A joint publication of: Astro Logos and Zyntara Publications



January 2008

VAN Archive - www.Zyntara.com


In this issue: 
Loops in the Sky: when planets tarry. A consideration of planetary retrograde loops in visual astrology.
“Two households both alike in dignity…"
A consideration of two charts both containing Venus square Neptune. The use of the parans to Venus as a way of clarifying and extending our understanding. 

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Much has happened since the December VAN and we, along with most others were dismayed by the assassination on the 27 December 2007, of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's opposition leader. 2007 has had difficult sky narratives with Mars retrograde in the horns of the Bull and the King so strong in the stars of Leo, a combination which gives over-confidence to those in power and a tendency for a henchman to be used against those seen as a threat to the "king". In the September VAN I looked at this combination in the article - "A strong Kings employs a henchman to remove a threat and the weather turns cold and wet", although let it be noted that I was not focusing on Pakistan. Still, the west coast of North America is getting a stormy and cold winter, and even in Australia, whilst they swelter under heat waves, there is plenty of rain.  However, the retrograde emphasis of Mars in 2007 has lead me to do a little exploring of retrograde loops in visual astrology which is the focus of my article in this newsletter.

Courses Enrolling. January is the month for enrolling in the Fixed Stars and Visual Astrology Diploma and the Medieval Astrology Diploma both taught by Bernadette Brady, as well as the Spring School - Reading charts taught by Darrelyn Gunzburg. This year .Bernadette will also be running a Summer School in Visual Astrology See the end of this newsletter for more information on all our courses

MA Lampeter News.  Lampeter University Wales: the Masters program being taught from Lampeter University is now totally booked and starts later this month. However, Nick Campion tell me that he is now accepting enrolments for the October 2008 intake. This MA is in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology and is taught by Nick Campion, Liz Greene, Patrick Curry and Bernadette Brady. For further information, website: www.lamp.ac.uk/sophia. Further information: n.campion@lamp.ac.uk or ncampion@caol.demon.co.uk.

Finally a quick reminder... Last week for 30% sale - ends January 13 - The last week for our Studyshop specials, particularly for those of you who enjoy the astrology which embraces the stars and sky, as this is the last week when you can pick up the StarLogos boxed set of lectures for a 30% discount. This is a genuine learning journey that you can do in your own time.  

    Loops in the Sky:
    when planets tarry

     Bernadette Brady M.A.          

When a planet goes retrograde, we all mutter various things under our breath and consider that what is embraced by the planet’s symbolism will be delayed or revisited.


However, in visual astrology the retrograde movement of a planet is a different matter. The planet, which is considered a vital character in the emerging sky narrative, stops, turns around and then goes back to where it has been. Such a visual phenomena was seen as the planet or deity stressing a certain part of the sky, or waiting for another to catch up with it for an exchange, or backing away from a potential conflict that it seemed to be rushing towards.


An unsigned letter from an Assyrian priest to his king, in around 660 B.C.E. wrote about Mars not turning retrograde and said [1]:

[Ma]rs has entered Cancer, but it will not
be regarded as an omen; it will not stand in
it, it will not become stationary and not tarry;
it will move out quickly.

This suggests that if a planet does “tarry”, then it is an omen and was and maybe should be considered more carefully. So let us look at where in the sky planets will linger and  “tarry” in 2008.

The places where Mercury will tarry in 2008.
Mercury is the messenger, the thief the rumour-carrier and will bring with it issues of information being received, or revealed. But also it can be used as a like a general highlight pen in the sky. Mercury tarrying amongst a set of stars was a way that those stars were emphasized, either for good or for bad, depending on the rest of the sky.


Mercury Loops

First retrograde loop: 
28 January - 19 February
in the constellation of Capricorn.

This constellation is the place of the law, where the establishment's power is upheld. Mercury is going to stress the entire back of the sea-goat, who was symbolic of Ea the god that comes out of the water to teach and civilize his people. He later urged his people to build an ark to escape the deluge.

We could think of this as the king or the leaders being asked to show "back bone" or the ruling forces - in any country - are shown to be strong.

Now this is an easy statement to make but an astrologer/priest, I would think, would see this as good for the "king".

Second retrograde loop 26 May to 19 June – in the horns of Taurus.

Here Mercury rides up and down on the southern horn of the Bull, pausing on the 19 June beside the fiery red eye of Aldebaran.

This is a far more worrying statement as these horns are a place of aggression. Here Mercury is suggesting that there is talk of aggression or news of war. Once again this can be an easy statement to make as unfortunately there is always a war happening somewhere.

