The Stars that lead us to the land of the setting sun - Visiting the stars of our latter years.

Reflections - Looking at our year overview from January and checking the February predictions against the actual events. 

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In the January 2012 Newsletter we gave an overview of how 2012 might unfold using the tool of visual astrology. Now throughout the course of this year we will begin each newsletter with a reflection on what was implied by the visual astrology and what actually took place. 


There were two points we made in 2012 concerning February and these were related to Mercury and Venus.





Mercury and his phases for 2012

In our focus on Mercury, in its role of Nabu the Scribe, we talked how Mercury would be visible just before sunrise but would quickly move to being visible before sunset in February in the Urn of Aquarius. With the Urn of Aquarius representing abundance or wealth and Mercury in its role of Nabu the Scribe, we delineated this as:

... in February there is abundance in the community in terms of information or even fiscal policy, if we take the more medieval meaning of Mercury being trade. This could refer to the implementation of fruitful fiscal policies emerging from talks in Europe, and as the Moon rides above Mercury, [22 February] there could be more adequate safeguards put into place around the Euro, with the monetary situation appearing to benefit from some of the measures that have been implemented.

After weeks of expectation with newspapers and news bulletins being full of fiscal policies through early February, and the media anticipating that Greece would be forced to leave the European Union, as the Moon began to move over Mercury on the 21 February it was announced that Greece would get its required funds and be able to continue as part of the EU. This is a confirmation of what we have seen many times in visual astrology which is the role of the Moon in bringing something to fruition, as well as an expression of the Urn of Aquarius combined with Mercury to produce fiscal news.


Venus and her phases for 2012
In February Venus glowed brightly in the area of the Western Fish of Pisces alongside Uranus. In the Assyrian text this  visual phenomena was linked with cold and rain. In a desert community, a period of wet weather would have been considered a blessing but  as we moved into February, cold, snow and wet weather were the major stories in the news, with little sign of any blessings. 


Central and Eastern Europe had it worst cold snap in the last 26 years while the rest of the northern hemisphere fell back into deep winter. Temperatures at one stage in the  city of Moscow reached -210C, which is -50F. The news was filled with images of snowbound communities and the rare sight of the Colloseum in Rome white with snow (image right). Interestingly as Venus moved away from the her conjunction with Uranus on 14 February the cold snap finally eased.


However, weather issues were not solely expressed in the northern hemisphere. In Australia, during the first week of February over 20 inches of rain fell in parts of north-eastern Australia with over 10,000 people being flooded out. This was seen as part of the influence of the ongoing La Niña, weather conditions that Australia will be experiencing over the  next few years. In many ways this is a blessing for Australia after years of drought but flooding is always a disaster. 


March is the month of an emerging hero and this hero's struggle to survive. This the movement of Jupiter and we expect this visual astrology event to be absorbed into the USA news stories around the Republican nomination. We will reflect back on that in the next newsletter. 



Stars that leads us to the Land of the Setting Sun 

by Darrelyn Gunzburg


In a year when the music industry lost two of its divas (Amy Winehouse aged 27 died in July 2011, see VAN July 2011, and Whitney Houston aged 48 died in February 2012), Leonard Cohen, at the age of 77, has just released his latest album ‘Old Ideas’. Given that the British Film Industry has also in this time period released two fine films that deal with growing older from two extremely different perspectives, ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, (cast shown left) and Engelbert Humperdinck, at the age of 75, has just been nominated to represent the UK at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, it seems appropriate that in this Visual Astrology Newsletter we consider what we can learn about the stars that come to join us as we enter the latter years of our lives.


Predictive work using the fixed stars and visual astrology


In 1998 Bernadette Brady [1] put forward the concept that in working with fixed star parans a person's life could be divided into three stages, all of which are visible, obvious and useable for the whole of one’s life once they engage:


Rising Stars:The first, the stars of our youth, are with us when we are born. These are the stars that are rising as they form a paran to a natal planet. If a star is rising and in paran with our Sun or Moon then they often describe energies portrayed by our father or mother. They provide the petrol to get the engine going, as it were, and they stay with us as we mature.


