AstroChatter Radio is Right On!

I joined Pamela Cucinell for her AstroChatter Radio show today at noon ET, and accurately predicted that the California Supreme Court would uphold Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage. The decision was handed down about an hour after we ended the “broadcast” on BlogTalkRadio.

What was the thinking behind the analysis? Transiting Saturn (restriction) is hanging around California’s Virgo Sun, which promised a conservative decision by the court, despite a broad opposition from transiting Uranus (surprise, revolution).

Lest I sound too chipper about getting it right, let me reiterate that I’m a big proponent of equal rights for gays and lesbians, and this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.

During today’s show, Pamela also analyzed the chart of U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and we took calls, including one from our old friend ColoradoDeb. You can listen to this week’s broadcast here.

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Obama’s Choice of Rick Warren Sends the Wrong Message

I don’t get the argument that Barack Obama’s decision to invite celebrity pastor Rick Warren, who is openly anti-gay, to lead a prayer at the inauguration, is a “good thing,” to quote celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart. The thinking is that the President-elect is reaching out to those on the other side of the aisle, the political spectrum, etc.

I know I’m not the only one out there who sees great irony in the fact that the nation’s first black President is choosing to break bread with a man who actively campaigned against gay marriage in California and was successful in that effort.

I know that Warren is helping to lead us to a “Purpose-Driven Life” through his 20,000-member Saddleback Church in Los Angeles. I just don’t think my purpose in life is supporting someone who is trying to exclude a certain group from the same rights that everybody else gets to enjoy.

Now that Pluto is in Capricorn, we all have to be on the lookout for the tendency of the government and the corporation to encourage and enforce patriarchal family structures. This runs counter to the community-oriented spirit of idealistic Neptune in Aquarius, which will be joined by expansive Jupiter in 2009. (Incidentally, Warren is an Aquarius so he’ll be getting a lift from Jupiter for a year, starting in early January.)

There is nothing that can make me feel good about this situation. From where I sit — straight, white, married, middle-aged — gay union is a civil rights issue. Churches that adhere to the teachings of the Bible may feel justified in shutting the door on gays, lesbians, and transgender folks, but the government does not have that luxury.

Why? I’m no constitutional scholar, but here’s why I’m so sure of my beliefs: Article 14 of the U.S. Bill of Rights. And I quote:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

By asking Rick Warren to bless his Administration, Obama is sending the message to gays that they are not welcome at his table. And that is definitely not a good thing!

Gay Rights: A Setback in California

Well, the votes have finally been tallied and California’s Proposition 8, a citizens’ referendum banning gay marriage, has been approved.

This is bad news indeed. As readers of this blog may know, I’m not gay, but I believe lesbians and gays deserve the same rights as other Americans. I view their struggle for respect and recognition in our society in the same light that I viewed the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Why the sudden reversal in California, where 18,000 same-sex marriages already have taken place, and where back in May, the California Supreme Court overturned a previous voter-approved ban on gay marriage?

The opposition of Saturn in Virgo and Uranus in Pisces, which was exact yesterday, was tied to the Virgo Sun of the California statehood chart.

On a geographic level, the Saturn/Uranus opposition could also stir up wildfire activity and trigger earthquakes in California. There have been quite a few minor ones in the state lately, as this map shows.

I’m not making any predictions because I don’t have the quantitative chops to do the work required for earthquake forecasting. (In my next life, I’ll go to MIT or Berkeley.) Having said that, I don’t like the early morning of Nov. 9 in Southern California for a variety of reasons. Just be alert, O.K.?

With Saturn on California’s Sun right now, voters are feeling conservative and the state faces a $7 billion budget shortfall. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t some class antagonism being reflected in the approval of Proposition 8, in addition to far-right religious fervor.

Gays and lesbians are prominent in California’s prosperous entertainment and technology industries, perhaps leading some voters to conclude that all gays are “rich,” a stereotype long associated with Jews because of their success in the creative, legal, and financial professions.

Of course, with Pluto in class-conscious Virgo, I tend to see things through the prism of class. I think gay rights organizations need to broaden their ranks and incorporate lower-middle class voters and Hispanics in their struggle if they are to prevail in the Golden State.

