Thursday, 27 March 2014

Tense Times - the next Uranus-Pluto Square

Life might well be feeling tense again, as if someone or something is slowly twisting our nerves into a tight braid. Indeed, this should be familiar ground for most of us by now because we've been here four times in the recent past(1). Two planets - or if you want to be an astronomical stickler, a planet and a dwarf planet, have been locked in a temperamental tango since 2012.

Uranus, instigator of change, revolution, progress and freedom is forming a series of Squares with Pluto, small but powerful and the signifier of upheaval and destruction that leads to rebirth and transformation. This can be an explosive combination at any time but the Square aspect is known to present challenges and obstacles and to be a little testy. Consequently, a series of seven Squares between these two planetary gods is more than eventful for the human race.

At present, we are inexorably approaching the fifth Uranus-Pluto Square, exact on April 21st (the next two will occur in December 2014 and March 2015). This repeating pattern suggests important and rather immense changes afoot for planet Earth and its inhabitants. Uranus and Pluto normally indicate the masses, such as a generation, but the significance of this recurring aspect is filtering right down to the individual level, where we'll each be experiencing our own personal upheavals.

So what can we expect as we near the next exact Square? Uranus and Pluto are essentially trying to break free - from everything. It's time for a revolution, in all its forms. Individually this seems to be manifesting as a recurring feeling to escape from whatever is enslaving us. This could be an illusion or lie that we've been living, a damaging habit or stifling job or a controlling relationship or friendship. With each Square, these feelings might deepen, the urge becoming more powerful and the desire less easy to resist. For although these changes are ultimately for the best, we creatures of comfort typically avoid change or anything that might threaten our sense of security and familiarity. This is understandable, of course, but perhaps we are being questioned on our true source of security; not how much savings we have or how many possessions we own but our self-worth based on our character and values; not how many friends we have on Facebook but how we have touched the lives of real people; not how popular or famous or admired we are but why we are unconditionally loved by those who know us best. Once we discover these truths, at our core, nothing in the outside world can really threaten us. 

The Uranus-Pluto Squares are also symbolic of the intense but necessary crises and rapid changes taking place on the planet - both natural and man-made, material and spiritual. This is adding to the stress we're experiencing in our personal lives. There is continual advancements with technology (Uranus), which is accelerating and inundating us with a virtual world of constant communication. There are rebellions and uprisings in several countries, where the population has felt oppressed (Uranus). We also have many instances of corruption being revealed in governments, corporations and other bodies that have gained power and control (Pluto). And of course there are the ongoing natural and man-made disasters, which are nothing new but are now beginning to show very real consequences, particularly in our weather and climate (Uranus again).

The next Square is joined by the Sun meeting Uranus, in Aries - a Sign of the individual with a fiery temperament and impulsive streak. Its ruler, Mars, will be directly opposite Uranus while Jupiter will also be in Square, from Cancer. This configuration will most likely fuel the drive for rebellion and perhaps give some of us the push we need to break free and embrace our need to 'be me'. It will also intensify collective uprising, particularly in areas already in strife. The astrological nature of Mars (war) and Jupiter (excess) suggests great potential for more unstable and violent occurrences, as the energy may prove overwhelming for some. 

This might sound largely 'doom and gloom' however Uranus and Pluto symbolically work together for change leading to transformation, which sometimes requires the exposition and destruction of old ways. It also remains possible to actively channel our energy into productive and creative ways of handling change. Pluto's no-nonsense force and willpower coupled with Uranus' explosive and sudden behaviour does not make for an easy ride though. There have been causalities in the fight for equality, recognition, justice and freedom and at times anarchy (another penchant of Uranus). But also a renewed sense of power for the people, a desire not to be ruled unjustly by the self-appointed elite.

Whatever we might be experiencing now, willingly or otherwise, ultimately contributes to the spiritual awakening and evolution of mankind. That may not seem like much comfort when we're having a particularly testing time, but having faith that it's for the greater good or that maybe we're just not privy to the bigger picture can sometimes help to get us through. Perhaps the more we aim to accept what's happening and that life is tense for now, the less resistance we make to change and the ride becomes easier.

Looking back at the previous Squares, we can identify events unfolding at that time to get a flavour of how this aspect manifests. The months preceding and following the exact Square formation are also highlighted, as the aspect begins to form and build up tension and then release and reveal the consequences.

{If you're unsure of what the Squares are highlighting for you, review the past occurrences and reflect on what was happening in your life at those time, as well as the months leading up to the exact dates and what happened afterwards. This should give you an idea of the areas and issues that are important for you and require change and renewal.}

(1)The Uranus-Pluto Exact Squares: 

First Square: 24th June 2012 - Uranus 8° Aries/Pluto retrograde 8° Capricorn
Second Square: 19th September 2012 - Uranus retrograde 6° Aries/Pluto 6° Capricorn 

Some events relating to the 2012 Squares: 

  • March 4 – series of explosions are reported at a munitions dump in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo, with at least 250 people dead. 
  • March 22 – The President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré, is ousted in a coup d'état after mutinous soldiers attack government offices.
  • April 6th  independence of Azawad from Mali 
  • April 12 – coup d'état staged in Guinea-Bissau, Africa, where interim President Raimundo Pereira and leading presidential candidate Carlos Gomes Júnior are arrested by mutinous soldiers who take control of the capital city, Bissau. 
  • April 26 – Former Liberian President Charles Taylor found guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Sierra Leone Civil War. 
  • July 4 – CERN announces the discovery of a new particle with properties consistent with the Higgs boson after experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.
  • July 30–31 –worst power outage in world history in India, where blackouts leave 620 million people without power 
  • August 6 – Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory mission's rover, successfully lands on Mars.
  • August 31 - Researchers successfully perform the first implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes. 
  • Armenia severs diplomatic relations with Hungary, following the extradition to Azerbaijan and subsequent pardoning of Ramil Safarov, who was convicted of killing an Armenian soldier in Hungary in 2004. The move is also met with fierce criticism from other countries. 
  • September 7 – Canada officially cuts diplomatic ties with Iran by closing its embassy in Tehran, and orders the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Ottawa, over support for Syria, nuclear plans and human rights abuses. 
  • September 11–27 – A series of terrorist attacks are directed against United States diplomatic missions worldwide, as well as diplomatic missions of Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 
  • October 24–30 – Hurricane Sandy kills at least 209 people in the Caribbean, Bahamas, United States and Canada. Considerable storm surge damage causes major disruption to the eastern seaboard of the United States.
  • November 14–21 – Israel launches Operation Pillar of Defense against the Palestinian-governed Gaza Strip, killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. In the following week 140 Palestinians and five Israelis are killed in an ensuing cycle of violence. A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is announced by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the week-long escalation in hostilities in Southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. 
  • November 25 – December 9 – Typhoon Bopha, known as "Pablo" in the Philippines, kills at least 1,067 with around 838 people still missing. The typhoon causes considerable damage in the island of Mindanao. 

