In The Loop June 2015

In The Loop is the Astrological Association's monthly email newsletter. To get it delivered to your inbox every month, subscribe here.

When I was last editor, I included articles on the Winter Solstice 2014. Now that the summer seems to have finally arrived (34 degrees as I write!), I have gathered some thoughts and writings from various astrologers on the Summer Solstice which has just passed. Do look at the pictures link from Stonehenge this Solstice! Here is the chart, set for London.

One of our most venerable astrological organisations, the Astrological Lodge of London, turns 100 years old on July 13th. It was founded at 7.15pm on this date in 1915 and was the brainchild of Alan Leo. To celebrate this momentous event in the history of modern astrology, a book has been researched and written on the History of the Lodge, which will be launched at the Centenary Party on the above date. For details and to apply to attend the party, (places are very limited), please check out the Astrologers Diary page of the AA website.

I hope you enjoy In the Loop and if you have any feedback you would like to give, please email

Sue Farebrother

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The Astrological Association Reference Library

The Library is now once again available to members and joiners. Located in South East Cornwall, the library can be visited by appointment with our librarian Trudie Charles. For those unable to visit, enquiries may be made by email or telephone 01752 852193

Free Recording

Learn about our art in Ancient Rome with Benedetto Gazzolo's brilliant talk at AA 2005 Conference:

Astrology during the Roman Empire

This month's articles

Summer Solstice 2015

Roy Gillett at Stonehenge

One picture is not enough to express the experience of being at Stonehenge at any time and especially the Summer Solstice. Click here to view many amazing pictures!

I have attended sunrise at nearly all solstices and equinoxes since 1999. Between quarter days, we have meetings (held most months) that aim to develop relationships between the authorities, agencies and the wide variety of devotees and revellers wishing to attend the quarter days. To see such a broad range of society working with respect toward each other for so many years warms the heart - especially after the fraught times over special day access that went before.

Alongside this social idealism, why is all this so important to us as astrologers that it has kept me involved for so many years? The general public's knowledge of astrology is rarely more that a cursory and usually misinformed view of the twelve sun signs. On the one hand, they expect unrealistically intimate information [specific predictions about love, money, career ....]. On the other hand, most are totally unaware of the zodiac's relationship with our immediately physical world and how the general structure of the solar system might impact on our lives.

We live mechanically supported lives: aeroplanes, cars, household appliances, air-conditioning, central heating and amazing medicines. We eat processed, pre-prepared and refrigerated food from all over the world. It is as if the seasons no longer have relevance to what we do or can have. Living bathed in constant electricity, many people rarely see the skies, let alone watch the cycles of the Moon and planets, so how can they know that the heavens reflect so much that happens in their lives?

So, as well as the something special that you will have to spend a night at Stonehenge to experience, it is immeasurably valuable for as many people as possible to interrupt their mechanical lives and be there to witness and remember major turning points in the Solar Year. So, alongside the regular devotees who know all this, your will find soldiers in civvies, overseas visitors, teenagers out for a bit of fun, older people who have never stayed up all night before. For these and many more this may be as special in their lives, as it often is for an astrology student to attend the annual Association conference for the first time.

Astrologers at Stonehenge, if the sky is as clear as it was this year, can see the planets in the sky and immediately watch the people enact the symbolism on the field below. This year, just after sunrise, the skies cleared and, in tropical Leo, Venus was parallel to the new crescent Moon, and led it and Jupiter (conjunct the Moon) toward the western horizon. This isosceles triangle of reflective generous love was evident in the natural non-confrontational way the masses of people strolled onto the field and found their place in an ever-widening area around the Stones. Of course, life is never that simple. Having just conjuncted Mars, the Sun in Gemini was to be void of course and just short of the Cancer ingress throughout the night. So both planets were in a tight quincunx to Saturn that had just retrograded back to Scorpio. A sense of Saturnian dissatisfaction, of being held back was led by the incomplete communication and testy crossed wires of the late Gemini Sun / Moon. This was to become more evident as Saturn rose to culmination.