As gays know, there is tremendous resistance against homosexuals, particularly men, within the Latin culture, which celebrates machismo.

Evidently African-Americans, who know what it’s like to face prejudice, were big supporters of Proposal 8, with an overwhelming majority of California’s black voters favoring the discriminatory measure. There’s irony for you!

I don’t know enough about the referendum process in California to know what happens when voters approve a ban that was previously overturned by the State Supreme Court. Can it face legal appeal? SFMike at Civic Center, I’m depending on you to educate me.

Speaking of SFMike, I was just reading his coverage of the election and I was struck by his observation that the Mormons, who have been victims of discrimination because of their belief in polygamy, spent big bucks to get the anti-gay marriage vote out in California.

I still think the better off folks are financially, the more tolerant that they tend to be of lifestyles that differ from their own. When people are struggling to fill their gas tanks, pay their toxic mortgages, and make the minimum credit-card payment on time so their interest rate doesn’t get jacked up to 30%, they are in a bind.

When your mobility is limited, then you want to make sure everybody else is toeing the line and following the rules you believe in, regardless of what “good book” you found them in, whether it be the Talmud, the Bible, or the Koran. Anyway, that’s the way I see it. I’m not saying I believe religion is the opiate of the masses, but I do think money and class figure into this equation.

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day

Starlinked: An Online Matchmaker with Stellar Insight

When I came back from a six-week tour of India in summer 2004, I began another odyssey: I started reading Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. The 1,488-page opus chronicles the widow Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s hilarious and heart-rending search for a husband for her daughter Lata.

In India, as you may know, marriages are still arranged by families. But before prospective spouses and their parents agree to a betrothal, an astrologer determines the compatibility of the couple.

That’s right: Close to 1.1 billion people believe in consulting an astrologer before they tie the knot. (Of course, not all of India’s citizens are Hindus who follow Vedic astrology. Still, there are plenty of Indians living outside the Subcontinent who rely on astrology to find a mate.)

We’re just joining this party in the West, but we’re harnessing the power of technology. Under the auspices of Astrology Explored’s Beth Turnage, I’ve learned about a new Web site called Starlinked that uses astrology to help you find your soulmate.

Starlinked’s president, Kurt Grandis, was kind enough to do a Q&A with Astrology Mundo via e-mail. What follows is an edited transcript of our “interview.”

What is Starlinked?
Starlinked is an online astrology-based matchmaking service. We are dedicated to providing high-quality astrology-based information to our members to help them find that special someone. While the inner workings of our compatibility engine are grounded in traditional astrological techniques the entire user experience is designed for [someone] who may not have much experience with astrology.

Actually, Starlinked is often the first foray into astrology beyond daily horoscopes for many of our users. Our goal is to bring the benefits of sophisticated astrological techniques in evaluating relationships to people less familiar with the power of astrology. We recognize that technology alone can never replace a personal reading by an experienced astrologer, so we plan to incorporate features that will help our members connect with qualified astrologers in their area.

How long has it been in existence?
The Starlinked idea has been floating around for awhile now. Active development on the site and its underlying technologies began about eight months ago and we just launched in October 2008. We took our first couple of weeks to focus on North Carolina, where we are located in Mebane, but are now beginning to roll out into the rest of the U.S.

Are there competing sites that use astrology to match up people?
There are a few other sites out there that do some form of astrological matchmaking, but most reduce it to something along the lines of sun sign matching. We are proud to be able to go leaps and bounds beyond that and base our compatibility measures on real astrological techniques.

You are not just 1 of 12 buckets we sort out. The matches we find for you are entirely personalized to the exact time and place you were born.

How do you make sure people aren’t lying about their ages?
Great question! This is something we are obviously concerned about since we wish to ensure the integrity of our compatibility measures. We do our best to balance the integrity of our natal information and the privacy of our users. We explain the importance of accurate birth dates and also offer our members the option to hide their age from others. This provides less incentive to “tweak” their birth year.

