Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Martha Johnson Patterson - Unsung Woman of the White House

No study of the first ladies of the United States would be complete without mention of a woman who technically never was first lady but who made tremendous changes to the White House and implemented policies still in use today. Martha Johnson Patterson, eldest daughter of President Andrew Johnson, served as her father's hostess because her mother, Eliza, was too ill and spent most of her years as first lady in seclusion.

Andrew Johnson of Tennessee was made Abraham Lincoln's Vice President when he ran for a second term in 1864 for basically one reason - he was the only Southern Senator who did not back secession. Not much was expected of him, particularly after he showed up at the inauguration feeling little pain thanks to a little too much alcohol intake. However, the world spun around on April 15, 1865 when at 6:00 AM Abraham Lincoln succumbed to an assassin’s bullet. Suddenly, the man from Tennessee, who barely knew how to read as an adult, became President of a divided, bleeding, mourning country.

The Presidency of Andrew Johnson was less than successful; however, Martha took command of the White House which had suffered from a great deal of neglect. It was customary for people to take souvenirs of their White House visits including snipping fabric off of the curtains. In addition, Mary Lincoln had refused to move out for months after her husband's death and visitors had pretty much stripped the public rooms of just about everything. Couple these problems with the wear and tear of a War which saw troops bivouacked in the East Room and you can imagine what she walked into in early June 1865 when the Johnson family finally arrived from Tennessee.

The time of Martha's birth is unknown but she was born on October 25, 1828 in Greenville, Tennessee. Through some rectification*, I place her birth time at 2:00 AM giving her a Virgo ascendant. I have been studying Martha for years and she is amazingly secretive having given up very little of life to letters or diaries. Even in her day she was known to guard her privacy fiercely and speak willingly only about her beloved father. She was a woman of actions not words. What actions she took! With all of that Virgo worker energy, Martha rolled up her sleeves, pulled up the carpets and took down the curtains - scrubbed them herself leaving them to dry on the South Lawn - and then replaced them.

She used her fixed Scorpio Sun energy to institute new policies many of which are still in use today. First, she ordered the carpets to be covered with runners so that visitors would not tear them up. She also began to prosecute people who snipped pieces of the curtains for souvenirs or took a memento or two from the White House! The money saved by her smart programs has been immeasurable because no longer would the government have to replace nick nacks every year.

Looking closely at her chart, we see her Venus - her creative energy- was also in Virgo. She was all about duty and organization and getting the job done. She also married a very serious minded man who became a member of the Senate. That non nonsense Virgoan energy transmitted to her romantic life too.

Martha would smile at Michelle Obama's garden because she too had one made on the White House grounds and saved the government money by using its produce. (She also had cows and I think a goat or two something Mrs. Obama wouldn't get away with today in urban D.C.)

You can see that she had several big red aspects - squares throughout her chart - squares being difficult aspects --things that must be overcome. Her life was NOT easy. The sufferings her family took from both sides of the Union were enormous and her devotion to her father was so great that it pained her to see him so abused and then impeached by the radicals in Congress.

With her North Node in Aries in the 8th house her goal if you will for her life was to find her personal power and I think it is safe to say that she achieved that. It is one of the curses of history that because of her father's failures, the country has forgotten the contributions made by this amazing woman. Hopefully, some day she will receive the recognition which she did not seek but so greatly deserved.

*Rectification is the process of determining birth time by looking at important dates in a person's life and a study of their personality.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Day After the Primaries

I love watching election results. One reason is that I am a political junkie but the other is because I love watching the main stream media try to spin a disaster to the Democrats even when they have won their 7th straight special House election since President Obama was inaugurated. The story is not that the GOP is fractured in half, it is that unpopular Arlen Specter loses and that is somehow Obama's fault! No wonder fewer and fewer people are watching television news!

However, with all the hot air that the so called pundits produce they continue to miss the point that I have been driving home for over a year now. Pluto is in Capricorn! Say it over and over. Capricorn rules government and societal structures. Pluto is the harbinger of change. Put them together and we have structures of government undergoing great change. Well, what are American political parties if not cornerstones of American politics? The Tea Party on the right and left wing blogs who are changing the face of politics and undermining the parties are the illustrations of this happening.