Third Square: 20th May 2013 - Uranus 11° Aries/Pluto retrograde 11° Capricorn 
Fourth Square: 1st November 2013 - Uranus retrograde 9° Aries/Pluto 9° Capricorn 

Some events relating to the 2013 Squares: 

  • March 24 –  Central African Republic conflict: Central African Republic President François Bozizé flees to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after rebel forces capture the nation's capital, Bangui. 
  • March 27 – Canada becomes the first country to withdraw from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. 
  • April 2 – The United Nations General Assembly adopts the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the international trade of conventional weapons.
  • April 15 – Two Chechen Islamist brothers explode two bombs at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, killing 3 and injuring 264 others.
  • May 15 – In a study published in the scientific journal Nature, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University in the United States describe the first creation of human embryonic stem cells by cloning. 
  • June 6 – American Edward Snowden discloses operations engaged in by a U.S. government mass surveillance program to news publications and flees the country, later being granted temporary asylum in Russia. 
  • June 14–30 – Flash floods and landslides in the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh kill more than 5,700 people and trap more than 20,000. 
  • July 3 – Amid mass protests across Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi is deposed in a military coup d'état, leading to widespread violence. 
  • September 21 – al-Shabaab Islamic militants attack the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, killing at least 62 civilians and wounding over 170. 
  • October 10 – Delegates from some 140 countries and territories sign the Minamata Treaty, a UNEP treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.[44] 
  • October 18 – Saudi Arabia rejects a seat on the United Nations Security Council, making it the first country to reject a seat on the Security Council. 
  • November 8 – Typhoon Haiyan ("Yolanda"), one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record, hits the Philippines and Vietnam, causing devastation with at least 6,241 dead. 
  • November 21 – Euromaidan pro-EU demonstrations begin in Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovych rejects an economic association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine in favor of closer ties to Russia. 
  • November 24 – Iran agrees to limit their nuclear development program in exchange for sanctions relief. 
  • December 7 – Ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization delegates sign the Bali Package agreement aimed at loosening global trade barriers. 
  • December 15 – Fighting between ethnic Dinka and Nuer members of the presidential guard breaks out in the capital city of South Sudan and precipitates the South Sudanese political crisis.

Fifth Square: 21st April 2014 - Uranus 13° Aries/Pluto retrograde 13° Capricorn
Sixth Square: 15th December 2014 - Uranus retrograde 12° Aries/Pluto 12° Capricorn 

Events so far relating to the 2014 Squares: 

  • December 2013-February - the UK and Ireland experience an exceptional run of severe winter storms and rainfall culminating in coastal damage and widespread flooding 
  • January - an extreme weather event grips large parts of North America creating record low temperatures and snowfall for Canada and eastern USA
  • February 13 – Belgium becomes the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia for terminally ill patients of any age. 
  • February 22 – The Ukrainian parliament votes to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office, replacing him with Oleksandr Turchynov, after days of civil unrest left around 100 people dead in Kiev.
  • March 5 – Nicolás Maduro, the President of Venezuela, severs diplomatic and political ties with Panama, accusing Panama of being involved in a conspiracy against the Venezuelan government. 
  • March 16 – A referendum on the status of Crimea is held. 
  • March 21 – Russia formally annexes Crimea after President Vladimir Putin signed a bill finalizing the annexation process. 
  • March 24 – During an emergency meeting, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and Canada suspend Russia from the G8. 

 Final Square: 16th March 2015 - Uranus 15° Aries/Pluto 15° Capricorn


Evidently there is still the remainder of 2014 and into the first half of 2015 to come. We will likely continue to experience significant personal and collective upheavals and changes during this time. Uranus and Pluto are perhaps showing how we are reshuffling the order of things here on Earth and more importantly how we are re-positioning ourselves in our own lives - and how we're choosing to respond to calamities beyond our control, in trying to make the world a better place for everyone.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Burren Magic

Tiny alpine flowers splash across a cracked limestone vista, seemingly misplaced. Above hang clouds, as leaden as the rock; heavy and looming like the sturdy boulders deposited by ice-age flows. These erratics, from an age forgotten, sit solemnly keeping watch over the waves. They are eerily familiar, akin to the faces of Easter Island. 

There are few places like the Burren. With Galway Bay caressing the northern shores and the Atlantic’s unpredictable weather-fronts lambasting the west coast, this karst land is one of the largest in Europe. Renowned poets such as Seamus Heaney have found inspiration here and the late John O’Donohue, author of the touching Anam Cara (‘soul friend’), hailed from this region of Ireland, in fair County Clare. 

Having spent several years engrossed in astrological studies my supporting passion, creative writing, patiently took the passenger’s seat. But a recent stirring in my soul (and in my oracle cards) began to urge this interest back behind the steering wheel of my journey of life. At this point, my good friend synchronicity brought a writing workshop into my awareness. Disregarding my trepidation and embracing the zest of my inner child, I promptly enrolled on the course and soon found myself transported to this haven for a prolonged weekend muse.

On our first outing we venture to a point known as Black Head, which contrary to the name is awash with a spectrum of pastel shades. Sudden winds whip across the smooth slabs giving rise to goose bumps like the strewn boulder streaks - Nature’s attempt at constructing cahers perhaps, the Irish word for stone-fort. Sharp pillars sporadically protrude from the deep fissures in the limestone rock, carved by erosion, recalling images of Neolithic standing stones imprinted with coral fossils now drifted far from home. The skies change again. Like clumps of chalk, clouds billow gently overhead throwing playful shadows that tumble aimlessly down terraced hills, akin to the network of walls that attempt to establish some form of structure. An alien feel grips the senses in this unusual environment, which many have described as a ‘lunar landscape’. Tufts of grass find places to grow, too, where spiralled shells lie and subtle scents flow, from white dryas and ferns and a fine sea-salt taste riding the air. Other flora from as far as the Arctic and Mediterranean find a home away from home here. The vibrancy of their colours blossom among ashen clints, like a pick-and-mix bouquet; mesmerising inky blues of rare Spring Gentians play with the deep yellow of the peculiar Bird’s Foot Trefoil contrasted with bleached-white Mountain Avens. Bird songs of plovers and gulls set the perfect soundtrack to this natural splendour, a call of Mother Earth, enchanting the senses to explore the mystery of Her bounty here by the coast.

A nudge back from the shore, a distinct chill is in the air. We travel upwards where a solid breeze rushes over the limestone-speckled mountains, but fails to sway the unwavering dolmen of Poulnabrone. Excavations in the 1980’s revealed the ritual burial remains of more than twenty adults and six children here, as well as a Bronze Age newborn, perhaps marking this portal tomb a focus for ceremony during the Celtic period. Rising robustly from millennia past, its slant is gentle, facing due North and pointing heavenward, perhaps directing the old souls to the stars. Imposing, yet illusive, it appears to hover over the chambered ‘pool of sorrows’ where bones rest with ancient trinkets, pottery and quartz crystals, holding precious memories and inspiring ballads of nostalgia to drift on high. There is no trace of the modest oval cairn that once surrounded these sturdy slabs, its gravel mound having crumbled back to the Earth. It is rumoured to be the most visited dolmen in Ireland, its true purpose and age challenging the imagination of all who ponder its presence.