What if someone doesn’t know when he was born? What happens then?
This is often the case for our first-time visitors, who haven’t had astrological consultations before. We allow folks to come in and make a rough guess if they have some idea (e.g. sometime in the evening) or just plain-old say “I don’t know.” At the same time we record the data confidence or quality (like a Rodden Rating [pioneered by AstroDataBank founder Lois Rodden]). This way users can enter the system and get started without knowing their exact birth time.

Their compatibility scores are initially penalized due to the uncertainties associated with the data. Once they’ve had a chance to call Mom or check their birth certificate they can lock in their actual birth time.

What compatibility factors does your program look for? I’m thinking of Sun/Moon conjunctions, trines between Venus and Mars, and contacts involving Saturn, often the “glue” in long-term relationships?
Our compatibility engine runs a number of analyses in order to calculate each individual pair’s overall score. We look at a number of planetary interactions, including the ones mentioned, the nature of the aspect, its orb among other things. We consider composites as well as synastry.

For the time being, we have minimized Saturn’s influences due to some of its interpretive subtleties. To cater to our users with more astrology experience, we plan on incorporating features to allow more advanced users to customize the factors involved in their compatibility calculations. There is still a lot to do and this will likely not be our first priority, but we take these kinds of concerns seriously and will work towards the most comprehensive matching possible.

What other factors besides astrology are used to match people?
At this time we are focused on identifying matches based solely on astrological factors. This is in part a conscious choice; we want to differentiate ourselves from other matchmaking services that require users to answer so many questions to find their matches. We always encourage feedback from our members and will respond if people express a desire to consider other factors as well, but ultimately it is our intention to keep the site focused on astrology-based factors.

How does the system work?
As soon as a new user registers on the site, our compatibility engine calculates match scores for all members within 50 miles. New members are encouraged to fill out their profile information, but can immediately start reviewing their matches if they choose. If you don’t find someone right away, Starlinked can notify you of new matches as often as every day, once a week, or once a month if you prefer. Once you find your match, simply fill out a few forms to subscribe and start communicating with as many other members as you want.

Does it cost money to join?
It is free to sign up, create your profile, and view your matches. Then you can subscribe to the Starlinked service when you are ready to contact other members. A Starlinked subscription is $29.99 a month or three months at $19.99 a month.

Who are the brains behind Starlinked and what are their credentials? I’m particularly interested in the astrological credentials.
Starlinked, before it was named as such, came to me after watching a number of friends and family use online dating and matchmaking sites. It just seemed like an astrology-based solution should be available.

Then, as a classic Mars in Taurus, I considered working on the project, poked at it, and found myself spending more and more time on it until finally the floodgates opened and BLAM: Starlinked! I’ve had tremendous help from people along the way. I think we have built quite a pool of energy behind this project.

One thing I am particularly excited about is using the collective wisdom of the community to refine the compatibility engine. For instance, what happens if I take five astrologers and ask them to tell me about a potential relationship between two people? What happens is that the same major planetary aspects and contacts tend to make appearances, but everyone weights and interprets their importance and influence slightly differently.

Rather than hide, ignore, or run away from those variations, as some other computerized analysis systems do, we embrace them and use some powerful computational techniques to harness that information. In the end we are able to provide results that best resemble the opinions of the community.

We don’t claim that these numbers are the end-all and be-all of astrological compatibility, but rather a great place to start based on some real traditional techniques. And look, you just met someone with whom you’re probably pretty compatible…why not chat?

It seems to me that more women than men are interested in astrology. How will you get around that?
I think this is definitely the case when you are talking about astro-savvy people who are interested in the inner workings and methodologies of astrology. Take a few steps back and consider folks with a casual interest who might not know what a rising sign is, but do check their daily horoscope. You still have more women than men, but the gap has definitely closed. At one point Match.com reported about 60% male membership. We hope women will strong-arm their guy friends into creating profiles 🙂

Does the system match gay people?
Starlinked does match gay people using the same compatibility system used for straight relationships. Since we are not relying solely on sun signs and are considering numerous other types of (common) planetary interactions the potential differences in relational interpretation should be tempered. I know there has been and continues to be a lot of research done this area and I would certainly like to see Starlinked’s matches reflect that work.

