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“The Archetypal Universe” by Renn Butler is often mentioned by one of the most thoughtful astrologers we are blessed with today, Adam Elenbaas, as an invaluable handbook when understanding the archetypes invoked as planets are combined, natally, through midpoints, or in transits. I put the book on my Mother’s Day wishlist and received it as a gift from my somewhat flummoxed adult children, who are secretly wondering if my passion for astrology is a sign of early onset dementia and doubt whether they should be humoring me. But as I read through “The Archetypal Universe,” I was reminded again that astrology gives us a language for understanding a sometimes seemingly incomprehensible world as few other studies do. “The basic insight of astrology,” Butler tells us, “is that there are ongoing correlations between alignments of the Sun, Moon, and planets, and the activation of these primal archetypal patterns in human experience.” Children in my chart, for example, are ruled by Saturn, which is squared by Uranus. Principles of this combination of planets, according to Butler, include “careful and cautious change, incremental openings and awakenings . . . the liberating side of structure and routine.” Staying grounded for many years in my Saturn as a cookie baking, PTA mom, I kept astrology books at my bedside, and now that my responsibilities are over, I am liberated to pursue my path toward greater awakening while those dear creatures I raised shake their heads.

Looking for deeper understanding in our world today, I looked up aspects currently in the sky. Jupiter and Neptune are in a long, slow trine in this summer of 2018. “All-encompassing shifts in vision, the revisioning and re-enchantment of a culture, consciousness expanding everywhere,” are the themes Butler describes when these planets meet. He quotes Samuel Johnson, who had Jupiter opposite Neptune natally, “A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.” We have recently experienced a world-wide outpouring of compassion for migrants, especially those who were separated from their children while attempting to migrate to the United States. Our role as a compassionate nation is being challenged and revisioned.

The longer Uranus Pluto square over the past seven years evoked “the titanic quest for human freedom and individuality, driving forces of evolution and revolution.” The Arab Spring and occupy movements began with this square, and demands for freedom have often been thwarted and suppressed since. The shadow side of this combination of planets, Butler writes, is “efforts to force change without healing of one’s own psyche simply adding to the problem.” Governments cannot change human hearts.

Renn Butler has a particularly delightful way of bringing the archetypal aspects of the planetary combinations to light through apt quotes from those who were born with these planets in aspect:

“My only regret in the theater is that I could never sit out front and watch me.” – John Barrymore, Sun square Jupiter.

“Lead me not into temptation; I can find the way myself.” – Rita Mae Brown, Moon trine Venus.

“Little things affect little minds.” – Benjamin Disraeli, Mercury square Saturn.

“Marriage is a series of desperate arguments people feel passionate about.” – Katharine Hepburn, Venus square Mars.

“I do not participate in any sport with ambulances at the bottom of a hill.” – Erma Bombeck, Mars opposite Saturn.

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jupiter conjunct Saturn.

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” - Eleanor Roosevelt, Saturn square Uranus.

“I’m not a good lover, but at least I’m fast.” – Drew Carey, Mars at the midpoint of Uranus and Neptune.

“God only knows what I’d be without you.” – Brian Wilson, Venus trine Neptune.

“When there is great love, there are always great miracles.” – Willa Cather, Venus opposite Pluto.

Renn Butler’s final chapter enlightens us further as he describes archetypes in three planet combinations. Back to my Saturn Uranus square, I must admit the Sun is there as well, conjoined with Uranus. “A free and visionary spirit,” I read with relief. But then I make the mistake of reading on: “Tendencies toward . . . a spaced-out or eccentric way of being . . . .” Well, my kids would give him no argument there.

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