Down to the Valley of the Ivy, cast in sun, stands a dominating tower where rock doves cry, a sort of Irish obelisk. Wall-mounted turrets sweep out in circular formation, perhaps where watchful eyes once kept lookout, while meagre gaps allay my inquisitiveness by permitting a partial glimpse of the vacant interior. This is Gleninagh Castle, constructed for the O’Loughlin family and occupied until 1890. It is all that remains of this centuries old limestone abode, once heavily populated before the great famine. Unruffled bovines now stroll on the surrounding marshy meadow, like guardians of the ruins, guarding their own with siren moos and looking out over a modest mound of silvery pebbles to a sea that claimed souls long ago. Fresh dung odours the air, slightly off-putting, yet nearby three-cornered leek teases the tongue - more appealing! Ash branches, holding prayers of healing, drape over the stagnant waters of the nearby Holy Cross Well, almost concealed by nature and one of many such founts to be found in the area. This one claims to restore sight to those denied the visual allure of Gleninagh. 

On another day we set out again with modest writing pads and pens ready to take ‘nibble notes’ of the sites we explore. Further inland this time, encircled by Glenamana - the fertile valley, swallows dart and jackdaws glide from striking stone arches that rise from the limestone. This is Corcomroe, later acquiring the moniker ‘Sancta Maria de Petra Fertili’ – Saint Mary of the Fertile Rock. There is a placid peace about the abbey, apparently founded in 1194 CE by Donal O’Brien the then King of Limerick and constructed between 1205 and 1210.  But its remnants, we learn, are immersed in myth. A solitary starling sits on high calling me towards a complex of Celtic crosses, marking budding shrines. Like Alice in Wonderland I crouch and creep through shrinking doorways where a labyrinth of transepts and tombs are unveiled. The chapels are home to carvings of intriguing dragons’ heads and the frozen faces of monks, who stare out from pillars leading up to a stone-vaulted roof. Elsewhere botanical motifs embellish the careful stonework, reflecting the Burren plant life. Legend tells of murdered masons, whose treasured designs were laid to rest here after the completion of the building, intended to prevent any replication of its unique construction. Cattle cries in the distance seem to lament their loss and the heart and soul feels truly captured by these Cistercian ruins.

Winding on, through jarring twists and turns, we dip over the rim of a polje. This depression in the land surrounded by hills unexpectedly reveals Carron turlough, left from a long winter. These magical ‘dry lakes’ disappear in warmer climes but we are blessed to catch its swamping of the grasslands, like an oasis or playground for Lir’s brood, the whooper swan. White-fronted geese can also be found here and not far off we encounter the enchanting call of a cuckoo. With recent concerns aired about the birds decline, it is a pleasure to gaze upon one here. I take a mental note to consult my bird omens back home, curious of its symbolism.

Next on our itinerary is a visit to a more recent attraction but one that equally invigorates the senses. Trundling down a rutted road, bordered by thickets, we emerge under an awning of ancient trees and the comforting patter of gentle rain. Here sits the Burren Perfumery, where the cordial owners rightly take pride in their selection of natural cosmetics and pampering products. They are free from harmful ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate and instead wisely utilise the native plants, inspired by their venerable medicinal properties, to create the Burren Botanicals range. A resident tabby weaves about our legs, meow-ing a welcome, and every step seems to encounter a new, enticing scent from the woody bases of moss and lichens to fresh citrus and sweet lavender and thyme. On sunnier days the herb garden is ideal for relaxing and enjoying the aesthetics and aromas, while the neighbouring tea room promises homemade soups and breads, organic cakes and pies and cheeses and salads from local suppliers. Before departing I treat myself to one of the unisex colognes, spellbound by its recipe of sea freshness and saccharine tang.

On our final evening we take a mystery tour and stop by a random roadside spot, wondering what more there is to see. Through the Burren jungle of treacherous shrubs that cleverly conceal a secret pathway, to a lost crinoid tomb, we carefully side step and leap over grass-covered grykes. Wild geraniums and orchids hide among edible plants such as the silverweed and miniature blackthorn and elderberry trees. Then, a tempting and timeless expanse opens up suddenly and a childlike excitement compels me to run and fly over the acres of Sheshymore. Ivy creeps out from where trembling webs bridge the gaps in the rock, housing patient arachnids. Winds whisper in my ear of stories untold here. Time is no more. It is a space to ponder the meaning of a short life that measured against the layers of limestone feels suddenly insignificant. But as I sit and stare out across the apparent remoteness, breathing in the air that lacks any kind of definite scent, I do not feel vacant or empty, or lonesome. There is a gentle comfort, a personal contentment that is reachable without searching and shared without speaking. To the west, cracks appear in the thick clouds like the scores of channels and flutes on the limestone floor. A sliver of blue breaks through. Hope. 

The elements of this landscape mingle endlessly and offer much to the creative mind, from the furtive depths of its countless wells. We learn to expand and refine our senses to truly merge with the milieu and back in the tranquil village of Ballyvaughan we attempt to convey our experiences with originality, now aware of lazy narrative. Bringing our weekend to a close, I decide to share a reading with my fellow creative companions. Having searched fruitlessly for John O’Donohue’s book of poems, entitled Conamara Blues, I happened by its iridescent cover in the local tourist shop and on the final page felt inspired by the Burren Prayer. It summed up our shared experiences perfectly. 

The Burren can be many things; a weekend respite, a spiritual retreat or perhaps just a memorable stop on a ‘passing through’ trip – but one that will surely linger in the mind and soul. I leave feeling touched and spirited, taking home an inner peace and a desire to return some day soon. With such diversity and history, any who visit this unfamiliar paradise shall be pleasantly spoilt and find the soul richly nourished.

Upon my arrival home the bird oracle refreshes my memory and with an impish grin my cuckoo curiosity is gratified: “comfort, renewed help, fortune and gain.”

For those who may be interested in a Burren writing workshop, contact Paul Clements for more information by email: or telephone: 044 2890 641105.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Peace and Terrorism in Belfast and their Astrological Indicators

{This report was published 09/2005)

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Belfast’s Image
  4. The Heart of the Matter
  5. Planetary Transits and Riotous Outbreaks
  6. A Timeline of Troubles
  7. Future Trends
  8. Conclusion
  9. Appendices
  10. References
  11. Glossary
I. Abstract

There has long been a practice, in many ancient cultures, of equating events on Earth with the movement of heavenly bodies. This report aims to identify any astrological cycles and trends related to the Troubles in Belfast, a period of intense violence between Nationalists and Unionists. I will correlate planetary transits and aspects with several key dates relating to the Troubles. By doing so, I hope to discover astrological indicators for potential increases in terrorism and violence but also those factors associated with the peace process. 

II. Introduction

In the summer of 2005 Belfast experienced a rather unexpected outbreak of rioting. At the time I was studying intensely with the Faculty of Astrological Studies and my general interest in astrology compelled me to seek possible indicators of violence in the city.

