents the signs and the nuances of each extraterrestrial (ET) planet in the signs. In All Around the Zodiac: Exploring Astrology’s Twelve Signs, he points to the Cardinal signs–Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn–as those living life at a “fast-paced tempo” and says “Starting with Aries, each sign becomes progressively more complex in its psychology. This really becomes apparent by the time we arrive at Libra, who–along with the remaining five signs–takes into account the rights and needs of all others, not just of any one individual.” [page 171]

We may see each house of the natural zodiacal wheel beginning at 0° and ending at 30° in similar ways: Just as the astrological wheel itself begins at 0°–Aries–and ends at 360°–Pisces, the complexity increases with the number of degrees. Any point of initiation–a concept, a thought, an action–may be considered a black and white perception or moment. It’s simple, clear, the basic, undeveloped foundation. Like the circle, this point of initiation is Alpha. By the time we reach the “end” of the circle, we have completed the journey from foundational development into the broad perspective of what’s possible or what can or may have been achieved. The midpoint of the Alpha and Omega concept on the wheel, sits at 180°, 00 Libra. We recognize Libra through the scales which Tierney sees as “a careful weighing of diverse factors is required.” But he adds, “Yet if aggravated enough, the Balancer will chillingly say, ‘Let the ax fall so that justice is served!’ Libra then becomes an agent of karmic retribution.”

But all things in perspective, Libra might add, and nothing comes into focus more clearly than when we’re challenged by events in our personal lives or in the daily news. Certainly if it’s happening to us in a negative way, the thought of “karmic retribution” might be a bit disconcerting to those who want to know what they did to deserve such a turn of events!


These thoughts led to my wondering which famous people were born at the Libra 00 Sun. While I wasn’t especially pleased with the choices, I found something to pique my interest all the same: It seems that astronomers Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, John Couch Adams and Johann Gottfried Galle had collaborated on discovering Neptune–and lo and behold, when I researched AstroDataBank (ADB) for the data, the following came up, and it clearly fits the bill!

September 24, 1846 ADB offers 00:00:15 as the date, reminding me that the midpoint date for the year would be September 23 except during Leap Year, and it would seem Lois Rodden had this in mind when she presented the information as a B rating.

The Neptune discovery chart served up an unexpected surprise. Here, I had the opportunity to explore the Peeling of Life’s Onion–Saturn-Neptune hard aspects–even more as they relate to our lives when I discovered a 46-minute partile conjunction of Saturn and Neptune in the 8th house, Pluto’s home in the natural zodiacal chart. In this chart, Uranus retrograde in Aries rules the 8th house from its placement at the apex of the chart. Meanwhile, the Moon in Pluto-ruled Scorpio rules the Ascendant. Expect the unexpected, they say. I’d say so!

A Blooming Undecaquartisextile also comes to light with a Sun-North Node semisextile, the midpoint is 14 Libra 21 in opposition to Uranus. The Saturn-Neptune conjunction additionally hosts a series of partile aspects to Pluto and Mars, establishing a nearly perfected yod: Pluto forms a 35-minute partile quincunx to Mars, a 16-minute partile sextile to Saturn, and a 30-minute partile sextile to Neptune; Saturn forms a 51-minute partile quincunx to Mars while Neptune forms a 5-minute partile quincunx to the red planet! Here perhaps is where we see the three discoverers working as a team, adjusting and mutually cooperating among themselves.

When I was first studying astrology, I learned Pluto ruled Scorpio and Mars ruled Aries. It’s not that I didn’t see Mars as a secondary or traditional ruler of Scorpio, I just didn’t see the point of having a “secondary” ruler. It seemed inconsequential to me. Bil Tierney points to the Mars association with both Aries and Scorpio , saying this pairing of Mars with both signs “suggests a double dose of self-will and steely determination. These signs take nothing lightly, plus their fighting spirit is alive and well.” But Mars can also cooperate very well with Pluto in chart interactions when we see Mars desire working in tandem with Pluto “for the good of all.” How natives work through the chart’s challenges together remains key of course to positive interactions. And in the process of our analyzing and interpreting a cosmic body, a sign or a house, we need to see the layers within and consider how those layers are playing a role in that particular chart and, where relevant, in its past, present and potential future. Tierney presents the planets in a variety of ways but he keeps symbolism in mind.

