Context; Part One

Context One: An essay on blending astrological charting with a personal life-flow.

David Monroe, March 12, 2018

This essay is divided into sections so as to permit a long writing section and several screen-shots to be more easily included.

An astrological chart cannot be read in a meaningful way without knowing what it relates to.  We need to consider that the ‘what’ includes the situation that is in play, the ‘when’, the ‘where’, the ‘who’, and the ‘why’ or questions and answers being sought out.  We might even extend these opening remarks to say all of the above criteria could relate to the type of astrological chart we are using for our exploration.

In direct terms, ‘context’ is understanding the life style, intentions, current flow-of-life projects and expectations, and one’s developed ability to adapt to change. 

Within the pages of the Mountain Astrologer, Feb./March 2018 edition, reviewer Mary Plumb notes in her comments on my book, Personal Moon-to-Sun Returns 2, ” . . he is aware of the importance of context in a client’s life, and knows that an “Average Person” client may not have the “living life large” drama seen in a celebrity horoscope, but is interested in the flow of ordinary events in daily life.” 

You may ask how a reviewer such as Mary Plumb can, in a short time with a book, grasp the fact that ‘context’ is so important a part of a writer’s messages.  One obvious clue might be found in the chapter covering the interactions of ‘everyday planets.’  Let us take Mercury for an example.  Each planet is introduced in terms of generic natal and transiting characteristics.  A further, detailed categorical listing is provided for 1) Character traits, 2) Attitudes and Perceptions, 3) Social interactions, 4) Feelings, 5) Actions, activities, 6) Situations, environments, 7) Career and avocation.  The manner in which Mercury might most typically be expressed in each of these nine categories provides a sense of how ‘context’ can be more accurately understood.

As an example, if we were exploring the feelings of someone during a situation involving negotiations, Mercury would tend to be amoral, and either calm or nervous (depending upon the natal configurations involving Mercury) or nature of the negotiations (transiting Mercury’s placement and configuration in the chart), these being considered within the astrologer’s knowledge of the client’s/subject’s current life-style, intentions, current flow-of-life projects and expectations, and one’s developed ability to adapt to change.

It is not intended that a reader of the book should memorize each planet’s expression under each category given but that the sense of how a planet can express itself under differing conditions while also honoring, to some degree, both its natal conditioning and the adult life experiences and evolvement of its initial conditioning.  This becomes a combining of knowledge, experience and empathy by the astrologer for the chart’s reflection of the person and the person’s reflection of the chart. 

To help the reader understand my use of ‘context’ I will take advantage of postings in a blog series on the Ninth House during the months of February and March, 2018.  That blog’s URL address is    The blog series follows the life of actress Shirley MacLaine as she takes a pilgrimage journey on Spain’s Camino trail from France to Santiago de Compestela.  This journey covers some four weeks of grueling walking, a feat for a sixty year old woman.

SMfragment-1We start with Shirley MacLaine’s first chart relative to this event, her relocated natal chart to the city of St. Jean Pied do Port, France, located right on the border with northeastern Spain.  Here we note that her n/Sun-n/Mars conjunction is on the relocated natal chart’s IC angle.  Endurance and strength will be put to the test. 


SMfragment-2This first blog, Feb. 3, 2018 also contains a t/Moon-opposite-n/Sun Return chart for May 23, 1994.  With Sun in the 12th, on the cusp in this case, one has to balance conflicts.  One’s conscience says to help others, one’s self-interests want to address personal needs first. Stress. Interactional support is seen, offered, appreciated.  This fits with a pilgrimage where each other person is on the same path, dealing with common problems and conditions.  Friends and the need to give or accept help has to be anticipated.  (SMfragment-2; Sun-Moon in chart).  Prior to the start date of June 4th, 1994, we find this chart having n/Moon-n/Neptune/n/MC-t/Chiron in the 4th house opposite t/Saturn in the 10th.  Deep feelings, a sense of the past (Moon), visions and dreams (Neptune), and a life-goal of exploring these issues (MC) and how the past and its hurts (t/Chiron) might now be open to exploration (the conjunction in the fourth house) is at the heart of the Camino pilgrimage for Shirley MacLaine.  This is the context that we see in this chart, as well as in her book describing this experience, The Camino.