In order to find astrological correlations a Birth or Natal Chart is required. This is a representation of the heavens, or more precisely the Solar System, from a geocentric viewpoint at a specific location and time. It shows the positions of the planets, including the Sun and Moon, as would be seen from a specific location on Earth, against the backdrop of the Zodiac (Greek zōidiakos – band of animals – twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude named from star constellations). Generally, an astrologer draws up a Birth Chart at the exact moment of an individual’s birth to act as a personal guide to their character, development and probable cycles and trends that he or she may experience during their lifetime. Similarly, an Event Chart can be created.

The Belfast Charter states that Belfast was bestowed city status on 5th November 1888, by Queen Victoria. I have therefore selected this as a suitable 'birth date' for the city. The time of birth is crucial for calculating accurate trends and cycles; being an Event Chart the time of birth is impertinent however the moment the Charter was signed would be a fair equivalent. This information is not available and may be impossible to determine given the circumstances. Therefore, as common practice, 12-noon may be used. It is also possibly to attempt chart retification by comparing different times to identify the most likely model.

I calculated a 12-noon chart, followed by several other charts with varying times {See Appendix 1}. From these hypothetical charts, I have opted for the 11:50 a.m. chart {See Figure 1}, which I will explain during my report. 

Now, with an agreeable Birth Chart for the city, I can begin to see the image and life-story of Belfast manifest in its heavenly blueprint. By calculating past planetary transits I will be able to identify the various relationships formed between the planets (known as aspects) that coincided with times of heightened trouble, for example, a major terrorist bomb detonated in the city, serious outbreaks of rioting and so on. It should then become apparent what particular transits and aspects are related to these peaks in trouble. Consequently this will allow me to determine when these transits and aspects will occur again and so, ultimately, predict dates for potential future incidents. I also plan to identify positive trends, i.e. aspects or transits in operation during peace talks, ceasefires and significant turning points in the Northern Ireland peace process. Overall, this should help to elucidate the patterns and cycles in Belfast’s troubled past and indeed offer a guide to a hopefully peaceful future.

III. Belfast’s Image 
Belfast City, 5°55W, 54°5N, 5th November 1888, 11:50 GMT.

Fig.1. Belfast City Astrological Chart 
{The outer wheel depicts the 12 zodiac signs while the inner symbols represent the planets. See Glossary}

Belfast has had a great deal of negative publicity over the last several decades, which has expectedly damaged the city’s image and reputation. Only since the turn of the last century did the average tourist begin to venture North of the island. Belfast today is a city on par with most other average UK and Irish cities and improving at a vast rate, courtesy of the largely prevailing peace and regeneration projects. Foremost, I wish to determine any indicators of a violent but somewhat exaggerated image in Belfast’s astrological chart.

One of the first chart factors I detected, interestingly, is the Capricorn Ascendant. In astrology the Ascendant is said to represent the outer character or image presented to the world. Prior to my idea of conducting this research I had started to notice an intriguing symbol on various buildings and architecture around Belfast. It looked strikingly like the goat-fish, the mythical creature used to represent the sign of Capricorn in astrology (half-goat, half-fish). I had read before about cities incorporating subtle astrological themes into their architecture, Washington D.C. being a prime example and so I began to wonder if this could be deliberate - had someone, perhaps with astrological insight, incorporated the sign of Capricorn into Belfast knowing it was the city's Ascendant? It seemed quite unlikely. Then, only recently, I was surprised and bemused to see the image once again but this time in a modern building. It was part of what looked like a Coat of Arms containing a Latin inscription ‘Pro tanto quid retribuamus’. I took note of this and searched online to discover that it was actually the Belfast Coat of Arms, translated as ‘What return shall we make for so much’ However, what I thought was the graphical depiction of Capricorn is apparently meant to be a seahorse said to indicate Belfast city’s maritime importance. However it should be noted that the precise meanings of the symbols used in the Coat of Arms are largely unknown. Additionally, the seahorse can be found independently around Belfast, not just as part of the Coat of Arms {See Appendix 2}. Although this may be a mere coincidence, as an astrologer, I find it fascinating that a seahorse - the closest living creature to Capricorn’s mythical sea-goat, features heavily in Belfast’s architecture when the city has a likely Capricorn Ascendant. And even if this is not the case, it should also be noted that Belfast City Hall contains other astrological symbolism in its architecture, including depictions of the Zodiac signs in the central dome.

Concisely, a Capricorn Ascendant can be said to denote a serious, traditional and hard-working image. In Belfast’s chart, the planet Mars is also rising (conjunct the Ascendant angle). Mars’ fundamental astrological portrayal is the planet, or god, of war. It is also related to anger, violence, risks and impulsiveness. Therefore it could be said that Belfast expresses a traditional, industrious image but one that is also serious and at times grim, coupled with the propensity to war and violence. The next related and important chart factor I noticed is that Mars forms a square aspect to Uranus in the 9th House. The square indicates tension, struggle and obstacles, the 9th House governing many areas, but most notably in this case religion, while Uranus is associated with (among many other things) rebellion, freedom, independence and disruption. It is common knowledge that Belfast’s notorious Troubles are fuelled by religious rivalry, two unruly sides fighting for their perceived freedom and independence; the Mars-Uranus in 9th House square captures this drama perfectly. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which means this is the Ruling Planet for Belfast and a key factor in the chart. Saturn is found in Leo and the 7th House and forming a sextile to Uranus (a sextile being a supportive and encouraging aspect). Leo is something of a dramatist with a tendency to exaggerate and so combined with Uranus this could very well signify the sensationalised depiction of Belfast as a war-like place, while the 7th House rules over all kinds of relationships, including known and open enemies.

Already a clear picture is beginning to emerge of just how accurately Belfast's astrological chart captures the city’s history and image. This is the primary reason I chose to move the ‘birth time’ of Belfast to just before 12 noon thereby placing Uranus in the 9th House, which I believe is a vital component of the chart.

IV. The Heart of the Matter

Clearly, this is all but a perceived image of the city and its troubles. To get to the heart of the matter, the Sun must be considered, which represents the inner nature and true character. 

Belfast’s Sun falls in Scorpio, a sign related to many characteristics such as privacy, secrets, mystery, investigation, intensity and complexity. The Sun also falls in the 9th House so it could be said that the general attitude of Belfast is one of discretion, a somewhat clandestine populace but intensely passionate, especially where religious beliefs are concerned, due to the 9th House emphasis. With Mercury (communication) also in the 9th House, religious themes are likely to permeate the higher minds, a source of endless discussions and debates, a subject that is deeply important and highly regarded amongst the people. Even to the point of bigotry, fundamentalism and a rigid adherence to traditional views and practices, which is signified by Capricorn’s stern approach and its ruler Saturn (rigidity) in boisterous Leo, supporting the explosive 9th House Uranus.