So the so called smart people babble on while ignoring the cosmic reasons for this change. How amusing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ode to Betty White – and other solid Earth Signs

A few months ago during the Screen Actors Guild Awards Betty White, while introducing Sandra Bullock said, “I will be 88 years old next week.” I checked the calendar – mid January. Yup, she is another Capricorn. No surprise that the octogenarian is still at her performing best at an age most people have shuffled off to the shuffle board or beyond. She was born with her Sun in Capricorn – the longest lived of the Earth signs - her Ascendant in fixed Leo and both her Moon and Mid Heaven (the marker of our career and social status) in Virgo, another Earth sign.

At the risk of generalizing, Earth signs are the sturdiest – think of it - they plod the Earth and are not burning at both ends like Fire signs or swimming in seas of confusion and the supernatural like Water signs or bouncing around smashing themselves about like the Air signs. Capricorns because they are sure footed goats are the strongest of all. In fact, here is a little trick about Capricorns – they get younger as they grow older. Usually, Goat children are “little old men and women” – acting well beyond their years. As they age, the cares seem to drop off and they become more youthful in their outlooks and more playful.

Although Leo is a Fire Sign it is also a fixed sign. (See last week’s entry for an explanation of fixed vs. mutable and cardinal signs.) What comes to mind with the word fixed? Determined, stubborn, strong, right? Right.

I can hear the cynics now, so what about Angela Lansbury? She is 85 and winning Tony Awards on Broadway. Ok so what about Angela Lansbury? Yes, she has a Sun and Moon in airy Libra. However, look at the cusp* of her sixth house – the house of day to day work. Yes, that is the glyph for Capricorn! Move up to the cusp of the tenth house – the house of career and social status. Taurus the Bull sits there – sturdy Earth sign.

Astrology is not one sign fits all. We must look at the totality of the chart. Also, having a lot of Earth signs in the right places does not guarantee long life and long career. I had a Capricorn uncle who died at 54 but he was unhappy in most aspects of his life and suffered from malaria and other illness in World War II. However, both of these women indicate what can happen when you have fulfilling lives and a good chart!

I understand there is a new movement on Facebook to get Carol Burnett to host SNL soon. Why not? She is Sun in Taurus, Moon in Taurus and Midheaven in Capricorn!

*Cusps – look at one of the charts and note the outer rim where you will see glyphs for the various signs. That is the cusp and those signs have a very strong influence on the house they guard.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trapped in the Lion's Den

You know that old adage, “the shoemaker’s child has no shoes?” Well sometimes the astrologer doesn’t use astrology!

Once a month three friends of mine meet for Saturday breakfast to discuss books of a spiritual or metaphysical nature. It is a great social and educational activity which we have been at for almost two years. The members of the little group are M, a beautiful Libra Sun – Leo rising healer who I would highly recommend to any of you interested in any form of energy work; C, a warm and wonderful Taurus Sun – Leo rising business and personal coach and D, a fascinating and fantastic double Gemini (Sun and rising) who is also an amazing coach. (Anyone looking to further their professional or personal goals needs to see these two. They do wondrous things!)

This month I brought another friend into the group. K is a very spiritual, deep and compassionate facilitator (and yes I would more than highly recommend her too.) She makes a great contribution to the group. However, as I sat around the breakfast table last Saturday I suddenly got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. K is an Aquarius Sun but Leo rising. That makes three out of five people who are, in essence, Leos! Oh what was I thinking? To make my situation more dire, I was without D – my other rising air sign. D had some housing problems and couldn’t join us. It was just me, poor defenseless Scorpio Sun, Libra rising, against three lions!

Remember, your sun sign is inner force what makes you tick inside. For instance, my Scorpio Sun gives me a desire to get to the core of mysteries; it makes me basically secretive and private (no really.) It is a person’s rising sign, the sign on the Eastern horizon at birth, also called the ascendant that gives us the persona we project to the world. Sun is inner – ascendant is outer.