Yet when this is combined with a Jupiter retrograde loop which I consider below, this combined symbolism indicates that the summer of 2008 is not going to be totally focused on the Olympic games in China - unless of course this aggression can be soaked up symbolically in the collective by all the heated competition of the Games.

Third retrograde loop 24 Sept to 15 October in the left arm of Virgo.

This placement in the wheat sheaf is a far gentler message suggesting talks of peace. Whatever are the difficulties of summer they are calmed by both Mars sliding into Virgo and being joined by Mercury. Here Mercury is almost foretelling of a gift. One is tempted to think of an Assyrian priest forecasting a good harvest and much grain.


Venus and Mars do not make a retrograde loop this year, although Mars has of course been stressing the horns of the Bull and leaves that place at the end of January, and becomes calmed by the stars of Virgo. Saturn is in midst of a retrograde loop as we enter 2008 and will stay retrograde until 3 May in the stars of Leo with its stationary point close to Regulus the Heart of the Lion. I have discussed this in the September 2007 VAN.  

However, the other key retrograde loop for 2008 is Jupiter when its tarries in the stars of Sagittarius.
Jupiter lingers in Sagittarius

By the 9 May 2008 Jupiter slows and turns as it
is passing through Sagittarius. It then spends four months lingering with the great aggressive and fearful archer, finally to become stationary in his face. The stare of the archer was the most feared part of the constellation. For the Babylonians this was the warrior Pabilsag, who was considered[2]:

".. Like a scorpion rising up from among
the thorns, he is a fearsome scorpion; like
a wolf rising up from his lair, he is likely to growl; like a lion rising up in the pathway,
he is likely to beat ......."

Jupiter is the crown prince, the one who is powerful but is at least one step removed from the throne; he is the contender in politics, the outsider in political campaigns. Yet he has power.

Thus from mid-June when Mercury sits on the eye of the Bull, climaxing in late August to early September 2008 when Jupiter sits in the face of the archer we have an aggressive summer, but as Mercury moves into Virgo, and joins Mars in late September the most difficult time should have passed, with Jupiter having turned direct and "deciding" to leave his war-like position in Sagittarius.

I have scanned the last 500 years and had not found a similar time. Jupiter was in the stars of Sagittarius while Mercury was rushing through the Bull and into Gemini in the summer of 1593 which saw an invasion of the Netherlands, and the French king Henry IV converted to Catholicism which I believe does not seem to capture the themes of this 2008 narrative. So for me this is a "wait and see" situation. In visual astrology I am certain that this sky narrative would have caused a few letters to go to the king but as to what those letters would have said, we will have to let time tell us.



[1] Hunger, Herman. (1992). Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings. Helsinki, Finland: Helsinki University Press. pg 260.
http://www.piney.com/BabPabNibru.html 10 April, 2007
Images are composite images made using Starlight Software (2002) Barnswood and Brady:Zyntara Publications

“Two households both alike in dignity…"

A consideration of two charts both containing Venus square Neptune
by Darrelyn Gunzburg

In this edition of the VAN I want to look at two charts each with a Venus square to Neptune and see how these aspects are modified not only by house position and sign but also by the fixed star paran relationships involved with their natal Venus. 

The first Venus-Neptune belongs to the great Italian operatic composer Giacomo Puccini (22 December 1858 – 29 November 1924) whose works include Manon Lescaut (1893), La Boheme (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi: a trio of short works (1918) and Turandot (1924).

The second Venus-Neptune belongs to Sally Ride (b.26 May 1951) who, in 1983, became the first American woman to reach outer space as a mission specialist on the Challenger, the seventh space shuttle flight.

Giacomo Puccini, 22 December, 1858. 2:00 am
Lucca, Italy, Clifford data set.

Sally Ride, 26 May 1951, 08:11am, Los Angeles,
CA, USA. Blackwell Data set.

Natal Venus-Neptune

As a general statement a Venus-Neptune aspect in a chart describes someone who experiences a confusion of value systems and human relationships, and is often termed gullible or naïve due to an inability to distinguish with clarity where relationships or friendships are supportive or non-supportive. In extreme cases it can bring deception and disillusion into relationships; in its best expression it can offer charisma in the arts or performance, spirituality and even mathematics. 

Puccini’s Venus is in Sagittarius in the 2nd house and squares Neptune in the 5th house. This succeedent square creates tension between what he values - to relate independently (Venus in Sagittarius in the 2nd house) - and what he creates – to merge with another or an ideal (Venus-Neptune/Neptune in the 5th house). Throughout his life he learns that if he takes creative, flexible action (mutable) and pours this into his music (Venus-Neptune) and works with others (succeedent), he can then be the one who inspires others (Venus in Sagittarius square Neptune).

