Weirdo Book Reviews: Two Great Books On Fixed Star Algol

 

The fixed star Caput Algol, often simply referred to as Algol, has quite a fearsome reputation in astrology. Of course, one must always see the nuances of the potential behind the astrological interpretations before rushing to judgement, and also use personal experience with how potentials actually manifest in real life. Two books I’ve found very useful in de-mystifying Algol’s infamy are Beyond The Planets: Algol’s Use In Fixed Star Astrology by D.M. Hoover, and Brady’s Book Of Fixed Stars by Bernadette Brady.

 

It’s probably necessary to give a little explanation of what Algol is first. Algol is a fixed star located at 26-27 degrees of Taurus. It’s exact degree changes from time to time due to precession of motion, so you may occasionally see Algol located at 24 or 25 degrees Taurus for older chart interpretations. Algol is actually a binary star system -the first to be discovered- meaning the “star” is actually three stars that orbit and therefore eclipse each other like so:

 

Algol astrology stars eclipse

 

This eclipse orbit gives Algol the appearance from Earth of occasionally “disappearing” and then re-emerging with a distinct blink. Thus, in ancient times it became known as the “blinking demon” star. In Hebrew it was called “Satan’s Head”; its current name comes from an Arabic word meaning “head of the ghoul”, Al-Ghoul or now Algol. Ptolemy drew mythological connections to the story of Medusa, who was of course beheaded.

 

This association with cruelty, pain and even decapitation unfortunately seemed to be reflected in events associated with Algol. People nowadays do not like hearing these connotations, but they arose from somewhere and astrologers wouldn’t have continued such a brutal association unless it had merit. Algol is located in the sign of Taurus; while Taurus is generally thought of as a sensual, slow Venus-ruled earth sign, it has a shadow side just like every other astrology sign. The shadow side of the sign of The Bull is indeed a raging bull; slow to anger but when angered even slower to cool off. The earthiness of the sign means its dark side can manifest in physical ways; and as Taurus rules the neck, it became known that the bright blinking fixed star located in Taurus seemed to epitomize this brutal dark side.

 

There’s still the same associations of brute physical force, considerable violence, and severe neck/body injury attached to Algol today. As I have my Mars conjunct Algol (you use a tight orb -degree of separation- for fixed stars; 3 degrees or less for aspects) I, of course, have made a point of looking into how such a horribly malefic influence actually plays out in real life and in the charts of people who, like myself, are not in any way as violent or brutal as the reputation would suggest.

 

So, with that out of the way, the two books that I think explain Algol on a regular human level are the ones I’m hoping people will defer to when first studying Algol. The first book is Bernadette Brady’s Brady’s Book Of Fixed Stars. This is probably the more well known of the two, since it details pretty much all the fixed stars, not just Algol, so has been considered a staple in fixed star astrology interpretations.

 

Brady’s take on Algol is brief, then, but still illuminating. Brady explains that despite such associations with typical masculine areas of violence such as battles, assassinations and the like, Algol was generally considered a feminine star: the wife of the Devil to the Arabs, and in Talmudic Law Algol was actually Lilith, the first wife of Adam who was not made from Adam’s rib but was her own person and was cast out of the Garden of Eden for not being submissive. To quote Brady:

 

“Algol, in other words, is the wild, raw, frightening face of the outraged feminine which has been labeled as demonic or simply evil. This star seems to contain immense female passion and power. It is the power of the feminine or the potential power of Mother Nature, not to be called evil for being strong.”

 

Brady then goes on to use examples of Albert Einstein (Pluto conjunct Algol) unlocking the power of the bomb, and JFK’s and O.J. Simpson’s similar displays of maschismo and uncomfortable relationship to the feminine as examples of Algol at work.

 

We obviously learn from these types of sample cases, which leads me to the second book that I highly recommend. D.M. Hoover’s Beyond The Planets: Algol’s Use In Fixed Star Astrology is devoted exclusively to Algol and uses a wide selection of sample charts and history. The book offers little in the way of cookbook style interpretations, instead letting the examples speak for themselves.

 

At first glance, the examples in the book seem to reinforce the terrible reputation of Algol. The blinking demon star was prominent in events such as the 2012 Benghazi attack and the first World Trade Center bombing. Algol was also strong in the event chart of the invasion of Iraq, as well as in the birth charts of Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein. It featured in the event charts of the Columbine school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombings, and again in the birth charts of the people who carried out those events. Timothy McVeigh, Jim Jones (the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana guy), and notable earthquakes and hurricanes also have Algol signatures in their respective charts.