With the Sun in Scorpio, its additional astrological ruler Pluto will also play an important role in the chart and interestingly it can be found in a significant configuration. Pluto falls in Gemini and forms a series of oppositions (another so-called harsh aspect) to a Stellium, in the 11th House, i.e. a group of close-knit planets, in this case consisting of the Moon, Jupiter and Venus in Sagittarius. The importance here is that Pluto is a ‘generational planet’ in astrology, so that its relevance extends over a longer period affecting larger groups of people, as opposed to individuals. The fact that Pluto is involved in such hard aspects is imperative in making sense of the Troubles, as reflected in Belfast’s astrological chart. 

Firstly, Pluto deals with major transformation and regeneration, powerful crises and extreme upheavals – the birth-death-rebirth cycle. I will consider Pluto’s House position presently. The oppositions formed to the Sagittarius planets in the 11th House bring together community, politics, groups and organisations with Sagittarian characteristics such as philosophy, religion, candidness, freedom and exploration, all very appropriate for a city that is heavily involved in complex political, societal and community issues. The Moon is also associated with the public and so is strongly placed in the 11th House and its opposition to Pluto reveals how the public image of Belfast, especially within the local community, is of intense Plutonian crises and upheavals, supporting the war-like image of Mars on the Ascendant. Pluto’s placement in the 5th House does not appear to be very relevant at first because the 5th House governs areas such as children, games, sport, creativity, love affairs, risks and gambling. However it could indicate the continual and powerful transformations that take place in society, through the children, i.e. with each generation comes another upheaval through their new perspectives and views that contributes to the city’s ongoing regeneration. It could also be indicative of grave risks with devastating consequences for the city as a whole or taking great risks in order to rejuvenate the city. These would likely be related to political issues, debates, elections, gossip and rumours, associated with the 11th House but also Gemini, the sign occupied by Pluto.

Incorporating the Chart Ruler, Saturn, into this configuration, it supports the 11th House Stellium by forming a trine aspect. Typically a trine is interpreted as a very positive aspect but when combined with the likes of Pluto in opposition it can show support in negative areas. Saturn is about boundaries and limitations, sometimes literal, so it is not surprising to find it supporting the 11th House of local communities by making a trine to Jupiter. Saturn sits in the 7th House of relationships and agreements, exchanges and enemies, bringing into focus the restrictions and difficulties felt by the people in making agreements and commitments, as well as the severity of unreserved enemies. In Leo, Saturn’s limits and restrictions become more rigid, a Fixed sign, as well as exasperated and embellished by Leo’s dramatic tendencies. Leo is ruled by the Sun, which just happens to form a square to Saturn from its 9th House residence and thereby presenting more innate challenges for Belfast in tackling and overcoming the obstacles indicated by Saturn. 

Belfast was once infamous as a literally and religiously ‘divided city’ with vast, ironically named, ‘peace walls’ erected in many areas to keep apart warring sides. Initially these walls (represented by Saturn) where put in place to support the communities by preventing attacks, signified by the trine, which contacts Jupiter in the 11th House of community. Jupiter is related to greatness, expansion and drama, so coupled with Saturn’s position in Leo, this is a good indication of the drastic actions that necessitated the walls and also their expansiveness across the city. Jupiter is in opposition to Pluto, contributing to the crises – undoubtedly related to Saturn’s dividing peace walls, which were mostly torn down (Pluto is associated with destruction). And with Jupiter and the Moon in close quarters, forming a conjunction in the 11th House, it is evident how this frustrated the emotional concerns and reactions of the local communities, again with an emphasis on striving for their respective freedoms (Sagittarius). The city is still a divided one even without most of the literal walls because perceived boundaries are still commonplace between the different religious communities. Paradoxically, Pluto’s oppositions in Belfast’s chart may actually be beneficial because they can also signify the potential to destroy old and out-dated methods, such as the distasteful peace walls, to be replaced by the new and improved. 

Lastly, in this section, I wish to bring into focus the transits of the Sun to raise an interesting point about predictions, which will be explored more fully in section V. When making astrological predictions, the transits of the outer planets are calculated and compared to the positions of the natal planets in a chart so that the relationships or aspects, formed between these two sets of planets, may be interpreted. As the Sun is the only ‘planet’ in astrology to travel through all twelve signs of the zodiac in one year, it will always be roughly in the same position at the same time each year. This makes predictions made by the Sun’s position easy to analyse and we should expect the same kind of events related to the Sun to occur at the same time every year. Of course, many other chart factors must be considered and to make astrological forecasts based solely upon the Sun is far too simplistic (such as the infamous ‘Star Sign’ columns in the media). However it may be used for the purpose of more generalised predictions, such as in the following example. 

The 12th July (and surrounding period) is notable for its potential violence in Belfast and indeed Northern Ireland. In fact trouble is anticipated each year, around this date, although not always on the same scale. Therefore one of the first clues to a reliable astrological prediction, using Belfast’s chart, would be to discern where the transiting planets are positioned at this time; remembering that the Sun is the primary indicator in this case. Every year, on July 12th, the Sun is found in a significant position in Belfast’s chart – in the Sign of Cancer and the 7th House forming a square to the natal Uranus in the 9th House. The 7th House, as mentioned previously, focuses on relationships and known enemies, while some negative Cancerian traits are clannish, pugnacious, sectarian and temperamental (I am focusing on negative traits solely for the purpose of this example; Cancer, indeed, has many great positive characteristics!) Clannish and sectarian are obvious in this case, with Northern Ireland’s long history of warring clans, i.e. the Protestant and Catholic divide. Combine this with a tense, challenging square to Uranus and we have rebellious and disruptive behaviour, sometimes sudden and shocking, concerned with religious issues (9th House) and the fight for justice (Uranus is in Libra). And so, every year in Belfast, we have a sound astrological indicator for clashes around the 12th July. 

It could then be assumed that Belfast is indefinitely doomed to experience trouble every year on the 12th July. However it must be stated that astrology offers mere indicators and not a certain fate; in this case the indicators show potential for violence and disruption, which has thus far been played out. There are many other chart factors that also come into play besides the Sun. Although it will square Uranus every year around this date, in any other year there couuld be a tense aspect from Mars, for example, creating a greater disturbance while another year might have Venus forming an easy aspect to Saturn thereby signifying less severity. There is also the matter of Progressions, which I cannot discuss in depth in this report; a Progressed chart takes each of the natal positions of the planets and moves or ‘progresses’ them by degree from the date of the chart’s conception. Therefore, although the Sun is natally in Cancer and the 7th House for Belfast, it will progress into the following Signs and Houses over the years and the same for most other planets and angles. In astrological symbolism, this relates to our development throughout life, for we do not stay in the one place or at one stage for our entire existence on Earth but develop, learn and grow, acquiring new skills and abilities. Progressions reflect this in the Birth Chart by, for example, the Sun progressing from Virgo into Libra coinciding with an individual obtaining some Libran qualities, such as developing a more sociable nature in place of their previous Virgoan shyness. This works, too, in Event Charts where progressions will similarly coincide with key developments in circumstances and will therefore shed light on Belfast’s development. Perhaps, when the planets in Belfast’s chart have progressed onward and out of orb for certain aspects, this will coincide with moving on from such troubles. But, for now, let us consider some crucial instances of trouble and their primary astrological indicators.