I have to tell you here that I’m just not the kind of person who can personify any planet, luminary or sign with pronouns like “he” and “she.” As sensitive as I am, I just can’t do it. Like all the rest of the planets and luminaries, Saturn is not human or even a domestic or wild creature. Our interpretation of cosmic bodies by sign, by house, or in transits, progressions and returns is based on the symbolism of energies arising from whatever foundational or related natal or mundane charts we’re analyzing and interpreting. These cosmic bodies and signs do nothing but symbolize what’s there. Our admission of this knowledge doesn’t negate a thing beyond the personification. We still can see the impact of the energies rising within us as individuals or as a collective society through these planetary movements and whatever signs or houses may be involved.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees–and Peeling the Onion…

Some years ago, a friend whose Sun is in Gemini and I had a delightful conversation about the difference between the Gemini perception of the forest and the trees–and the Pisces focus. Gemini, she said, decides to see the forest and its trees from one end or another, and still many others try both before deciding. In contrast, Pisces attempts to see the whole forest, taking note of which trees present the view that feels right.

Maybe the tendency to personalize the signs started with the Sixties when people met and asked, “What sign are you?” Nevertheless, there comes a point when we need to consider spreading our wings a bit and seeing the dynamics of these energies as the overriding focus. I speak, for example, of hard aspects between Saturn and Neptune as the Peeling of Life’s Onion. Many now recognize this phrase as a viable mnemonic triggering many thoughts related to the meaning itself, and that’s great. But it also reminds us that these energies are, as the onion is, many-layered. It’s never a static thing.

Perhaps the onion can teach us more about charts, about the planets and luminaries, the signs, and the houses. In his chapter on Saturn in Sagittarius [Twelve Faces of Saturn: Your Guardian Angel Planet], Tierney describes Saturn as “ego-security drives.” Talk about priceless words fitting all we learn about Saturn as we go through the motions of grasping astrology in our earliest studies! We move into roughly 7.5-year phases of Saturn and often fail to see what we’re doing. We may pour ourselves so much into our work that we’re often broadsided by more personal, intimate sides of life, those sides requiring tenderness, love, kindness…compassion. Ego-security drives. We work for some elusive concept we call security usually based on whatever we’re doing in our careers and how much we’re earning. And some points in our lives, we tend to forget on a conscious level those whom we hold so deeply in our hearts.

Even Elephants Have Layers…

This past week, I saw an excellent PBS (Public Broadcasting) show about the soul of the elephant, portraying this enormous creature as a sentient being with deep emotions and a very obvious memory that links this graceful giant to its past, present and future. It’s intelligent and, alone or traveling in a group, will even recognize the skull of another elephant. Stopping to caress every smoothed, whitened edge of the remains, the elephant uses its trunk to trace each nook and cranny from the tusks to where the eyes once were. The camera in this telecast managed to capture the tenderness in these moments, just as it did the fury of a charging bull elephant, its ears flapping in graceful dance, or the protective instincts of the mother racing after the lions on her baby in trouble… Hopefully, my having seen this show makes me more human for my having recognized such things now. It certainly impressed on me the understanding of those astrologers who work with charts for pets and why it’s not all that far-fetched to consider the chart of an animal too. If we can understand the dynamics of an organization, a corporation, a nation, a place, a city, why not animals too?

At 1:58 am October 19, the Johnson City, New York, Fire Department was called to battle a house fire in which a family had been trapped in a third-floor apartment of a multi-unit home. Two 27-year-old women and two toddlers–a three-year-old and a four-year-old, both boys–had been living in the apartment. Three area fire departments, including neighboring Binghamton, responded. One of the women was their mother. She jumped out of the window and lay on the ground, crying for her children. The other woman was a friend. The little boys didn’t survive, and the two women–severely burned–still remain in critical condition in a burn unit in Syracuse, New York about 90 minutes away. WBNG-TV

Two days later, a 38-year-old man was arrested on charges of murder and arson. Apparently, some time before, the alleged arsonist had been arrested for punching the friend of the mother in the face. Now perhaps I’m wrong, but I suspect this may be another incident of domestic violence between this individual and the mother’s friend; but that’s just my hunch. It’s possible he and the mother’s friend had been intimately involved at some point. After all, Venus is rising in the first house although in Mercury-ruled Virgo while Mercury, ironically in mutual reception with Venus, is placed in Venus-ruled Libra. Seventh house Neptune forms a quincunx to Mercury and opposes Venus, establishing an angular Mutable T-square to 4th house Saturn. Nevertheless, two babies are dead as a result of this violent act. I don’t recall local news clearly saying that an accelerant had been used; but the entire apartment was fully engaged, and television cameras showed the flames licking at the roof from inside the building.