 

So far, so not good… but, there’s just as many other examples in Hoover’s book that helps one see how Algol might affect otherwise ordinary, decent people. Sylvia Plath is an interesting example that seems to harken back to Brady’s impression that Algol can represent the repressed feminine that becomes feral or rabid if not released from the cages society has placed it in. Plath had Chiron (that odd mixture of pain and charisma) conjunct Algol, and Hoover has an interesting insight of this aspect as it played out in Plath’s chart:

 

“In Sylvia’s natal chart, it was Chiron symbolizing the inner wound that never healed for her… It’s uncanny to think that Sylvia wrote in her nove The Bell Jar about “the windowless corridor of pain”, or what was to become her own bell jar. She penned the words, “From the bottom of a pool, fixed stars govern a life”.” 

 

(As an aside, the poet Ted Hughes whom Plath fell in love with was an avid astrologer himself, and supposedly she used to tease him about drawing up charts for everything he did.)

 

Stephen King and Martin Luther King Jr. are two more examples in the book of good people with a malefic influence in their charts, both with their North Node (their manifesto) conjunct Algol. Dr. King was not the perpetrator of violence; he was someone who definitely had firsthand experience of it and he used his passionate response to violence to preach the gospel of non-violence, and to inspire others into tangible actions leading to change and reform. Unfortunately, he was another Algol person who was assassinated. At this point I have to say that having a strong Algol in a chart does not show assassination or unfortunate endings just by itself; other factors must be taken into consideration, of course. Stephen King hasn’t been assassinated, though he did nearly lose both legs in an severe accident. Algol conjunct his North Node seems to have operated in his life by aligning his life purpose with the psychological understanding and expression of the deeply unsettling and pathological. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung also have strong Algol aspects, and in other examples in Hoover’s book we see that it isn’t a stretch to imagine that Algol’s ferocity need not be physically violent but can be psychologically aware of the brutality of life that others would prefer to run from.

 

A few other examples from Hoover’s book: we do not have reliable birth information for Joan of Arc (there’s that wild woman influence again) but at the time of her being burned at the stake (ahem, for being her own person) transit Jupiter was conjunct Algol at the mundane level. Edgar Cayce would go on to do a reading for a woman from Lyons that he believed to be the reincarnation of Joan of Arc; his client was born with Jupiter conjunct Algol.

 

One interesting case study for me -because I’m a music geek- was the plane crash that killed The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens (aka “The Day The Music Died”). In his book, Hoover explains that the last two of those singers had prominent Algol aspects in their charts, particularly Ritchie Valens who had a Venus-Jupiter-Algol conjunction in his 3rd house. What isn’t mentioned in Hoover’s book but that I knew from memory when I seen this event included (again, music geek) was that Waylon Jennings was supposed to be aboard that flight but, in a twist of fate, didn’t go:

 

“After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2nd, Holly decided to charter a plane for himself, guitarist Tommy Allsup and Jennings so they could fly to Fargo, North Dakota, instead of taking the long, frozen bus trip. Richardson, who was suffering from the flu, asked Jennings for his seat on the plane, and Valens asked the same of Allsup. When Jennings told Holly that he was going to take the bus, Holly jokingly told him he hoped the bus broke down, to which Jennings replied, “I hope your ol’ plane crashes!” 

 

“God almighty, for years I thought I caused it,” the country legend said decades later.”

 

So, of course I looked up Waylon Jennings chart; Algol conjunct the Midheaven opposed by Mars in Scorpio conjunct the IC; in some weird way he still experienced Algol without actually experiencing Algol…

 

So, Algol didn’t earn her fearsome reputation for nothing, but hopefully these two books will put a more humane and insightful face on her and the people who live life in that gear. To close this article out on a more successful ending, one of the case studies not found in ether book but that I personally like is actor Danny Trejo, Taurus Sun conjunct Algol:

 

Danny Trejo ASTROLOGY

 

who started out life as a juvenile delinquent, becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, served time in prison and at one point was maybe eligible for the death penalty. Of course, after controlling the demon star within he’s known now for his softer side, working still as a drug counselor and of course as an often comedic actor.