Leo is ruled by the Sun and vibrates to the 5th house, the house of creativity and the projection of creativity. Leo’s gravitate to the spotlight; they feel comfortable in the warmth and light of the Sun. In meetings past it was never uncommon for our two Leo rising ladies to spontaneously burst into song during breakfast. D and I, the two air sign rising people just sit back and thoroughly enjoy the show provided by our 5th house friends.

Because the rising sign is our persona, it often dictates how we physically look. You can always spot a Leo the Lion by their manes! I remember one meeting, C arrived with her hair looking as stunning as always but she ran into the bathroom, pulled out her dryer and curling iron and proceeded to work on it until it met with her satisfaction. Now I am thinking, geez, I don’t take a hair dryer to Europe no less down the street for breakfast. My entire line of hair “product” consists of a bottle of Vo5 shampoo which is on sale at CVS this week for $.77 a bottle. I got three bottles, thank you very much. My hair styling ritual consists of wash, towel dry; take three fingers plump the hair for 20 seconds or until boredom sets in, which usually wins, and walk out the door. Libra – air sign – hair flies in the air. Leo the Lion, mane must obey.

So I go around the table. Next to me is M, coifed to the core. Across the table C sits. Can I find one hair our of place? I would have a better chance finding a sane person in Congress. And there next to her sits our  newest lion, K, her stunning mane pulled back and perfectly framing her face. Note to self: maybe I should find my brush one of these days.

Someone mentions Aquarius and the alleged “Age Of” and that is all it takes for the lions to revert to the 70s and begin to sing “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” Ok, this is good. I like lion serenades. Then someone says the dreaded words. “Let’s dance.” Dance! Dance! I am air and water (and with a heavy amount of water as I have a Pisces Moon.) Dance! I have not one Earth sign in my chart. I fall down while asleep in bed. However, they are off. M finds her CD of “Hair” and now there are three dancing lions and one Libra rising wishing for her Gemini rising friend to come to her aid.

Ok now here is the battle the Sun and ascendant often play out in our bodies. Scorpio Sun is saying you can’t join in they would know the extent of your klutziness – another secret revealed. Libra rising is saying you are a natural leader* and you can’t lead in dancing so you can’t do it. One of the most overlooked explanations for the bizarreness of human nature is the conflict between Sun and rising signs. If someone is rather contradictory, if their actions can’t be understood easily, check those two signs. If they are vastly divergent, particularly if the Moon is in a contrasting sign, that person is going to be difficult to pin down and often won’t understand what makes them tick.

What made me think it was a good idea to put three lions together? They are dancing around the living room! So I grab my blackberry and text my AWOL Gemini rising compatriot saying basically forget your house, come rescue me!

Seriously, it was a wonderful time and K is a great addition to our group. I just have to pay more attention to those rising signs so we Air signs don’t get burned in the fire!

*Libra is one of the cardinal Signs. There are fixed, mutable and cardinal signs. Fixed gives someone tenacity, mutable more amenable to change and melding and cardinal likes to lead. Mutables are Gemini, Virgo, Pisces and Sagittarius. Fixed are Taurus, Leo, Capricorn and Scorpio. Cardinals are Aries, Libra, Cancer and Aquarius

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pisces Rising, A Saga

So I am going along having a perfectly normal week – doing the charts - being the astrologer, when I enter a person’s birth data into my trusty computer and it comes up showing that they have PISCES RISING. Oh, this is never good. Who forces poor Pisces to be a rising sign in a person’s chart? It just seems so mean.

Pisces embodies the energy of what Jung called the collective unconscious. Pisces is the great spiritual ocean of energy from which all emerges. It is all about spirituality, brotherhood and union with the god source. To put it in charge of the ascendant, the rising sign which is a person’s projected persona – how they interact with the physical world -- is just mean. Pisces doesn’t want to face the cruel realities of life on Earth any more than Dick Cheney wants to face cruel reality of what he did to this country for eight years. But I digress.

I can just see it now. Pisces gets the call that she once again is on the rotation to be a rising sign. “Oh no not again. I hate it there. Put me on the 12th house – come on, twelfth house, first house, they are right next to each other. I like the twelfth house. I am happy there... please. No? Dang. Now what do I do?”