V. Planetary Transits and Riotous Outbreaks

Typically, as an astrologer, I would expect to see challenging aspects formed by the transits of Mars, Uranus and Pluto when looking for signs of discord because of such characteristics as intensity, aggravation, conflict, power struggles, instability, revolution and so forth. Also, in this case, I would expect to find Jupiter involved because of its notoriety for amplification and embellishment. In Belfast’s chart I suspected that planets contacting the natal Uranus and Mars (already in a square aspect) would signal the most obvious cases of rioting and violence, with transiting Mars suggestive of more fleeting, albeit ferocious, incidents (due to its faster orbit and therefore short-term aspects). Transiting Uranus would signal a rise in more rebellious and disruptive behaviour while Pluto contacting the aforementioned planets would most likely signify a major crisis or turmoil. Jupiter, usually designated as the most beneficial planet in astrology, could be a potential sign for trouble when forming challenging aspects to certain planets.

Case Study A: The Ardoyne Riots, 12th-13th July 2005

Fig.2. Belfast City Natal and Transit Chart for 12th July 2005
{The innermost symbols show the natal positions of the planets, while the outer symbols are the transiting planets’ positions at the time of calculating the chart}  

Referring to the introduction, where I mentioned the summer of 2005 riots, which originally compelled me to check for astrological indicators, let us use the transit chart for the dates of the most severe rioting at this time {See Figure 2}.

In Belfast’s Chart I see Uranus as being the key planet indicative of the rebellious, anarchic and disruptive behaviour of the people, the primary driving force being freedom and independence from alleged oppressive authorities. This is for two reasons; the first being that Uranus is associated with those characteristics just mentioned. Secondly, Uranus is prominently placed in the transit chart, falling in the Sign of Libra, associated with justice, harmony, balance and diplomacy while occupying the 9th House of religious beliefs and concerns and of course forming tense aspects to such planets as Mars. Subsequently whenever transiting planets contact Uranus in Belfast’s chart there appears to be a rise in trouble. 

The most notable transit here is Jupiter because it forms a conjunction with the natal Uranus, in the 9th House, while simultaneously forming a square to the natal Mars, which is in the 1st House and conjunct the Ascendant (Belfast’s image). The conjunction is a fusion of the qualities represented by the two planets concerned, in this case Jupiter and Uranus, suggesting a dramatic display of unruly and rebellious behaviour, related to religious matters, while Jupiter’s square to Mars encourages anger, violence and conflict and Mars’ conjunction to the Ascendant suggesting that the rioting will be highly publicised. Yet it is not just the natal Mars being activated, also note the position of transiting Mars. It is travelling through Aries, a sign that can indicate careless risks, hasty actions and impulsive passions, in the 3rd House of media and communication and forming an opposition to the natal Uranus. The opposition aspect is about differing opinions and views that invite a balance or compromise to be reached. But in this particular case, with transiting Mars opposing Uranus, which is in square to natal Mars and in turn being activated by transiting Jupiter, also squaring the natal Mars, there is a real recipe for chaos. Furthermore, transiting Uranus is in Pisces and the 2nd House of values and feelings making a square to the natal Jupiter in the 11th House, which is in natal opposition to Pluto in the 5th House. The 11th House governs the community, politics and issues relating to society, groups and organisations – such as the paramilitary organisations infamous throughout Northern Ireland. 

It could therefore be deduced that both communities feel their political values are threatened or challenged and the reaction is to rebel, on a large scale, particularly the paramilitary organisations. Pluto, associated with major crisis and upheaval usually resulting in death (literal and metaphorical), transformations and rebirth, is brought into play by its natal opposition to Jupiter. Pluto, interestingly, is in the 5th House and the Sign of Gemini, both related to children and young people and rioting in Belfast, particularly around the 12th July, is notorious for youth involvement – the Ardoyne riots in this case being no exception. Even though transiting Uranus’ square to Jupiter is a long-term aspect, activated before the riots, it is nonetheless a contributing sign coupled with the other transits in effect at the time of the conflict.
A summary of the relevant transits and aspects:

This produces a very apt depiction of the Ardoyne riots in 2005. Mars’ war-like image was portrayed (Mars conjunct Ascendant) rapidly (Aries), as severe and serious (Capricorn Ascendant), to the world through the great communication mediums of television and the Internet (3rd House) depicting the sudden escalation of the frenzied rioting (the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction and the Uranus-Jupiter square). However, there are two sides to every story and indeed to every chart interpretation. 

Let us now consider these transits from a positive perspective. Firstly, returning to the Mars-Uranus opposition, although it indicates tension, this aspect also suggests a need to reach a settlement over the religious clashes. Uranus’ Sign placement, Libra, would not normally hold much weight in an individual’s Birth Chart (as it spends many years in one Sign symbolising an entire generation), but it can be given greater importance here because it is related to a specific place and event. Libra, then, supports the Mars-Uranus opposition by representing the desire for justice and mediation. Consider transiting Jupiter; as well as challenging aspects it is also forming a sextile to the natal Jupiter in the 11th House, which receives a trine from natal Saturn. This is all very supportive, suggesting that the local communities (11th House) are not going to tolerate this kind of rioting and are very eager (Jupiter, Leo) to resolve the issues through perseverance and commitment to forming stable relationships (Saturn in 7th House). Helping this aspect is transiting Uranus by forming another sextile to the natal Mars, which in turn is in sextile to the natal Sun, in the 9th House and Libra. 

Uranus is in the 2nd House and Sign of Pisces, suggesting that the feelings and values (2nd House) of those involved in the rebellious action (Uranus) can be soothed by compassion, understanding and forgiveness (Pisces) to overcome the anger and frustration that fuels the rioting (Mars). This will activate the natal Mars-Sun sextile encouraging the people of Belfast to take this matter to heart (Sun) and put their energies into confronting (Mars) the religious issues (9th House) with integrity and harmony (Libra). And finally, transiting Mars is also forming a trine to the natal Saturn in the 7th House, which also receives a trine from natal Venus in the 11th House Stellium. Saturn is one of the most stable Signs in astrology, representing endurance, permanence and perseverance. Mars’ supportive trine is showing how the relationships between the perceived enemies (7th House) can be managed with these qualities in mind in order to ease the tension and resentment over time (Saturn), coupled with Venus’ natal trine adding an affable element to the healing process.

From this example, it is evident that each transiting planet involved in symbolising the rioting is also forming aspects declaring the potential for resolving these problems. It is clear that Uranus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are all key planets for indicating riots but also through their positive aspects and joined by Venus and the Sun, can represent the path to resolution. This is not to invalidate one or the other but to show that the Birth Chart is merely a map of potential events and outcomes, brought into reality by our own actions, choices and free will – we determine how the events unfold.