At sunrise, a black cloud hung just above on the horizon, but with Mars at its side, after a wonderful reddening of the sky, the Sun was able to rise in enough space to reveal its whole disk to the cheering crowds.

See you next year I hope!

Roy Gillett, President

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Geraldine Beskin's Summer Solstice thoughts

As a child, Summer Solstice used to mean family birthdays, cold, windy picnics and one year, just after it, my first sight of Stonehenge. Being there another time and seeing the dog go crazy jumping higher than the corn and having the Moon full and touchably close is still a very fond teenage memory.

It is the one day when l truly do get up and see the sun come up as on other celebratory days l can talk myself out of it having opened the curtains and done token, mumbled acknowledgement of the occasion and then dived back into bed. This year it was an unspectacular dawn but this year's Beltane was stunningly beautiful with enormous pink and blue streaks across the sky before that magical moment happened and the sun came up. I always say that it does its job every day whether we bother to look or not and we all too often ignore other things that are vital to life. We never think what an important thing every breath is, how sensitive our skin or what wonders our eyes show us - from the mundane to the magnificent and Father Sun's appearance is part of the joy of Life.

The older I get, the more I would like to move Midsummer to August as I want the long, light evenings to go on and on. I love the way everyone knows when the solstice is these days and the country knows, deep in our old minds, that we share on an equal footing with other places with more obviously Earth based religions, the turning of the Wheel.

So, as I eat my British strawberries, I am amused that the market for one of our seasonal fruits is kept alive by old school one to one combat on the tennis courts at Wimbledon. The days are really only shortening by a little bit and we've actually got a lot of living to do, fun to have, tans to wish we had and places to get up and go to. So, what sort of harvests will we be reaping come the Autumn? The richness of them depends on how much solar power we harness from our charts and how many sunny smiles we share.

Geraldine Beskin is the owner of the Atlantis Bookshop, London

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The (Winter) Solstice 2015 in Australia

by Jessica Adams

The June Solstice coincides with the Sun in Gemini, and as I write this in Melbourne, Australia, I can see suitably Gemini headlines about television, radio and books. Over here, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a statement saying ABC-TV (Australia's version of the BBC) has let down the country.

In Britain, Amazon has just made headlines for paying just 11.9million in tax on 5.3 billion of UK sales. Isn't it remarkable how the 2nd century AD astronomer Ptolemy associated this part of the Summer in England and Winter in Australia - which he would not have known about - with the twins, Castor and Pollux? They were of course the Roman patrons of horses and sailors.

In the 2nd century AD, messengers on horseback and messages carried on ships were the forerunners of today's multimedia world of television and e-books.

Hope you had a Happy Solstice, especially to all my colleagues who blog about astrology, teach it or write books about it!

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The Astrology and Medicine Newsletter

An interview with the Editor, Wanda Sellar

1.How long have you been the editor of the Astrology and Medicine Newsletter (AMN), and what got you/it started?

Answer: 2016 will be 20 years since I became editor of the AMN. I began by assisting the then editor Gary Price, and when he suddenly left, I stepped in, albeit unwillingly, because I didn't think I knew enough about the subject. But I learnt. It was Jane Ridder-Patrick who founded the AMN in 1986, following discussions with the A.A., became its first editor, followed by Gary Price...

2. What do you enjoy about being the editor of AMN?

Answer: I love writing, and following up on ideas that I might see in the paper, general reading and health issues that clients might have. I started working life as a reporter, so putting together stories (articles) has become second nature.

3. The field of astrology and healing is a large one. Can you tell In the Loop readers - some of whom may not be subscribers to AMN - something about the kind of content you have received over the years?

Answer: The content has been very wide, from traditional astrology to more esoteric forms of the art. I include medical Horary, Decumbiture charts, surgery election charts as well as articles on case histories, and those of historical interest. I sometimes do 'themed' issues, which enables me to solicit articles from colleagues that might not otherwise contribute to the AMN. Themed issues have included 'Progeny', 'Jupiter', and 'World War 1', the latter because of topicality.