Looking to her right, Pisces sees a warrior in a suit of armor cleaning his guns. “Psst Aries, hey Aries. Are you listening? Aries, switch with me. I have to be on this kid’s first house – that is your house. It is a natural for you. I will work my connections so you don’t have a lot of aspects getting in your way, you can get out there and make this kid a dynamo.”

“Yeah but what is in it for me?”

“The satisfaction of doing good and helping a neighbor. Aries pauses for a moment trying to absorb that concept, gives up and goes back to his guns.

“Pisces, stop wimping out. Do your duty. In the name of Mars, Man up.”

“But I am a feminine sign.”

“You never heard of Margaret Thatcher? Besides, I have better things to do. I am the first of the Cardinal and first of the fire signs. I am off to blaze a new trail. Go bother Taurus she never leaves the field but she might do you a favor she is a pretty good egg and far less selfish than I.”

“Hey Taurus. Oh you lovely bull sitting in your pretty pasture. Taurus, can you do me a favor? Taurus. Do you hear me? I am talking to you Taurus.”

Taurus slowly flips her tail at an annoying bee disturbing her sleep. “Is someone calling me? Oh isn’t the sky pretty today?”

“It is me, Pisces. You know who wants to put me on some kid’s first house again. I will just mess it up – making them all confused and overwhelmed with the complexities of life. You don’t seem to be doing anything, how about helping me out?”

“Not doing anything? I am enjoying the beauty that is all around my comfortable pasture. Oh it is time for another nap.”

“Taurus, Taur….argh” Pisces wanders away from the pasture and is immediately distracted by a whirlwind of activity. Being distracted is easy for Pisces and it takes a few minutes to figure out what is in front of her. “Oh it’s Gemini, my fellow sign of duality, Gemini. How about doing me a little tiny favor?

“What? No wait I am not talking to you.” Gemini grabs his blackberry and starts texting madly while switching to the phone on his other ear. “Yes, yes of course I am listening.” With his big toe Gemini taps out another message on his computer and with a free hand grabs for his I Pad. Pisces tries to get a word in but becomes momentarily mesmerized and then horrified by Gemini’s ability to carry on a third conversation now with the use of his Bluetooth and dashes away seeking comfort.

“Cancer, oh sorry I will use your more politically correct name, Moon Child. How good to see you and oh I smell banana bread and can I climb up on the big overstuffed chair? Yes, I would love a cup of chamomile tea, thank you. Your place is always so calming and boy do I need it. Oh, you already heard? Gemini told you what I needed? But how did he …..I know, I know, he grabs the thoughts right out of your head! Will you help me out?”

Moon Child spreads a comforter over Pisces tired shoulders. “Well now dear I would love to help you out but part of mothering and nurturing is forcing your children to face life’s responsibilities.”

“But that is just it. I don’t like life’s responsibilities. They make me so tired I just want to jump back into the ocean of unconsciousness where I can float along in peace and contemplate gods and goddesses and the universe and all of those big nebulous issues. I am a fish – life on Earth isn’t natural to me.”

“I am sorry dear but you will have to do this on your own. You will thank me some day. Have a nice healthy meal and a long rest before you continue. What is your favorite lullaby?”

The next morning Pisces sadly leaves Moon Child and swims off in the direction of Leo. “This will never work,” she muttered to herself. However, she is desperate and braces herself for the bright sunlight that always shines on Leo the Lion. “Ah, Leo, I mean your majesty, your royaltyness – your holiness. Um Leo, can you please, can I beg you to ….I need a favor of your royal selfness.”

“Is there someone there? Ah my good fish, can that you fetch that mirror in the corner?”

“Ah Ok but you have 12 surrounding you now.”

“Yes, what a paltry sum! No, not that one – the big one with the lights. It is so dark in here.”

Pisces drags over the 12 foot mirror as she tries to not be blinded by the lights shining on the Lion. “Your royalty I need a favor please, a small one indeed for such a wondrous being.”

“I think I am getting a wrinkle. No!”