What do you think Astrology Mundo’s readers should know about Starlinked?
As I mentioned earlier, for many of our users Starlinked is their first real exposure to astrology beyond their daily horoscope. For these people we encourage them simply to register, review their matches, and start getting to know people with whom they are astrologically compatible.

For people with more astrology experience, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with the project from authoring introductory relational astrology articles to participating in research to improve our compatibility engine. We are also working on establishing a consultancy or referral program for astrologers; when a user wants more detailed or personalized information, about a match or maybe regarding their own natal chart, they can select from a number of professional member astrologers offering their services.

We are excited about Starlinked and love to hear from our users on how we can improve the system. We have a number of things in the works and are always glad to take some direction from our community. Come on by and check us out!

The Importance of Being Oscar

I’ve been having a spirited e-mail exchange with a correspondent who wants to know why I’m so fond of Oscar Wilde. I usually have a quote from the playwright, who was a Libra, as my signature at the bottom of my e-mail and also have one in the About section of this Web site:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Prodded by the question from my e-mail pal, I decided to investigate. Why I am I so partial to Oscar Wilde, the Irish man of letters who was imprisoned in Victorian times for “the love that dare not speak its name.” That phrase, by the way, is not Wilde’s; it was coined by Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas.

I love word play. I’m no literary lion, but I believe it’s the tension of opposites in many Wilde quotes that makes them sizzle. However, they can also appear contradictory or downright silly. No matter, I love them.

Here’s a Wilde sampler:

We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

What accounts for this sparkling wit? If you look at the natal chart for Wilde, born Oct. 16, 1854 in Ireland, you see a T-square in fixed signs. Mercury (communication) in Scorpio opposes Uranus (electricity) in Taurus, while both planets square the Moon (woman) in flamboyant Leo.

I think the Uranus/Mercury opposition reflects the dynamism of opposites in Wilde’s aphorisms.

Many of the witticisms for which Wilde is known were the lines of female characters in his plays. One of my favorites is from Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest when she is informed by Jack Worthing that he is an orphan: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

Here’s one the economists always appreciate, also from The Importance of Being Earnest. When Miss Prism leaves Cecily to her studies, she tells her pupil: “The chapter on the fall of the rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational.”

Because the North Node in Taurus is conjunct Uranus, Wilde’s quotes were a hit with the public (North Node).

At first I was suspicious that Wilde’s time of birth could be known, but a 3 a.m. time is used by many sources. That produces a Virgo rising that puts Neptune, the planet of deceit and illusion, on the descendant. Given that Wilde once said: “The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived,” the chart seems to make sense.

I don’t have time to do a full treatment of Wilde’s life and I’m sure other astrologers have already done it, but now I know why I’m wild about Wilde.

All Hail YSL, King of the Pantsuit

I’ve just read that fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent has died at the age of 71. Here’s the AP story, via Yahoo!: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/obit_yves_saint_laurent

It’s fitting that my headline calls the designer a “king” since he was a regal Leo. Looking quickly at his chart, a couple of things jump out at me: YSL died as Jupiter was transiting his Moon in Capricorn, which opposed his natal Mars/Pluto conjunction in Cancer. Astrologers know that when people die, it usually looks as if they are going on a long journey. If I were reading Saint Laurent’s chart, I probably would have predicted that he was moving into a big new home.

It’s the charts of the people who loved the deceased individual that typically have transits indicating sorrow or separation, usually involving Saturn and/or Neptune.

Interesting that the man who made it socially acceptable for women to wear pantsuits had the Moon, which rules women, in Capricorn, the sign of the boss. Perhaps his mother wore the pants in the family from a psychological point of view.

Saint Laurent’s Leo Sun was conjunct Juno, the asteroid that rules fashion and the arts. His Sun was also quite close to Mercury and Venus in Leo, which may have explained why he was much beloved (Venus) by the media (Mercury). Jupiter in Sagittarius in the 10th house of fame and recognition trined his Leo lineup of planets, expanding his presence in the world.