Positive aspects formed at the time of the rioting showing the potential for resolution:

Case Study B: The Whiterock Riots, 10th - 11th September 2005

An Orange Order parade, due to be held on the 25th July, was postponed to the 10th September. This resulted in some of the most serious rioting in years, which sparked further widespread incidents and brought the city to a standstill. {See Figure 3}

In this instance, just two months after the July 2005 riots, Jupiter has now moved into an almost exact conjunction with Uranus, thereby intensifying this aspect, a sign of the more severe violence that took hold. However, Jupiter has now moved out of orb for its square to the natal Mars. But notice how transiting Mars has moved into a square with the natal Saturn – gone is the supportive trine, replaced by an antagonistic aspect. Challenging aspects between Mars and Saturn often coincide with times of violence and with Belfast’s Saturn in the 7th House this fuels hostile relationships and encourages the notion of enemies. The natal Sun-Saturn square, (7th and 9th Houses), is also activated by Mars, further intensifying the tension already present and indeed the clashes at Whiterock were extremely ferocious, with many people seriously injured. And finally Mars is beginning an opposition to the natal Sun, so this spate of rioting appears to be having a greater effect on the heart of Belfast too, which is illustrative of the chaos brought to the city during these disturbances. Mars is quite a fiery planet by nature, associated with fire itself and destruction, so it is not surprising that the anger, frustration and madness of Mars found expression through countless fires started by unruly mobs. Cars and shops were burnt out across the city; Mercury rules transport and we can see, as well as its square to Jupiter, it forms a wide square to chaotic and devastating Pluto in the 5th House, which could represent the many young people involved in the arson attacks, while Jupiter in the 11th House of communities is symbolic of the extensive destruction to buildings and vehicles across Belfast.

Uranus is still forming a square to Jupiter and due to it having gone retrograde since July, it has moved back into a tighter orb for a square with natal Pluto, which implies the disruptive behaviour of the rebelling masses is embellished and a potentially greater source of disruption.

Looking back to transiting Mercury’s square to Jupiter, from the 8th House of fears and death, there is also a conjunction by the transiting Moon to natal Jupiter. The Moon represents the emotions and reactions of the public, exaggerated here by its close contact with drama-queen Jupiter, while Mercury ruling transport and communication shows how both of these public services suffered gravely. Numerous protests and riots flared up all over the city, creating blockages and delays along arterial routes and jamming mobile networks, as thousands became stranded and tried to contact family and friends in a bid to get home or just get out of the city. It was also reported that several ringleaders had been using mobile phones to send text messages with instructions to incite more violence among the gangs. Therefore Mercury’s square to Jupiter signifies both the expansive use of mobile phones to spread violence and the extensiveness of the obstacles (in this case literal), as the hindrance to transport and communication, affecting everyone, everywhere with many businesses forced to close early and the main shopping and leisure areas of the city effectively shutting down. 

Summary of the main astrological indicators during the Whiterock riots
{note Mars’ increased involvement in the more serious violence of this incident.}

Fig.3. Belfast City Natal and Transit Chart for 11th September 2005 
VI. A Timeline of Troubles

This timeline shows selected key dates of several more recent events in Belfast’s history, including rioting and ceasefires, as additional examples of astrological signs in the Belfast chart. The purpose of this table is to elucidate those specific aspects, houses and planets that recur at times of conflict and key turning points in the peace process. For example, it is evident that Uranus and squares are always involved during conflicts, while Venus and trines are more prominent at times of peace, while the 9th House is forever highlighted. A brief explanation is provided with each case.

{*Note now how transiting Mars is forming a supportive trine to the planets in the 11th House, which represents organisations, e.g. the IRA, while the natal Mars receives a trine from persevering Saturn in stable Taurus. Transiting Uranus is at home in the sign of Aquarius helping to revolutionise, expand and further transform the peace process.}

VII. Future Trends

A few predictions for the near future based upon the evidence gathered thus far.

  • Whiterock II?

There may a repeat of trouble in 2006, as the parade is moved back to its original June date, taking place on Saturday 24th June. In fact June may witness a general rise in trouble, as there are several astrological factors that indicate violence. However, as always, there are complimentary aspects involved and so ultimately it will be the people’s decision on how this month plays out.

Firstly, the Sun will just have entered Cancer (the Sign it occupies on the 12th July every year) and so we have the pugnacious and clannish attitude coming forth, spurred on by an opposition to the natal Mars, which we now know is a key planet in Belfast’s violent occurrences. The Sun is not yet in orb for a square to Uranus, however, Mercury will also be in Cancer but in the 7th House and will form a square to Uranus. This could suggest the trouble results from mis-communication and angry exchanges.

At the same time, the Mars-Saturn conjunction will be underway. This conjoining of these two planets often coincides with violence in general and will be taking place in Leo – exaggeration – both in Belfast’s 7th House of enemies, exchanges and relationships. These will all be heavily tested by the tense conjunction, which squares the natal 9th House Sun, suggesting the link to religious clashes. I believe the Mars-Saturn conjunction will coincide with common violence in many places and there could be an increase in terrorist activity or threats and scares, as Saturn also represent fears.

Uranus is in retrograde and is still in the 2nd House, forming a square to Jupiter, which will be opposed to the transiting Moon on the day of the 24th. The Moon is therefore conjunct Pluto (which is in natal opposition to Jupiter), activating this tense aspect. This brings together the emotions, the public, communities and the paramilitary organisations in a rather conflicting configuration.

Jupiter will be in the 9th House and now conjunct the Sun, overstating any trouble that does arise. On the flip side, we have several positive and supporting aspects, which may indicate the ability to resolve differences. Both Jupiter and Uranus form a sextile to Mars, outnumbering the Sun’s opposition, so both may help to alleviate the harshness and allow the more constructive expression of an opposition, namely compromise and reconciliation, to shine through.

Pluto also helps by forming a supportive trine to natal Saturn and a sextile to natal Uranus, which should ease the gravity. And the notorious Mars-Saturn conjunction actually forms a trine to natal Jupiter, so this could provide for the more stable and disciplined nature of Saturn, coupled with patience and the dynamic energy of Mars to work at harmonising relationships.
  • 12th July 2006
The 12th July period this year should not witness as much violence and trouble as 2005, although there will undoubtedly be riotous incidents. There are less tense aspects involving the key planets of Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto and fewer natal aspects being activated.
Indicative of any violence that does arise this year, there is of course the annual Sun-square-Uranus from the 7th -9th Houses, with both Mercury (retrograde) and Mars also squaring the Sun from the 7th House. Transiting Sun will still be in a weak opposition to natal Mars, while transiting Uranus is beginning a weak square to natal Pluto. Positive trines and sextiles involving the planets will most likely override these weaker aspects. Mars is also forming a weak square to natal Pluto and this does seem quite worrying however supportive aspects should prevail, especially as Mars is forming a stronger sextile to natal Uranus.

The Mars-Saturn conjunction will be over, although both planets will still be forming a square to the natal Sun from the 7th House, coupled with the annual Sun-square-Uranus transit. However, although this could indicate a propensity to violence, Uranus will still be forming a trine to the Sun and I believe this will help to support this planet. Mercury will be retrograde, which is typified by miscommunication and in the 7th House this could indeed prove troublesome, however it will be forming trines to both Jupiter (11th House) and Pluto and so this should ease any potential conflict. Jupiter is forming a sextile to Mars, so the god of War may not be feeling too violent at this time. Meanwhile, the transiting Moon is forming a sextile to the natal Moon (also 11th House) and a trine to natal Pluto, beneficial for emotional stability. And lastly, transiting Pluto is forming a trine to Saturn so any crisis or upheaval in relationships should balance out with stability and perseverance.