Sun-ruled Leo rising first caught my eye about the arson in Johnson City chart. The Sun was placed in the third house in Venus-ruled Libra with an even division between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. A dominant focus on the first quadrant and eight planets including the luminaries stood below the horizon. Only Neptune and Uranus remained above the horizon–and 8th house Chiron if you would like to include that. Perhaps in this case, one can see the arsonist’s efforts to heal some wounds through Chiron, but he certainly didn’t offer the same to the mother, her friend and the two babies. Or perhaps you will afford me the privilege of the more sarcastic tone of sizzle in performance. It wasn’t charisma, by any stretch of the imagination! On the other hand, that 33-minute partile Mars-Jupiter conjunction in opposition to Chiron could have represented the acceleration of the fire if such a substance had been used. I don’t believe it’s coincidence that Saturn in Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius is in the 4th house.

Although many may object to my doing so, I will not hesitate to go at times even as far as 12° of orb and occasionally even beyond that if the right conditions are present for the Sun and/or Moon. At times, such a practice can be quite revealing, as appears to be the case here. Take note of the Sun’s opposition to Uranus in the chart but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a waning opposition. The Sun is also forming a square to Pluto. (Yes, I hear the hue and cry; but let me go on, and you’ll see the method for the madness.)

Mercury also forms an opposition to Uranus (yes, another unthinkable orb for many) while forming an approaching square to Pluto. But take note of the Sun-Mercury midpoint at 16 Libra 47. That midpoint is well within orb of the opposition to Uranus in addition to being well within orb of the square to Pluto. While some would still protest and say there’s no point in using beyond the 1° orb many use in midpoints, I would urge them to reconsider the orb. Tighter midpoint orbs prevent one’s seeing these particular points even when they’re so evidently activated. In The Combination of Stellar Influences (COSI), Reinhold Ebertin notes the following (with my eye to the obvious negative manifestations in this case, of course):

Sun/Mercury — “- Lack of clarity, absent-mindedness, aimlessness.”
Probable Manifestations: ” — Inclination to nervousness through overwork.”
Sun/Mercury 90° Pluto — ” — An orator exercisig suggestive power.”

Now this could imply the arsonist’s effort to wield power in an attempt to convince a victim of his dominance, but that’s still just a random thought on my part. Let’s go on:

Sun/Uranus — ” — Self will, caprice or obstinacy, a contradictory nature, impatience, an excitable physical make-up, a muddle-head, a trouble-maker.”
Probable Manifestations: ” — States of tension, sudden setbacks in life, upsetting experiences, a sudden adjustment to new conditions or circumstances in life (found repeatedly in cases of military call-up and of imprisonment), connection with accidents or catastrophes.”
Sun/Uranus 90° Pluto — ” — Tragic experiences, great physical suffering, sudden physical restrictions. (Imprisonment.)”

Mercury/Uranus — ” — ‘Too many irons in the fire’, also the inclination to scatter one’s energies in too many directions at once, nervous haste, temporary or occasional confusion, tactlessness, a brutal frankness, over-estimation of self, a contradicting disposition.”
Probable Manifestations: ” — Failures caused through scattering one’s energies or through doing everything in too great a hurry, nervousness, eccentric actions, upset and excitement.”
Mercury/Uranus 90° Pluto — ” — Over-strained or over-stimulated nerves.”

And finally, Uranus and Chiron form a Blooming Undecaquartisextile with the North Node (Rahu), suggesting the potential for fantasy or addiction to a relationship. This particular aspect may be pointing to the effort for the interaction itself–at any cost. It’s possible the fire was the expression of this perhaps desperate need for attention at all cost. Whether that was a conscious need is probably best left to psychoanalysts. Nevertheless, it stands to reason that at least the subconscious obsessive factors appeared to be met through this violent act.

Less than 24 hours later, friends and family of the two women and the children gathered on a nearby street in the village of Johnson City, holding lit candles in vigil for the little ones who had lost their lives the night before. Shortly before, around 4:30 pm, it was 2 am in Faridabad where firefighters were fighting to put out the flames in another home in a village where a Dalit family of four had been living near India’s capital, Delhi. The Dalits are at the bottom rungs of Indian castes.