4. Are there subject areas of astrology, medicine and healing that seem to particularly appeal to your readers?

Answer: The feeling I get is that people like the AMN because articles are basic and easy to understand. Cannot say that there is a nucleus of subjects that are particularly popular since everyone has different interests, and I try to cater for that.

5. Over the years, has this changed at all? What were/are the kinds of subjects within the field that have become regular subjects for contributors?

Answer: Not sure just how much it has changed from early days. The AMN comes out more regularly (3 issues per year) and there are more articles to read. Over the years I've had people who have given me great support, and who sent in regular articles, which would have been pertinent to their interests. The first was Gerald Pitchforth, then Rupert J. Sewell, both very active in the astrological world in their time. Both sadly no longer with us. These days, the I astrologer Alan Wheatcroft greatly supports the AMN by frequent contribution.

6. Are there any aspects of being the editor that you find less appealing?

Answer: Can't think of any. Don't mind even doing the donkey work like sticking on stamps, but then I do have Moon in Virgo!

7. Do you plan each issue, or does it depend on the articles that are sent in?

Answer: Each issue is a mixture of articles, traditional and modern, so it does depend upon the material I have, but as mentioned previously, 'themed' issues are planned. As I tend to write frequent articles myself, it's what I find personally interesting.

8. Do you have any future plans for AMN?

Answer: Only in as much as planning future 'themed' issues. Otherwise, it depends upon the AA committee and how they see the AMN in our computerised world.

9. Do you have any further comments to make?

Answer: Articles are always very welcome, even from students, and even if the content is not strictly medical astrology but is biased towards it.

If any of our readers of 'In the Loop' feel motivated to submit an article to Wanda for consideration for inclusion in the future edition of the Astrology and Medicine Newsletter, you are cordially encouraged to do so: .

Subscribe to the Astrology and Medicine Newsletter here

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Life and Health in Pompeii

When Vesuvius, close to the Bay of Naples, erupted in 79 AD it buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum under ash and pumice, tragic for the populace but enlightening for posterity. Due to the lack of air and moisture, the city and artefacts were very well preserved, and reveal the details of Roman life: how the people lived and loved, ate and fell ill. The salvage of a large number of beautiful frescoes created a window back to the past.

Pompeii mural of baker and wife

This poster, widely depicted to advertise the British Museum exhibition last year entitled 'Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum', shows a prosperous baker and his wife.

Pompeii was an industrial town; Herculaneum a seaside resort for the wealthy. They lay either side of the volcano -(Pompeii 7 miles (11km) southeast and Herculaneum 4 miles (7km) west of the peak. At the time of the tragedy there were around 20,000 inhabitants in Pompeii. It was an affluent community owing in part to the rich agricultural soil. Rather than the poisonous ash killing the inhabitants the latest theory is that it was the heat that killed them.

The exhibits at the BM showed frescoes of marvellous villas, (particularly in Herculaneum) and town houses, with their shop fronts. In Pompeii the main quarters were often spacious but the kitchens were tiny and included the toilet.

Since the concept of germs was unknown, it is not surprising that dysentery (a severe infection of the intestines) was rife.

But the inhabitants knew the value of fresh water since the city of Pompeii proliferated with fountains. Unfortunately the water was carried in lead pipes and therefore lead poisoning could have been the result. Many of the houses had underground cisterns for personal use. There were several public baths and a gymnasium as well as an amphitheatre.

It is generally assumed that life expectancy was short due no doubt to epidemics and disease, not to mention the dirt and flies. Yet according to Professor Mary Beard (BBC News Europe 2010) the bones of those buried at Pompeii and Herculaneum revealed many skeletons of middle-age and advanced years. Getting through childhood was the difficulty. Professor Mary Beard also reports that a pair of twins almost certainly showed signs of congenital syphilis.

Nevertheless, the bones further reveal that the level of nutrition at Pompeii and Herculaneum was quite high, it would seem for rich and poor alike. Food may have included sea urchins, nuts, figs, eggs and chicken; information gleaned from the cesspits. The seafood diet, high in calcium, kept teeth quality good up to a point, though there was evidence of tooth decay and gum disease - probably due to the basalt grindstone used in flour and subsequently in bread.