VIII. Conclusion

I believe that I have identified several key planets, aspects and transits that recur without fail in Belfast’s chart during times of conflict and violence, acting as sure indicators of trouble. Likewise, certain chart factors seem to be prevalent at pivotal moments in the peace process. Most importantly, it appears that Belfast’s chart repeatedly exhibits the potential for both positive and negative outcomes. This imperatively confirms that people’s free will is the ultimate determining factor in the actual unfolding of events. 

The planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus and Pluto all appear to play a major part for Belfast in forecasting times of upheaval and strife, particularly when the square and opposition aspects are present. Jupiter is also important for indicating harmonious times, as is Venus but also Saturn, Uranus and Pluto, when the positive Sextile and trine aspects are formed because these planets can signify the potential for constructive reforms, transformations and enduring peace. The 9th House is very important for Belfast, the House of religion and foreign lands, and its importance is increased due to the Sun’s presence, the heart of Belfast, as well as the key indicator of the rebellious, freedom-seeking nature of the populace, Uranus. The 11th and 7th Houses are equally as important because they represent the strong community presence and the emphasis on paramilitary organisations (the 11th House featuring a Stellium), as well as the relationships between enemies, the negotiations and agreements so vital to aiding the peace process, shown in the 7th House. And finally, the zodiac signs themselves lend insight. Scorpio is the sign of Belfast, its characteristics manifesting in the city’s hidden past and intriguing culture, while the Ascendant sign of Capricorn can literally be seen around the city itself, Belfast’ image. Libra in the 9th shows the potential for peace, harmony, justice and diplomacy, while Leo in the 7th House sometimes embellishes and exaggerates the relationships of the people. Sagittarius, in the 11th House, may represent the desired freedom and unwavering optimism of the two religiously divided communities in attaining their goals. 

I think Belfast’s chart can be used as astrology best should be – a tool for insight, guidance and clarification. Although it is evident that the planets do not and realistically cannot produce an actual affect on humans or events on Earth, I do believe they are capable of playing the role of signs, a heavenly map with many different routes, each having its own set of challenges and rewards. In this sense, astrology can be valuable for self-development or in the case of Belfast, as a trustworthy handbook to the city’s growth and progression and as a means of preparing for any potential trouble while encouraging hope and optimism for a brighter and more peaceful future. 

IX. Appendices

Appendix 1.

A. Noon Chart for Belfast City

Note how Uranus now falls in the 8th House, while the Moon falls in the 10th House. This would necessitate a vastly different approach to interpreting the Troubles in Belfast using a 12 Noon Birth Chart.

  • B. 11:30am GMT Chart for Belfast City

      C. 12 Midnight Chart for Belfast City

      To contrast with a 12 Noon Chart, using 12 Midnight as the birth time creates an entirely different chart, with the Ascendant bordering on Leo/Virgo and most of the planets falling in the lower Houses, including the Sun and Uranus. Interpreting this chart in relation to the Belfast Troubles would paint a very different picture and the significance of the Capricorn imagery would be irrelevant. 

      Appendix 2.

      The seahorse symbol and Coat of Arms can be found at the following locations in Belfast; note the resemblance to the goat-fish of Capricorn. 

      The ‘seahorse’:

    1. The pillars outside the Ulster Hall.
    2. The large mosaics on the ground in Corn Market.
    3. On the various small black ‘pillars’ that are dotted around the main shopping areas.
    4. {NB the symbol is commonly a small gold or silver relief, apart from the mosaic versions in Corn Market}.

      The Coat of Arms:

      1. The logo for Belfast City Council; e.g. can be seen on litter bins. etc., in the city centre
      2. Above the doors of the building on the corner of Waring Street and North Street (across from the Northern Whig).
      3. On the wall above the ground floor/first floor escalators in Boots the Chemist, Royal Avenue outlet.
      {There are most likely other locations featuring the symbol and Coat of Arms}

      X. References

      The following list of books and websites may provide further reading and research on the subjects covered in this report.

      • Peter Whitefield (2001) Astrology, A History: London, The British Library 
      • Richard Tarnas (2006) Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World Mind: London, Penguin Books Ltd.
      • David Ovason (1999) The Secret Zodiacs of Washington D.C. London: Arrow Books Ltd.
      • Julia and Derek Parker (1991) Parkers’ Astrology (New Edition 2001). London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd.
      XI. Glossary

      Ascendant: The astrological Sign that is ascending, or rising, on the Eastern horizon at the moment of birth

      Aspect: in astrology, refers to a relationship or link formed between two Planets by an angle, e.g. 90°

      Birth Chart: the astrological chart drawn up at the moment of birth to show the positions of planets, as seen from a geocentric viewpoint, i.e. Earth, acting as a blueprint to
      an individual’s life

      Conjunction: one of the major aspects in an astrological Chart, when two planets are between 0°-10° apart. exact at 0°. Indicates fusion, joining, working together

      Event Chart: an astrological chart drawn up to mark the beginning or birth of a place or event, similar to the chart drawn up at the moment of an individuals birth

      Fixed: one of three Quadruplicates in astrology, the others being Mutable and Cardinal, which are associated with the 12 Zodiac Signs. Fixed signs are Taurus, Leo & Scorpio and are said to be instinctively rigid and persevering

      House: various systems used to divide the Birth Chart into 12 distinct sections, each governing a particular area of life. Many different systems exist and the size of each House can vary considerably based upon the system used and the latitude of birth
      Opposition: a major aspect formed when two planets oppose one another, i.e. are 172°-188° apart, exact at 180°. Indicates opposing views and methods with potential reconciliation and compromise

      Retrograde: meaning that a planet appears to be moving backwards, as viewed from Earth. This is illusion resulting from the speed at which the Earth is travelling around the Sun compared the speed of a passing planet, e.g. Mercury. The Sun and Moon can never be retrograde.

      Rising Sign: see Ascendant

      Sign: referring to the 12 astrological Signs that make up the Western Zodiac, which are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces

      Sextile: a major aspect formed when two planets are 60° apart with an orb of 54°-66°. Indicates easy flow of energy, support, effort required for a positive outcome

      Square: a major aspect formed when two planets are 90° apart with an orb of 72°-98°. Indicates tension, struggle, obstacles or challenges to be overcome

      Stellium: a group of three or planets in conjunction, usually falling in the one Sign and House. Indicates a concentration of energy, a focus on the Sign(s) and House(s) concerned

      Transit: term used to describe the movement of a planetary body around the Birth Chart, through the Signs and Houses

      Trine: a major aspect formed when two planets are 120° Apart with an orb of 112°-128°. Indicates harmony, balance, and relaxed attitude

      Zodiac: A Greek word meaning ‘band of animals’; the imaginary belt that runs across the sky, containing 12 Signs, originally derived from 12 star constellations