According to police, the blaze was revenge-based arson, born out of a year-long dispute between Jitender, the 27-year-old father of the family and at least nine members of an upper caste. His wife, age 23, remains in the hospital in critical condition with burns over roughly 70% of her body. Their two children–a two-and-a-half-year old boy and a girl not yet a year old–are dead. (Different newspaper accounts mentioned 9 months of age while others said 11 months old.) The father was also injured trying to save his family. I don’t remember if anyone on the news actually said the Johnson City house fire had been the result of gasoline, but that’s stuck in my head. I may have thought gasoline was related in Johnson City by assocation: the fire in Faridabad had been started by petrol (gasoline) poured on the home and set ablaze.

The Indian Express quoted the father, Jitender, on the 2 am blaze, saying, ““The attackers were Rajputs and they had a confrontation with Dalits over a murder in October last year. They barged into our home when we were sleeping and they poured petrol from the window after locking our door from the outside. I could smell petrol and tried to wake up my wife, but by then the fire had started. My children died in the fire.” Jitender, a registered medical practitioner, runs a clinic in Ballabgarh where the murder had taken place in 2014. An FIR (this is a formal complaint registered with authorities) was lodged against two of Jitender’s brothers and another 11 Dalit men for that murder. Another FIR has been lodged, of course, against those Jitender accused of the arson and murder. So far, four have been arrested.

Thousands of miles and less than 24 hours separated these two incidents in which 4 toddlers have been killed and three women remain hospitalized in critical condition. As much as I’d rather write about wonderful things, these incidents also point to the Peeling of Life’s Onion.

The Blooming Undecaquartisextile remains a key component in this chart despite the different hour and day with precisely the same orbs. The single undecaquartisextile presents itself at the 165° angle. Uranus meets that degree within 2°30 of orb while Chiron meets that degree within 1°56 of orb. Nothing has changed. In fact, even the Ascendants by sign are the same as well as the degrees of both Ascendants falling within the third decanade of Leo, directing our attention to Mars ruling this particular decan. Mars in this chart is still clearly part of the first house Virgo stellium, with Venus rising. But Mars is in its own home for the natural zodiacal chart ruled by Aries, and this particular decan points to Mars, Aries’ ruler, for its

Carrying this line of thought even farther, the particular Dwadasama (dwad) in which the Johnson City blaze Ascendant falls is also attributed to Mars. It’s not that cut and dry–and yet it is–with the dwad for the Faridabad blaze: Every newspaper account I’ve seen for the latter pointed to “about 2 am.” 2 am places the ascending angle at 27 Leo 26, which would place the Ascendant within the Gemini dwad under a Mercury rulership. But this dwad cuts off at 27 Leo 30. If the calculation of this Ascendant is off by a mere 1 minute of clock time–which ishighly likely with the on the hour focus–and the blaze was actually at 1:59 am, it definitely would have fallen within the Gemini dwad. But if it was actually at 2:01 am, the dwad would be attributed to Cancer, and the focus would have been on the Moon which was making a 52-minute partile conjunction to Pluto in the 5th house by that time–lending even more power to that Cardinal T-square I already mentioned in reference to the Johnson City blaze. By this time, in fact, the Mercury-Sun midpoint was at 17 Libra 29, now forming a 43-minute partile opposition to Uranus in addition to its even stronger position as a square to that Moon/Pluto conjunction. Here, we see the focus of an attempt to wield power by the attack on a home.

Tragically, no one can apologize to the babies who died in these two blazes. How does one apologize to angels?

[The YouTube video is Westlife, singing Angel. Is it possible to embed it here as I can on my site?]

This has been a very busy week, and I’ve been slow in returning because of illness. With my own apologies to you, the reader, I’ll be back with more of a focus on the rest of the events that have taken place during the week. They aren’t pretty, but they are important. So are the rest of the perspectives I’ll cover on the Peeling of Life’s Onion. In the meantime…

Namaste, I love you.

©2015 Michelle Young

And now a P.S. to Medium readers, I seem to have been unable to do in most of the text what I can do on my own site — using bold, italics, and the occasional underlining or even the smaller font I’d prefer. (Text seems to come out in grey on my site unless I use the larger font, but here? I seriously need help! Anyone? Please?)

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