Culminating  Stars: Stars that form a paran to a natal planet when the stars are culminating express themselves in the prime of our life. These new stars add to the already active parans of our youth. They come at a time when we have a better knowledge of the world and thus can aid or hamper but will definitely contribute to shaping the goals of the middle period of our life.


Setting  Stars: Stars that form a paran to a natal planet as they are setting are experienced in the latter years of life.  We can think of these stars as offering their energies to guide us through the remaining third of our life. They suggest that there are still new opportunities to explore as we encounter life as an elder.


The stars on the nadir are the stars of our foundation and appear to summarise our life once it has been lived. They suggest the shape of how we will look back on our lives as we prepare to leave it and how people will remember us.[2]


The question is always how long do these periods last? Are they divided into the length of life a person has lived? Did Amy Winehouse encounter the stars of her prime and her latter years in her twenties, or did she only encounter the stars of her youth? It is tempting to suggest that the life we live, however long or short, is what gets divided into thirds. (The stars of our foundation remain there incontrovertibly, for there are nearly always people who remember you once you die.) However, Brady in her many fixed star lectures argues that the stars of our youth are what carries us forward in life until we reach our first Saturn Return, the stars of our prime join them for the period of time between the first and second Saturn Returns, and the stars of our latter years join us post-second Saturn Return onwards. Thus according to this interpretation of parans, Amy Winehouse never got to encounter the stars of her prime and Whitney Houston never met the stars that were to be hers in her latter years.


Questions of older age, how we approach it and how we handle it, have always been with us. However, the expectations of our grandparents and our parents of the years of ‘retirement’ have taken a hugely different trajectory with this current generation of people entering their latter years. We are seeing the working age lengthened and barriers around ageing challenged. (Some might call it the ‘Pluto in Leo’ generation. In visual astrology we would call it the generations who are born with Pluto having crossed Wasat in The Twins and now moving north of the ecliptic, crossing from the shoulder of Pollux in the Twins, through the nursery of the stars of The Crab to the head of the Lion and rolling down its back.)


How then can we consider this time of our lives using the stars of our latter years to guide us? For this Visual Astrology Newsletter I have taken as an example poet, novelist and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen who was born on the 21 September, 1934 at 6.45 am in Montreal, Canada. Birth time accuracy:  Astrodatabank cites Linda Clark who quotes Cohen saying that his mother told him that he was born at ‘daybreak’.


Cohen was born a year before Elvis Presley and nearly a decade before the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Cohen gained critical success as a poet and a novelist. His first volume of poetry ‘Let Us Compare Mythologies’ was published in 1956 and his second collection, ‘The Spice Box Of Earth’ (1961), gained him international recognition. His novels ‘The Favorite Game’ (1963) and ‘Beautiful Losers’ (1966) sealed his reputation. However, it was not until 1968, in his mid–30s, buoyed by the success of Judy Collins’ version of his song ‘Suzanne’, that he released his first album, ‘The Songs of Leonard Cohen’.


Cohen has a partile Venus-Neptune in his chart. Within one minute of arc of each other, this is a substantial aspect.

Leonard Cohen, 21 September 1934,6:45 am
Montreal, Canada.


Venus in Virgo (fall) conjunct Neptune suggests alternate approaches to love, religion, depression, art and music, all themes found within his lyrics. That this conjunction is sited in the 12th house suggests that these are difficulties with which his family has been grappling (the 12th house). Cohen’s depression, a disorder from which his mother also suffered (Venus-Neptune the 12th house), is legendary. [3] His symptoms became apparent by his late teens but when offered to the public in the shape of songs, they became symbolic beacons of light for others.


However, in his sky map Venus is a morning star, independent and determined. Not only does she radiate and empower Neptune and this area of the sky but their placement under the left rear foot of Leo the Lion suggests that Cohen is under the aegis of this great regal presence in the sky, rising up on her hind legs north of the ecliptic. [4]

As Leo rises so, too, does the Hydra. This vertical pair, who always appear together, would have created a dramatic backdrop to the bright shining Venus illuminating the eastern sky in the early morning before sunrise.