 

 

 

 

Weirdo Book Reviews: The Book Of Retrogrades by John McCormick

astrology retrogrades in charts Venus Mercury mars

L: Cover of “The Book Of Retrogrades” by John McCormick. R: Photo by Nom Pourflickr.

 

“What does it mean if I have Mercury/Venus/Mars retrograde in my birth chart?” is a fairly common question among people trying to learn astrology. I’ve been asked to answer this question by several readers in the past, and since I aim to please I will oblige. Since Mercury is still retrograde in Virgo, I’ll stick with last month’s theme of killing two birds with one stone and also do a book review/recommendation: this time it’s John McCormick’s The Book Of Retrogrades.

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Weirdo Book Reviews: Interpreting The Eclipses By Robert Carl Jansky

L: Cover of "Interpreting The Eclipses". R: Photo by Amy Shore.

L: Cover of “Interpreting The Eclipses”. R: Photo by Amy Shore.

 

“Eclipses. I know this is a very vast topic, but maybe eclipses of certain notable events? How eclipses stir things up, examples of. Why some are ‘duds’ or seem so. Interesting how they can be re-stimulated when a planet conjuncts that eclipse point, too–time frame for that happening.” – Nancy

 

Back in February, I posted an article asking for readers to submit questions that they’d like to see answered here on Viva Combusta! I answered nearly all of them shortly thereafter except this one. It was past eclipse season by the time I started working on the writeup, so I decided to wait until the next eclipse season, which is upon us this September. Since we’ve also got Mercury in its domicile Virgo emphasizing effective use of our words, I want to kill two birds with one stone by also doing my second installment of book reviews and recommendations. This time it’s Robert Carl Jansky’s classic Interpreting The Eclipses.

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Huffington Post Book Reviews & Olympics Injuries!

Rio Olympics injuries Brazil Zika virus

 

The final opposition from Jupiter in Virgo to Chiron in Pisces is now officially over, and as previously stated it created havoc at the summer Olympics in Rio. There’s injuries at every Olympics, but you gotta admit the injuries in Rio are particularly gnarly. Here’s a rundown if you can stomach it; I had the misfortune to watch the gymnast break his leg live, I’m surprised my neighbors didn’t call the police since I screamed bloody murder.

 

As also discussed in my Olympics post, the potential spreading of Zika virus from the Olympics in Brazil remains to be seen. At the same time that the games started under a Virgo stellium forming a mutable T-square formation in the skies, there’s been new reports of Zika in places it hasn’t been before. Keep in mind that we’re now in the shadow of the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Virgo, and information is starting to slowly but surely go awry. The truth of Zika virus is still out of reach.

 

Speaking of Mercury in Virgo, I mentioned in my full writeup of the retrograde that Mercury in Virgo loves books. In keeping with that vibe, I’ve just published my second article for The Huffington Post entitled 7 Books For A Better Astrology Library. Many of the readers here at Viva Combusta! are already high in astro literacy, so you might not be surprised by the books that made the list. It’s a good place to start for those who are still in the beginning of their burgeoning interest or for those who don’t know where to go after they’ve learned some basics.

 

Just after I submitted my Huffington Post article, I read that Arianna Huffington has resigned from her position overseeing the publication; not sure yet if this will impact who HuffPo allows to contribute yet or not. I’ll keep writing until they kick me out.

 

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback in the comments section and especially in the many emails after I requested feedback in my previous post, I’ll be writing my thoughts on social media, social networking and astrology soon!

 

 

Weirdo Book Reviews: Star.Ships and The Chaos Protocols by Gordon White

 

I am going to try to do one book review or recommendation each month for books that in some shape, form or fashion tie in with astrology. Some will, of course, be strictly astrology texts, but what’s the fun in doing only those? So, I’m going to try to include more unexpected choices as well, even fiction if it’s interesting enough and maybe pop culture references or other media.

 

For the first such Weirdo Book Review, I thought I would start with two that came out just this year. The author, Gordon White, is most famous for his highly popular chaos magic blog Rune Soup which blends what he refers to as “practical enchantment” with historical occult information, present day world events and economic forecasting techniques, such as those used by Martin Armstrong and Catherine Austin Fitts. This year, White released his first two books back to back: the first book Star.Ships: A Prehistory Of The Spirits looks at how our current understanding of higher mysteries is informed by our ancestors’ journeys and what they passed down to us; while his second book The Chaos Protocols gives a fresh, modern way of applying such powerful knowledge to our everyday lives.

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