Ride’s Venus is in the 1st house in Cancer square Neptune in the 4th house. This angular square creates tension between how she is seen by others and hence how she impacts on the world (Venus in Cancer in the 1st house) – and how she merges with another in the house and home (Venus-Neptune/Neptune in the 4th house). The dilemma for Ride is that this is an angular square and both planets make aspects to the Ascendant, hence it is an empowered and effective part of her chart, yet the nature of both Venus in Cancer and Venus-Neptune requires her to be receptive.

Clearly both of these people have learnt how to gain the benefits of this aspect, as both have achieved a place in history.

The Stars in paran to Venus

So what more can one learn by understanding the parans which lie underneath each of these Venuses, and can they add to our understanding of these Venus-Neptune squares?


Giacomo Puccini’s Parans to his Venus


Giacomo Puccini has three stars which connect with his Venus and all of them form this relationship while culminating and thus will be most strongly felt in the prime of his life.


Ras Algethi is the star in the head of the Kneeler, a star linked to the accepted order of things, the natural and correct attitude of humans in awe of the gods or goddess. This is the star which suggests that the way in which we honour something larger than ourselves gives us a sense of purpose to life.

It is in this period of his life that Puccini starts to write his best works, beginning with Manon Lescaut which made him known outside Italy, La bohème, widely considered his masterpiece, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly. La bohème, perhaps the most popular and generally beloved opera ever written, is recognized as a tour de force of characterization, sentiment, and craftsmanship. Thus we see Puccini’s Venus growing in maturity and applying his perception of people to his operatic work. 

Capella is the star in the left shoulder of Auriga, The Charioteer, and symbolizes the need for freedom and independence. Linked to Artermis the Greek goddess of the hunt, Capella is also the concept of the fertile goddess, she who is of the horse, and therefore embodies action and movement. Both of these meanings underlining Puccini’s natal Venus in Sagittarius, suggest he requires a degree of freedom in the way he composes his operas.


In 1880, at the age of 21, Puccini composed the Messa, marking the culmination of his family's long association with church music in his native Lucca. The work anticipated Puccini's career as an operatic composer by showing a dramatic power that was far more operatic than was usual for church music. Thus Capella with his Venus allows him the inner strength to compose in the way that best suits his understanding and not be restrained or restricted by social values, even though he was born into a family with five generations of musical history behind them.


Rigel is the bright star in the left foot of Orion the Hunter and is known as the educator, for the Egyptians saw Orion as the Pharaoh and to be under a Pharaoh's foot was to be under his protection. Rigel is the active, educating  concept of forward development not just for personal gain but for the gain of many.


Rigel in paran with his Venus in Sagittarius helps Puccini to bring out the inspirational quality of his Venus and apply it to his music. Some have noted that it seems as if Puccini was incapable of writing an opera with a happy ending. His heroines are usually tragic figures, doomed to unhappiness and, often, an early death. In addition, many are flawed in one way or another. Yet the fact that his characters are imperfect gives them dramatic strength.

Ras Algethi
with Venus:
 Insightful into the use
of money, or colour; perceptive concerning the nature of society


Capella with Venus:

To challenge the values
of society



Rigel with Venus:

Not restrained by social opinions on ethics, relationship, or
religious issues










Puccini in summary


The Grove Online Dictionary of Music [1] describes Puccini’s unique talent, for which he has been termed an unrivalled master, as being able fuse erotic passion (Venus in Sagittarius), sensuality and tenderness with pathos and despair (Venus-Neptune) so that others could be emotionally moved. Adding in the fixed star parans attaches new insights and depths as to how Puccini was able to express the more creative, inspirational side of his Venus-Neptune, unrestrainedly challenging society (Rigel and Capella both in paran with Venus) and applying his unique insights (Ras Algethi in paran with Venus) to contribute to an art form that has and continues to move and delight opera-lovers.





with Venus  

A leader in the arts or in humanistic politics

Rukbat  with Venus 

To be consistent, or rigid, in your social views and ideas


Alpheratz with Venus

To demand the right to follow one's own social or religious conscience


 Sally Ride’s Parans to her Venus


Sally Ride has one star rising as it formed a paran with her Venus and thus its major expression is in her youth


Arcturus is the star in Bootes, the Hunter who now farms. He symbolises the transition from the nomadic hunter-gather to the herder-cultivator-ploughman-village, and represents one who can lead the way as a pathfinder and make transitions to create a better way of life for others.   