Adding to this image are the fixed star parans to his natal planets.

Leonard Cohen's, natal sky map
21 September 1934,6:45 am, Montreal, Canada.


Leonard Cohen's Fixed Star Parans


In the years of his prime Venus is in paran with the following [5]:


Venus is rising as Aldebaran, the red eye of Taurus the Great Bull of Heaven, is culminating:

'The social commentator, or creative person who is accepted by society. A background in the arts, or an appreciation of the nature and needs of society.'


Venus is setting as Ras Alhague, in the head of Ophiuchus the Healer, is culminating:

'A person who expands the collective's options by increasing the availability of information.'


Venus is on the nadir as Scheat, in the saddle of Pegasus is culminating:
'Independent ideas concerning fashion, relationships and social customs. To admire or to create leading edge art.'


Cohen in his
prime years


All of this makes sense of his life in his middle years. But what of his latter years?


Jupiter in Cohen’s latter years


In his latter years there is only one fixed star that forms a paran that comes to join Cohen to his journey’s end and it is Jupiter. Horoscopically Jupiter sits with Mercury in Libra  in  his 1st house: big ideas (Mercury-Jupiter) trying to find balance and harmony (in Libra). This is another expression of manic depressive /bipolar syndrome – excessive highs and abnormal lows (depression).


The paran adds further information thus:


Jupiter is culminating as El Nath, on the tip of the horns of  the Great Bull of Heaven, is setting.

'Breaking new ground artistically, or as a humanitarian.
To fight for one’s beliefs; to clash with those of different philosophical opinions.'


Breaking through the balance to establish a new voice artistically. However, there may be another manifestation of this. At the age of 65, Cohen’s depression spontaneously remitted in 1999.[6]

Cohen in his latter years.


In Cohen’s sky map (shown above) the Crown Prince (Jupiter) and the King’s advisor (Nabu/Mercury) walk behind the King (the Sun), processing information and feeding it back to the King. They straddle the fixed star Spica, the star in the wheat sheaf of Virgo, the goddess in the sky, the star that symbolizes brilliance and talent, ‘an ability that is out of the ordinary’.[7] This promotes the idea of an exceptional gift or talent connected with synthesizing information and inspiring others through the spoken or written word.


Since the fixed stars indicate that Jupiter in paran with El Nath is what takes centre stage in his latter years and since it is next to Mercury, the gift of brilliance allows him to ‘break new ground artistically, or as a humanitarian’.

So how is Cohen approaching old age?


In late 2005 at the age of 71, when he was living in seclusion in a Buddhist monastery (another expression of his Moon-Neptune in the 12th hose horoscopically), Cohen discovered that his manger of 16 years, Kelley Lynch, had allegedly stolen more than $5m (£2.8m) from his retirement fund.[8] Cohen won a civil suit of US $9 million the following March. However, the money was irrecoverable. At a time when most people have given up their jobs and are settling into enjoying older age without work obligations, Cohen set about his first concert tour in 15 years. The world tour lasted from 11 May 2008 to 11 December 2010 and produced the two-disc set Live in London (2009). In 2008 Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2010 he was honoured with a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.[9]


In February 2012 he released his first album of original songs in seven years, and only his 12th studio album since 1967. The album was entitled ‘Old Ideas’, said to be Cohen’s homage to growing older. Here is one of them:

‘Going home
without my burden,
going home
behind the curtain,
going home
without this costume that I wore…’


Cohen is part of a generation who is showing us how to walk with grace towards the glory years of older age. Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman calls Cohen’s life a documentation of maturity and survival from which he has emerged as an elder.[10]


I noted at the start of this Visual Astrology Newsletter two films ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’. The first starring Meryl Streep, as ex-British Prime Minister Maragaret Thatcher, deals with a public figure’s encounter with that most human and equalising of emotions, grief from an insider’s perspective of older age. The message of the second, starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson, Ronald Pickup, Bill Nighy, and Dev Patel, is live long enough in order to reach new edges in yourself.