“Um, hi I am over here. Remember me? Pisces. Can you please do one little….”

“That hair is 1000 of a centimeter out of place. I knew it!”

The light is giving Pisces a terrific headache and Leo is now rifling through his collection of hair brushes oblivious to any other living creature in the area, so Pisces moves on, her tail becoming lower in the process.

“STOP. Your fins are dirty.”

“Hi Virgo. No, I took a long bubble bath at Moon Child’s.”

“The moment that you step out of the tub your fins get dirty. Everything gets dirty. Everything is always out of place. Order. Why can’t people keep things in order? What do you want Pisces? I have to organize stacks of paper and make a plan for my spring planting.”

“Virgo, you are so perfect to be a rising sign. Someone with you there will be efficient and effective and do all of those things Earth people need to do. You make sure they eat right and take care of themselves.”

“Well, yes I guess I am. OK I think I have a small opening in my calendar for next November.”

“No, I am up really soon. Can’t you squeeze me in? You can handle one more little detail.”

“That will throw off everything. I will have redo my ten year calendar, and that will force me to finish my taxes at 11:59 PM on January 1 not 11:00 PM as is my norm. No, no that is too disorganized for me. And then my spring planting which must take place at noon on May 15 would be kicked to three or four – oh no oh no…..”

“OK Ok, fine, don’t get yourself in a tizzy, really.”

Pisces is starting to swim in circles now. She does that when she gets overwhelmed. The only thing that pulls her out of her vortex is what looks like a shiny teeter tooter in the distance. “Bounce, bounce, up and down I bounce, bounce I love to bounce back and forth.”

“Libra, it has been so long, how are you?”

“Bounce…bounce….OH Pisces is that you? I am still swinging back and forth on my scales, weighing every issue seeing every side and always trying to bring those sides into harmony. It is a tough job but it is fun – especially for an Air sign – up and down bounce, bounce.”

“I need this favor….”

“Favor? Oh yes, I love to help people – do you need reconciliation with your spouse?”

“Not really.”

“Oh do you need me to work out a problem with your business partner?”


“Whatever it is I have to help. I love to help…bounce…..bounce. Helping people is my thing. Because if I help then people like me, and people have to like me. I love, love to be liked. Approval is my thing….bounce….bounce.”

“Good then can you take over as a rising sign. You will give that person Venus beauty and a love for all things pretty.”

“Yes but that will take me away from my ….bounce….bounce…..bounce – scales….and I can’t leave them – bounce….bounce…bounce. Oh dear now you are going to hate me…bounce... bounce……..please don’t hate me – I hate when people hate me. Let me fix….bounce…..bounce….bounce…something anything for you. Please……bounce...”

Pisces is getting desperate. She has just a few more signs to go but even she, the fish, is getting seasick here. It is this fear that gives her the courage to visit her fellow water sign, Scorpio, in her deep, exotic cave. Pisces likes being back in the water but can’t figure out how Scorpio can stand all of this darkness.

“Shut the door, you are letting the light in!” The voice is sultry and deep.

“I am? Ouch.”

“Be careful can’t you see my antique ottoman?”

“As a matter of fact…..”

“What can I do for you Pisces?”

“Well I need someone to take my place as a rising sign. You represent water better than anyone and you will give the kid intensity, inquisitiveness and a sexual passion that would serve them well.”

“Yes, that is a given of course but I am just about to solve a mystery that I have been working on for years and then I have to finish watching the Sherlock Holmes marathon on PBS while I ‘entertain’ some gentlemen callers.”

“But hey water sign – to water sign. I will discuss of mysteries of the universe with you for hours if you will just do me this favor.”

“My fixed mind is made up! NO. Besides you discuss mysteries while I solve them.”


“NO. Shut the door tightly on the way out. I see a crack of light.”

Pisces is at the edge of her rope. “I hate all of this conniving. I just want to go swim in the cosmic soup – I am part of the cosmic soup – I am the cosmic soup for goodness sakes. Why do I have to come down to Earth? I am so tired. I am so confused - I am so torn in so many directions.”


“Oh Lord Neptune what now?”