Although he is remembered for his sophisticated pantsuits, YSL’s Jupiter in Sag trining his Mercury, acted as a cultural messenger, bringing various ethnic and historic influences into modern-day department stores. For instance, in the late 1970s, his collections featured styles inspired by the Ballet Russes (1976), Morocco (1977), and Gypsies (1978), according to this history of fashion Web site: http://www.designerhistory.com/historyofashion/saint.html

YSL’s flair for the theatrical helped make the fall and spring designer shows in Paris, New York, Rome, and London what they are today — spectacles where the rich, famous, and beautiful jockey for the best seats along the runway.

Here’s YSL’s chart, courtesy of Astrotheme, which has a time of birth of 7:45 p.m. in Oran, Algeria, on Aug. 1, 1936: http://www.astrotheme.fr/en/portraits/2LC8ctBGwK4w.htm

Astrotheme uses biographies from the Wiki, which says YSL suffered a nervous breakdown in 1962, following hazing by fellow soldiers while serving a required stint in the French military. Today, this kind of harassment would be called gay-bashing.

I don’t have time to look this up right now, but if memory serves me correctly there was a big Aquarius lineup in February, 1962, which some people believe foreshadowed the death of JFK, but that’s another story. Here’s what Eric Francis at PlanetWaves has to say about that historic Aquarian moment: http://planetwavesweekly.com/dadatemp/373155372.html

This Aquarius lineup was most likely on YSL’s Ascendant, because the Astrotheme/Wiki bio says he underwent shock therapy, though this also could have been brought about by a transit of Uranus in Leo to his Sun or Descendant.

Shortly after his nervous breakdown, YSL launched his fashion business with the financial backing of Pierre Berge. It was Berge, his former lover and longtime partner, who announced YSL’s death on June 1. Perhaps it was Saint Laurent’s steady Moon in Capricorn that led to such a lasting collaboration with a money guy. There’s no question that Berge’s financial acumen helped propel the designer to the top of the fashion world.

Like many Juno-ruled “industries,” fashion is a combination of art and commerce. You can’t have one without the other, as Frank Sinatra once sang about love and marriage. The house of Dior, which YSL took over at the age of 21, was fortunate to have had both.

So the next time you see Hillary Clinton wearing a pantsuit, even if it’s to announce her exit from the U.S. Presidential race, know that it wouldn’t have happened without Yves Saint Laurent.

The Astrology of Gay Marriage

As California goes, so goes the nation? The California Supreme Court’s May 15 decision to uphold same-sex marriage could be a harbinger of things to come for the U.S. as a whole, according to astrologer Matt Carnicelli.

Carnicelli sees the current passage of Pluto through Capricorn as leading to the “deconstruction of the tyranny” of governmental and corporate institutions. He says it’s not surprising that the transit ushered in the legalization of gay marriage in the Golden State.

However, Carnicelli isn’t a proponent of marriage per se. He envisions a time in the not too distant future when civil unions will become the norm for couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Marriages would still be performed in churches and synagogues, but they would not be the business of the government, the astrologer said.

Carnicelli made his comments in response to a question following his May 18 presentation, “The Unfinished Work: America, A Mercury Retrograde Phenomenon” at the United Astrology Conference in Denver. The talk explored how it took a while for the Founding Fathers’ notion that “all men are created equal” to be extended from white men to black men and then to women of all colors.

He notes that whether astrologers use a July 2 or July 4, 1776 birth chart for the U.S., Mercury is still retrograde in Cancer opposing Pluto in Capricorn. This aspect has often led to a “nativist” way of thinking, where anyone not born in the U.S. or not of a WASP background has faced discrimination, Carnicelli says.

This xenophobia was captured brilliantly in Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York, when New York was inflamed by the Civil War draft riots of 1863 and Irish immigrants were persecuted, he noted.

Carnicelli plans to post his PowerPoint presentation, which includes charts from key events like the inception of the women’s suffrage movement in Seneca Falls, N.Y. on July 20, 1848 at 11 a.m., at www.hpleft.com.