So have a look at what star parans to planets you have for your latter years, (the stars which are setting when they form a paran)  whether you are around your second Saturn return or not, and consider how these planets are placed in your natal sky map. They describe the places you have the potential to reach, painted with the colours of your life’s setting sun.



1. Brady, Bernadette, Brady's Book of Fixed Stars, Sameul Weiser Inc, York Beach Maine, 1998.
2. Brady, Brady's Book of Fixed Stars, p.359-362.
3. Nadel, Ira Bruce.  Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen. University of Texas Press, 2007, p 48.
Brady, Bernadette, and Darrelyn Gunzburg. Restoring the Heavens to Astrology. Vol. 1: 2005-2006, Visual Astrology Chronicles Bristol: Astro Logos Publishing, 2010, p.133.
 All meanings taken from Brady, Bernadette. Star and Planet Combinations. Bournemouth: The Wessex Astrologer, 2008.   
http://1heckofaguy.com/2009/04/30/leonard-cohens-list-of-pharmaceuticals-joke-his-not-at-all-funny-depresion/ - accessed 29 February 2012.
Star and Planet Combinations,  p.232.
8. Glaister, Dan (8 October 2005).
"Cohen stays calm as $5m disappears". London: The Guardian.    
http://www.biography.com/people/leonard-cohen-9252529?page=1 - accessed 20 Feb 2012
http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Leonard-Cohen-Biography/A91B96BD0654A67B48256AF00025BBF3 - accessed 29 February 2012.      


Issue No. 83
February 2012

On related topics


January 2012
The overview of the whole year which is the basis of the Reflection article.


March 2008
The Great One, Aquarius - five who bathe in his urn and two who stole from it….Looking at Aquarius in visual astrology via the charts of billon dollar people.

December 2011
The Repeating Story of Europe - Neptune's voyage through the stars of Aquarius.


May 2007
Three Goodbyes... When the snake and the lion walk the land - Considering how the leaders of Europe are changing in the light of the lunar eclipse visible over Europe. Exploring the combination of Leo and the Hydra.




In this issue we look at the year ahead...

Restoring the Heavens to Astrology

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Sends us an email which is then added to the Newsletter's mailing list.

Your natal stars - emailed to you.
A 60 minute flash lecture on Visual Astrology


March 2012

Saturn is now with Spica and will rise in the mid evening. He holds the rule of the night sky and is joined by the Moon on the 11th. That which is organised is successful. 

Jupiter begins to descend and every evening it is a little lower in the west. In this month Jupiter moves into the Stare of Cetus but is helped by a bright Venus. A hero will be challenged!

Mars is still rising before Saturn in the early evening and moves into a retrograde loop to reach back towards the Royal Star of Regulus, the Heart of the Lion.  However, later in the year Mars does not reach this position, so a challenge to the power of the king looks threatening but does not eventuate. 

Venus is a bright evening star radiating Jupiter around mid March and helps the 'hero' survive a serious threat.  On 3 April she makes one of her rare passes directly over the Pleiades.

The crescent of the New Moon will be on 22 March along with Mercury and Uranus. This could be a time of more cold and unseasonable weather.

Calendar of
forthcoming Events

21st April 2012
The Bolton Astrological Society Spring Conference
Two half-day workshops with Darrelyn Gunzburg and Bernadette Brady. Visual Astrology and AstroGraphology. more

22nd April 2012
The LSA Conference. London
Bernadette Brady speaking on Visual Astrology. More

24-30 May, 2012
New Orleans, USA
UAC 2012

Bernadette Brady on Fate and Free Will in Astrology and Darrelyn Gunzburg on visual astrology. visit the UAC web site.

Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 June, 2012
Weekend Retreat in San Diego, USA
Bernadette Brady and Darrelyn Gunzburg 
Details to be announced

23rd-24 June 2012. Astrology in Time and Place: Cross-Cultural Questions in the History of Astrology. Bernadette Brady presenting a paper on astrological notion of 'place' More information.


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