Pliny the Elder, the historian and Roman General, whose ship was in the Bay at the time of the eruption, had earlier said in his book 'Natural History' that the area was famous for its fish and shell fish, not to mention olive oil. Unfortunately the volcano also claimed Pliny's life.

Since many instruments thought to be associated with medical appliances, have been found in the houses, it is possible that people treated themselves.

Charred and petrified bodies found in contorted shapes were filled in with plaster between the ash layers which revealed the exact position at time of death. Now resin is used to preserve the bodies so that bones can be examined.

Chart of Vesuvius eruption


The time of eruption is thought to be 24 Aug 0079 AD just before 1 pm. The exhibition at the BM suggested a later month in the year. Testimonies of a later date include the remnants of warm clothing, fresh fruit and vegetables, typical of October, in the shops. The fruit typical of August had already been dried and conserved.

However, if the eruption did occur on 24 August, then it was one day after the Vulcanalia, the Roman festival honouring Vulcan (Greek Hephaestus), the god of fire and naturally volcanoes! As he was married to Venus, the protector of Pompeii, it would be interesting to see how the two gods (planets) are placed in the accepted chart for the eruption.

Vulcan and Venus Vulcan is not included in orthodox astrology, but he has a place in esoteric astrology, except that his actual placing is rather vague, somewhere between the Sun and Mercury in the chart. Vulcan is said to rule Taurus esoterically, whilst the orthodox ruler is Venus of course. Vulcan the blacksmith, and forger of metals was instrumental in shaping works of rare beauty. This may be a metaphor for forging the way for some definite purpose upon the physical plane, esoterically speaking. Vulcan typifies the struggle between selfish ambition and the good of the whole. The qualities Vulcan endows: persistence, endurance through dark times, will and continuity of effort.

Vulcan in the 9th house: the long distances associated with this house describe the physical expression of the later stage of the Path, (whereas the 3rd house governs the early stages of the Path.) A need arises to discern and comprehend universal laws and truths. Since Vulcan is linked to the 't' square with Jupiter and Uranus, discovering the laws of the universe was sudden and spontaneous, bringing about new conditions. Vulcan and Venus are not in aspect but both are linked to Uranus: Vulcan by opposition, Venus by sesquiquadrate. It might be said that Uranus, in a sense, collects the light from the two former planets.

Venus in Cancer, 8th house is a testimony to the dissolution and death of people and the land. Incidentally, the Part of Danger or Peril at 28.30 Gemini, cusps 8th house.

Uranus is placed on the IC which rules the land, and surprisingly the Part of Fortune (POF) at 12.39 deg. Pisces is perched on the IC too, bringing anything but fortune to the city foundations. However, POF, IC and Uranus receive a square from the Moon (the populace), shaking things up somewhat! The Moon opposes the Part of Death at 14.36 Gemini.

The quality of the POF depends upon its Dispositor, which is Jupiter, unfortunately in Detriment and in the 7th finds itself in the house of 'enemies', and on the midpoint of Mars/Saturn (death). It is also in a 't' square with Mercury, Uranus, MC/IC, describing sudden happenings.

Ascendant The eruption/event itself will be largely described by the Ascendant. Scorpio is a sign of upheaval and the late degree is a signature of endings. Mars, ruler strong in Aries shows a dynamic force but being Retrograde clogs things up. On the South Node, a fateful situation, or describing a condition endemic to the region (4th house): earthquakes.

Mars is in a small triangular structure with Jupiter and Saturn, and falls on their midpoint suggesting an abrasive situation. Mars is also in a Finger of God aspect with Saturn and Mercury which translates into an ominous midpoint Mercury on Mars/Saturn. Mercury is incredibly strong being in Domicile, Exaltation and Term, as well as conjunct a strong Sun in Domicile. The Fixed Star Regulus enters the picture by conjunction to the Sun. Since Mercury rules 10th house of Fame, and 8th house of death, the legend and fascination of the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum remains undiminished.

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