SMfragment-3Feb. 6, 2018; Camino One blog posting.  On June 4th, 1994 Shirley began her Camino pilgrimage at St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France.  The hills of the Pyrenees framed this small city and the starting point of the Camino. Shirley must have been quite excited.  She had a friend, Anna, who would help her get through the first few days.  The Advanced chart for June 4, 1994 is interesting in that the n/Ascendant is on the Descendant; interaction (7th house) with an established action (n/Asc.) that she had planned on.  The natal planets-angles can be seen as older-prior actions or experiences.   The vertical axis has t/Saturn-10th; a task is to be undertaken.  Opposite is t/Chiron, n/Moon-n/Neptune.  Chiron seeks to bring out past hurts and challenges, the Moon-Neptune pair represents Shirley’s long-held beliefs, dreams and vision of the world behind this world.  All of this specifically relates to Shirley as she picks up her Camino passport and prepares to take her first steps along the Camino trail.

The next posting, Camino Two, dated Feb. 9, 2018, is a “walking around day.”  This Advanced chart is for June 5, 1994.  After the first day of walking up and down steep hills and rocky pathways, Shirley and Anna wisely decided to take a more leisurely day and tour the town they had reached the evening before.  So, how does an Advanced chart which moves it angles a degree or so, and the t/Sun-t/Moon-t/PoF reflect this “leisurely attitude” instead of the prior day’s excitement and exertions?

SMfragment-4The n/Asc.-t/Desc pattern can relate to her friend Anna’s guidance in helping Shirley become acclimated to the stress of walking steep trails, taking it easy at first.  n/Moon is close upon the t/IC angle and t/Moon conjoins the natal Uranus-Mars-Sun grouping, which represents her strong individuality and determination to persevere.  This grouping is at the natal IC, strongly linking it to the charts t/IC angle.  t/PoF conjoins n/PoF.  This is normally a ‘chaos’ or ‘change-chance’ indicator.  Here, it seems to represent a break from the Camino traveling schedule.  While all of this fits within the context of her day, it doesn’t fit too well — until we remember the doubled-up influence of the natal and transiting IC angle.  The IC angle represents both the starting and the stopping of new-old experiences and situations.  Hence, a pause.

SMfragment-5Camino Three, dated Feb. 12, 2018, covers the next day, June 6th.  It was late on June 5th that Shirley had a t/Moon-n/Sun Return (7th house) that would set the pattern for the next two weeks. We will need to understand what the imprint of this chart might mean for that period.  First, note the n/MC in the first, close to the Asc.; she will be working and striving to deal with her goals and current life purpose.  This is a very clear astrological statement.   The horizontal axis of the Return chart)  The t/Moon-n/Sun position in the 7th, highlights the presence of others becoming involved in Shirley’s Camino over the next two weeks.  We indeed saw that this had happened.

The Advanced chart for this posting, dated June 6, 1994. had n/Uranus-Desc. with the t/Moon moving ahead deeper into the 7th house and making no major aspects.  t/Sun-squares-t/Saturn and n/Venus; a challenge blending harshness with softness.  t/PoF makes no major contacts.  So, how does this fit with the day’s events?  It was raining.  Shirley and Anna walked along, each deep in their own thoughts.  Shirley wandered off the path and ended up, unnoticed by Anna, at place where nobody was around.  She was lost in the rain.  She retraced her steps and found Anna patiently waiting for her.  Shirley felt her angle, Ariel, present.  This was a well-established connection for Shirley, noted in her other writings.  Ariel’s presence was signaled by the faint smell of vanilla.  As for ‘context’ on this date, the lack of major aspects other than Sun-square-Saturn-Venus can indicate the aimless feeling of this day.  At the end of their planned coverage they found no place to stay and had to continue onward for another ten miles in the dark to the next refugio.  Again, a situation that is linked to Sun-Saturn-Venus in terms of challenges.

End of part One