“It is I, Sagittarius out shooting my arrow at truth, justice and the universal way.”

“Okey dokey. Um hey Sag. How about running this up the shaft, can you take over as a rising sign for me? You will bring compassion and justice and honesty to the kid and I have to admit I do love your ability to root out BS at one hundred yards.”

“Yes I would and you know I never lie. I always speak the truth. I seek the truth and speak the truth. But I am far too busy to be tied down to a rising sign right now. I have to explore all the various cultures and religions and find my own set of beliefs.”

“Can you multitask it? Gemini is a pro at that.”

“Gemini, air sign – pfffh. I am Fire, I have a duty, and I must search and learn.”

“Hey, watch where you shoot that arrow! And you are a wishy mutable sign like me – you can change your mind. Come on.”

Sagittarius is already racing away. “Sorry. I have yet to see Eastern Bezerkistan. I have to see every corner of the Earth. Maybe when I get back. Look me up before I am off to Guam in the fall. Come splunking with me one day!”

Pisces sees a tall mountain in front of her. Mountains and fish don’t get along – (another thing she hates about Earth.) However, she realizes she has just two shots left to find a replacement so up she goes into the high abode of Capricorn the shore footed Goat. This really grinds Pisces because in reality Capricorn is a Sea Goat…so what the heck is she doing hiding out in the mountains playing the role society expects of her? Another reason Pisces hates being on Earth.

“Ouch” – walking on these rocky roads is not on Pisces list of fun things to do.

“I am late.”

“Excuse me, Capricorn?”

“I am always late. We are always late. Nothing and no one is ever on time.”

“Time is a ridiculous construct. Where I live there is no time.”

“No time! What holds you together? What gives your existence form and structure?”

“Nothing. It is the great cosmic ocean of awareness.”

“Sounds dreadful. What can I do you Pisces? I have a stack of papers to grade and a thousand time sheets to correct.”

“Yes, I know Capricorn you have a lot of work to do keeping societies structures in place but I need a favor. You are so good at keeping people’s nose to the grindstone; at making them do what they need to succeed in life…you should be like the universal rising sign for everyone.”

“Yes, it would be a much more structured world and I would excel at it. After all I do excel in excelling but I have no time. I am late.”

“Time is useless.”


“Try it without time for once.”

“Be gone with you heretic!” With that the goat stomps her hoof and the fish is tossed off the mountain onto a passing cloud.

“This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…Age of….” The music is deafening and as her head clears she sees a tall bearded man, with long flowing hair and a longer robe dancing around a large jug of water.

“Aquarius, how are you?”

“Pisces Que Pasa?”

“Oh it is a long story. Hey Aquarius, answer me something, how can you be the water bearer and an air sign at the same time? “

“Don’t get hung up with definitions. I am what I am – I am new I am different. I am the rebel - the revolutionary who turns your world upside down in a minute. There is nothing normal about me.”

“You know it really isn’t the Age of Aquarius.”

“Yeah but the royalties got me this great cloud where I can play with my cool electronic games, and contemplate all the ways I can influence the future.

“Place looks small.”

“Who needs riches dudette? I took most of the money and set up a universal homeless shelter. It is all about compassion for the downtrodden.” So how it is hanging, fishie? You look a little beat up yourself.”

“Not well, I need someone to be a rising sign and with your compassion and quick mind you will make a contribution to a person.’

“Oh sorry no can do Mi Amiga. I am working with that Apple fellow to come up a computer the size of a pea that will have every app. any human could need. The hard part is making him promise to give all the proceeds to orphanages. How about a cocktail – organic of course?”

As much as Pisces loves alcohol (and I do mean loves) she has had it. Pisces is resigned – a normal state for her– and trudges off to be the rising sign. “OK but I am going to screw it up. This kid is going to be confused and distracted, overwhelmed and just wondering what the heck she is doing here on Earth for most of her life. And I will have to fight not to make her susceptible to drugs, alcohol and gambling. But hey I tried, I never succeed but I try.” With that Pisces sat down dejected and sad, dreaming of the day she can once again return to her cosmic ocean of peace.

Karmic Astrology by Joan's Fan Box