At the age of 27, with B.A., B.S., and masters' degrees, Ride was a Ph.D. candidate looking for postdoctoral work in astrophysics when she read about NASA's call for astronauts in the Stanford University paper. More than eight thousand men and women applied to the space program that year. Thirty five were accepted, six of whom were women. One was Sally Ride. [2]


Many doorways opened up as a result of Ride’s selection by NASA, one of which was to give her a place in history. Although it could as easily have been expressed as doing leading research a University (a post she took on incidentally as Science Fellow at Stanford University once she had retired from NASA), with Arcturus lying underneath her angular Venus and making a wide conjunction to her Ascendant, it activates this ability to forge a new pathway in the first third of her life, rather than later.


Ride then has two stars forming parans with her Venus while culminating which places their expression in the prime of her life:


Rukbat is the star in the knee of the left foot of Sagittarius The Archer and represents steadiness and consistency. Rukbat linked with Ride’s Venus, adds a 'rudder' or 'anchor' to her life, giving her the skill to work towards long-term goals in her life.


Alpheratz is the star common to the Horse's navel and the head of Andromeda and symbolizes freedom and movement. It fuels Ride’s Venus with the desire to take action that comes from her conscience.


As director of the California Space Institute and Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego she was able to pursue one of her passions, encouraging young women to study science and math (Venus in Cancer in paran with Alpheratz). She also initiated and headed EarthKAM, an Internet-based NASA project that allows middle-school classes to shoot and download photos of the Earth from space. Her most recent enterprise is Imaginary Lines, an organization founded to provide support for all the girls who are, or might become, interested in science, math and technology.

Ride in summary

As part of her training, Ride was the Capsule Communicator for the second and third Space Shuttle flights and on June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space as a crewmember on Space Shuttle Challenger: independent (angular square) yet a member of crew which could only survive by being connected to one another (Venus in Cancer square Neptune). As such it paved the way for her to be able to follow her own pathway, focusing on nurturing not only young people but women in science (Venus in Cancer in paran with Alpheratz)



As we forge forward into this new-old area of bringing parans back into natal chart delineation, I find it useful and informative to consider similar aspects in the charts of people who have made a public mark and to look at them not only from the similarities and/or differences in their natal charts but also at what parans are sitting underneath the planets and how this adds to the story. 

 [1] Sadie, Stanley (ed.) The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music, London: Macmillan Press Ltd
Online at: http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/puccini.html - accessed 8th January 2008.

 [2] http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96may/ride.html - accessed 8th December 2008.

Course Information:  Spring School - Learning how to read a chart

If you would like to learn how to read aspects in a natal chart, the Astro Logos Spring School, beginning on Saturday 8th March and running for 6 weeks, will be teaching exactly that.

The teaching will be through an online, real-time environment as well as through lectures on CD and will require short assignments of approximately 200-300 words to be sent in each week to make sure you have understood the concepts being taught. This is the gateway to the Diploma Delineation Course run by Astro Logos which takes a full year in total through discrete modules which connect with each other. Those who began with the 2007 Winter School last year are now completing the Delineation Work Experience module and earning money from their readings. Here are some recent comments from students that they were happy to share with everyone in this newsletter:

“With clarification and support from you, Darrelyn, I did my consult for the client whose chart I asked about and it went really well. So the "shocker" <grin> today was, I turned on my cell phone and it beeped with messages. Would you believe, on the final day of 2007, three new client requests for astrological readings?  It seems this is a good marker for 2008!”    Margaret, Seattle, USA

“Just before Christmas I was coerced into doing a reading for my parents’ conservative friend's birthday at a dinner party full of conservatives who had mostly never been exposed to Astrology except through magazine horoscopes and I was sure had no respect for the art. I was so intimidated at first- but I went in there with a "proud to be an Astrologer" attitude and left with a lot of people seemingly in awe!  It was a great exercise for me to learn to not be so judgemental myself. Astrology is something powerful enough to cross cultural boundaries.” Eve, New York


You can find out more about the 2008 Spring School by clicking this link.


Please note that we assume that students are familiar with the techniques we teach in the two Studyshop “The Zodiac” and “The Angles” and the “Planets and Aspects Kit”. If you are not familiar with these you can explore them and/or purchase them by clicking here.


Medieval Astrology Diploma and the Visual Astrology and Fixed Star Diploma


The courses are taught via lecture CDs, assignments and online tutorials where questions are answered and charts are delineated as a group. These diplomas are designed for those who already have astrological experience as they focus on building new skills into your current knowledge. Please note: Bernadette can only take on four new Visual Astrology students and five new medieval students.

For more information: Medieval Astrology www.astrologos.co.uk/courses_medieval.htm  or 
Visual Astrology Diploma www.astrologos.co.uk/courses_fixed_stars.htm .



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The software that allows you to work with the whole sky in your astrology is Starlight and it can be explored on the Zyntara home page where there are also online tutorials.